Thursday, 21 February 2013

these are a few of my favourite things

Oh look!  A package from the USA!  I've been expecting it for at least a week now and it's over three weeks now since email was sent saying it had been despatched.   Just arrived. I don't know which end of the journey was so slow but from past experience, it could well be American post.

Brooklyn Tweed sent me a parcel.  A soft squishy parcel.  Well actually I did know it was coming.  I bought some stuff one day when the AUD dollar was fairly high.  Well, that's my excuse.

It was quite a large parcel and I opened it carefully just in case the yarn was near the edge where I used the scissors.  Very carefully indeed.

Ooh, a few of my favourite things.  Brown paper packages tied up with string.  One large, one smaller.

I carefully tugged at the strings and managed to get the packages undone without cutting the string.

I peered inside but the yarn was also wrapped in brown paper so I couldn't see it immediately. These were just wrapped, not wrapped and tied.

This should be the end of stash expansion for quite a while now, although I have been good about not buying for quite a while now.

This is called Rosebud and the colour of the Shelter yarn is aptly called cast iron.  In real life the colour reminds me of the top of the old wood stove I cooked on on holidays.  It's dark, but there is a sheen to it.  Very much cast iron.

It feels as if it should be very warm.  Son and DIL  plan on being OS in continental winter so I think this may be made for then.  I have things to finish before I start this, but that's OK as far as time frame goes.

The other is a shawl with patterning on both right and wrong sides of the knitting.  A bit of a challenge but I have done lace with double sided patterning before.  I'll just have to keep my wits about me and be careful to mark where I am up to.  Will also have to remember to read the back row of the chart in the proper direction or pattern won't show.

The colour here is called soot.  I must have been feeling moody when I bought these to have chosen two dark colours.

I was a bit of a write off yesterday.  On Tuesday night I attended the AGM for this apartment block.  There have been a few hassles with tenants here lately and I had a huge box of party rubbish dumped in my parking space.  Why they couldn't move it a few more metres to garbage room is beyond me.  So I went to the AGM as I wanted to hear decisions and discussions first hand.

It was held in a local club about 20 minutes' walk from here.  6:30, which was an inconvenient time as far as I was concerned.  Too early for dinner and too late the other end.  I walked up and didn't even have to sign in on arrival.  However the place was being renovated and there was a horrible pungent smell pervading the whole area.  Paint strippers or thinner, varnish or perhaps even the new carpet.  It was vile.  I get few migraines but such smells are an almost certain trigger.

Sure enough, I had barely sat down when the familiar signs became apparent.  After a while I wondered if I would be able to remain sitting or if I would fall off my chair.  I decided I had to stay.  I could get a ride home at the end which I would not get if I left early.  Either I became used to it or it quietened down but I stayed for the two hours without embarrassing myself by falling off chair or fainting.

However, even after a sleep I felt terrible yesterday.  Nauseous and extremely sensitive to light.  I got up needing coffee to find my coffee machine had died.  The lights are all on but there's no action.  I eventually bought a cup at McD's downstairs and felt better after it.  However, I was pretty much out of it till mid afternoon and had several rests in bed.

I get few migraines, perhaps one a year and not even that frequently lately, but I certainly don't want another.

Edited to add:  User error, user error with coffee machine.  I had somehow changed one of the settings and machine didn't like it.  It now works, thank goodness.  User error is computer guru son's favourite refrain.  Often it's not applicable with DIL or me.  Perhaps others.  This time I will have to plead guilty.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


As I am still knitting down the lowtide cardigan body and will be for quite a while yet, I thought I would change the subject. I have a simple lunch usually.  Beans on toast, a cheese sandwich, or perhaps a tiny can of tuna or another sandwich.  That and a piece of fruit is enough.

I was getting bored and wanted a  change.  So I turned to the blessed Hugh * for some ideas.  Well, there was an idea I have meant to try before.  Homemade tortillas.  Page 133 from memory in the River Cottage Handbook #3, Bread.

It looked easy enough.  Into the mixer bowl went 250 gm of plain white flour, 150 ml water and 5 gm of salt.  Actually I had to add more water to cope with our hard flours.  The roti recipe was similar but used wholemeal flour.

Mix till everything comes together in a lump.  Cover and leave for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to develop to make the dough stretchy.

Take dough from bowl and divide into rolls.  Flour rolling surface well, I have a marble bench top.  Roll out each ball, trying to keep shape circular and as thin as possible.  While rolling out, heat a large frying pan on medium to low heat.  No oil or butter.

Put one piece in saucepan and cook for 30 seconds.  I suspect that Hugh uses the stovetop of his big Aga or similar.  When I had an Vulcan Everhot slow combustion stove, I would do pikelets on the top plate.  My pan was not really quite hot enough so first side did not cook well.  Then again, the first pancake or pikelet is always not quite right.  I turned heat up and cooked for about 40 seconds.  Turn over and do same for other side.  The flatbread will puff up and will also brown across the tortilla.

As each is cooked, put it in a clean teatowel and cover to keep steam in.

I had leftover pumpkin baked with fresh rosemary for a pumpkin and haloumi salad the night before.  I put a bit of my homemade beetroot and eggplant chutney on a tortilla, some rocket and some of the pumpkin.  Roll it all up and there was a different, healthy lunch.  A glass of water, two small nectarines and a pear and lunch was good.

These are quick, tasty, cheap.  Ideal for a family.  Perhaps a school holiday lunch cooking session? If used for that, it would be good to have filling prepared already as young cooks will want to taste their wares quickly.

*Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from the River Cottage.  Books and TV shows with a "feel good" flavour to them.

Monday, 18 February 2013

low tide cardigan saga cont. Episode #1863

I read Cam's blog.  I've bought some crafty brooches  from here which my granddaughters made when here.  You can see on here  scroll down the entry.  Cam's service was great, the parcel was well packaged and it arrived from Victoria the day after I had ordered.     There was a follow up email to check all was well.

Cam's blog is cheerful and full of ideas and colours from her creative mind.  However, there have been hospitalisations with lung problems and she has been on a waiting list for a lung transplant for quite  a while now, with several disappointments.  She has spent much of that waiting time raising funds for the transplant organisation.

Her blog has been quiet for a couple of weeks and I wondered if her transplant time had happened.  Then yesterday, a post.  Indeed it had and there was a picture of Cam back in the respiratory ward after considerable time in ICU.  She looks amazing.

She says she has a long hard recovery in front of her, I can understand that.  She also says she is a rollercoaster of emotions every day.  Because of the transplant, she can look forward to regaining her life.  However, that has come through the generosity of another family in donating the lungs of a loved one.  They must be big hearted people.

So  pay her a visit and say hullo to her.

I am still plodding away on the low tide cardigan and will be for some time.  I sewed the neck edge s together at the should yesterday and picked up hundreds of stitches around the base of the yoke.  I think some of the stitches put aside on scrap wool should be part of a shoulder seam ad some will form the beginning of a small cap sleeve.  I daresay I will find out when I get there.  A row takes me ages.  I've done just on 2" and need to do another 13.  I really want it finished by Easter.  There are several lots of stitches on waste wool and it seems there are ends everywhere.  This morning I realised I had made a mistake.  On one of the shoulders I had grafted the right side of one yoke to the wrong side of the other.  There was a twisted mess.  Fortunately I was able to unpick the tail of the graft and redo it, more carefully this time.  You can just see the join in top left of photo.  You can also see the stocking stitch which is knitted down.  There is a tiny amount of shaping across the back.  If I did this again I would omit it, no matter what size the cardigan was.  The YO to compensate for the shaping come at each end of the row and I often forget one.

Don't forget to say hi to Cam.

Friday, 15 February 2013

a little bit of history

Here's a blast from the past for me.  I was quite young, probably about five, when an aluminium baking set was given to me.

The pieces were quite usable, they weren't toys.    This small frying pan has an insert for an egg poacher inside and I think the lid also fitted a saucepan, although I am not sure what happened to that.  There was a very good measuring cup for baking.  Mum always kept that in her big tin of flour, so it was ready for the large amount of baking she did.  She made many slices, biscuits and cakes each week and all were gobbled up. She was also an adventurous cook for the age, using ingredients like smoked cod, garlic and capsicum.  My school friends were impressed as they had never seen such ingredients.

There was a saucepan, smaller in diameter than this that Mum used for either boiling eggs or cooking peas for dinner.  My present, but the family had a lot of use from it.  Unfortunately, Mum ruined that saucepan.  She put eggs on to boil hard for something and went outside.  She started to talk  to the neighbour over the fence, and when she came back in, the eggs had boiled dry and were smoking.  The bakelite handle was ruined and the saucepan base was badly buckled.  I can remember being very upset about this for a long time.  I imagine she was also upset too.  The last piece was an oldfashioned shaped rectangular pie dish which I have somewhere in the cupboard.

I decided to cook an egg for my lunch today.  I don't have them often and they need to be just right.  I hate the smell of raw egg on my hands or in any containers and I can't cope with egg flips.

If I fry an egg, I put it on before anyone else's.  I let it set, then I flip it and break the yolk.  I do this constantly till everyone else's is cooked, then I take mine out with a very hard yolk.  Runny egg yolk makes my stomach churn and I would be no use on some of the cooking shows lately where the egg had to be runny.

So here's my lunch egg, cooked with freshly ground pepper on top.  It went on a slice of multi-grain toast and was pleasant  change.

A bit of fruit rounded off the meal.

I'm continuing with the yolk of my Low tide cardigan.  I'm now on the right hand side of the back yolk and have done 30/70 of the required  rows.  I did look through the pattern and think a bit may have been omitted.  The four stitch garter stitch edging is to be Kitchenered but I assume also the shoulder.  Nothing is mentioned about them but I can't see anything further down the pattern either.  I'll have a good read when I get that far. These rows go quickly but the body of the cardigan may be slow.  There will be several hundred stitches.  This is fingering, 50/50 from Ailsa, Knitabulous.  50% merino and 50% silk,it's lovely to use.  I bought several skeins when she had a sale a couple of years ago after she was no longer able to source the base yarn.  However, I have to do 15 " in fingering on 3.75 needles, not the quickest knit.

My son is bringing the children down by train this afternoon and many of the family are going to Mario's the local pizzeria here.  He has people come from Sutherland Shire and Blue Mountains, does Italian food as well as pizzas.  Bookings necessary on Friday nights and at weekends or there will be no room.   We've been going since he started, probably over twenty years, now.  Son is settling in to living by himself, although he has the children quite often.  His life is currently complicated by a complete restructure at work in a large decentralised government department.  Lots of jobs have been eliminated. His job has been upgraded and he will have to re-apply for it.  However, he's been doing it for some time now and he and his boss are a good team.  He doesn't see problems but really wants the uncertainty of all this to be gone.  It's something he can do without.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


I made some beetroot chutney a few days ago.  I bought raisins, which I really like to add to the chutney.  I would normally buy a brand product, but thought that generic would probably be OK in chutney.  Some generic products are good, others I have bought once and never again.

You can see the pack clearly calls them raisins.   They are sultanas, pale and small, not big and plump.  They taste identical to the sultanas in the small snack boxes which many children take to school.  Exceedingly sweet but very little other flavour at all. Another product to get the dearer purchase.

The chutney itself was good, although I winged it on the recipe.  Most I could find had beetroot and apples.  I had used the apples intended for the chutney by the time I got around to making it.  I had eggplants and one sorry looking zucchini.  I baked the beetroot and eggplant, chopped them up with onion and the zucchini.  Added in some sugar and vinegar till it tasted about right, the so-called raisins, some spices, a  bit of curry powder and some vinegar and cooked it all up for a while.  I like vinegar but thought that it may be a bit too sour for some, so at the last minute I added some chopped dates and cooked it a while longer.  I put it in a variety of bottles and sealed them.  It was well received  on the pickled pork sandwiches I took to Bowral last weekend.  I've used some with some sausages.

I've just stopped anonymous comments and removed the word verification as  a trial.  I hate the words and have trouble reading them, but have had quite a lot of spam lately sneaking through.  When I looked in the blog's spam folder there were nearly 5,000 spam comments dating back about six months.  I spent a while deleting them in large blocks and hopefully the problem is now fixed. At least until other nuisances find a way around or through.

I'm still working on the yoke for the Low tide cardigan. (Rav link).  I've done both front yokes and am starting on the back.  Well, I'm forty rows through one side of it.  The bias is deliberate, the yoke slopes downward and stitches are picked up and knitted for the body.  Even on the back, each side is done separately.  The rolled edge with pink yarn is actually centre back and was the bottom  cast on row of the knitting.  When the other thirty rows are done, I undo the pink provisional cast on and do the other side of the back yoke.  It all then is supposed to be wet blocked before putting it together and starting on the body of the cardigan.  Small cap sleeves are the last bit of the puzzle to be added.  Not a construction method I've come across.  I'm persevering with it, a bit as I had to when I first started knitting socks.  Follow the instructions, it will all work out in the end.

Monday, 11 February 2013

second pair of socks

I set myself a commitment of only one pair of socks in the KAL.  Here is the second pair!  Easy and quick, they are bedsocks for Miss 8.  They are in Bendigo Harmony which is probably not hard wearing enough for ordinary socks but which should be  soft and comfortable for bedsocks.

I'll make some for her siblings but tubes as I don't know current sizes.  Also some for the cousins, it wouldn't do to have anyone feeling left out.

It was hard to believe the difference between the 8 ply and normal sock wool.  I have done a couple of pairs in sports weight but usually stick to fingering.  These were very quick.

I've finished the front yoke on my lowtide jacket and have started the back.  It is going to be a shock to the system when I pick up the stitches to work down.  At least a couple of hundred stitches where I've been working with forty two.

I put in an order for fruit and vegetables forgetting that now I have to choose delivery day instead of having delivery set by suburb.  Mine came  today but early afternoon where I usually have it on a Tuesday before 9:00 am.  I didn't get out to buy meat, in fact there's been next to none in the house for several days now. So what was for dinner?  I had fresh eggs but didn't fancy anything from them.  So I made an old standby - tuna pinwheels, swirls, twirls, whatever.  These are  easy and economical and the concept can be followed but with a change in ingredients.  This is made with scone dough.  Now I've been making scones since I was about 8.  I was taught a very basic recipe of two cups SR flour, a pinch of salt, enough milk to make a dough, probably 3/4 cup.  No sugar, no egg, no kneading just mixing with a flat bladed knife.  I do now occasionally rub in some butter as I did today or even add some melted butter.

I opened one of the tiny tins of Sirena tuna.  They are much nicer than the cheaper brands and while they cost a bit over $2 and the others are around $1, the difference in quality is amazing.  Really, at $2 for a meal, that's still cheap.  I mixed the tuna with a lot of chopped chives, a squeeze of lemon juice and enough mayonnaise to form a spreadable mix.  Pat dough into a rectangle, spread with tuna.  Roll up along the long side loosely and cut into even slices.  Place these flat on a try on baking paper and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Cook till cheese is melted and brown.  I'd normally do scones at a fairly high temperature but my oven is not only fan forced but the element which I had to replace is now fairly savage, so I cooked these at 170° C.  Some salad and I have both dinner and lunch tomorrow.

This is an adaptable recipe.  I've used pastry, or pizza dough or scone dough.  Tuna is always good or leftover bolognaise mix or other leftovers in the fridge.  Chop them up small and add some form of sauce or mayonnaise.  Perhaps some herbs or flavourful sprinkles.  Minced pork goes well as does other mince flavours. A great way to use bits and pieces and to make what seems to be an entirely new dish.

They were good for the day.  It hasn't rained here today but has been much cooler and very grey.  There was a spectacular storm here last night although my area missed  a lot of heavy rain.  There was however a very vivid son et lumière show for at least an hour.

Finally, just because it made me laugh.  Something for anyone with cats.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

les miserables

After the last painfully slow pair of sock, I wanted some quick gratification.  My western suburbs grandchildren all wear bedsocks in winter, although they are definitely not my thing at all.  So I decided on some.  I put  down originally for only one pair of socks in the KAL, knowing I  would actually do more but not wanting the pressure.

The sock in the picture is now finished and I'm almost down to the heel in the second sock.  8 ply yarn and larger needles have made this a very quick knit.  The yarn is Harmony, from my stash.  It's a Bendigo yarn, cashmere, merino and microfibre.  The shawls I have from this were pleasant to knit and are easy to wear and I am using a couple of balls I found.  This is for the youngest of the three.  I can guess at her size.  I'll make tube socks for her older brother and sister which should be fine as bed socks.  I don't know if the other two wear bedsocks, so will need to ask.

My friend and I went to see les misérables last week. DIL had been given a voucher for two free tickets at any cinema except gold class, IMAX and Dendy lounge for any showing at all except a Saturday evening. However, she had seen it already and knew we wanted to go.  So we went for free.

We both enjoyed it.  I had seen mixed reviews, some loved it, some hated it, some could not make any sense of it and so on.  I loved it as did my friend.  Some had said the plot was thin.  There is a thread through it, but there are several story lines together.  Hugo's novel is not the easiest of novels to read.  Not only are there various episodes but he frequently goes off into pages and pages of commentary on poverty, justice etc.  Nothing like that in the film, although the visual impact serves much the same purpose.

It's a musical, the film of a musical.  I loved the music although some found it dreary.  Ann Hathaway playing Fantine had a fantastic voice which was used to great effect  as she sang of her dream, destined to be smashed.  Hugh Jackman was good too although some of his notes were a bit hit and miss at dramatic moments.  Russell Crowe made an ideal Javert, brooding moodily over the convicts and asserting his authority through the film.  However, his singing was dreadful for the most part.  Acting fine, singing bad. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter made wonderful swindling innkeepers, a far cry from Miss Eizabeth Bennett the Queen in The King's Speech .  Thanks for correcting my senior moment, Cindy.  What stuck in my mind was that it was a role , very ladylike, unlike in this film.

There were scenes of poverty and injustice.  There were moments of camaraderie and bravery.  Hugo said his novel moved from evil to good.  The film shows this as Valjean (Jackman) is arrested for stealing the church silver but forgiven by the saintly Bishop.  He moves through life making amends for his actions.  He is shadowed by Javert who is eventually shown grace by Valjean.  He too is caught up with his past and finally commits suicide, unable to accept and deal with the grace and forgiveness offered him. There are sad scenes and scenes of triumph, scenes of joy and of slaughter.  I was told to have plenty of tissues.  I didn't need them at all.  Perhaps this was because I knew the story.

I'd recommend it, if you get the chance.