Friday, 31 May 2013

bills and lace

Back in about March or late February, I joined a lace club from UK. Sally, Pompom ,was running some posts on reliable suppliers with good reputations and Anniken was one often mentioned.

I joined for three months and received this as the first instalment in the club. There was a pattern as well with several months exclusive use by members of the lace club and a discount offered on any other purchases while a member of the club.  I tried the pattern, it's not difficult, but my mind was obviously not in the place needed to work with just under 400 stitches to start the shawl.  I ripped it back three times and I let it sit on my table for a while.

I found this, which I've done before.  It's also a design by Annie and is called Trinity.  It comes from here which is a charity site  benefiting Médecins sans Frontières, Doctors without Borders.  The idea is that you download the pattern and there are quite a few to choose from, make it up and then make a donation.  I'll make another donation to cover this knitting.

The yarn itself is gorgeous to work with.  Very soft and smooshy and a dream to knit.  It's a mix of camel and silk.  I'm about halfway through the pattern. This is only part of the pattern.  I'm using Addi Clicks here.  I like the needles but the cables are very twisty and double back on themselves unless I'm careful.  I much prefer my original Knitpicks cables to these.

This next picture shows the next instalment of yarn from Annie.  It's slightly thicker than the camel and is more like a normal sock yarn.  The shades of blues are lovely merging into each other.  Bluefaced Leicester and silk.  I'm looking forward to knitting this too.

The last photo for the day is an old recipe from my very old recipe folder, originally a 21st  present from my sister who is some years younger than I am.  I was also going to photograph the battered old ring tin I use for this.  It has obviously been dropped and bumped many times but I grease it well and the cake just slides out.  I hope one of my sons hasn't snaffled this tin.  I had a good look in the cupboard, even used a torch, but couldn't see it.  Perhaps that's a prompt that the cupboard needs tidying.

This recipe came with the electricity bill.  Way back then, the bills came with a glossy little newsletter and some recipes.  I don't use the nutmeg, or may use a pinch.  I substitute powdered ginger which I much prefer.  Use soft butter, dump all ingredients in bowl and beat.  It's pretty well foolproof.

No such niceties with the electricity bill now.  Mine landed in my email inbox this morning and I gulped.  It's not enormous, my brother who doesn't get a concession has a much larger bill.
However, 26 months ago when I first moved in here I was given a Centrelink concession and the bill was about $115.  It has climbed steadily upwards.  this morning's bill showed and amount a whisker under $160.  My pattern of usage hasn't changed, so it's all increases.  The joys of privatisation.

I found the tin I was looking for. It was full of muffin papers, tiny gingerbread men cutters etc. As you can see, it's had a rough life.  I think  my grandmother gave it to me and it was bashed and battered then.  I'm sure that i and my sons have added to the bumps over the years,  but it soldiers on.  Like the recipe, it's foolproof and has never failed me.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

the last of the bedsocks

The last of the bedsocks for the grandchildren.  This pair is for Miss Ten who has a long skinny foot.  They are made from some Bendigo  5ply and some grey/white Patonyle, both from my stash.  I had another two pairs to do for the other family and was getting very bored with bed socks.  They were down here a few days ago so I took Miss Twelve aside and showed her several pairs of new, unworn socks which I had put aside.  She tried on a pair which were a good fit so she chose them.  They are not as thick as the other pairs I have done, but she will be fine.  Her foot is not quite as long as mine, but is much wider.  She takes an E fitting in shoes, possibly EE.  So that was a quick pair and she was happy.
Her younger brother, Master  Seven, the youngest  grandchild did not want bedsocks at all.  He told me he could easily wear "any old socks" to bed.  What he really wanted was some fingerless gloves.  He's seen the gloves I made last year  for his cousins.  Only one problem.  They absolutely have to be RED. Screamingly bright red.  I have little red in stash and certainly none of what I do have is suitable for gloves for an active little boy.

Fortunately I saw elsewhere this morning that Morris and Sons have their mid-year sale on.  I will pay them a  visit and should be able to find something  suitable.

When I said I could make gloves, he grabbed a bit of paper and drew round his hand for a pattern. I think he felt he had to strike while the iron is hot.  He even wrote his name and the date on the paper.

Have you noticed the emphasis on  warming food around knitting blogs recently?  I think it's because of two  things.  There have been lots of recipes posted for cakes, biscuits and slices.  Possibly because many of us participated in the World's Biggest Morning Tea in one  way or another.

I think the other reason is that the cold weather has suddenly kicked in after a long , over-warm autumn.  Too warm for the season really, and we have been coasting along with easy, light meals.

Now it's cold and winter warmers are called for.  I received half a small, very fresh cauliflower in my fruit and vegetable delivery.  I really like cauliflower and use it in many ways.  Yesterday I made cauliflower with cheese sauce.  It was very good, smooth sauce and lots of cheese.  I had some  for dinner.  A real winter warmer of a dish for a winter vegetable on a chilly day.

When I was shopping  yesterday early in the morning, I found two BBQ chooks in the large local IGA.  They were date stamped from late the night before and each had been reduced to $5.  I bought both and had some in a sandwich for lunch yesterday.  Today I donned some gloves and pulled the flesh off both of them.  I kept some  aside for  tonight and packed the rest in individual ziploc bags.  I now have eight meals sized amounts in bags in the freezer and two lots  of bones for soup stock.  Pretty  good value for $10 in total.

I have cooked some leeks and stirred them into some of the leftover cauliflower cheese.  Added in the chicken.  Tonight I will put some pastry over the top and have a pie. Some other vegetables and  dinner's done and dusted.

I do not often eat sweet things and even less often do I have dessert.  Last night I quartered a Beurre Bosc pear and cut core out.  I put it in small, old pyrex dish with a tiny sprinkle of brown sugar and about two tablespoons of tawny port.  Fifteen minutes in the oven which was on for the cauliflower and I had a pleasant sweet course. The port and sugar caramelised into almost toffee in the dish.

Today had a heavy fog which took ages to clear.  It left an unpleasant looking day.  It's grey and looks bleak.  It actually is supposed to be 19° but I really don't think it's near that here.  Chicken and leek pie should be just the thing.

Friday, 24 May 2013

more morning teas

Greer tops off a wonderful week of bloggy morning tea posts and recipes, finished off by some nostalgic photos of teasets and hand crafts. She's well on the way to reaching her target of donations too. She doubled the target from $1000 to $2000. If you can help, and every little bit helps, there's a link in the right side bar.

 She talks about her mum and how much she misses her. I miss my mum too and remembered the way she too liked a little tipple. Bubbles never were refused and even when Mum lived alone after Dad went into care with Alzheimer's, she lived a very civilised life. She never read at the table, not even at breakfast or a book with lunch. There was always a sherry before dinner and a glass, sometimes two, of an appropriate wine with her dinner.

 I became nostalgic as Greer spoke of her mum. I counted up the people in my family who had been affected by cancer. At first I had only Mum and my sister. Then I realised my uncle, Mum's brother died of throat cancer, made worse by smoking.. Then I remembered the number of malignant skin cancers Dad had removed every year. My grandmother, mum's mum, died of liver cancer. My brother has had two operations for prostate cancer. Family, but not blood relations are my sister in law, my brother's wife who died of liver cancer, a secondary from bowel cancer. Her son was just ten years old. One DIL has regular three monthly Pap tests for cervical cancer and nasty pre-cancerous lesions removed regularly. Three monthly! How long since you last one? This was discovered when she was pregnant with my youngest grandson seven years ago.

 My sadness was compounded by a truly horrible accident here less than a minute's walk from my place. A tanker with 20,000 litres of milk ran across the road and hit a corner shop. It burst into flames and the driver was killed in his truck.

 The main road, one of Sydney's biggest roads was blocked for more than eight hours. It is possible the building he hit will collapse. I knew of the accident, I could see road diversions up to Fivedock opposite my apartment. Buses were cancelled. Two routes use the corner which was affected. there is an underpass under our building and some motorists thought they could use that to get back on the main road. That caused a further snarl as they had to reverse and return as access was blocked.

I was watching the traffic as I ate breakfast and glanced up to see a police escort for a huge tow truck with the tanker behind it. I wished I hadn't seen it. There was nothing left of the truck cabin except the back wall of the cabin. It leant backwards at a precarious angle so it almost touched the tanker itself. I was horrified and have felt ill as I remember it.

 So I have had a comfort eating morning tea. Some green tea with mint and a slice of freshly baked bread, made this morning, although it had been rising all night. This has been made with James Squire Chancer Pale Ale so has browned more than usual. Extra sugar, I guess.

 It tastes good and I topped the slice with good butter and some beautiful clear quince jelly given me by idle persiflage. Very comforting.

 And now for a recipe. For those of you who are younger, these are irons for gem scones. I haven't used them for long time as is obvious by the way they look. Gem scones are quick to cook and totally delicious broken apart and eaten with butter or good jam. Scone is a misnomer, they are more cakey than scone like. The irons are heated in the oven and just before the mix is dropped in, a dab of butter is dropped into each cavity. You may find these perhaps today in an op shop. My irons are cast aluminium but I have seen cast iron too.

  Gem Scones

  Heat oven to approx. 180°, less if fan forced. Place gem irons in oven to heat.

  • 1 1/2 cups SR flour
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons soft sugar   Not sure what that is.  I probably used ordinary white  sugar.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • pinch salt

Cream butter and  sugar and add sifted flour and salt.  Mix egg  yolk and add to milk. Beat egg white till stiff and fold through mix.

remove irons from fire, drop a bit of butter in each one and add  dessertspoon of mix to each.  Cook for about 15 minutes, till puffed up and brown.  Time depends on oven.  Best eaten hot.

I know Greer is very grateful for all who have helped.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

more bloggy morning tea

Just the weather here for ducks.  Just the weather here for knitting too.  I finally went ahead and finished the first bedsock for Miss Ten after several times asking her dad for her foot measurement.  I would have done some more this morning but I decided to tidy my pantry, something which has been on my mind for a while.  About a year ago, I re-organised the contents into big baskets which stopped the contents falling over because of the grid design of the shelves.  I've been careful since but the baskets have suddenly spiralled downwards into chaos.  empty packets  of biscuits, (blush), new purchases not transferred into containers and so on.  The picture shows why I was not outside.  We've not had rain here for quite a while and it's been very dry.  Not today.

This was taken at 10:40 am.  Dark enough inside for lights on for most activities. (click to enlarge.)

Greer at typically red is continuing her very bloggy morning tea.  She's had a wonderful result from fellow bloggers for donations to the Cancer Council and has upped her target which was passed o the first day of blogging.

Have a look.  She has been putting up a post each morning focussing on tea, teacups and cake.  There have been posts by guest bloggers later in the day and an afternoon post with a recipe .  Lots of them sound great to bake, although I would have to wait till family or friends came over or I would have too much.

I wanted to bake this cake but have spent time cleaning baking things, so I'll just post the recipe.  This is from my Red Recipe Folder as my sons call it.  I have left the imperial measurements but here's a site to convert measurements of all types if you need help.  This cake is quite easy and tastes good.  A tart apple which doesn't disintegrate on cooking is needed.  I prefer a granny smith apple. It's been known in my family as Dutch Apple Cake since Mum first made it.  Possibly because of the cinnamon?  It goes very well at morning or afternoon tea.

Dutch Apple Cake

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • cup SR flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • grated lemon rind
  • 1 large cooking apple
My recipe says just  "mix cake."  My guess is this: beat sugar and egg together, melt butter and add to milk.  Add flour and milk mixture to beaten egg alternately stirring gently.  Stir grated lemon rind  through.

Place mix in a small square tin which has been well greased.  Use strips of baking paper which overhang the sides of tin  to help in removal of cake.

Peel apple and slice.  Push slices upright into cake mix and add topping.

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1tablespoon white sugar
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • chopped walnuts to taste
Mix this and sprinkle over cake and apple mix.

Bake at 350 ° for 40 minutes and brown under a grill for the last 5 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning the sugar.

Monday, 20 May 2013

a very bloggy morning tea

typically red is hosting morning tea this week as part of the World's Biggest morning tea campaign for the cancer council.  She is calling it a Very Bloggy Morning Tea.

So here is my contribution.  No biscuits but an old recipe instead.

She has a link on that post in the sidebar for anyone who may wish to donate.  I won't be donating to the cancer council this time as I reserve donations to there for fundraising by my family.  That doesn't take long to add up as I give a generous donation equally to any family members who fund raise.  There have been special raffles organised by my sister who raised over $20,000 for them.  Relay for life has featured several times  and with three sons, Movember features heavily.  The world's greatest shave is another many of them do and my eldest grandson also had his head shaved.

Mum had Chronic Lymphocytic Lymphoma for some years before her death five years ago.  She had treatment for it at first, but the treatment made her so ill that she discontinued it.

My sister was first diagnosed with a  rare form of breast cancer in 1997.  It has returned several times and there was also a spot on one lung of the same type of cancer a couple of years ago.  She's had several operations with side effects, has had two reconstructions and some really nasty illnesses because of  the compromised immune system.  Absolutely terrible eczema which lasted three years was just one of the side effects of the cancer.  That was treated with the same drugs that transplant patients are given, but a a much increased dosage.

She's now well enough to live life again and last year drove across the Nullarbor and well up the WA coast.  By herself, towing a small van. This year she has been housesitting in various locations and has just left south of Canberra to go to Coolamon further southwest.

While down from Canberra, she went to morning tea there in the 1880s school.  Later that week, she went to a quilting morning but didn't have the  right supplies to sew, so was given the task of counting the money from the morning tea.  The small hamlet she was living in had raised several

thousand dollars.

My pictures show some vintage handwork from my great grandmother.  Both pieces have a couple of rust marks on, cunningly concealed by skilled placement of pot and cup.  The cup is Mikasa, brought back from Sri Lanka  by one DIL on one of her frequent visits there.  It is put out by a Sri Lankan tea firm called Mlesna.  It was accompanied by some genuine Orange Pekoe tea which was lovely.  I don't like  what is available at shops here, but this was lovely.  I can see this being used a lot in winter with the lid to keep the tea hot.

Now for the recipe.  This was made originally with Smalls dark chocolate.  Nestlé have now  taken this over and have added far too much sugar.  Find something dark but not too sweet.  I haven't made these for a while as they have condensed milk in them.  Not the full can, and you can  guess where the rest of the can would go.

The picture shows my red recipe book, source of many fvourites.  My sister started this as a 21st birthday present and I added to it.  All sons haave an updated copy of th  favourites from here, bound at Officeworks  with a strong cover.

Mrs Hick’s Chocolate Biscuits

125gm butter

2 tablespoons condensed milk

4 tablespoons caster sugar

large block (about $3) Smalls club chocolate

1 ½ cups SR flour

Cream butter ad sugar, add condensed milk and chocolate.  Work flour in till you can make small balls of mixture.  Roll in extra sugar.  Place on baking tray and flatten with the back of a fork. 

 Cook at 180 degrees 12-15 minutes till golden brown.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

camel hat

Here's the second hat I've made from camel fur recently.  The yarn is from Suzy hausfrau.  This hat is for my eldest son who normally insists on black, black and noting but black for his hats.  However, I sent him a link to Renae's pages and he approved these fifty two shades of grey.  They were sent from Canberra last Monday and the hat was finished by Saturday evening.  It's slightly deeper than that made for #3 son who often has his head shaved.  He suggested a few more rows to accommodate his brother's hair.  The first hat is a firm favourite with #3 son as it covers his ears well and can come down over his forehead.

The yarn comes from the fur from the of Bactrian camels, now endangered.  They live in the deserts of Central Asia and are double humped.  According to this article the fur drops off the animal in the summer which can be very hot, while growing thickly in winter as a protection against sub zero temperatures.  It is that fur which is made into yarn.

The yarn is easy on the fingers, I thought it may have been harsh.  Because this hat is done with alternate balls of yarn, the tension is firm and the hat itself is very warm with a solid fabric.

Pete's brother was down here today with his daughter and son, it's his weekend for them and I saw he had the hat in his bag.

While the days are nowhere near as cold as the Gobi desert is in winter, it would now seem that winter is definitely on its way.  The weather was beautiful today but the morning was chilly.  When the sun goes, I can feel the temperature drop substantially.

I had bought a butterflied leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic.  I lit the heatbeads early in the BBQ as I'm not always competent at getting them going well.  Today however, all worked and they caught fire and burnt down easily.  Son heaped them to each side of the BBQ and cooked the fairly large leg slowly.  I did vegetables in the oven as  my BBQ is quite small.  Lunch was lovely and my grandchildren both had seconds.  Tim and I had some wine and we could all have had an afternoon snooze.  He caught a fairly early train home, it's about 90 minutes in total from here, so he was home in the light and before it got too cold.  Lovely to see them all  and the children enjoy their weekends with him.  Neither of them is impressed with their mum's new boyfriend, especially my granddaughter.  we tell her it's OK not to like someone, but she must be polite to him.  At least that way, she should be avoiding trouble as much as possible.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

if at first you don't succeed... also known as winter is icumin in,

So the thirteenth century song has summer not winter, but I suppose there must have been winter for people to sing about summer.  Right?  This morning was chilly, quite chilly even at my place.  Winter seems to be really thinking of arriving.

I had to go out this morning to collect a parcel  from  the Post Office which I missed yesterday.  I managed to write a whole post before I had to leave.  Went to add some pictures and the post disappeared totally.  Grrr.  SO I am trying again.

I could have finished bedsocks for granddaughter if my son had let me know the length of her foot.  I have reminded him twice so think I will just guess.  I could have done the second sock in the time I have been waiting.

Mothers' Day saw two sons, myself, DIL's mum  and DIL at a pub called Vic on the Park.  Opposite Victoria Park in Marrickville with a new aquatic centre.  We had been going to buy cafe takeaway for a picnic but other son could not come as his wife had a very nasty ear infection.  So we went to pub for lunch. Very good too.  Three of us shared an entree and some tiny sliders, duck and chicken.  The duck was really good with a subtle but pleasant blend of various spices.

DIL had a beef and mushroom pie in honour of my mother.  Mum used to cook skirt steak, red wine and mushroom on the side of the slow combustion wood stove in the kitchen for hours and hours.  Then she would match it with her delicious homemade pastry.  The result was a superb pie.  One son said my pies were 8/10 because I used commercial pastry.  Mum's he classed as 12/10 because of the filling and her pastry.  After lunch we adjourned to son's house for a flourless chocolate cake made by other son.  Very good and it was a pity the gluten intolerant family wasn't there for it.  Actually, it wasn't a pity, we all had a larger slice.

I've started a shawl in a mix of camel and silk fingering.  The yarn is lovely to knit as it's very soft.  However it starts with 363 stitches being cast on.  Twice I have made a mistake in the fifth row, even though I thought I was being careful.  Grrr!

I think winter might be quite cold.  When we were at Wollombi near Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, mice would start arriving at the first sign of a chill in the night air.  I had to secure all food in mice proof containers there.  My son on the Central Coast has had a couple of mice recently.  My brother on the upper north shore had to reorganise all storage in his pantry after an onslaught by mice last week.

Yesterday I was at the doctor's for a repeat prescription and a flu injection.  Also had pneumonia vaccine as he thought it was a good idea.  While I was waiting I could see a mouse running around the car park outside.  I told the doctor who was horrified.

However, the best  story belongs to my sister who  is minding a house about 40 minutes south of Canberra while the owners are overseas.  It's been cold down there, well below zero many nights.  The house must have lots of entry points for mice as the owners were well aware they would be there.  She also had to remove an almost dead rat from the pantry.

I have a shower in the morning.  She has  bath at night before bed.  Two nights ago, she was carefully hanging up her towel AFTER she had used it.  As she hung it up, a mouse fell out of a  fold.  Eeeuw! The place is lovely, but she will be glad to be out of there.

Now to  wind some more of the camel from Renae at Suzy  hausfrau at Canberra.  No 1 son saw the agate and navy hat described in post below which his brother now has.  He asked for one and I have bought two shades of  grey.  He will normally wear only black hats, so this is a change and I am striking while the iron is hot.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

lavender blue, dilly, dilly, lavender green...

The third pair of bedsocks for grandchildren. This is for Miss Ten. I've done some for her brother and sister and when this pair is finished, I'll have only two pairs left to do. These are warm and quick. Patonyle again and some Bendigo 5 ply, machine washable. A grey mix of Patonyle and a lavender coloured Bendigo 5 ply.

 I've had Miss Eight here for several days even though school has gone back. She was really quite ill and we were all worried about her. She saw two different doctors and spent one night in the Children's Hospital at Westmead where she was seen by more. The best they could come up with was that it was a virus. Someone on Ravelry said they knew the name, TALOIA, meaning There's A Lot Of It Around.

She really was quite ill and I had to concentrate on getting fluid into her. When I had done that, I turned to tiny amounts of food with Nutella toast, cut into tiny pieces, really less than a bite. An apple sliced and arranged as a flower, small pieces of ham rolled up and secured with a toothpick. Things that were different and a bit fun to eat.  Some mashed potato which is her favourite vegetable, although it's not mine.  Anything I thought she might eat, even in tiny quantities.

The top picture shows what she looked like when she arrived and there is another picture with an even worse rash.  Not measles, not an allergy, not meningococcal.  The rash was all over her body.  She was totally listless and slept almost all the time.

The lower picture was taken yesterday after a few days here.  The rash is going although it flared some of the time.  As you can see, she still looks quite ill and not very animated.

I tried on Thursday to get her to have a wash, there'd been nothing like that since Monday, but she'd heard the doctor saying washing would make it worse.  What was meant was that a hot bath or shower would aggravate the rash.  It took a lot of swift talking on my part, but she finally consented to a very quick sponge down with lukewarm water and a soft washer.    She did concede it made her feel better.

She's gone home for the weekend and was very glad to see her mum when she came to pick her up.  This little miss can be a handful but not this time.  In fact, she was so listless and quiet I might have appreciated a bit of being a handful!

I not only did bed socks, I also did a hat with some yarn from Renae at suzyhausfrau in Canberra.   I love her service, always pleasant, helpful and very quick.  It is camel from baby Bactrian camels.  The colours are agate and neat navy.  It is a heavy 8 ply and will be very warm.  It was an easy knit and didn't need much concentration.  This is the medium size and is very cosy.  I used 4.5 mm on the stocking stitch band and 5 mm for the hat itself.