Tuesday, 25 June 2013

comfort food and knitting

I was thinking of the rhyme from childhood, "rain rain, go away come again another day." After the drought some years ago, I vowed I would always be thankful for rain.  However, we've now had days of it  and more is forecast. Today is Tuesday and even next Monday's forecast suggests showers.  And it's cold.  Winter arrived after a prolonged  too warm autumn but it's definitely here now.

So it's comfort food and even a return to old favourites.  One son made something along the lines of my mother's famous meat pie with meat cooked for ages before turning it into a pie.  It was  good and his son and daughter gobbled it up.  His daughter, Miss Twelve, made a very good chocolate cake for afters.  That was deep and chocolatey.

I am making an old fashioned stew tonight and it's been  a while since I had that.  I was never particularly fond of it as a  child, but memories of it suggest I should like it now.  I'm even making some dumpling s to go with it.  I've rubbed the butter into the flour and will add liquid closer to eating time.  I like dumplings but ex-husband didn't, so it's a very long time since I made them.

I saw a recipe for a pumpkin and parsnip bake in the Womens Weekly magazine.  I thought it would be a nice change to potato so I made it, downsizing it considerably.  Even so, it did as a side vegetable several meals.  I love parsnip and will possibly do this again.

Parsnip and pumpkin ready to cook.  I have always admired their recipes and they seem reliable.  I did change some things in this one to make it easier for me and because I could see no reason for the instructions.  I chopped the vegetables so they would take a similar time to cook.  The instructions said quite strongly to "cook in separate saucepans." as you can see, I didn't.  Not only did I put them in together, I then used the cooking water as part of a basis in making soup from some chicken bones.

When cooked I mashed them into a greased small Pyrex baking dish.  The instructions said to mash with a quite a large amount of butter.  I omitted this as there was also  a mix of  cream, nutmeg and an egg to be stirred through.  With cream, I didn't think the butter was necessary.  I don't like nutmeg but always add it to pumpkin soup and similar dishes.  It adds a bit of je ne sais quoi to the dish.

Then came more butter.  Recipe said to melt butter and pour over breadcrumbs for the top of the dish. Then put buttery crumbs on dish.I sprinkled panko crumbs over and added small dots of butter, much less than quantity suggested.  I like  butter and don't use margarine at all but the amount in total suggested for this dish was absurd, especially as cream and egg was also used.

It was good and I  enjoyed every bit of the several serves I had.  When it was cold, I cut it into more serves and just heated  up a portion each night.  The flavour was like soups and curries, maturing later.

Son and Master Seven received their fingerless gloves shown below at the weekend.  Master Seven was funny.  Before he had even seen his, he thanked me over and over for buying the special yarn, for getting the colour he asked for, for actual knitting.  He was ecstatic when he tried them on and they were a good fit from the pattern of his hand he had done.

Son's gloves also worked well.  It was a pattern from Patons Winter Warmers, using Jet, which is 12 ply. The camel is worsted weight so I went down in size for the needles.  I knit loosely and all of that combined with a bit of guesswork for thumb and length of  glove all actually worked  together.  A really good fit for his large hands and I've just had a text  saying how welcome they were on the station this morning in the cold and rain.

Friday, 21 June 2013

winter solstice

So the days are about to get longer... Unfortunately they will get colder too because of the slant of the earth in relation to the sun.

Did you see Google's homepage this morning?  I thought at first it may have been in honour of our knitting PM but it's a celebration of the solstice.  Fun drawing.  I've seen photos of Julia Gillard knitting booties but she's also auctioning off a scarf.  Proceeds to charity and the winner can choose the colour.  I imagine with all the dirt being flung around Parliament lately that knitting  would be a welcome distraction.

Gloves are flying off my fingers.  I've now made two pairs of fingerless gloves from the clever camel yarn  The first is a bright red pair for master 7.  He didn't want bedsocks as his cousins chose.  He said he could wear any old pair.  He wanted gloves and his choice was red.  The last time he was here he drew around his hand so I knew his size.  I've allowed some negative ease in these, but think they should  be OK.  Red is his current favourite colour but it's also the colour of his school uniform.  They are made from the clever camel yarn from renae, aka suzyhausfrau in Canberra.

I had really wanted to go to the Craft Exhibition last week but my hip was very sore and I didn't think I could walk too far.  I've seen other bloggers write about their purchases from Renae's stall.    Fortunately the hip has improved for the moment, but the exhibition is over for this year.  Perhaps next year I'll get there.

I've also done some gloves for my youngest son.  It's bitterly cold and windy on his station in the morning, I've been there early and the wind blows off the water in WoyWoy Bay and also from the other side which is part of Brisbane Waters.  No escaping its chilly fingers.  I wondered about a pattern for him.  I finally remembered my Patons Winter Warmers pattern book.  My copy is old and I think it goes back many years before my copy.  I found a pattern for mittens made out of Paton's Jet.  The clever camel is worsted weight, so I went down in needles and cast on.  I fairly well followed the pattern except for the graft at the top.  I think they'll be OK.  He is 6'5" tall with feet and hands to match the height.  Even taking that into account, I think his hands are huge, an inheritance from his grandfather who was a plumber and didn't seem to need stilsons or other wrenches. He had enormous hands, unlike my dad who was fairly delicately boned, even though he was not short.

I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the two tone effect, but I would not have had enough plain navy.  I've made wrists longer than suggested to stop the draughts around the wrist bones.  The thumb was interesting.  Many fingerless glove have just a hole for the thumb.  Some have a gusset with stitches picked up later and the thumb knitted up from there.

The thumb in the Patons pattern had a  gusset every fourth row instead of every second as many are.  There was then a bit of short row shaping and the thumb was knit backwards and forwards a bit like a heel flap.  This meant some sewing at the end, but using circulars on so few stitches is no picnic either.

How the mighty are fallen, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon.  I looked out on Wednesday morning over the car park below. (Now Friday)  A police car was parked and a policeman was paying close attention to a BMW.  He returned to his car, probably to use the computer.  A few minutes later he came back to the BMW and took a small tool from his pocket.  In a minute the number plates were off and in the police car and he drove off.  Two days later the car is still there.  It's in good view of the service station and nothing seems to have been stolen or stripped from it.  But a BMW?  A beamer?  Reduced to sitting abandoned like a thirty year old Ford Capri or similar.




Sunday, 9 June 2013

let's ginger things up

I was near Bowral yesterday with friends for lunch when our hostess jumped up from  the table and produced a plastic shopping bag with a large lump of something in it.  It was ginger, freshly dug up that morning.  I chose this piece, about the size of my palm.

The dirt can still be seen on it and there's some mud on the other side.  It's very young and juicy and has absolutely none of the usual dry scaly skin of commercial ginger.

I tasted a very tiny piece of it, just a dot really.  Very spicy and quite hot.  I love ginger and appreciated the gift.  I think dinner tonight will be a stirfry of chicken tenderloins and definitely some of this ginger.

The mauve  background in the photo is a Moleskine notebook which is always beside my computer for notes, coded passwords, queries etc.  It's not really this colour.  It's a pale pink.  I have no idea how the camera picked up those fairly violent tones.

I have been knitting all week at times on two projects but neither is really worth a photo yet.  One is  the pink shawl shown in post below,  from camel/silk laceweight from an English seller.  The other is more "clever camel" from Renae at Suzyhausfrau in Canberra.  This hat will be the third I have done, one for each of my sons.  The fabric on 5mm needles with worsted weight yarn is firm and I guess fairly windproof.

This is some more of the clever camel.  It's for gloves for Master Seven.  A boy of very definite ideas, he wanted "Red, Grandma.  You know, RED!!"  I got the message so I hope this suits him.  He drew an outline of his hand and I think I can work out how many stitches will be needed.  I may put a stripe of black or navy on the cuffs and around the top.  They won't take long to knit, but I want to finish his uncle's hat first.  His school uniform is red, so I guess these will go with it.  They will certainly be warm.

I have not been to any of the Craft Fairs in Sydney for some years.  I found that most of the time there was so little knitting stuff there, that I lost interest in all the other stalls and displays.  I love looking at quilts and admire them, although quilting does not interest me to do at all.  Teddy bears are not really my thing, and I like beads but one DIL makes her own glass beads, so I don't really need them.

I may go this year.  It's on in Sydney at Darling Harbour for four days from Wednesday.  However, Renae at Suzyhausfrau is having a stall there and I would like to see some of her other yarns in the flesh, so to speak.  Swan Island is lovely but she has just received stock of others where she is the only dealer in Australia.  I would also like to thank her in person for her wonderful service and speed in despatching orders.  And for untangling a mess regarding a product I bought.

I was very busy on Friday.  I spent a lot of time cooking, both for me and to take out to Bowral yesterday.  This is the spice cake and battered tin mentioned in the post prior to this one.  I haven't made cake here since I moved in.  There's really only me to eat it and I don't need it.  It was an experiment which worked as I had to guess what temperature to use in my fierce oven.  People enjoyed it and there's only a small piece left here.  I guess I can deal with that!  LOL.

I made pizza dough and used that to make some pinwhirls as my old recipe calls them.  I had a large tin of salmon in the pantry so I mixed that with fresh dill and some mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice.  Spread that over the rolled out dough, roll up and cut into slices.  A bit of grated cheese on top and into the oven.  Very nice, easy, filling and delicious.  I did the same thing with the remnants of  a chopped up pork meatloaf  and use a spread of homemade spicy tomato sauce.  They were good too.

And finally I made a different potato bake.  Cindy remarked in a recent post about the great edition of Better Homes and Gardens of a couple of months ago. We were both impressed with the large selection of slice recipes, both sweet and savoury.  I had been wanting to make the potato bake with celeriac for some weeks but had not found celeriac in the shops here .  Blame our far too warm autumn, I guess.  I found some a few days ago so that went too to Bowral.  Finely sliced peeled celeriac, finely sliced potato and I made it tri-colour by adding finely sliced sweet potato.  Layer these in a greased oven proof dish.  When dish is half full, sprinkle with some grated cheese, pepper and salt and fresh sage.  I know a lot don't like sage so I used fresh rosemary.  Pour over some cream, 300 ml used in entire dish.  Then repeat layers and toppings.  Bake  till potatoes etc are soft.  Very good on a freezing day in the Southern Highlands.

It seems a lot of food to  take but a couple who also bring lunch weren't coming and the hosts had just returned from a week in North Queensland.  It all went down well.

Not so good on the personal front here.  Son's ex-partner seems to be intent on destroying herself and I can't say much.  Son says the person he knew for many years is dead.  Not said as some cultures would say in a vengeful tone.  More sorrowful, as he sees her making all sorts of wrong decisions.  The person he knew does not seem to exist any more.

Middle son was made redundant along with others from his work.  The firm has been very good about it, but they are not the ones paying the mortgage.  All sorts of help and assistance is being given to them in new searches, but it's not the same as a job.