Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's that photo?

What is that photo? Well it is a photo of our beautiful newest grandchild. Matt and Kristen are expecting a baby in April. We are so excited. They said they don't want to find out boy or girl but I am hoping they change their minds. We don't care either way but it makes it easier to buy and make gifts for the newest little Stuart.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Textile-Something Blue and an easy to make top

I'm stitching now on the blue thing well actually a section of the blue thing. One of the elements I will be adding. I have lots of mixes of threads with shades of blue so I am going to pick and choose from amongst those.
I have also cruised the net abit and found this easy to make top on No matter where I go I always meet myself
I really like the look of it so I am going to make one too.I have heaps of fabric so I just need to get on with it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I am supposed to be resting. I had my hair cut the other day. the lady next to me was getting some smelly horrible looking stuff gooed onto her hair. In the end I had to tell the hairdresser to stop and flee the place before I threw up. Luckily she was close enough to finished it didn't matter. I felt marginally better once I got out into the fresh air.
But by 7.30 i was having chest pains, couldn't breathe and Greg rang an ambulance. I had an irregular heat beat and they carted me off to hospital after giving me some magic spray. Where I had a whole lot of tests more spray and finally sent home after two days with the news I did not have a heart problem and it may have been a reaction to the chemical stuff in the hair dressers. so I am just stitching on the blue thing adn cruising the web. Oh and I made a batch of biscuits for No 2 son. No eggs no dairy and gluten reduced flour. but the are yummy.
Here's a quote I found somewhere or other.

'Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself." Quoting the poet, Khalil Gibran,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Daring Cooks -- Food Preservation

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I have to say Thanks for a challenge that really is close to my heart. I day dream about living the country life - Self sufficient but still just a day dream. It is early spring here in Australia and we are just seeing the first of the new season apples. There's some citrus around but not a lot of other local fruit. I did do some of the tomatoes, the only ones available are hot house and still really expensive. Husband and I ate all the batch I made before we could put preserve them.

I made the apple butter. It didn’t need any sugar I used local granny smiths and royal galas and it was lovely. I haven’t made apple butter before.

In Australia we call fruit butters fruit paste e.g Quince paste, we also have pastes/butter made from lots of fruits including wine grapes. Our government in its wisdom some years ago paid farmers to pull up fruit trees and plant red wine grapes so now a lot of them have huge amounts of red wine grapes they can’t give away and fruit from trees is dearer.
I have made quince butter/paste but not for a while. I used to sell jams, chutneys and pickles at our local fruit and veggie shop which closed when a big supermarket opened up near us, I still make them for my family. the recipe below lists artificial sweetners as an option. I didn't put any sugar/sweetner in at all but if I was going to I would use either sugar or xylitol. If you want to use xylitol add it after the cooking process is finished but very quickly after turning off the heat then stir it in until it dissolves.
Apple Butter
Preparing Apples: 10 Minutes (if you leave the skin on)
20 Minutes if you peel and core apples
Cooking: 20-30 Minutes to soften apples for mashing + 2 hours to make Apple Butter.
Boiling Water Canner: 40 Minutes
Recipes: Reduced Sugar Apple Butter Recipe
My preference is to use sweet apples (Golden Delicious) so the need for sugar is reduced. However, tart apples (Granny Smith) can be used. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Recipe: Reduced Sugar Apple Butter
Ingredient U.S. Metric Count Special Instructions
Apples 4lbs* 1.8 kg 12 Apples Cut into eights, peeled, stem and blossome end removed
Apple Cider 1 Cup 240 ml
Optional: Water or Juice
Sucralose/Splenda 1/2 Cup 120 ml
Optional: Honey, Agave or Sugar - to taste
Cinnamon, Ground 1 Tbl 15 ml

Allspice, Ground 1/2 tsp 3 ml

Cloves, Ground 1/4 tsp 2 ml

Golden Delicious and Gala
Gala and Golden Delicious Apples

1. Wash apples well and remove stems. Cut apples into quarters or eighths and remove cores.

Note: I ended up peeling the apple at this step.
Cornig Apple

2. Combine unpeeled apples and cider in 8-quart (about 7 ½ litre) saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).
Peeled and Cored

3. Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.

Note: Since the apples were peeled, I just mashed in the pot.

4. Combine pulp with Sucralose and spices in an 8-quart (about 7 ½ litre) saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently.

Note: A stick blender was used to mix the spices and creates a smoother apple butter. Also, when cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.
Stick Blend
Splatter Screen
5. To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.

In the photo is Apricot, orange and passionfruit butter, quince, plum and berry jam, quince apple and lemon jam, blood orange marmalade, tomato chutney (It was going to be sauce but I couldn’t be bothered with all the sieving etc so it stayed chutney) there are also bottled apricots and plums from our garden. I know it is not the recommended way to bottle fruit but what I do is cook the halved apricots, peaches or plums in water without any sugar added (although you can add it if you can’t live without) while it is cooking I heat washed jars in my oven at about 200° – 230° F for ten minutes or so. When the fruit is just cooked I put it into the hot jars (You have to be quick) making sure the liquid is level with the top of the jar and there are no large air bubbles. Then I quickly put on the lids and tighten them to firm. As they cool the fruit finishes cooking and the lids vacuum seal. Any that don’t we refrigerate or freeze and eat first. The lids pop in and you can see that they are sealed in the same way as when other types of canning are used. I have some plums that are three years old and they are still alright. I do put stickers on the bottles with the date so we eat the oldest first but a couple of jars ended up behind newer ones and I found them when I was fossicking around cleaning up a bottle of homemade wine we were given that blew its top in the heat last summer.
I have two favourite jam recipes. One is from
I couldn’t show you a photo. It is late winter here and we ate all that I made last year. I am really looking forward to November when the stone fruit starts. When I made this last year I peeled the citrus rind off with a veggie peeler and then shredded it into about ½ inch long by 1/16 inch strips and then chopped the rest in the food processor. I didn’t have peach liqueur so I used Grand Marnier.
Nectarine, Peach and Orange Blossom Jam
Serves 20
Cooking Time Prep time 20 mins, cook 50 mins (plus standing)

5 each firm, slightly under-ripe peaches and nectarines (about 1.5kg), scored
1 kg white sugar
2 oranges and 1 lemon, rind and flesh finely chopped in a food processor
1 tbsp orange blossom water, or to taste
50 ml peach or orange liqueur (optional)

1 Blanch peaches until skins split (30-40 seconds), refresh. Peel.
2 Combine sugar, oranges and lemon in a non-reactive bowl. Break peaches and nectarines into chunks over the bowl to catch juices, add to orange mixture. Stir, cover, refrigerate overnight.
3 Transfer peach mixture to a wide saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and stir frequently until mixtures forms a gel on the back of a wooden spoon and fruit breaks down (40-50 minutes). While jam is cooking, place a few saucers in the freezer.
4 To test setting point, remove jam from heat and spoon some onto a cold saucer. Return to freezer for 30 seconds, then push with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If not, cook another few minutes, test again. Add orange blossom water or liqueur if using and stir.
5 Ladle hot jam into warm sterilised jars and wipe clean with a hot, damp cloth. Remove any air bubbles by running a hot metal skewer down sides of jars. Place a round of waxed paper on top of jam, seal, and cool completely. Jam will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.

Note White and yellow peaches work equally well here I used yellow. You’ll need to begin this recipe one day ahead. This recipe makes about 1 litre.

The other is my own recipe done through a process of trial and error, it has never failed for me but I do make sure I use fruit that is not over-ripe, very fresh and citrus that is un-waxed.
Peta’s No Fail Marmalade
1 part citrus of choice (a mixture is nice) to 1 ½ Parts sugar e.g 1 pound or kilogram of fruit to 1 ½ pounds or 1.5 kilograms of sugar.
Put the cold sugar (No need to heat it) in a non-reactive container/pot/bowl. Slice dice or whatever the fruit – My preferred method is to peel off the rind with as little pith as possible with a vegetable peeler and then slice it finely so you get shreds of peel and then chop the rest in my food processor. Pour the fruit over the sugar with enough water so it is slushy and all the sugar is wet when you stir it. Cover and put into the refrigerator overnight. Stir it occasionally you want the sugar to dissolve.
Next day put into a heavy bottomed pan (You don’t want it to deep, it needs room to bubble up) bring to a rolling boil and then reduce to gently boil, stir regularly. Cook for one hour or until it is thick and looks cooked. When you drop a spoonful onto a cold saucer or plate you should have no excess watery looking liquid around the outside and when you run your finger or something through it the jam should stay separated.
Bottle in hot sterilized jars, I wash my jars and then heat them in a 230°F oven for ten to fifteen minutes. As they cool the tops should vacuum seal.
My best sellers were
1. Lemon and Ginger – I would add about ¼ cup of glace ginger and a tablespoon of crushed fresh ginger to 5 pounds of really fresh not too ripe lemons.
2. Brandied Mandarin or Orange – Bit fiddly as this is best if you remove the pith from the sections of mandarin not the peel. Brandy to taste. The flavour of the brandy does develop so go easy. I would add the brandy after the jam was cooked just before bottling.

Thanks for the challenge John, I am going to make more when the spring/summer vegies and fruit are in larger supply.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate who's got the Chocolate

Chocolate.... Yes I know the diet, healthy eating blah blah blah... sometimes you just have to jump off the diet wagon and run screaming for the chocolate. My friend Jenny is deserting us for the sunny climate of Port Lincoln... seafood, close to the ocean, change of pace and a change of style you know the song. Anyway, Saturday night is a going away for her and we are all taking a little something to eat so I said to Jenny 'what would you like'and she of course said 'oh anything chocolate'. As I have a bit of a reputation for wowing them with food I thought of a few things. I am thinking chocolate mousse. I am going to go looking for disposable plastic glasses and put it in that. Or I might make mud cake....I might make both.
David Lebovitz shared a great chocolate mousse recipe on his blog, the following are his words on the subject not mine.

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf) by Julia Child.

I tried to reduce the amount of butter in the recipe and found it wasn’t nearly as good. Since I’m not one to argue with Julia, I stuck close to the recipe tweaking it just slightly.

6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (60ml) dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (170g), plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) dark rum
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.

5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

6. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Serving: I like to serve the chocolate mousse as it is, maybe with just a small dollop of whipped cream; it neither needs, nor wants, much adornment.

Storage: The mousse au chocolat can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food - Friands

As we are currently seeking a healthier diet we aren’t eating as many sweet things as we have in the past. I am a big fan of nuts and when we go out I will often have a friand. My favourite bakery on Glen Osmond Road – Jenny’s, does lovely friands.
I have been thinking for a while I should make some of those and this morning I dropped into the kitchen ware shop to see if they have received the crepe pan I ordered and also looking at cookie cutters because you can never have enough cookie cutters.

As I wandered the shop (HillBilly’s at Mt Barker), a bit like a junky looking for a fix there, on the shelf was a friand pan. Right next to that was a packet of paper linings for them. Well what could I do I had to have them. Then home again for a sleep (I am on midnight to eights this week). After my sleep I had to find a recipe for friands (In French Financiers) so I did what any modern girl would do and turned on the computer and cruised the net. I found a great recipe on for Lemon Curd Friands with Blueberries

These are made with just the egg whites and I hate to waste anything so I wanted to use the whole egg.

Joy of said Financiers (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr) are lovely French tea cakes that also go by the name Friands, which aptly means "dainty" or "tasty". Take a bite and you will be rewarded with the delicious flavor of caramelized butter and toasted almonds. Dorie Greenspan in her book Paris Sweets tells us that Financiers were first made in the late 19th century by a pastry chef whose shop was close to the Paris Stock Exchange. The location of his shop must have been influenced him as originally Financiers were baked in rectangular molds that were said to resemble bars of gold. Today you will find them baked in many shapes, including boat shaped tart molds, or even in small muffin tins.

There were a lot of other recipes from simple to complex and I really like easy so I came up with a mixture and did a taste test and here we are.

150grams butter or (weighed 150 g oil sunflower, macadamia, walnut)
50 grams gluten-free or ordinary plain flour
5 grams baking powder
5 tablespoons stevia or xylitol or 3/4 cup sugar (white or brown) or 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or golden syrup
185g almond meal or any nut meal
3 eggs
Flavour options - see the notes I have given a range of options below remember though the possibilities are unlimited.

I made almond meal, blueberies,vanilla and cinnamon.

- You’ll need a 12 hole Friand or ½ cup muffin tray, lightly greased or lined with papers.

- Mix appropriate nut meal, sweetener or sugar, flour and flavouring (see notes at the end)

- In a bowl, beat the eggs until very frothy. I find the more you whisk, the lighter the end result. You can mix it until it looks like yellow meringue if you want too.

- Add to the flour mixture and fold in to combine. Stir in melted butter and flavour options

- Spoon the mix into the trays.

- Bake until golden. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes in a fan forced oven to 40 in a not so great oven. Touch the top gently when you think they are cooked and if you get a sticky bit then they aren't quite done just stick them back in the oven for another minute or two.
- Cool in the trays 10 minutes then take them out of the tins and place on cooling rack.
If you use honey or golden syrup instead of sugar melt it with the butter.
An ice cream scoop is handy to make each one even.
I like the consistency to be like a cake batter. I scoop up a big spoonful and hold it sideways over the bowl and if it holds for a second and then falls back into the bowl with some of it still on the spoon that is good. If the mixture looks is too wet to do this add a bit more nut meal or flour. Too dry add a tablespoon of water at a time and mix it through.

Flavour Variations
Oh the variety you can find on the net.

One of the traditional ways to make Friands/Financiers is with Buerre Noisette or brown butter Put 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the butter's surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned deep brown. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. I don’t worry about straining out the little brown bits I think they add to the flavour. Make sure you don’t burn them black they should just be dark brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Chocolate - 1 heaped tablespoon of good cocoa reduce the flour by an equal amount.
½ Grated chocolate or substitute half the butter for melted chocolate. If you add melted chocolate add it with the butter. Hazelnut meal substituted for the almond is really great. You can drop a smidge of nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread) and a whole hazelnut on top for real decadence.

Peanut butter – Substitute ½ cup crunchy peanut butter for ½ cup butter. Sprinkle peanuts on the top. You might need to cover with some foil if the peanuts look like they are going to burn.

Citrus - Grated Zest of 1 citrus – lemon, lime or orange. Lemon and currants is a particularly good flavour combination. I like to soak the currants in a little hot water for a while but it isn’t a necessity.

Spice options - ½ - 1 teaspoon depending on the spice. You will probably need only ½ teaspoon of Ground cloves.

Fruit – 100 grams berries or fruit of choice. Fruit should be chopped to about the size of a blueberry. You can use any fruit,cooked or uncooked, glace dried or fresh. Pear and ginger is a winner. If you use dried fruit they can be soaked in hot water, a liquer or fruit juice.

Jam - add ¼ - ½ teaspoon on top of each friand prior to cooking. Marmalade, lemon curd or any type of jam is fine. In the cafes it is always a smooth jam but there’s no reason not to use one with chunks of fruit. After filling the tins just spoon a little jam onto the top.

I hope you enjoy the friands as much as I do. Let me know if you make them I’d love to see your results.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate and Zuchinni

I know it is a bit late but if you would like a lovely desktop background of the foodie persuasion the go to the web site Chocolate and Zuchinni
Clotilde has a great blog about cooking in Paris. I have her book too love it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Textile - Something Blue

Something Blue is how I am referring to the new project. I painted another coat of Prussian blue onto the board just a cheapie from the junk shop. After I had slapped on the paint I took some off with scrunched up gladwrap

It looked like water and I thought hmmmm a sea scene would work. But then I thought about coral and seaweed and I would really want lots of colour for that so that ideas on the back burner for now.

I ironed the canvas and hessian and layered them on top of the canvas.

I went to Spotlight the other day for some calico and spotted a lovely blue feather that I had to buy because even though I have a bit of a moratorium on buying more stuff I didn't have a lovely feather like this one so I ...... yeah I'll stop with the blather I saw, I wanted it, I bought it.

No excuses,stuff the moratorium on buying things.

The calico didn't have a price and I tried to tell the girl I thought it was the $6 one and she insisted it was the $2 one and my self control stopped me buying the whole roll I just bought 2 meters instead of the 1/2 meter I went in for so yay for self control.

So I put the fish idea on hold and got out the feather and thought ' A quill'.
So then I thought pen and ink... I needed a bottle...I cruised through a few image sites and then thought 'A real bottle would be good'.

I didn't have a blue bottle of any size but just as I was about to pour out some food colouring because the bottle was right I remembered some essential oil in the cupboard in the bathroom. I looked at the bottle some months ago and opened it and it wasn't smelling too good so I put it back in the medicine cupboard. As we do... So I put the food colouring back in the pantry and here it is all washed and the label peeled off well scrapped off with some silent swearing and my thumbnail, you'd have thought that the washing would have taken the blue paint tinge off my nail and from under it which is what happens when you paint fabric etc without gloves.

It is just sitting on the canvas for now nothing stitched I am still planning and auditioning stuff.
More to come soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Textiles - A new project and the cupboard

Ah I found my inspiration. I knew it was here somewhere..... tidying up the studio obviously meant I had put it somewhere safe. So enough of this light hearted frivolity...
for some time I have wanted a display cupboard on the wall at the end of our entry way and it is finished. Greg did most of it while I was away in Mt Gambier so it is not exactly as I wanted it but it is close enough and I shouldn't be so damn fussy. He has done a beautiful job as you can see. The cupboard is 3.5 x 2.1 high

I had some of this canvas stuff that I bought when our local wool and embroidery shop closed up after a chain store opened.

I need to do a blue piece for my part of an exhibition for the SA Embroiderers Guild and I need to get my finger out and start it and whats more finish it bfore the end of October.
So I dug into the studio and pulled out some hessian, the canvas and some blue paint and tah dah ...

I have a plan that is based in Zentangling so now I just have to see if it works...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tangle Patterns-Rosewood

This is a tangle pattern from Life Imitates Doodles on Flickr this is a great place to look for patterns


Zentangle is the term for doodling gone mad.
If you want some more info then go to Quilting Arts and you can download a free article. There are lots of sites
Beez in the Belfry

Life Imitates doodle

Perhaps this is my inspiration.... In fact I am sure.