Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Elephant in the room

You may have noticed me missing from my blog, I have been finding it very difficult to write, sure I have opened the page on numerous occasions but only end up closing the computer down and walking away.    My eldest son who has brain cancer has just had another surgery, this, the third time in eighteen months, only three months since the second surgery.    This last surgery has been more invasive, requiring him to be awake and alert for a time during the surgery, with a neurologist present to ascertain any damage to any of his senses.   This journey started eighteen months ago with all of us very optimistic for his future, but with the tumor returning shortly after Christmas and then again three months later our optimism is now waning.  We are now aware that unless he is accepted into a trial program there is little hope.  Chemotherapy is not holding this tumor, a Glioblastoma Multifore aggressive grade four tumor at bay, surgery has been the only answer so far.    I miss my wonderful chats with my amazing son, sure we talk about the children, my daughter-in-law and what is happening with them, and we talk about his treatment,   but there is always the elephant in the room.  What future he has we do not know, and neither does his surgeon or oncologist, one thing we do know is he will not grow to be an old man.   I have found myself becoming more despondent as time goes by, I am trying so hard to keep up appearances for my family and friends but I am finding this more difficult as time goes on.   I debated for a long time about writing this, I don't want sympathy I just want to let you know why I am not continuing with my blog, for awhile at least.   Keep your family close and give them a hug.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Small gifts

Sunday was market day, rugged up in my coat and with my umbrella I set off early to obtain a good parking spot.  After nine it is really busy and difficult to find a car space.   I was on a mission to find something small, something I could post interstate to my mother-in-law for Mothers Day.  Of course. the first stop is always the coffee van, especially important on days like this to have a hand warmer.  While roaming around I came across some gorgeous little hand made pots, these look very Middle Eastern and so beautiful.  I was won over and bought one.  Then it was off to meet my friends for a warming breakfast and to catch up on the latest.   While sitting there I showed my friend and she loved it, it was then I decided to buy another one for myself.   Would you believe when I went back I couldn't find them,  they had packed up during the rain and left, I missed out. Oh, well maybe next time.  
On my last blog I gave you a link to a blog, where I found the instructions for some cute fabric tissue holders, perfect for a handbag and for little thank you gifts.   I also found them on Pinterest so I've pinned them for future reference.   I sewed nine of these in an hour by chain piecing them.  I gave two of them to friends as thank you's, I put one in the parcel for my mother-in-law and I'm not sure who will receive the others.  Sorry about the photos I have taken recently, I'm having a few problems with my camera after my grandson played with it.

Friday, 2 May 2014

A stuffed pumpkin

Since I've recovered from my cold I have had no energy, I am just tired all the time.  No sewing, no preserving, and no house work done this past week.  The pumpkins are still on the outside table, they are under cover so I'm sure they are ok for a bit longer, but while thinking about what to eat on Thursday night I decided to bring a small one inside to cook.  Amazing what you can come up with when you just don't want to go out and shop.   I cut off the top,  scooped the seeds and some of the flesh from the inside and made up a stuffing of the leftover cooked brown rice, chopped some vegetables, garlic, parsley, nutmeg, cubed tasty cheese and to bulk it up a bit more some fresh bread crumbs.  Basically what I had left in the fridge.     It took about an hour and a half  to cook in the oven, although I could have left it a bit longer,  but I was hungry, not too bad, in fact tasty.  I had a large wedge for my dinner that night, cut a small wedge to have with some chicken, and then gave my daughter some to take home.  With the remainder I peeled the skin and blitzed it with a cup of chicken stock for lunch today.
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 Like I said I have done no sewing, but I have just read http://retromummy.com/2014/05/03/making-tissue-holders/ and have decided to sew one to add to the gift pack for my mother-in-law for next Mothers Day.  This gift will be posted interstate, so this will be perfect to add to what I have.

Monday, 21 April 2014

No chocolate eggs!

This is a short blog, I have to organise some sewing,  something to stitch tomorrow when I meet with my quilting group.    My family are aware that I do not eat chocolate, that also means Easter eggs of the chocolate variety.  I don't have a memory of why I don't like it, I'm assuming it may be that I gorged myself on chocolate as a child and vomited, which turned me off it,  but that is only a guess.   I just have to show you what the son who does everything and his wife made for me this Easter.  As a craft person I am thrilled they have put time and effort into this gift and as a bonus it is also edible.  He has hand drawn a different design onto each of the fresh eggs. The gift included a little chicken as well.    I hope you had a lovely Easter, shared with family and friends.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Home baked hot cross buns

 My cold is getting better, ok, so I don't sound good, I still have a husky voice but it is clearing up.  I don't have any plans for today other than some stitching, so I am staying inside and resting.        A friend has encouraged me to bake  my own hot cross buns this year.     It has been a long time since I have baked them,  usually I am so rushed I just grab a few from the baker, but this year I decided to have a go.    I found my recipe last night and set to work, the hardest thing about making hot cross buns is the time it takes to proof them, everything else is easy.  They are lighter than the bought hot cross buns, and because you can change the flavour, you get what you like.

My recipe makes six, so just double the ingredients for a dozen.

2 cups of plain flour
1 sachet of dry yeast
3/4 tsp.mixed spice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbls. caster sugar
3/4 cup of sultanas or currants
20gm. butter
1 egg
150ml. milk
small pinch of salt
Combine flour, spices, sugar, yeast, salt and sultanas.  Mix until combined.  Melt butter, add milk, warm to lukewarm.  Add milk and lightly beaten egg to flour mix using a knife to cut it together. Form into a soft dough.  Knead for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Lightly oil a large clean bowl, place into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 1/1/2 hours to proof and doubled in size.  Line a tray with baking paper.  Punch down dough, knead until smooth. Divide into 6 equal portions, shape into balls and palce into a tin leaving a  gap between them. Set aside for 30minutes
Flour paste:
2 heaped tbls. plain flour
2-3 tbls. water
Mix together to make a thick paste, adjusting if needed, place into a piping bag, or a snap lock bag and snip a small hole in a corner, pipe a cross over the buns.
Preheat oven to 190c,  Place buns in the oven for 20-25mins. until golden brown.
Glaze:
1/4 cup water
2 tbls. caster sugar
Melt sugar, and simmer for a few minutes, brush warm buns with glaze.



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Family Recipe

I'm still coughing and have a foggy head but, cold or no cold, I had to get to the shops this morning to buy food and chocolate eggs for the Easter weekend.   I'm not fond of chocolates but everyone else in the family is,  I forgot my list, but that is nothing unusual for me so I can't blame the cold for that one.    I thought I had remembered everything, but it seems I have forgotten eggs, butter and tea bags,  but there is no way I am going back there today.  I will just have to make do till next week or ring the son who does everything and ask him if he will be going to the shops.
Yesterday I did manage to cook the tomato relish.    This is an old family recipe, dated 1865 one my mum made every summer.   It's a simple recipe but still very tasty, especially with cold lamb or corned beef.
Tomato Relish:
 2.7 k.   Tomatoes
4 Onions
900gm.  Sugar      
3 tbl.  Dry Mustard powder
1 tbl. Curry powder
190 ml. Malt Vinegar (Brown)
2-3 tbl. Cornflour
2 tbl. cooking salt
Chop tomatoes and onions, place in separate bowls and sprinkle with cooking salt, cover and stand overnight. In the morning drain the liquid from the tomatoes and onions. Place together in a large pan, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Mix the mustard and curry powder with a little of the vinegar to form a paste, add the rest of the vinegar to the pot, stir in the mustard mix. Stir until the mix comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 1 1/2 hours till reduced.  If needed mix the cornflour with a little water and thicken. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.  When cold label and date the jars. Store in a cool dark place.    Upon opening, the jar should be kept in the fridge.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Preserving lemons

I had a terrible night, I was up and down out of bed most of the night because I was coughing so much.    I'm hoping last night was the worst of this cold.   While awake early, and I mean 4am which is unbelievable for me, but being up was better than lying in bed wide awake.   I  chopped up onions and tomatoes to make a relish, once this was done I made a cup of tea, grabbed a quilting magazine that had recently come in the mail and sat on the lounge to read and watch the sun come up.   I have to admit by ten o'clock I was tired and went back to bed for a couple of hours.
For the past two years I've been cooking  Morrocan food, I was given a Tagine and a recipe book, and after cooking a few recipes from this book I became pretty hooked on the flavours.   I have found another book with a larger choice of recipes, but some of the ingredients are hard to find around here.    This year I decided to plant chillies in the garden so I would be able to make my own Harrisa,  I  also have plenty of lemons so I have been able preserve a few jars.     This is easier than I thought it was, I really don't know why I hadn't done it before.  Don't you love the jars, I found these at the Reject shop.
Preserved Lemons:
8 medium sized lemons (organic if you can get them) or at least unwaxed.
450g rock salt
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
Enough fresh lemon juice to cover the lemons
Halve lemons length ways, then cut each half in half but not all the way through
Mix the salt and spices in a bowl, pack the mix in between the cut lemons
Pack the lemons into sterilised jars, pour enough juice over the lemons to cover,
Seal the jars. Label and date.
Store in a dark, cool place for at least three weeks.
Refrigerate after opening, To use remove and discard lemon pulp, squeeze juice
from rind, rinse well and then slice to use.
Preserved lemons