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 going to stay inside the house.   A friend has encouraged me to bake  my own hot cross buns this year for Easter, something I always did in the past.   It's  been a long time since I have baked them,  usually I am so rushed I just grab a few from the bakery, but this year I have decided to bake my own again.    I found my old 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 place 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.
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

Surprise.... Pumpkins

On Sunday I woke up with a sore throat, not a good start to the day,  I was meeting my family at an Asian restaurant to celebrate my Dad's 87th birthday, hoping I would get through the day I swallowed a couple of Panadol and set off.   We had a lovely day, the food was buffet style with a Sushi bar, Yum char, and lots of Chinese dishes to choose from.   The dessert bar was the best, or so the younger generation said, the chocolate fountain was popular as were the little cakes, slices and ice-creams.
Monday morning found me not wanting to open my eyes, I was so blocked up and feeling terrible.  How can one body produce so much sticky, disgusting muck?  I was supposed to have my flu shot on Wednesday, I have cancelled that until I'm well enough again.
I spent the morning outside in the sunshine, looked over the garden, and decided to pick some lemons, I'll need these for all the cups of lemon and honey tea I am going to drink.   Guess what I found hiding under and around the lemon tree?  Pumpkins, five smallish pumpkins that I was unaware were there, I knew I had a couple of pumpkins but not these five. I have placed them in the sun, hopefully they will ripen before it gets too cold.  I have plans for a couple of  these now I have found them, Pumpkin chutney, but not until I am well again. The rest of them will probably become soup.
I've been sitting stitching flowers and butterflies again, it is taking some time to get through this quilt, so much work on it still do.  Tyler has been inside with me for most of the afternoon, as soon as the sun disappeared and I came inside he wanted to be come in and join me, company for each other.
Block six "Butterfly Garden" by Leanne Beasley


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A day to remember

On Monday I boarded a bus with about forty Vietnam Veterans their wives and friends to drive to Seymour. The town is about an hour and a half away from our town and we were travelling there to view an amazing tribute to the men and women who were sent to Vietnam, this wonderful exhibit has been named the Rememberance Walk.   It consists of a long wall of panels, front and back of each panel contains the many names of these men and women recorded in alphabetical order.   Behind each panel of  names is a large artwork, a scene taken from everyday life in Vietnam during the war.   The artwork is barely visible during the day, allowing the names of these men and women to take centre stage. It is a totally different experience when seen at night, each of the panels, which are back lit come to life and then it becomes something amazing.  This is another wonderful tribute to the Veterans of this war, scorned when they returned and so long neglected by our Government
Part of the tribute wall taken at night.
Life in Vietnam no picnic
This morning I joined a new quilting group, I had a lovely morning meeting some new women and catching up with friends that were once a part of our old group. I am looking forward to the trips and classes these girls have planned.   I have washed, pressed and folded the fabrics for Darren's quilt, tomorrow I will start to cut all the pieces and maybe a make a start on it this weekend.  In the meantime I am still stitching the blocks for Butterfly garden.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cool enough for the slow cooker?

Following a couple of very hot Autumn days, it seems the days are now cooling down.    I was thinking it is probably cool enough for the slow cooker to come out from it's summer hiding place.   Why is it when summer comes to an end we crave soup and casseroles?     With some chicken thighs in the freezer and still  lots of tomatoes from the garden I decided on and Italian style dinner.    I  just used the leftover vegetables, carrot, celery, zucchini, chopped tomatoes, half a glass of wine, some chicken stock, garlic, basil and oregano.   I then cooked a handful of pasta to have on the side and it was a yummy meal, with enough leftovers to put into the freezer.
I didn't mention in my last post while I was in Sydney I had the opportunity to attend the Stitches and Craft show.    While there I met a few  women from quilt shops in Melbourne, it was nice to see familiar faces and I was able to chat with them for a short time.   I also found a book that I have been wanting to buy " Japanese Taupe Colour Theory" by Yoko Saito.    The price of this book in the local shops was too expensive for me to consider buying it,  but I was very pleased to be able to purchase it at a much lower price while there.   I have looked through it with much envy, I have also viewed a You tube demonstration by Yoko Saito and am astounded by how quickly she can hand piece.   I have a small collection of  beautiful muted Japanese
fabrics, and I'm looking out for more, but this is something I will be putting away until I have finished what I am currently doing.