Monday, 29 August 2011

there's still time for making bread..

the sign says welcome in greek
to my house..
24 little bottles with a sweetly scented lily in each 
where there's bread in the larder
a sourdough loaf with sesame, linseed and sunflower seeds
and a new spare room
pure wool blanket ($4) and
ralph lauren quilt cover and pillow case ($5)
from op shop
with a view
spring and the camellia is in full bloom
and with an early australian hand carved
 children's chair next to the bed
it wasn't until i had stripped several layers of paint
off this chair that the carving was revealed
and a cupboard being prepared for the
spare room..
i'm using paint stripper to remove the wallpaper
 before i paint it!
which will be ready soon..
the wallpaper on the top came off easily and revealed
 this green finish which i'm leaving unpainted..
and a patchwork quilt for the bed
 i paper pieced hexagons of vintage embroidered fabric
 taken from doilies and table linen.. some was
embroidered by my great grand mother
which is nearly finished
each junction is being hand quilted with a little circle

and that i will show you when it's completed..

Saturday, 27 August 2011

ginger and pickles oat biscuits

this is an easy recipe which comes from a children's cook book called 'peter rabbit's cookery book'* that i bought for my children and from which they cooked when they were very young.. i have continued to make these biscuits over the years because they are crispy and flavoursome and because the recipe can be readily adapted and because the ingredients are staple pantry's also a great standby recipe because it only takes a few minutes to get a batch in the oven..the downside is they are not weight watchers approved!

ginger and pickles biscuits
makes approx 12

125 gms self raising flour
75 gms porridge oats
75 gms sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100 gms butter or margarine**
1 tbs golden syrup

mix dry ingredients. melt butter or margarine and golden syrup and pour over dry ingredients. roll into ping-pong sized balls and place on greased baking sheet allowing for the biscuit to spread. bake at 180 deg c for 20 mins or until golden. leave to firm a little before lifting to cool on a wire tray.

to this recipe today i added some currants, sultanas and a finely cut piece of candied orange and i put roughly cut pieces of almond on top.

other ingredients i've used in the past are spices, cranberries, dried fig, dried dates, cocoa, chocolate, various other nuts in the actual mixture and i've substituted some of the oats with coconut.

note: *peter rabbit's cookery book. compiled by anne emerson. frederick warne, london, england, 1980
         ** the original recipe stated half margarine and half lard..i use butter

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

pear vinegar experimental findings

day 1

29 July 2011: based on a successful experiment conducted by olddaysoldways where she made vinegar out of pineapple and strawberry scraps i attempted to replicate the findings using the same methodology but using pear scraps..

day 10

8 August 2011: as you can see in figure 1 below the pear, water and sugar mix had a number of bubbles on the surface which suggests fermentation as a result of the presence of wild yeast.. 

figure 1
day 17

15 august 2011: the mixture had ceased fermenting and so the mixture was strained through muslin into a clean bowl (see figure 2); at this stage it was noted that the mixture had a stringy (mucilaginous) appearance and an acidic per olddaysoldways recommendation it was then covered and left to mature for a couple of weeks..

figure 2

day 18

16 august: checking on the mixture the next day activity was again noted in the form of small surface bubbles..see figure 3..according to written communication with olddaysoldways this was an anomalous finding..

figure 3
day 21

18 august 2001: all bubbling activity had ceased and the mixture was tasted where the presence of a non pear like vinegar flavour was determined..upon bottling the mixture still had a slightly stringy appearance..

day 28

25 august 2001: week after the mixture was bottled a white sediment has formed and the vinegar is free of stringiness and it has a distinct acidic odour and taste..mission accomplished! :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

violet cupcakes

the idea behind the flavourings for these cupcakes comes from a chocolate called a 'violet cream' made by a south australian company called haighs..while i grew up loving haighs chocolates i was never very fond of their violet creams nor any other sweets or food that had a perfumed flavour..however violet creams were a particular favourite of my mother..

on sunday i had a family lunch where for the first time since my mother died 2 years ago i cooked a chicken pie that was a specialty of hers and that was a favourite of my brother for whom the farewell lunch was organised..and for sweets i decided to interpret her favourite chocolate.. 

violet creams are a dark chocolate with a violet flavoured creamy centre and with a candied violet on top.. so in order to interpret the chocolate i made chocolate cupcakes iced with a violet coloured and flavoured butter cream..i wanted the violet flavour to stand out over the chocolate flavour but at the same time not eclipse it so i added the flavouring in stages and tasted as i went..and on top i popped one of my own candied violets..

i think i got the balance of flavours right because my guests seemed to enjoy them and when i tried one i was surprised by how much i liked the combination of fact i loved the violet flavour which suggests that my palate has changed..

and i've since been wondering whether others have experienced such a distinct change in their palate..jane

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

some style and dressmaking tips..

when i bought the book 'successful dressmaking' from the op shop for $3 earlier today my original plan was to use it for my card making in the same way i use the instruction pages of paper dressmaking patterns..but when i got it home and i looked at it more closely i realised that i had to share it's style and dressmaking tips before i do the dastardly deed and desecrate it pages..

unfortunately it doesn't have a publication date but based on the fashions i assume it was printed in the 1950s sometime.. i need to go with a small patterned dark fabric
with no boa or fur..
and smile even if  i've lost or never found my style mojo..
'yeah..sure..easy for you to say'..
' in a little too much for me'..
'and no belt is even better?'
'because shorter hems save on the cost of fabric
and it means less ironing?'
'do i need to be a mechanic too?'
yeah, but they are so jolly useful..
it's the 'ready for a little spot of housework' look
'i'll just slip a dress over this petticoat and i'll be ready darling'..
thinks "i'm having trouble breathing"
and says ' i'll just have a tiny portion thankyou'..
it's the 'i'm too cool for school' look
'why do i have to wear shorts with a long sleeve top?' 
now this is very cute
 my..haven't things changed?..jane

Monday, 15 August 2011

it's the fourth incarnation..

of my sourdough starter as a loaf of bread and it's a bit different to the others..i still used the same recipe but i did three things differently..

  1. i substituted the wholemeal flour with rye flour because i had no wholemeal left..
  2. and because my kitchen was a bit chilly and i didn't want to be baking bread at midnight i put the dough into my oven on it's dough proving setting for half an hour of the 5 hours of it's first proving..
  3. and then instead of shaping the dough and putting it onto a baking sheet for its final prove i put it into a flour sprinkled muslin lined colander..
i noticed a difference in the texture of the dough even before i baked it as it was very smooth and glossy looking and as you can see in the photos the crumb still has a shine to it and it's also full of quite large holes..the crust is chewier than my three previous loaves and it tastes slightly ryeish although maybe that's a figment of my imagination because if i hadn't made it myself i might not identify rye in a taste test..but please don't think these are complaints because it's still really tasty and for me these differences add to the joy of making bread.. and i doubt i will ever become inured to the sense of anticipation and delight i experience every time i take a freshly baked loaf from the oven..

have a happy day whatever you are doing..jane

Saturday, 13 August 2011

it was a sweet weekend..

because my eldest daughter came over on saturday and we had afternoon tea and and then we spent about 4 hours doing daughter is making a large paper pieced hexagon patchwork quilt using woollen fabric that my mother had..some of which are pieces left over from clothing she made for herself so it is going to be very special to my daughter because of the provenance of the fabric..

for afternoon tea we had macaroons because i had two egg whites left over from a custard i made a few days ago and because i am trying to make an effort to reduce the fat in our diets..macaroons are easy to make but they seem to have lost favour unlike macarons which are very popular.. i find macaroons quite sweet so in order to tone down the sugar blast i added very finely grated orange rind and i put a small piece of my candied orange on top..and just for fun i added some pink food colouring..

because they were a bit of an experiment i wasn't sure how they would taste but they were surprisingly good especially with 'vanilla and earl' time though i will tweak the recipe a bit and add extra coconut to offset the effect of the addition of the colouring in loosening the mixture..

i hope you had a sweet weekend too..jane

Thursday, 11 August 2011


i love enamel cups..

and i have 78 of them..what do i do with them i hear you ask..well..sometimes they become window sill displays in colour order or mixed up..sometimes they have matching enamel teapots to keep them company..the unchipped ones i use to make pies or puddings or to serve sauces and salsas and they go on picnics and bushwalks for cups of tea..and the others make good vases for flowers..what do you collect? jane