Make It Your Own

Make it unique. Make it yourself. Make it your own

Homemade bacon failure 12 May, 2010

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 9:48 pm

Bacon fails

I’ve had a go at making my own bacon. Just a small piece of belly pork to give it a try. I followed a recipe from the River Cottage Family Cookbook. I followed it very carefully. It looks like good streaky bacon and is nice and tender but it is saltier than the Dead Sea and I’ve been to the Dead Sea and accidentally swallowed some of it. I put some cubes of it in a beef casserole and didn’t need to add any salt. I think the only thing it will be good for is supplying the salt in pea soup and such things. Good thing it lasts for weeks. I think mine will last forever with all that salt.

After looking at some other bacon recipes and curing instructions that I have I’m pretty sure there is a mistake in the River Cottage recipe. It calls for 500g salt for 1.5kg of meat where other recipes use about a quarter of that or less and also more sugar. I’m willing to give bacon another go with another recipe and over time I might cobble a recipe together from various instructions and come up with something I like.

LAMBY BARGAIN

My local supermarket is locally owned and so often has things for sale that you’d never find in Coles or Woolies. Today I bought a forequarter of lamb cut into chops including the neck, shank and ribs. It was $6 a kilo and the total cost was $20.30. After dividing up the chops into packs of 2 for the freezer I had 5 packs of chops, a neck in one piece, a shank, a set of ribs and a couple of chops that were too bony and fatty for grilling. All except the packaged up chops went into the pot with carrots, onions and celery and a few herbs and cooked gently for two hours. I strained it and continued to cook the stock to reduce it and took all the meat off the bones and chopped it up. I think I’ll make a pie with it tomorrow. 10 chops, a pie and a pot of stock isn’t too bad for $20.

HMMMMM…

All this cooking takes time and energy. I still need to keep the house clean, do all the washing (including nappies), keep J entertained and happy, visit people, go to Kindergym, Bible study, hydrotherapy and so on. I need to remember that there are more important things than saving money and home cooking everything we eat. If I buy biscuits I have not failed. If I buy some new clothes I have not failed. If J eats something out of a jar I haven’t failed either. What are the more important things? Spending time with God. Spending time with my family and giving them my undivided attention for some time every day. Seeking God’s approval and not the admiration of other people. My worth is not tied up in the things I do. I have to keep reminding myself of these things.

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Think I Might Start Blogging Again 6 May, 2010

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts,Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 9:24 pm

It’s been a long time since my last post but I have a very good reason for this. J is now 15 months old and has just started walking. He is real cutie and loves his Dad. He is very sweet and has a gentle nature. I’m a stay-at-home Mum and after a year or so I feel that life has a rhythm and  an improvement in my health and energy levels means that I’ve doing and thinking and changing a few things. I’ve been having the urge to get a few things out of my head and onto a page so I thought I’d use my already existing blog as a kind of journal. You can read it not as you please but I hope some of my thoughts might inspire or inform someone.

Vegetables

The vegetable garden is going well at the moment. We’ve been eating butternuts and capsicums and a bit of New Zealand spinach occasionally as well as lots of herbs. We had the usual heatwaves over summer so the beans didn’t so well and butternuts almost died. The tomatoes were good though and the basil too. We decided that beans would grow better when the weather is cooler so we planted some at the beginning of autumn in a newly manured bed. Success! I picked a huge bunch of beans today and they were as sweet and crisp as you could want. I think beans are my favourite vegetable. Tonight for tea we had risotto with butternut and grilled capsicum, basil and thyme and beans on the side. The vegies were all fresh from the garden, except the onion and garlic. J likes risotto. It makes excellent baby and toddler food.

Speaking of onion and garlic, we have planted out a bed of onions, garlic and carrots. The onions were from a punnet, the garlic from the organic green grocer and the carrot from seed M saved a year ago. The garlic is up and the carrots have germinated along with lots of weed seeds but we’ll pull those out once they are bigger. We also have some spinach, lettuce and broccoli in the beds and some more brassica seedlings in the shade house. I’ve made a bed ready for podding peas but we haven’t planted them yet.

Make it your own…FOOD

I’ve been thinking about where our food comes from and what goes in it. Food these days is an industry with factories and machines, preservatives and palm oil. Highly processed food is not the kind of food I want to eat. It might be cheap to buy in many cases but it isn’t cheap for our bodies or the earth. God has given me the skills and knowledge to cook my own food and large garden to grow it and I want to do more of it. I also don’t want to put highly refined sugars and vegetable oils into the little body of my son. Below is a list of some of the things I’ve been doing myself…

Bread (in the bread machine)

Pizza

Herbal tea (herbs grown in the garden and used fresh or dried)

Cordial

Jam

Chutney and pickles

Stock (usually chicken)

Some vegetables and fruit

Eggs (we have six chickens)

Baking (biscuits, cake, scones etc)

Chicken patties (I use chicken thighs, bread and vegies and put it through my Kitchen Aid mincer attachment)

These are all fairly easy things for me to do, except for the heavy stuff in the garden of course. I think the two most important things here are the bread making and the baking. Industrial bread and biscuits are filled with all sorts of awful things and a lot of the time I don’t like the taste anyway. Our homemade wholemeal bread is heavy and dense and make excellent toast. It has no preservatives or fillers and tastes delicious. Homemade cakes and biscuits are made with butter, flour, eggs and sugar and one or two other things. They have no colours or “numbers” in them and definitely no highly refined vegetable oils which are very bad for you. They also taste homemade which is good thing when it comes to home baking. I would far rather give my little one a buttered homemade scone or a piece of homemade cake for morning tea than a bought biscuit.

My Empire Red Kitchen Aid stand mixer makes light work of mixing, kneading, mincing and slicing. It sliced 4 kilos of cucumbers in about 10 minutes!

I’ve just started to get my own bacon going but I’ll talk about that another day…

It might only be 9:20 but I’m tired. Being a full time Mum with a bee in her bonnet about home cooking makes for a tiring day. I’m going to bed with a book.

Here’s a happy snap of my little guy.

 

Apricot Harvest 11 December, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 6:44 pm

Hi every body (including my Dad; nice to have a comment from you!)

Someone requested a baby update last week so here it is: I am now 31 weeks pregnant. Everything is perfectly normal so far and I can feel his feet and elbows sticking into me on a regular basis. He is going to be born at Ashford Private Hospital. I am planning on being a stay at home Mum. Matthew is going to be a stay at home Dad for the first 8 weeks. If you ask me about names I will give you a suitably vague reply. Names and the date of the scheduled caesarean are a secret! Okay?

WHY BOTHER WITH GROWING AND PRESERVING FRUIT

Over the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with our apricot harvest. Our small tree gave us about 5 kilograms of fruit. Not bad for a 5 year old tree. We watered it regularly while the fruit was forming so each apricot was perfectly delicious and juicy. Yum! We now have in the cupboard 12 jars of golden orange jam and 8 jars of bottled halves in sugar syrup.

Apricot Jam

Bottled Apricots

Seems like a lot of work though, doesn’t it? I guess it is a fair bit of work and takes a fair bit of time sitting at the table slicing kilos of apricots, boiling up jam, putting the halves neatly into bottles, watching over the bottles so they stay at the right temperature for the required amount of time, not to mention the slight anxiety felt over whether the jam will set or not or the bottles stay sealed or not. Is it worth it? I think it is for a few different reasons.

Taste: I’m sorry but you just can’t buy apricot jam that tastes as good as homemade jam from homegrown apricots. Just starting with a superior raw material makes a huge difference. Even if you buy apricots to make jam it will still taste better then supermarket jam. Bottled apricot halves from homegrown apricots may look the same as tinned apricots but that is where the similarities end. Homegrown apricots bottled in a light sugar syrup (or fruit juice if you prefer) taste exquisite, not an adjective used to describe even the best tinned halves. Aside from all the fantastic fruit you can eat straight from the tree, homemade jam and bottled apricots are are very tasty way of using the fruit all year round.

Food Miles: “Food miles” seems to be a fashionable thing to talk about at the moment. It is a serious issue though. Lots and lots of the food we eat is trucked thousands of kilometres in carbon burning, fossil fuel using semi trailers. The more food we eat that comes from our local area the better in terms of the environment and also in terms of taste and quality. Tomatoes that are grown in Queensland and eaten in Adelaide have to be tough to survive the journey and tough they are. The same goes for strawberries from WA. Fruit that comes from your own backyard is very low in “food miles”. Yes you may have to buy sugar from Queensland to make jam in Adelaide but it’s still better than having that sugar go to NSW to make the jam then have the jars of jam trucked to Adelaide. We live in a perfect stone-fruit-growing area; why on earth should we buy stone fruit in a tin from Victoria? (Let me stress that some things just can’t be grown in our local area. I consider coffee and sugar to be essential items and I’m happy to have them trucked from Queensland, or Ethiopia or wherever our coffee comes from. Queenslanders of course will have other items that need to be brought from the southern states and so on for whatever area you live in.)

No additives: my jam has three ingredients: fruit, sugar and pectin. Pectin is a natural ingredient found in fruit anyway and helps jam to set. My bottled fruit also has three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. No colours, no flavours, no preservatives, no mysterious numbers, none of those strange things that make many children behave strangely.

Fun: I actually enjoy making jam and bottling fruit. They are not difficult skills to master and give a great feeling of satisfaction when you see the jars lined up in your cupboard.

Our peaches will be ready soon, the tomatoes too…

 

Adventures in home storage 6 November, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 11:01 am

Preparing our home for an new additional family member after 8 years of just the two of us has been all about finding new homes for things around the house. I thought I’d share with you what I have discovered…

1. Purging. Man, the stuff I have thrown out recently! Everything from table linen, appliances, old ring binders (why did we feel the need to have 12 empty ring binders in the cupboard?), books, and clothes to acrylic knitting yarn and plastic knitting needles (why did I need 4 sets of 4mm plastic needles when I hate knitting with them?). Anything in good condition has gradually been taken to the Salvation Army, the Church of Christ “Big A Boutique” or Vinnies. Lots of stuff has just gone in the bin. The world is a lighter and less stressful place when we are less encumbered by stuff. One also fits into one’s house a little more easily!

2. Squeezing. I have one thing to say about this: buy some of the vacuum pack bags from K-mart or wherever, put stuff in them, vacuum the air out, store them in a box under your bed. It’s amazing how much stuff can shrink when there is no air in it. My wedding dress and the clothes I’m not currently wearing are now freeze-dried-biscuit type things, protected from dust and moths.

3. Going up. Wall space in our house has been much under-utilised in our house. We now have a fancy Ikea bathroom cupboard that is 6 feet tall instead of a small 2 feet tall one. It takes up the same amount of floor space but now I actually have EMPTY space in a cupboard even though I have put all the towels in it. (Given time I think we’ll fill it easily with baby paraphenalia). We are about to take the same tack in the kitchen and are on the lookout for a large tall dresser.

4. Cleaning and tidying. I find that a clean tidy house feels bigger than an untidy house. I know I can keep it clean and tidy before the baby comes but after? who knows.

After believing that 2 adults and a baby (and one day another baby maybe) couldn’t fit comfortably into a 2 bedroom house, I’m starting to feel like we can.

EASY BACON AND LENTIL SOUP

I know that the weather is warming up but Matthew still likes soup for lunch. I guess working in an air conditioned office means soup can be eaten almost all year round. I’m making this soup this morning to be stored in small containers in the freezer. It’s one I threw together one day and liked so I wrote down what I did and have now made it lots of times. If you are reading this in the Northern Hemisphere this is a good winter soup you might like to make as the weather cools down.

You’ll need: 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 3 cloves garlic, olive oil, 1 cup red lentils, 4 cups water, 2 vegetable stock cubes, 1 can crushed tomatoes (about 410g), 150g bacon pieces (good quality please), thyme sprigs

Finely and neatly chop the onion, carrots and celery and crush the garlic. Gently sautee these with a pinch of salt in a slurp of olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, between 30 and 45 minutes. Add more water if you think it’s too thick and stir regularly so it doesn’t stick. (You can leave the thyme sprigs whole. The leaves will fall off during cooking then you can remove the stalks before serving.) Serve with bread or toast or allow to cool and freeze for later. Serves 4-6.

IN THE GARDEN

Everything is growing well at the moment. The tomatoes seem to grow a few centimetres every day. A couple of them have flowers already. There are apricots and peaches forming on the trees and a few beans have popped up. Matthew has been preparing a bed for the pumpkins. The roses are covered in flowers. The garden would look perfect except for the grass which is drying out and turning yellow but there is no way we’ll waste precious water on the lawn!

IN OTHER NEWS

On the 29th November there will be a street market on Goodwood Road between the library and the primary school. A couple of friends of mine are having a stall and I’ll be there for a little while too with some hand dyed yarn. It’s usually and excellent market and you should be able to find some Christmas gifts or at least something yummy to eat.

MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES

This is a Chinese blessing, though I’ve also heard that it’s a curse, that I’ve been pondering lately. We do seem to live in interesting times what with the financial crisis, the first black President, climate change and the huge changes the internet has brought to everyday life. As a lover of history and the way it affects our lives now I’m enjoying watching these interesting times and I hope I live a good long time so I can see how lives are affected in the future by what is happening now. I love watching election coverage on the TV. I’ll happily watch Australian election stuff for hours. I watched about 3 hours of the US election coverage on the ABC yesterday. It’s really going to annoy my kids in future!

Have an excellent week and enjoy the interesting times we all live in! Sarah.

 

Making Stock 5 May, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,knitting — makeityourown @ 6:02 pm

My poor dear neglected blog…how I have missed you…I’ve been a little busy…don’t look at me like that…I’m sorry.

It’s been weeks since I wrote anything here. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

Yarn Magazine: working on a large garment, a small garment and a column for the June issue. Also pondering patterns and columns for future issues

South West Trading Company: asked me to redesign my Plaited Wrap for them in one of their yarns. Since I own the copyright to that design now I’m free to sell it again if I want, which I have done. They are getting the pattern and the finished knitted garment in their Therapi yarn. It’s finished and I’ll post it tomorrow. (I’ll also review the yarn at some stage.)

Ravelry: I’ve started a pattern store on Ravelry (a social networking site for knitters). So far there is one item for sale, the End of the Rainbow Jumper. Like the Plaited Wrap, I own the copyright again and can sell it. You can download the pattern for $5 US. At this stage I think you need to be a Ravelry user to use this feature. I have been getting other patterns ready for sale as well. That involves knitting, photographing, preparing a pdf and proofreading each pattern. Huge thankyous must go to Barb for helping me photograph and proof read (in return for eggs and babysitting).

Knitty: I’m going to take the plunge and submit a pattern to Knitty (an on line knitting magazine). I have spent hours and hours searching for the perfect yarn for the project. All I wanted was an 8ply wool yarn with a bit of nylon in it, or a sock wool in nice solid colours that is available internationally, that doesn’t cost a fortune. Sigh. St Ives was my first choice, since it is internationally recognized and available in Australia, but that has been discontinued. Wildfoote was an option but very hard to find a store in the US that will ship to Australia. Araucania is the perfect weight and composition and available in Australia but I’m not prepared to pay $26 a skein, especially when I’ll need two. After hours of trawling the internet I finally decided to go with a yarn that is virtually unknown in Australia but well known OS, beautiful, affordable (except for postage which I am assuming will be hideous) and just right I think. The yarn in question is Nancy Bush’s Footpath sock yarn. I spoke to her in her shop (The Wooly West) in Utah and we arranged the sale. At last! I will keep you posted on how things progress with Knitty.

Dyeing: I’m still doing bits and pieces of dyeing. This week I’m going to be dyeing in some nice autumn colours and some pinks and blues. I’m planning to have a table at the Hills Spinners and Weavers open day on 31st May at Littlehampton Hall in the Adelaide Hills.

The Guild: the Handknitters Guild of SA, of which I am secretary, recently had their exhibition. I’ll post a few photos below.

MAKE YOUR OWN STOCK

Stock is wonderfully useful stuff in the kitchen. I like to keep a stock of stock in my freezer and this week I’ve been stocking up and making some.

Why make stock? Bought chicken stock and beef stock powders have their place but they are very salty. Ready made stock that comes in cartons I find bitter and salty. Some dishes such a French Onion Soup or risotto have stock as a main ingredient and the bought stuff just won’t do. I’ve tried making French Onion Soup with ready made beef stock and with homemade beef stock. The difference in the flavour is astounding. Ditto for a good risotto. The thought a beautiful risotto being ruined by bought stock almost makes me cry. For real depth of flavour with no bitterness or artificial stuff and the right amount of salt in your cooking, home made stock is fantastic. It’s cheap to make and is a good use for leftover bones and carcasses. What follows is how I make stock.

Chicken Stock

What you need: 2kgs chicken bones or carcasses, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 stalks celery, garlic, a small handful of bay leaves and/or other dried or fresh herbs, a few peppercorns, oil, water

Cut the vegetable into pieces and sweat (cook gently, covered) them in a large pot in a little oil for about 15mins. Add all the other ingredients and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 hours. When cool, strain and put it in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and become solid. Take off the fat and discard. For more concentrated stock, boil hard until it has halved in volume. Freeze in containers. To make stock using a leftover roast chicken carcass: put the carcass in a saucepan with a carrot, an onion, a piece of celery, some herbs, garlic and pepper. Cover with water, bring to boil, simmer for an hour or two.

Beef Stock

What you need: 2kgs of beef bones, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 stalks celery, a dollop of tomato paste, a few peppercorns, a small handful of fresh or dried herbs, oil, water.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (celsius). Brush the bones with oil and cook in the oven for an hour. Put the bones in a large pot. Pour some boiling water on to the pan they were cooked in and scrape up the brown bits from the pan. Add the water with the bits to the pot with the bones. Add the other ingredients and cover it all with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 hours. When cool, strain and put it in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and become solid. Take off the fat and discard. For more concentrated stock, boil hard until it has halved in volume. Freeze in containers.

I like to freeze stock in 500ml containers since that is quite a convenient size for the two of us.

Stock cubes

I like to make “stock cubes”. When your stock has been strained, boil it hard to concentrate it. You want it to be at least half the volume it was, if not a third. When cool, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Loosen the cubes and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer. If you want a little bit of stock for a stir fry or something like that you can add a “cube” very easily. This way you can add depth of flavour to your cooking without the “fake” taste you get with powder.

I prefer not to add salt to the stock so that I can add the right amount to the finished dish. You can also make vegetable stock and fish stock. Vegetable stock involves sweating or roasting vegetables until they are brown and then adding water and boiling like other stock. Fish stock uses fish bones but you should never simmer the stock for more than 20 minutes.

Happy stock making everybody.

Coming soon…Lots of laceweight yarn for sale, and a couple of yarn reviews

Please visit me at Ravelry. My user name is SarahGolder. Please also note that you can now pay for my yarns using Paypal. All you need to do is let me know that is how you’d like to pay and I’ll send you a Paypal generated email with a button to pay.

A few photos of the Handknitters Guild of SA’s exhibition follow.

 

Christmas recipes 13 December, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:30 am
Tags: , , ,

Hi there everybody, it’s been a while since I posted but for a very good reason. I’ve been in England for 2 and a half weeks and then at Moonta Bay for 3 days. For your reading pleasure this week I have a couple of Christmas recipes, a little report on my trip to England and some ideas for making your own gift tags. Enjoy.

CHRISTMAS PUNCH

Here’s a recipe for making your own Christmassy punch. In our family, whenever we make punch for a party, it must include pineapple juice, ginger beer and cold black tea. These are the essentials and any other drinks such as orange juice or lemonade may be added. Just add whatever you like and see how it tastes! We had 6 people over for dinner last night and what follows is what I put in the punch. It was pretty popular. I also make it when the weather is stinking hot and plenty of cold drinks are wanted.

Ingredients: 750ml ginger beer, 1 litre pineapple juice, 1 litre cranberry drink, 500ml strong black tea, 750ml lemonade, large handful of mint leaves, ice cubes.

Make up the tea in a jug and allow to cool then refrigerate. Have all the other drinks nice and cold. Not long before you want to drink the punch, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or very clean bucket. Since you probably can’t fit a bucket in your fridge, it’s a good idea to make sure all the ingredients are nicely chilled before you make it. Fill a large jug with punch and add some ice cubes and serve.

The cranberry drink added a Christmassy flavour and a lovely red colour to the punch.

Christmas punch

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING

Stuffing for your Christmas chicken or turkey is easy to make yourself so there is no excuse for buying packet stuffing that is stuffed with artificial flavours and dehydrated mystery. This is the way I always make stuffing but usually without the sage and some extra dried herbs.

Ingredients: for one chicken (double everything for a turkey): 2 slices good quality bread, a large handful of fresh sage, 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, large pinch salt.

Cut the bread into 1cm cubes, finely chop the onion and sage and crush the garlic. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. You may need up to a quarter cup. Mix well. Before you stuff the bird, wipe the cavity with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Pack the stuffing firmly into the bird and cook as you normally would.

I don’t have a picture of the stuffing because all the stuffing from 2 chickens got eaten!

MAKE YOUR OWN GIFT TAGS

I like to make my own gift tags each Christmas from various scraps of cardboard and last year’s cards. I always keep the cards that have suitable pictures to be reused. In an hour or so you can make as many cards as you’ll need. This is a good activity for the kids to get involved with.

What you need: scraps of thin cardboard, old Christmas cards, scissors, glue, a hole punch, stick on stars

Card scraps

Here are some ideas of tags you can make from scraps like the ones above:

Just cut out a pretty picture from a card and punch a hole in one corner

gift tags

Cut the pretty borders from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard. Add some stars.

gift tags

Cut small pictures from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard

gift tags

HOLIDAYS

From 13th November to 2nd December I was in England visiting my sister, her husband and their 10 month old baby. This was the first time I had seen my niece. She is the sweetest little thing and is even cute when she is crying because of the way she sticks her bottom lip out.  They live just out of Oxford and we spent most of our time in the Oxford area and we went to London for a few days. I did plenty of wandering around Oxford. Even if you don’t go any touristy places, Oxford is lovely just to walk around. My sister and I went to St Edmunds Hall which is one of the oldest colleges. The chapel was decorated by William Morris and the wood carvings are especially lovely. We had a brief wander in the Bodleian Library and we went to see the graves of Tolkein and CS Lewis, two of my favourite authors. Aside from that we went for a few drives, visited some family and lazed around watching tv.

I only went to 2 yarn shops while I was there. The yarn shop in Witney (a small town near Oxford) has pretty run-of-the-mill yarns such as Sirdar and Debbie Bliss but it also has all the Noro yarns. While in London we went to Loop in Islington. It is very up-market and has a good range of high-end silk, alpaca, merino, cashmere and loads of books. I bought some Blue Sky Alpacas pure alpaca and silk/alpaca blend yarns, some sock yarns and two tiny balls of Habu kid mohair/nylon. Yes I was feeling rich and reckless that day! If you are in the Islington area of London Loop is definitely worth a visit. I’ll no doubt do a review of some of these yarns at some stage.

Wow, real life holly (this is a novelty for an Australian at Christmas)

Real holly

A church in a tiny Oxfordshire village, Shelsbury

Shelsbury church

Tolkein’s grave at Wolvercote Cemetary, just outside of Oxford

Tolkein’s grave

Last weekend we went to Moonta Bay on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia for a few days with Matthew’s family. We fished off the jetty, ate the fish and generally lazed about. It’s beautiful there. I can definitely recommend it for a few days of fishing and relaxing. We caught squid, garfish, tommies and some mackerel-type things that we didn’t know the name of. We also caught trumpet fish but they don’t taste good so we threw them back. If you catch a trumpet fish and hold it up to your ear you can hear it honking quietly. Amazing!

Moonta Bay Jetty

IN OTHER NEWS

Good news Australian yarn lovers! YARN magazine has found a buyer and will be continuing. The next issue will be out in March 2008. I’ll be continuing to write the Yarn on a Shoestring column and will be having more of my patterns published.

Well that’s it for this week. Coming up next week: yarn reviews galore (well maybe 2 or 3).

Have a great week. Sarah.

 

Spring has sprung 7 November, 2007

Hello everybody,

It’s feeling very much like spring now. The weather has warmed up and we have had plenty of rain over the last week. Consequently, the garden is going mad. There is new growth on lots of the plants and our fruit trees are putting out the first tiny fruits-to-be. The roses are flowering beautifully, including my favourite rose, Bonica, of which I have two. I’ve repotted lots of pot plants and moved most of them into the shadehouse or under the porch. The vegetables are also growing like mad. The salvias are just starting to flower and in a month or so they will be amazing. I’m a big fan of salvias for a dry garden. They stay looking great even at 35 degrees and come in a wide variety of sizes and colours. The chickens are giving us way too many eggs. I’ll have to make a few sponge cakes to use them up! Thought you might like some photos…

Freckles lettuce

Growing apricots

Apple blossoms and apples

Dry garden

HARVESTING CORIANDER SEEDS

If you’ve ever grown coriander in your vegie garden for the fresh leaves, you’ll know that it goes to seed fairly quickly, especially if it gets stressed from a lack of water or a slight increase in temperature. All is not lost however. Allow the flowering and seeding to take its course and you’ll be able to harvest the seeds and use them as a spice.

When your coriander plants start flowering, keep watering them and taking care of them. The seeds will start swelling and soon you’ll have some bright green berries.

Unripe coriander seeds

After the berries have developed the plant will begin to brown and die and you can stop watering it. When the plant is nice and dry pull it up and then pick off the seeds. Let the seeds dry a little more and then store them in an airtight container. Use them whole in curries and rice or grind them in a mortar and pestle to use anywhere you’d normally use ground coriander. I use it in lots of things including fried rice, stir fried vegetables, vegetable soups and curries. It is a very popular spice in Indian, Moroccan and Mexican cuisines.

Dry coriander seeds

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

imgp1142.jpg

Selby has been busy this week trying out Knit Picks double pointed needles and Suzie Horne yarn.

Suzie Horne Hand dyed 8ply Finnish Landrace Cross Wool

Suzie Horne wool

Not the easiest stuff to get your hands on if you live outside of South Australia but definitely worth finding. Suzie grows Finnish Landrace Cross sheep at her farm in Meadows in the Adelaide Hills. The wool from her sheep is commercially spun and the then she hand dyes it. Being an artist, she has an excellent eye for colour and so her colourways are deep, clear and never flat; warm pinks, vibrant reds and cool blues with a few fresh greens and yellows too. I’d happily buy them all and at around $10 for 100g they are very affordable. The yarn itself is smooth but still woolly and has a high twist. It knits and crochets well, showing stitch definition but still springy. I’ve seen and felt plenty of garments made with this yarn and they all feel and look great. Suzie and her yarns can be found at small fibre fairs such as the Mt Pleasant Fibre Fair or the Hills Spinners and Weavers open days. You can also find it at All Seasons Wool shop in Hahndorf. If you see some, buy it; you might not see that exact colourway again!

Knit Picks Double Pointed Needles (steel)

Knit picks needles

In short, these are the best fine double pointed needles I have ever used. I love them and I think I might buy some in every size I regularly use. They are smooth, very pointy, light, not too long and come in sets of five.  The steel is very smooth and slippery for fast knitting. The points are long and sharp, making them excellent for tiny stitches and doing tricky stitches like a k3tog or a p2togtbl. Their short length (15cm) and lightness are good for socks and glove fingers and won’t weigh your hands down. Lots of sock patterns require a set of five needles rather than four. Instead of substituting a needle that’s not quite the same (doing this still works but it feels a bit odd) or buying 2 sets of four needles, having a set of five the same is better. The whole range of Knit Picks products are not available in Australia but the double pointeds and circulars are now being imported. You can find them at many of the online yarn stores in Australia, at Tapestry Craft in Sydney and, if you are in Adelaide, you can get them at the Button Bar in the Adelaide Arcade where they cost $10.60 (say hi to my friend Helena while you are there). These needles make me happy! I highly recommend them for socks and gloves.

IN OTHER NEWS

My sock knitting class went well. I had five students and we had a good time yesterday morning. I’ll be heading to the Craft and Quilt Fair on Thursday afternoon. The fair goes from Thursday to Sunday. I’d avoid it on Saturday morning, unless you like driving through the Christmas Pageant traffic. (I’ll never understand why the Adelaide Christmas Pageant is held in early November. I don’t start to feel Christmassy until December.)

I’m off to England on Tuesday to visit my sister for a couple of weeks. I probably won’t be posting in that time but when I return I’ll have rundown on what’s happening in the English knitting world and show off some yarn purchases.

If you want to see some of my hand dyed yarn and some of my tea cosies in the flesh, there is a market at the Goodwood Primary School on the 24th (yes that’s election day). My friend Sue is having a stall with hand made items from various people, including me. Thanks Sue!

If any of you are beta testers at Ravelry, you can find me there as Sarah Golder. You can see my stash, my library, my projects and my original designs. For the uninitiated, Ravelry is a social networking site for people into knitting, crocheting and spinning. It’s still in the testing stage and should be open to the public sometime soon. I’m waiting, not very patiently, for my “I swatched Ravelry” t-shirt to arrive in the mail.

That’s all for today. Have a lovely week. Please leave me your comments so that I know who my readers are. Tell us all what you like to make or grow or cook.

Sarah.