Monday, January 26, 2009

Back on the sewing wagon - nearly...

Yesterday I spent a large part of the afternoon tooling around on the Internet for something to sew for me. Amazingly I have managed to fit back into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes, except for one small (er large) problem, my huge breast-feeding gear! I swear I'm about 2 or 3 sizes larger from the ribs up, than I am anywhere else. So I need to do some sewing - FAST!

I checked out this blog by Stacey, which in fact was the very first blog I ever read, and in an ever increasing spiral of blogs and links ended up finding two great gems which I will share. The first is Erica B, who is an amazing sewer and has made a lot of the garments that I have on my wish list. The girl can sew, and if I have read it right has only been doing it for a few years. She's even tailoring coats and jackets.

The second is like Ravelry for sewing, with reviews written on patterns, a very handy thing indeed. I don't know how many of you out there have struggled with an instruction on a pattern, thinking that you must be wrong, because the pattern company would NEVER get it wrong! Again I haven't spent ages on
this site yet, but I did note that they wished to charge for some of their services - we'll see.

I've chosen New Look 6808, not sure which view yet and I'm off to get some fabric tomorrow - will post the result.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bubblin' over with excitement...

Tacky title I know, but I'm soooooooo excited. Today I received a parcel from my MIL with some books and things that she picked up at the LifeLine Book Fair in Brisbane, she also included a scrapbook with some recipes that her mother had saved.

You see this week will mark a new phase in Suzy's hausfrau metamorphosis - I'm about to embark on the bottling journey. Bottling fruit, making pickles, preserves, jams etc. I'm most looking forward to making things like Spiced Cherries, to be served with vintage cheese - yum.

Anyway back to the scrapbook, it's full of these kinds of recipes........
but why am I so excited, 'cos look at the cover.....

this brings back so many memories of being a kid in the '70s. AND I even had this scrapbook...long lost, but now it's back. Yippee! Who did you want to be, the blonde one like I did?

So for the bottles, I have been eyeing off and communicating with the headoffice (via a work colleague) in Deutschland for these sexy ones, which in fact are very cheap compared to the Fowler brand, but once I add in the shipping it just doesn't make have ordered these
and all 60 of them should arrive this week. I've just come home from the markets and yep stone fruit is still there. So next week expect some postings on bottling. See you, I'm off to stare at my ABBA cover.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A family favourite

You know when you have one of those family favourite dinners, the one that you got out of a book or magazine ages ago and have made it so many times that you don't need to look anymore, or better still you've adapted it to your own tastes. Yep, well one of ours is this Spinach and Cheese Risotto. Ok so it's not an absolute true risotto, and you'll see why soon, but I'd go far for a better one and besides nothing beats a great risotto and a crisp white for a lunch somewhere with a view........

Well tonight, there was no view, just our dusty back paddock, but the risotto and wine were there........and the spinach (well silver beet really) was from our very own patch, here it is on death row waiting to be plucked.
The recipe is super simple.

1 onion
1 cup arborio rice
1 bunch or whatever of spinach
vegie/chicken stock
blue cheese

Saute onion in some olive oil then add the rice and cook for a minute or two. Then add the stock one ladle at a time** stirring risotto constantly keep adding stock until all liquid used, you know the usual risotto thing, then towards the end add the spinach until its cooked. When finished cooking turn heat off, add the cheese. I use the Castello brand, either blue or white, and use a half circle block for the above quantity.

Now here's the secret to good risotto, put the lid on and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

**Risotto is not something that I made a lot during my pregnancies, cos' you see it's almost compulsory to stand in the kitchen stirring away with a glass of white in hand - well in fact it is in this house......and then you have another with the meal -enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm screamin' too...

Well after reading about Kuka's exploits in her new ice-cream maker I got around to making a refreshing summer ice recipe that I have wanted to make for ages. It's from a little Women's Weekly book "Ice-creams and sorbets" that my mum got for me and it is delicious. It didn't set really well in the ice-cream maker as it is packed full of sugar and the hour or so that is churns for just isn't long enough to make it set. No problems though as I put all of my creations into a metal loaf tin and cover it in aluminium foil. The metal increases the set.

It is just the yummiest summer ice...........

and here's the recipe........enjoy!

Lychee, ginger and lime ICE

425g can of lychees in syrup
2 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 large orange segmented
1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1/2 cup lime juice

Drain lychees, reserve syrup. Combine water, sugar and reserved syrup in medium pan, stir over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved. Stir in ginger, boil, uncovered 5 mins. Chop orange segments stir into lychee syrup with rind and juice, simmer uncovered for 3 mins. Cool. Set as you desire, either in machine or into a lamington tin, and do the fork through thing when it is nearly set and set again....don't like me be too impatient and put it in the machine when room temperature, a chilled mixture sets quicker - der! I served mine over the lychees.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My favourite flower of the summer....

My snap'n'shoot Ricoh not to mention the skill of the photographer will not, much to my regret, infringe on the copyright Max Dupain
or Robert Mapplethorpe when I publish this post. The pictures that I recall from both of these photographers were of magnolias, mine is of my Favourite summer flower - the gardenia. What is your favourite summer flower?

Mine is also somewhat spoilt by the yellowing leaves in the background. I am trying to remedy this by a dose of coffee grounds and a thorough mixing of some Epsom salts. Helps relieve constipation in even the most stubborn patients!

Back to the photography though, this is a crappy shot and makes me long for the macro lens for our new Digital SLR - where did that Santa-man go?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lil' sweetheart

Back to some sewing posts I think.

This time I have cheated a bit, because this is a project I completed before the girl-child was born. It's from this gorgeous book ........I used the Japanese reversible linen that I have posted about earlier. Three hearts in the fabric from one side, and two in the reverse.

Here it is on our cute new bassinet........

.......and have a peep....what's inside?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What's your favourite sound?

After the preachy last three posts on how to do boring stuff like bread and yoghourt (snore I hear you say) I thought I would just post about something random to see what you all have to say.

A few years ago I read an interview with Hugh Grant (I'm a sucker for a stiff upper lip, an indifferent arrogance and an accent), anyhoo the interviewer asked him what his favourite sound was, and he had a great answer. The sound of scotch pouring onto ice. Yeah - baby I love that sound too. It actually would be in my top five. The sound of champagne corks popping is too obvious and cheesy, as much is I love champagne. And before you scorch me I'm not going to say the sound of my babies gooing and gaaing, because that would be cheesy too - and I want the sounds on my list not to be of sounds that come of out people's mouths.

Here are my top five favourite sounds......

5. The sound of pointe shoes on a stage, audible above the orchestra. Something you can only appreciate at the theatre.
4. The sound of wind making the leaves on a silver birch shimmy.
3. The sound of scotch pouring over ice (thanks Hugh).
2. The sound of my skis groaning in powdery snow, must be powder mind you. The sound of my skis scraping on ice is one of my least favourite sounds.
1. The sound of snow - this wintry blissful silence, particularly at high altitudes. Memory flashback - the view over the Aletsch glacier from the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.
So what are your favourite sounds? - go on make a comment............

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Suzy makin' yoghourt

Well today isn't nearly as hot as yesterday - it was just hideous! I actually got a couple of naps in yesterday though, despite the heat, as the boy-child went off to school for the day. I had all these intentions of sewing and cooking, but the urge for a sleep catch up day was too great. "Sleep when the baby sleeps" is my mantra - stuff the house.

Today, with boy-child in tow, I am back to being a bit more productive. We have "put clothes on" our gingerbread men, and eaten most of them already, mopped the floor together (that's just so much fun for mummy), he's currently munching on little pizzas and mummy has just put on the yoghourt.

So, as requested here is my yoghourt making master class. Like the bread I've been making our yoghourt for a couple of years now. It is super simple, the most common yoghourt machine out there is the Easi-Yo, but I have the Moulinex which unfortunately isn't being imported to Australia anymore. This isn't that much of a drama though, as during the last couple of years I've found out that you can make it in the oven on a very low temperature. The Moulinex is just a glorified hot-plate with a sealed lid to trap the moisture so those little bacteria suckers grow.

All you need is 1litre of milk, boiled or I just use UHT milk;
1/2 cup of milk powder and some yoghourt to start.
Just buy a plain yoghourt with no added sugar etc for your first batch, and then use some of the previous batch for the next and so on.
You will need to replace the "starter" every now and then. Whisk it all together and pour into jar. Easi-Yo make a powder that you just add water to, but it's quite gelatinous and didn't really appeal to us. My machine allows me to set a time, I usually set it for 9 hours.

Here they are just growin' away.....
And the result.......a European style tub set, thick creamy yoghourt.......yum

How does it taste you ask? Well like yoghourt use to in the 70s when I was a kid. I hated yoghourt then, because I have a sweet palate and then all the different varieties came about with lots of added sugars and stuff and I began to eat yoghourt again, but was it really yoghourt? Next time you're at the supermarket check out the length of the yoghourt section, it's nuts.

I use our yoghourt in cooking, baking etc and we buy the Easi-Yo fruit squeeze, add fruit or whatever to eat it straight. And to appeal to the TA in me, I make 1 litre for $1.20!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Suzy bakin' bread - part 2

Well here's the result...

Remember here are the ingredients in the breadmaker

And after rising..................

And after baking...............(I've put some butter there so you can see how big the loaf is).Recipe (courtesy SNK) and details:
360 ml warm water
2 teaspoons oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
500g pasta dura flour
1 teaspoon bread improver
2 teaspoons yeast

Put ingredients in the order that your machine requires and allow to knead and rise. Shape loaf if desired, put into bread tin, dust with semolina (or seeds or flour or whatever) and bake in an oven for 40 mins at 200oC. Note that the bread goes into a cold oven.

Apart from the 5 mins of putting the ingredients into the breadmaker and then pouring it into the bread tin making your own bread isn't that labour intensive. I'm off to enjoy a warm crusty end piece with butter...........yum!

Suzy bakin' bread

Well a couple of posts ago I did allude to the fact that we make our own bread. We've been doing it for nearly 3 years I suppose and only have to resort to buying bread very very rarely, usually when guests are here and we just can't keep up the supply!

I use to think bread makers were a bit wanky, but after the birth of the boy-child I think the urge to make bread was the beginning sign of my suzy hausfrau metamorphosis. At first we made it and baked it in the machine, but apart from the odd specialty loaf which doesn't need to rise too much we found the shape of the machine baked bread hard to manage. So we now use the bread machine to mix, knead and rise (who has time to knead it and wait etc- not me, not every day at least) and then bake in specialty tins in the oven.

I thought I might write down a few hints I've picked up over the last 3 years.
1. Very important - make sure your yeast is FRESH. I keep mine in the fridge in a very airtight container.
2. The order that you place ingredients in the machine is critical. In my machine it goes water, oil, sugar/salt, flour, improver and yeast.
3. Use warm water so that as soon as the yeast hits it the process can begin. Extra important in winter and colder climates.
4. When you place the yeast in the machine, don't let it touch the water until you're ready for mixing to officially begin.5. Don't preheat the oven for white loaves. Grain/wholemeal/rye loaves DO need the oven to be preheated.
6. Don't wash your bread tins (this annoys my father no end), just a quick spray with some oil before you put the dough in is all you need.
7. Make sure your bread flour is high in proten, >10% is the rule.

In ever increasing attempts to decrease the cost of bread (my TA tendencies again) I buy my ingredients from a place called "Simply no Knead", you can buy it retail or online. I also get unbleached baker's flour from the health food store at my local markets. The other day we bought some "plastic bread" from Woollies to feed the birds at the lake with the boy-child and the man of the house nearly passed out at paying 4 bucks! We can bake a loaf of yummy bread for about $1-1.50 dependant on the ingredients.

We also use the bread maker to mix dough for pizza, takes 50 mins and freezes really well unbaked for a quick dinner; pasta dough and for hot cross buns at the right time of year.

I do sometimes use pre-mixes, but mostly make bread the old-fashioned way - flour, yeast, water etc...the bread improver is usually ascorbic acid (or plain old Vitamin C), here are the ingredients for today's loaf...

It is a loaf of pasta dura which is now kneading away so I will post later on with a picture of the result...cripes pressures on now!

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Well here I go off on my first vent... I love agapanthus plants/flowers, I know that they are really common and popular and they have been used and abused to the beegeezuz (@#%&?), but I still love the spherical shape of the flower, the stripey petals and most of all waiting for each bud to appear amongst the lush strappy foliage each summer. But I HATE it when people don't dead-head the flowers after they are spent. First of all it looks hideous, and secondly it is really bad for our natural flora. Once the flowers die off the seeds appear and dangle about ready for the next gush of wind to carry them off into our national parks. In some areas agapanthus plants are considered weeds, and I have even seen a variety promoted by nurseries as being safer for our local environment due to less seed spread. I mean there is a guy up the street who still hasn't removed last summers flowers and there they are in all their brown glory beside the lush new buds!!!!!!!!!!

I also love them as cut flowers, and have been known in days gone by, before I owned or had access to a plot of earth, to go night stalking and steal flowers from the common areas of the townhouses where I lived. Today I had access to my own patch and here is the result.
See my flowers often don't even get the chance to sit unsightly above the foliage after the show is please dead-head your agapanthus for my sake and for the sake of our environment.

Vent OVER and OUT.........................

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well I'm back at my new love, the overlocker, today constructing of all things - jocks! Believe it or not! Hence the title socks'n'jocks. No I'm not sewing socks as well, but it has got me to wondering about socks and how many people these days actual bother to make a sock or darn a holey sock. I've inherited this cute little mushroom critter which I assume is for darning socks, but I don't think I will ever use it. Just throw holey socks out I say. Should I be being a bit more savvy with my pennies with the GLOBAL financial crisis?

I'm already what some would consider a bit of a tight arse (TA). I wasn't always this way, but in the last 3 years since the arrival of the boy child and the emergence of my inner hausfrau I've found numerous ways of cutting the budget and allowing us to horde more money away, I guess for times like these. Honestly apart from the possibility that one or both of us could be jobless (which I don't think is likely, does anyone ever I suppose) we won't be changing our habits to see us through the impending doom. Heck, we already bake our bread, make our yoghourt, sew clothes and grow some of our vegies. The man of the house has objected to my requests for a milking house cow - but we'll see. I even joined an online forum thingy to get more ideas to be a TA, click here if you're a secret TA.

Don't get me wrong I'm a TA in an odd sort of way, I can get the biggest thrill out of "saving" $300 on a pair of Bally shoes, will spend hours online searching for the perfect Furla handbag to spend my Xmas money on or salivate at the very prospect of being able to make wool jersey wrap dresses on my overlocker...but I still don't think I'll ever darn a sock.


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