Total Pageviews

Friday, 30 December 2011

Friday's Feast!

Recently, I've been looking at this website (you can also visit by clicking on The Italian Dish in my blog list on the sidebar.  It's a really special website if you're interested in Italian cooking, or any cooking for that matter.

Anyway, it reminded me just how easy it is to make your own fresh pasta.  It's quite a long time since I made any, I don't know why, but she inspired me to make some for our lunch today.

Her recipe is very simple, just one egg to three quarters of a cup of flour, but because I used a bit more flour (one full cup), I added a bit of olive oil as well.

You just mix the flour into the egg with a fork until it comes together, then knead it into a ball which is placed in the fridge for 20 minutes or so (a good time to make the sauce!)

Then you just cut it into sections and put each one through the rollers of a pasta maker (mine's an Imperia bought for me by a friend - he bought me a motor for it too, so it's very easy to make by myself, two hands instead of three)

until it's thin enough to feed into one of the two cutters.  I used the spaghetti sized one today, except that it's square-sectioned rather than round.  I'm sure the Italians have a name for this pasta but, not knowing what it is, I'll just call it spaghetti.


If you don't have a pasta maker, it is possible to make it using a rolling pin, but it's difficult (though not impossible) to get it really thin as the dough is quite elastic and springs back.  It can then be cut with a knife.

At this point, the water was boiling, and it just takes two minutes to cook - brilliant.

I would have posted a photo of the dish on the table, but my camera ran out of battery at that point - next time maybe.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Makes

Now that Christmas Day has been and gone, I can show you the things I made this year for presents.  There's only one more to be delivered, but I don't think she looks at my blog so it shouldn't be a problem.

This is what I made for my sister :-

I used hand-spun merino and silk, hand-painted with acid dyes.  The knitting caused me a lot of grief initially.  For this pattern, the outside edge is the cast on edge, so I had about 320 stitches - normally not a problem, but I didn't have the right size circular needle so I used ordinary knitting needles.  The problem was, if I made a mistake I couldn't see where it was and ended up pulling it back quite a way each time.  Eventually, I had to cut the wool and start again with fresh because it was becoming quite ragged.  A lesson learned - always make sure you have the right needles before starting!

Next I made some knitted cowls (Thermis), this time using a hand-dyed merino/alpaca mix with a bit of angelina sparkle added.

This one was for me (just to try the pattern out, you understand) :-

I used some hand-spun baby merino wool that I'd dyed with woad, and it's super-soft round your neck.

Some people received apricot and orange chutney (really nice) and jars of mincemeat (not easy to get here), and I made a whole heap of these :-

Hand-felted soaps
These were such a lot of fun to make, I can see myself making lots more in the future.

I was a bit late starting my presents this year, so not everyone received something hand-made.  Must do better next year!!  (I say that every year)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Day Fun

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, with lots of good food and friends.

We were invited to Rowena and David's house for the 25th.

They had gone to immense trouble to make our Christmas Day unforgettable.  The first thing that hit us as we walked into the kitchen was the table

It was a riotous mix of colourful, sparkly Christmassy goodies

There were reindeer place markers, unreal cakes, Christmas crackers, reindeer napkins, chocolate tree treats, and a Santa hat for each person.  A tremendous amount of planning had gone into that table (and the sparkly bits got everywhere!), it must have taken ages to arrange.

And then there was the food . . .

The turkey was artfully carved by the chef's assistant,

The vegetables played a leading role,

and the fussy, finicky vegetarian (moi, if you hadn't already guessed) had been catered for with a delicious parsnip and hazelnut roulade - half of which I was allowed to bring home for another day.  Yaaay, doggy bags too!!

The guests



Rowena and Me

had a wonderful time

Me and David

pulling crackers and telling jokes

and recording the event for posterity.

After all that food, a walk was most definitely needed

Ministry of Silly Walks photo!
View of the Chateau
but not too far, just to the cross at the end of the road

and back home again just as the sun went down

for a little musical interlude before bedtime

Thank you Rowena and David for making our Christmas so special!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hello Visitors!

Have just logged in to see that there are at present over 20 people viewing my blog at this moment.  Unheard of!!

I suspect that our Christmas cards have finally been delivered in the UK, as that seems to be where they're all viewing from (I included a note with the blog address).

Please feel free to leave a comment . . . it gets awfully lonely on here!  I feel as though I'm talking to myself sometimes, although I know that's not true.

Anyway, hello everyone and welcome to my little world.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hexapuffs Galore!

Ever heard of the Beekeepers Quilt?  I've been looking at this for months thinking, no, I'm not going to be tempted with this.  It's far too big a project, if I ever finish it it'll take me years to do.  So, I'm, definitely, NOT, going, to, do, this!!

Well, I finally succumbed.  I think I was just so fascinated to learn how to make the little individual hexapuffs that in the end I just had to give in and buy the pattern.  Weak, that's me!

That was two days ago, and this is as far as I've got :-

Cute little knitted hexagonal pillows.  So, not exactly hexapuffs galore, but I've made a start.  The nice thing is, they use up your leftover wool.  These are done in sock yarn, but I think any 4-ply thickness wool would be good, and I'm planning to use some of my leftover hand-spun too.  They're normally stuffed with polyester filling (and a sprinkle of lavender if you like), but I didn't have any.  Not having any idea where I could buy this locally, and not wanting to wait for an order to be sent to me, I decided to wash some sheep's fleece (which was a bit too scratchy to wear next to the skin anyway) and use that instead.  So far, so good.

They are interesting to do as well - they're actually knit in the round on three double pointed needles, so there's no sewing up afterwards (I hate sewing up), and then they're just tied together at the corners, so no sewing up there either!  Very clever.

. . . and Jak likes them too.  During the night he pinched one out of the basket to play with.  Note to self : knit mouse for Jak for Christmas and stuff it with sheep's wool - he loves that.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ever Peeled a Tree?

Well I have!  This is one of my little apricot trees which didn't make it through last winter (sad face).  It's been sitting there leafless all summer sending me baleful glances (was it my fault?? - who knows).

So I dug it up and peeled it!  Jenny Dean's Wild Colour assures me that I should get really nice shades of dusky pink and that I don't need to use a mordant as the bark contains lots of tannin.

Love this picture, don't know why!

Then I cut the bark into little pieces and put them in a jar of water to soak.

They've been there for more than a week now, so I think tomorrow I'll put the whole lot in a pan and heat it up to extract more dye.

Then I have a dilemma . . . do I risk my lovely merino fleece in there, or do I throw in some anonymous sheep's fleece that isn't such a good quality?  After much deliberation, I think I'll put some of the merino in there.  If the colour comes out nice I'll be very pleased (but maybe not so pleased if I use the sub-standard fleece because I've no idea what I'll use that for), and if it turns out not so nice I can always over-dye it with something else.

RIP little tree!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday's Fotos

Other blogs that I read have entries for "Wordless Wednesday", "Ten on Tuesday" and such like.  So, how about Friday's Fotos?  Wordless Wednesday is an easy one because you don't have to think of anything witty or humorous to say, just post photos, and Ten on Tuesday lists 10 things about a particular topic, i.e. 10 favourite foods, 10 things to do on Sunday, 10 ways to cook spinach etc.  So that's what today's post is all about, not much to say, but a report of progress made, a hint of things to come, and a little sad photo at the end.


Guess Who?

Guilty as charged!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

New Wool

Remember the merino and alpaca I dyed last Sunday?  This is for one of a number of secret projects, so I won't be able to show you the finished article for a while.

Anyway,  I haven't been idle.  First I got it all carded.



Then added a little bit of angelina sparkle

Unfortunately, I only realised when I came to use it that I'd bought the heat-bondable angelina fibres, so I hope it never goes anywhere near an iron or other source of heat. Mind you, I don't think there's much chance of that when it contains pure wool.

Here it is all spun up and drying in the sun :-

OK, so maybe it wasn't that sunny, but it did dry.  And the finished article :-

Finally, a little bit of sparkly detail :-

It weighed in at 125g and gave me 180 yards (or 171 metres), so hopefully there'll be plenty for what I've got in mind.  It's now on the needles being knit, so I am busy here even if there's not much to show at the moment.