Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Early Christmas present finished, man's zip neck jumper, with ribbed sleeves

This has been an easy knit.  It uses larger than usual needles for an 8ply, being knitted on 5.5mm needles for the most part.

I am really pleased with the 3 by 3 ribbed arms, and the zip neck, with contrast colour facing!  It looks so smart and Mr (almost) 20 seems to be pleased with it.

Merino 8ply

Today's Harvest - including our first cucumber

Today I harvested:

1 Savoy Cabbage
3 heads of Spinach
Our first harvest of Basil
Our first cucumber
The last of the broadbeans
and a few more Artichokes
A few more onions

I have never grown cucumbers before, as we have not had a glasshouse till recently.  If you have been reading my blog you'll see it is a new installation in our garden.  I have been worrying about whether I need to pollinate the cucumbers by hand or anything, and in fact I have just left them for the insects to do their best.  Occasionally I open the glasshouse door (on hot, but not windy days - too much wind blows out the glass) and let the bees, ladybirds, and all manner of insects in.  Presently there are about 7 cucumbers forming, and one ready today.  Cucumber sandwiches seem pretty inevitable!

The basil is destined for my first lot of Pesto to be made up and frozen for the year, which I am pretty excited about

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How many sewing machines is too many? (Confession inside)

I have just bought another sewing machine....ooops!  It will be the only one that has a narrow neck so that it is easy to do sleeves, cuffs, collars and more when doing clothing sewing.  My other big machine is mainly for quilting and has a very wide base to hold quilts into place.  

But, I have confession, I have waaaaay more sewing machines.  In fact, I did an add up...

Firstly I have my Elna Quilting Queen
Nice....for quilting!

.... and then I have my Elna 4 thread overlocker, (or, as the American's say "serger").

..... and then I have my Zundapp  - but it is just for show, and far to nice for sewing with, and anyway, it doesn't have a narrow base either...

.... and then I have a blue machine from the 50's.....(no pix I'm afraid), and it is just for show too.

.... and then I have Montana-Roses machine.  So I tell myself that it is hers, and not mine, so doesnt count!

....and I have just bought this
For doing the collars and cuffs and armholes

.... and I have decided I need a "Coverstitcher"

This will make a total of! yes, Six, sewing machines, is it too many?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Easy, cheap lunch for many

Tbis recipe is from my mother-in-law (Pamela Anderson - yes, she is used to the jokes).  It is an easy way to feed lots of people quickly for a hot lunch.


Make up a scone mixture (I do 5c flour, 5t BP, rub in about 1c margarine and mix to a soft dough with milk).

Knead and roll out into a large oblong.  Spread with a tin spaghetti, finely chopped onion, and a good sprinkle of grated cheese.

Roll up lengthways, and cut into 1inch slices.  Lay cut side down on a baking tray and bake about 15mins.

You do have to be able to tolerate tinned spaghetti, my sister Karen hates it, and this recipe is not for her.  But you could substitute with a Pasta Sauce if you liked probably with good results.

I'm afraid nothing from our garden is in this recipe!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A gorgeousness of roses

I love roses, 1, two or many...all will do.

This was what I picked this morning.  Not beautifully arranged or artfully placed, but just the sheer glut of them is good enough for me.  They are a bit blousey, a bit over the top, and very fragrant.

Simply gorgeous.  I have not idea if there is a word for what you call many roses.  A bit like a troop of gorillas or a feast of crows, I think a lot of roses should be called a "gorgeousness of roses".

If only you could smell them too...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Glut of Artichokes - again..."Braised Artichokes with Lemon and Couscous"

It happens every year, all of a sudden our artichokes go crazy and start producing head after head.  I have started harvesting them weekly, as they seem to keep quite well in the fridge.

First this year I have just eaten them boiled, then dipped in mayonnaise or french dressing, but I am a little over that.

I own an American "Canner", which is essentially a pressure cooker, and I made some Artichoke hearts in lemon and olive oil, just like what you would buy in a jar from the supermarket.  I was very pleased with the result.  I used the recipe here

Here's how they turned out

Looking for more inspiration, I asked my sister in law, who has a cookbook out "Coromandel Flavour" what she had as suggestions for either preserving them or preparing them differently.  She suggested this: "Braised Artichokes"

Prepare the artichokes down to the hearts, pull off the outer tough leaves, then cut them off about 2cm above the base.  Cut each in half, and using a sharp knife remove the "choke" which is the hairy bit.  Then slice into 1/2cm slices.  Keep them in a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon to stop them going brown.

To cook: put the juice of 2 lemons, thin slices of half one of the lemons, some fresh thyme, pepper, a good slug of olive oil, and the artichoke hearts into a saute pan.  Bring to the heat and simmer about 20 mins.  Then I added fresh peas and broad beans from my garden,  heat for 2 mins or so till they are cooked.  Stir in about 1cup of couscous and add a bit more water if more liquid is required.  Turn off the heat and put on the lid.  Wait a few mins till couscous is cooked.  Stir in fresh mint, and basil leaves.  Sprinkle over pink salt.

It was very nice, but I am the only in my house who would eat it!  so there is some left in the fridge, which looks like it will be very nice to have cold today as salad.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A successful Gardens of Broomfield Tour

What a long, hot, hot day!  We started slow, but by 10am a steady stream of visitors to our garden.  The weather was perfect, the sun shone, and we talked to everyone about how we started the garden, and what plans we have for it's future.

These first pictures are of the flower border, and the following ones are of the rose garden.  Check out the facebook link to find out the names of the roses.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Perfect, crusty, warm bread

Made this evening, luckily we didnt get the powercut that most of Amberley had for an hour or two just at teatime!

I don't follow a recipe, its just how I have adapted bread recipes to suit my making style.

First I put 4 cups of warm water from the tap into a big, big bowl.  Then I add a slosh of sugar (probably about 2T), and either 2 sachets of dry yeast, or 3t of dry yeast depending on what is in the cupboard.  I never use breadmakers yeast, or easy mix yeast etc.

Then I stir in the yeast and let it go frothy, which takes about 1/2hr.

Then I get out my two flour buckets, wholemeal and plain.  I'm not fussy about "strong" flour or "all purpose" etc, I just use the cheapest budget brand white and wholemeal.

Using a cup I start to put flour into the water, 1c of wholemeal (and sometimes 2) first, then plain white flour, stirring with a spoon.  When it is still sloshy I add whatever seeds I fancy (tonight it was sunflower and sesame).  I like to add them at this point to get them well distributed.  The mix takes about 8 cups of flour in total so I count as I go and as I get up to 6, 7 and 8 I watch to see when I have a nice dough.

Tip it out onto a hard surface, well floured and knead.  Push with the heel of your hand and half turn the dough folding the pushed part inside.  Keep kneading and turning for about 10 mins.  This is the dreaming bit, where you can vege out.

Then pour some olive oil onto your hands and knead that in too.  About 2 or 3T.

Then I pour a little oil back into the sticky large bowl.  You dont need to have washed it or anything.  Put in the dough and turn it round and over in the oil to coat the outside so it doesnt go dry as it rises.

Pop some gladwrap ontop of the bowl and then a teatowel.  Leave about 1-2hrs till well risen.  It could easily have spilled up over the top of the bowl.

Take out and cut into two even pieces.  Roll these bits around a bit, making a kind of thick sausage shape.  Roll up from the end,, turn 90degrees and repeat a few times.  Then fold into three, and put into well greased and floured bread tins.  Repeat for the other half.

Leave for about 20 mins to prove.  Then brush with a little milk and bake for 30-40 mins at about 190C.

As you can see I dont usually add salt, but for a change sometimes I do.  It doesnt seem to affect the outcome but depends what you like it to taste of.

The Garden Tour - a path to nowhere

Busy, busy bees! my MIL has been here all weekend helping prepare for the garden show.

One thing we have been working on is getting the area outside our shower sorted.  Pam planted dozens of grasses, and I put down peastraw and extended the path.  It's looking so much better.  The path still doesn't go anywhere, but at least it has been started.

Pam put in 18 more roses, in my favourite colours (blue, purple, pink, red) and we trimmed up the others.  We also removed some old irrigation that I had put in but which could not take the strain of such a long 100m line.

Mark installed an irrigation system round the vege garden - no more lugging hoses, moving sprinklers around, now you just turn the handle and watch the water shooting out.  Its fabulous.

In other news I won first prize for my "Three Roses", here is a picture of them two days later, so not looking their best anymore, but you get the idea.

I also won first for my Belgian Biscuits and for my Eggs.  I was so proud of the eggs because I spent ages selecting them.

Nothing for my Afghans tho, and I was really disappointed to find that the judges only judged on looks not on taste.  That didnt seem fair, what say the winner had accidentally put salt instead of sugar in her biscuit, you would never know...and none of the others had a walnut on top, which is pretty mandatory in my book.

My quilt came second also, to a quite dated piece, with 80's fabrics and no wonderful quilting at all.  Still, maybe they just couldnt see brilliance....