Thursday, 23 August 2012

The King of all Birds

I know these are not the best of photos - the first one was taken through the front window, and wrens are tiny. But we've been seeing enough of them (or enough of one) around recently for me to have added their call to bird sounds that I recognise. It was enjoying sunbathing on the back wall in the intermittent sunshine yesterday.

C describes it as a little ball of feathers with a tail - but we have a little dunnock round at the moment for which the same description would be equally apt. Here it's looking somewhat windswept!

And we also have several distinct robins around at the moment, including this scruffy one which, I think, is a juvenile growing into adult plumage. I hope it's that and not diseased. I take good care to clean the feeders regularly, so I wouldn't expect it.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Knitting in the Round

My sister-in-law had bought a large (1kg) ball of wall and a pattern that came with it, to knit something for one of my nieces. Whether it was that she didn't really like the pattern (she did suggest I could try something else if I wanted), or that it was tricky to knit with, she passed it on to me - and now it's ready to head back down to her again. I put the wool brand into the search in Ravelry, and a Pinwheel Sweater was one of the hits.
I had to use different needles to get the right tension, but I really enjoyed knitting this. It was a bit bulky for carrying to work, but I got it done; and one of the best things is that there was no sewing up to do - just darning in the ends. The picot edging took a while, but I think that if I wants to add a couple of big buttons, the loops in the picot will serve as button loops. Essentially it's just a circle with sleeves set into it and knit down from the top, and the smaller part becomes a loose shawl-type collar. The front is more like an extended bolero - it's longer and swings loose at the back. I really like how it turned out! The pattern says that for a baby it can be worn the other way, with the longer part as a hood. It certainly did remind me of my favourite ever coat that I bought in Paris, which had a sort of cape edged with fur which could be left at the back as a cape over the coat, used as a hood, or draped across the front like a loose shawl. I wore it till the wool was getting bare!

Gujarati Style Aubergine  (Eggplant) and Potato (serves 4)

5 tblsp oil
large pinch asafoetida (but then do NOT reheat this in the microwave!!)
1/2 tsp each mustard and fenugreek seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed,
1/2" ginger root peeled and grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz potato, peeled and diced
1 tblsp desiccated coconut
8 oz aubergine/eggplant diced the same size as the potato (about 1")
1 tsp each ground coriander/cilantro and ground roasted cumin seeds
1/2 tsp each garam masala, ground red chilli / cayenne, turmeric
8 oz chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)
1 tblsp each sugar and lemon juice.

Heat the oil, fry the asafoetida with the mustard and fenugreek seeds till the mustard starts popping. Add the garlic, ginger and onion and fry till lightly browned.
Add the potato and fry till golden brown.
Add the coconut and aubergine and fry for one minute.
Stir in all the dry spices, then the tomatoes. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for twenty minutes till the vegetables are tender. I think I may have added a little water at this stage - the recipe says to add water if it gets too thick.
Add the sugar and lemon juice, then increase the heat till the liquid has reduced.
Sprinkle with garam masala and chopped fresh coriander/cilantro and green chilli to serve.

As I said, I made this purely because I had already set aubergines ready before work on the day our guests had to cancel, and since we'd just had a large dish of ratatouille and C is not over-fond of aubergines, I thought I'd try something other than the pasta dish with grilled vegetables that I had been going to do. This was more work than I would have chosen in a busy week, but he liked it and it's certainly something I'll be making again. The sweetness of the coconut went remarkably well with the aubergine.

I need to do some more research into what makes Gujarati food so typical. Is it the asafoetida? I know that the two other dishes I use it in both say they are Gujarati. I just wish that the smell was a bit less lingering!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

July Cards

I have some new knitting I just need to take a photo of, so I'm rushing to get my July cards shared this evening! Hopefully there will be less torrential rain tomorrow and better light for a photo. It's a funny cardigan/jacket that I think I will really have to put on my tailors form to show it off properly.

Thank you for the owl, Lisa!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Jelly and June cards

June was so busy that I didn't have a lot of time for card-making, and hadn't thought it was worth picking out my favourites when July came around.
But now that I'm looking back over July's cards, I see a couple from June that are worth putting here, so I'll do that tonight and then catch up with July later in the week. The first card was an MFT sketch, and as soon as I saw that big circle I thought of a setting sun. I used the third one as a non-traditional new baby card. The Snoopy card was for C's birthday, so it's just creeping into July.

I also have a couple of recipes that I've been meaning to upload. We were expecting friends overnight a couple of weeks back, and I had bought everything I needed for dinner, and had set the aubergines to degorge before I left for work. Then our friends had to cancel due to illness, and I had to come up with a different recipe for the aubergine. I tried an Indian one, so I'll find the book I got it from and write that up later this week also.

This Layered Fruit Terrine used to be one of my staples for people who were dairy-intolerant.
I made it over the weekend as one of the desserts for my mother-in-law's 87th birthday dinner.
As I recall, I used to make the jelly base with cranberry juice and port, but as my in-laws are both conservative and teetotal, I stuck with apple juice for this one.

30ml / 6 teaspoons powdered gelatine (yes, it's more than would normally be used for the volume of liquid, and you could probably use a bit less, but the fruits tend to add some juice into the mix
450 ml / 3/4pt / 2 American cups of apple or grape juice
275g / 10 oz small strawberries, hulled
3 large oranges, peeled, segmented and drained
4 nectarines, cut into segments.

Sprinkle the gelatine over 150 ml / 1/4pt / 1/2 cup of the juice, and after it has sponged for a few minutes, heat to dissolve. Add it to the remaining juice.
Pour a 1/4" layer of jelly into the bottom of a 705ml / 1 1/4pt / 2 1/2cup non-stick mould or loaf tin. Chill to set.
Arrange the fruit in well-packed layers, then pour the jelly over it. Chill till completely set.
Turn out and garnish with more fruit.
I also added a raspberry coulis.

It goes without saying that you can use any fruit you wish - the original recipe had green and black grapes. Just stay away from fresh pineapple, which will stop the gelatine from setting.