Friday, 25 November 2011

Whoosh Another Week Has Flown

Busy, busy busy
I have been knitting/crocheting my fingers to the bone this week and so have little material for the blog.  I have started a shawl for Kat and Al’s expected baby.  327 stitches in a row……phew, even the cast on was time consuming.  But it is a pattern Kat has indicated she likes and I hope I do the picture in the pattern justice.  It is a fine line between churning out gifts the knitter likes themselves, and the recipient having the same taste.  I think we have come to a nice mutually acceptable pattern.

It comes as no surprise to most of us as it is an annual event, but Christmas is looming. I have hang ups about materialism attached to it and wont go into a diatribe about it.  But the gifts I give are often ones that I have spent time making.  At least the recipient then knows I think enough of them to be prepared to spend time making something unique for them.
So this week, I have made the scarf at the top of here  for my sister in law.  The scarf…..ok it is only a scarf, but it is totally unique in that I “designed” it.  I am not experienced in producing anything original being a strict follower of patterns, but had a go and made this and a shawl for my mother using the excellent shawl creator pdf I shared last week  
 This sheet enables one to create unique shawls by giving basic instructions to obtain the desired shape, and leaves the knitter to use own stitch patterns and colour scheme.
If anyone wants to know the basic pattern for the scarf let me know.

Went to Burton this morning to get yarn for another present, but in case the recipient reads this I am not saying any more!  But startitis has hit this crafter big time this week.

So for the remainder of this entry, 1) recipe, 2) podcast review, 3) a suggested site to visit.

1)   Standby Salad

Standyby?  Because it can be made now to eat later, because many of the ingredients will be “standing by ready to use” in the larder.   As always the ingredients are mainly suggestions, feel free to add or subtract ingredients according to what is to hand.  Except for the rice, but at a push you could substitute cous cous.  So mix up all the ingredients you choose in a bowl; as an example I used: 1 pkt microwave Basmati rice (long grain is fine), 4oz  cooked soya beans (frozen are easiest), 4 small tomatoes chopped, 5 spring onions chopped, 6 dates stoned and chopped, 1 large red pepper grilled and skin removed then chopped, 12 grapes halved, chunk of cucumber diced, handful of cashew nuts, handful mint leaves shredded. Chopped "Pepperoni slices".  I used vegan substitute.  Seasoning and dressing to taste, today I happened to use a balsamic vinegar dressing, but rosewater would do nicely to complement the dates. 
2)   Podcast review Dan Brown (NO! not THE Dan Brown!!) has done some interesting podcasts on events in local history, and they are pleasant to listen to.  Not recorded much lately, but as the content is history it is not important that they were recorded last year.   A taster of Dan can be seen on here
3)   Site to check out this week:
 someone sent me a recipe link once from this site, and I have been back on several occasions to have a browse around.  budget conscious, easy to search, good recipe resource.     

Friday, 18 November 2011


No more soggy bottoms
 Being a sucker for gadgets it was inevitable that having watched the Junior Apprentice this week that I should buy a pie maker.  Well, I haven’t indulged in a gadget since………….last month when I bought a Kindle!!  I justify these purchases to myself by remember I buy few clothes and don’t go on holiday, and and and.
And I have to say it does what it says, pies are cooked in 10 mins, and if one buys ready made pastry the time to produce the pies in minimal.  Best of all is the way the base of the pies are cooked same as the top so no soggy bottoms!  Yay!  I hate soggy bottoms.  The ones in the pic are “chicken” and mushroom and the recipe is further down.  Obviously they can be done in conventional oven too!

This week then, there is 1) the recipe, 2) podcast review and no groans when its identity is  revealed, and 3) three  sites worth checking out, the second and third ones reveal a mystery of the Universe!.

1“Chicken” and Mushroom pie. 
The reason “chicken” is in inverts is because being vegan I have used a chicken substitute, but for non veggies ordinary cooked chicken pieces will be fine.

You need: 1 pack Jus Rol short crust pastry (makes about 6  medium or 4 large pies)
6oz  of cooked chopped chicken . or better still Redwood meat free chicken style pieces
4 oz mushrooms chopped, 1tbs flour, quarter pint milk, knob of margarine. Kettle of boiling water
Method, sauté mushrooms in margarine, add flour and stir in well, add milk so nice thick mushroom sauce achieved. Put saucepan in bowl of cold water for contents to cool.
Roll out pastry and put base in tin/mould/pie maker. Add chicken pieces to mushroom mix, and season mix.  Add mix to bases. Put tops on and seal well, brush with soya milk or ordinary milk to achieve a glaze. Bake at number 6 till golden brown.
Where does the boiling water come in?  Well you have earned a cup of tea or coffee to drink while they bake!

2. Podcast Review
and I repeat “no groans”, but this week I am suggesting the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers  The world’s longest running soap, but… does raise awareness of many social issues, and at the moment there is an ongoing story line of whether to set up an intensive dairy production system where cows will be kept indoors all the time.  There are many other social issues this programme doesn’t duck.  Look at the site and see if you think it will appeal.

3 Site recommendations. 
Knitters and crocheters often make scarves, but do not always wear them to their best advantage.  Well, this knitter doesn’t!! 
On a previous blog I put up a utube “how to wear a scarf”, and have since found this site which has static pics and might give the scarf wearer a few more ideas on how to wear this accessory   Once a style is selected by clicking on the picture, there are easy to follow instructions on how to achieve that particular look.

The other sites are ones I wish I had taken more notice of this week when I was taking the laundry out of the drier. These sites reveal what to me was a mystery of the universe.   It is the old problem of how to fold fitted sheets for storing in the airer.  Mine end up jumbled and sometimes stuffed in a pillowcase, which means the set of linen is not looking its best when required. Actually I did find a Youtube video showing my method!!  So for easy explanation of how to fold fitted sheets and achieve nice neat effect look at these and select the one you find easiest to follow:
 if you are tall then you can do it like this bloke

Friday, 11 November 2011

Finally its done!

Thought it would never get done

This entry is going to be very brief this week, as I have spent many hours completing my “big project”.  When knitting I tend to have a major project on the go, and knit this interspersed with smaller projects.  The “major” project that has come to fruition after being two years in the making has been a bedspread to fit a double bed.  The pattern is called Wheatear and from Annie Cole.  I had researched traditional bedspreads and bought many books that featured them,  but because it was such a big project I needed to know I had sufficient yarn, so bought a kit. Many of the patterns I found were in late 19th and early 20th century books in yarns that no longer exist.   But didn’t do the edging in the pattern provided as I found one I preferred.  Couldn’t believe the weight when it was all assembled.  Put it on the bed and was pleased with my efforts.  Took pics for Ravelry and immediately took it off the bed and put it in an airtight container.!

So at the moment I have no, zero, zilch knitting on the needles in progress.  This is a state I have not known for many years.  But fully intend to remedy this PDQ.

Craft Site of the week.
There are a number of free patterns for traditional counterpanes and so my site of the week    Where besides a wealth of crafting information there is a section devoted to traditional counter panes.

Podcast of the week
Brenda Dayne produces an interesting knitting related podcast.  She has a pleasant voice to listen to and the content is consistently good.  Take a look at her blog and see if you would like to listen

Foodie sites of the week.
This time of year when its not quite Winter but Summer has gone can prove problematic when deciding what to eat.   To cheer up the dark nights, we need treats like the Baileys and Chocolate Cream Cake to be found here    Many folk are also busy thinking of Christmas and have their time taken up with this, so may like the idea of OAMC  (OAMC?  Once a month cooking!)  The site also has loads of more conventional culinary ideas too.

Friday, 4 November 2011


For those in the UK there is no forgetting 5th November as it is Bonfire Night.  There are, sadly, many who do not know its origins  is a site that explains what it is all about.  
Now there is a modern “Guido Fawkes” who raises awareness of the political goings on, but before you click the link, if you are under 60 please ask your parents to consent to you accessing the site

So this week I have included a recipe I made up for Bonfire Night, called Catherine Wheel Soup.  Also as it is getting colder and for those of us who knitted our shawls in readiness, there are suggestions of how to wear them.  But if the shawl is not yet knitted but in the thought stage only, then there is a helpful guide on how to make one.

1) How to wear a shawl or scarf
Shawls have not always been the fashion accessory they are today, and so many women look for suggestions on how to wear them other than just draped round their shoulder.  This video is one of many that gives ideas
Scarves have never been out of vogue, but new ideas of how to wear them can be welcome, and this snazzy video has a few suggestions

 2)Shawl construction made easy
  For knitters who want to know how to make a certain shape of shawl this wonderful chart reveals all, and the site is well worth visiting to browse its other contents. I for one will always be grateful to the creator of this splendid sheet.

3) Catherine Wheel Soup
When it is not Bonfire Night this is called Roast pepper and tomato soup, this takes a bit of preparation, but well worth the effort.  It can be cooked ahead and reheated when desired.
3 sweet peppers
10 tomatoes medium size or say 7 large ones
1 carrot medium size
1 onion medium size
Squidge tomato puree
1 tsp paprika, salt and pepper to taste, 1 dsp sugar
Soya cream/single cream optional.
Liquid of half milk (or soya milk) and water

Plunge tomatoes in boiling water and put aside.
Either roast or grill the halves of pepper until skin is charred black
Cut onion up finely
Cut carrot up finely

Put onion and carrot in a saucepan and gently sauté.
Whilst this is happening remove skin and seeds from tomatoes and chop them up
Remove skin from peppers and chop them

Add peppers and tomatoes to carrot and onion, add tomato puree and then enough liquid to cover contents of pan. Add salt, seasoning, sugar, paprika and simmer for a few minutes.
Liquidise/zap/blitz/blend with preferred gadget or hand blend through sieve.
Reheat and serve.  Swirl cream if used on top.  And that is how it looks like a Catherine Wheel!  Ok, if that not bonfire enough put a sparkler in the bread roll that accompanies it!