Monday, April 23, 2007

last minute gifts

yesterday afternoon i got a short notice invite to my neighbour's baby shower the same day! good job i had some babygrows that i bought to embellish for my friend bridget, so i could make some last minute gifts. i attempted some freehand mashine appliquee, and wasn't too happy with the result, so i also did two freehand running stitch embroidered ones. the appliquee also got some oil from the sewing mashine on it so i had to wash it and iron it dry! in the end i decided to hand over all three, two apples and a pear.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

garden on a cloudy day

i saw lots of great photos of clotheslines lately, so i gave it a go as well, and while my composition and angle aren't very arty, the T shirts on the line are doing their best, dancing in sync!

it's actually quite windy today and i got slapped in the face by wet tea towels while hanging them out... but it wasn't raining so there was no excuse for using the dryer today, i still feel very bold for buying it in the first place!

mexican orange blossom



red currant

the garden is slowly starting to look like a garden again, it looked quite desolate after the winter, the quite compacted clay soil had started to look like concrete, after a wet winter and then 2 weeks without rain! but p has performed miracles by simply digging it all over and now it looks more like what we had in mind. the concrete block wall will be painted soon, that should make it all look friendlier again! aargh, almost everything seems to need painting! i'm really impatient and can't wait to have a mature garden where you don't see walls and fences much. we only bought the august before last and have a very ad hoc approach to gardening, which isn't always the shortest (or cheapest) way to success but it's a lot of fun, and it doesn't feel too much like hard work.
and here a photo of skerries, where we went for some mid week tapas because the weather was so nice and it just felt right to go out for a walk by the sea and dinner, instead of home and cooking!

i'm only just slowly realising that yes, winter really is over and there's lots of daylight and the feather and down jacket can be put away until october! it surprises me how fast time went, being engaged and planning a wedding have that effect i suppose!

Monday, April 16, 2007

did i forget to mention the great easter bonfire?

We have one every year at my parents' farm, it's always a great fun, with neighbours and relatives coming over, we sit around the fire, everybody brings something, beer, lemonade, dyed eggs, sweets, sometimes bread or cake. there are bonfires all over the place on easter sunday in Germany

Sunday, April 15, 2007

easter holidays

my first day off for my easter break was good friday, and i made some muensterlaender good friday pancakes, they are called 'Struwen' and are sometimes made with curd, but my mum's recipe called for flour, milk, eggs, raisins, sugar, salt and yeast, the batter is more like cake batter and is prepared an hour in advance, to give it a chance to rise. when you then drop spoonfuls of it into a pan with hot oil they rise like mad! im not so good at turning them, i burned myself with splatters of hot oil :-( but they were delicious and very filling none the less! i believe they used to be the only dinner you got on good friday, but we were never very strict on that one.

on saturday we flew to germany, for a few days with my parents and siblings, the airport was mental, we arrived at 5.05am and queued non stop till 6.45, when it was time to board! the crowds were like something from a desaster film.

I brought this little bag for my nephew, who can use it for his swimming gear or toys, not that he cares much as he has his mammy to carry it all around for him of course, he's not even 1!
and my mum got this one which i made earlier, for her knitting (socks) that she brings to her monthly knitting circle meetings

my mum had lots of easter decorations up, some very tasteful (aren't those chickens cute!?) , and others more sentimental, like this basket filled with eggs my siblings and i decorated when we were younger! i recognised some that i made, like one, done in felt tip, of the easter bunny, a chick in an egg shell, a flower and jesus complete with beard and white robes and coloured eggs, all on the same egg... you can really only see his beard in the picture, i still don't know why the camera doesn't focus on what i want it to focus at...

This one says happy easter in german, the flowers are supposed to be daffodils and it's scratched into a naturally brown egg shell, possibly using a stanley knife.

and these are very clever, some leaves from the garden are held in place by old tights while the egg soaks in the dye.

it was a great trip, it was so good to see everybody, and we got lots of wedding stuff sorted which puts my conscience at ease, and i brought back some corduroy for trousers for my nephew, and some checked fabrics, and some double point knitting needles and some merino wool, i haven't taken any pictures yet.

i spent friday treating our garden furniture, 4 foldable chairs (hell!) and a bench and a table, lookin' good now, the weather was brilliant, we could have had a barbequeue but P. was working from 6pm till 7am, so it didn't work out that way, but i went for dinner with friends in town, delicious french food and wine! i didn't make my bus and two of my friends stayed on till the first night bus, town is quite mental on a saturday night!

and lastly, a picture of one of my westfalien prints, i took it when i recently decided to prewash and iron all my fabrics, so that they won't shrink after i use them, i read it's a wise thing to do...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

No Knead Bread

this weekend i made the no knead bread! many food blogs and craft blogs mentioned it lately, and initially the recipe appeared in the new york times i think.

this is it here, yesterday morning

I used 3 cups of flour, 1.5 tsp salt, 0.25 tsp dry yeast and 1.5 cups of water. i now think that i probably should have used a little more water.

this is what it looked like this morning, about 22 hours later (this is probably a little too long, i read that if you want to let it rise for more than 18 hours you have to knock it down, i.e. stir it at some point in between, i suppose between 12 and 18 hours before you want to bake it. the aresrocket poster makes the dough the evening before, knocks it down in the morning and then bakes it in the evening.)

you then turn it out on the the floured surface

after you shape the dough into a ball it is to be covered loosely with cling film and left to rest for 15 min

i 'generously dusted' a tea towel (or you could use baking paper) with weat germ and flour

and placed the dough ball on top, then covered it with more flour and weat germ. i may have been a little too generous with the flour here! but apparently the dough is supposed to be more sticky, so in that case you'd need lots of flour so it doesn't stick to the towel.

about 3 hours later...

it's supposed to double in size in about 2-3 hours, mine didn't quite do that, but its only my first attempt...

you drop it into a hot dish (you pop the dish into the oven while it preheats to about 220C

the bread bakes with the lid on for 30 minutes, then you CAREFULLY remove the lid and bake it for another 20 minutes, and: ta-daa!

doesn't it look lovely!

this is the bread cut, you have to wait for an hour before doing this, pure agony!

other peoples breads had much bigger bubbles, but i think it has to be more liquid dough for that, and maybe you have to stick to the rising times?

we tried it with mirabell jam, and alternatively with olive oil and salt, and it's just delicious! yes, it could be airier, and maybe i'd use less salt the next time, but the crust is perfect! it's very much like the bread you get in some italian restaurants.

the website has everything step by step, with photos and scientific facts! i love scientific explanations about cooking, i find it so much easier to 'obey' and remember instructions if i know WHY i am supposed to do it that way. i'm not so good with instructions but reasoning works for me.

bias tape

there we go... bias tape, properly stretchy, on the left, and the straight tape, accidentally produced with the same continuous method, on the right. See there was this hint in the instructions, that when you line up your lines and sew the tube, it'll seem like it's definetely going wrong, and that that is normal and that really you're doing it right. hm. i managed to do it wrong at that point! what does that say about me? i suppose i should have printed the instructions instead of just glancing at them and going "yeah, got it, makes perfect sense, won't need these at all"

anyhow, i have to say i think the bias tape maker is a brilliant gadget! the tape was so quick to make (especially the 2nd batch). the last time i used bias tape, i pieced it together from the leftover bits of fabric, and then ironed it with no help from fancy contraptions, i was swearing quite a bit!

as for 'continuous bias tape', what genius had enough spatial awareness to come up with this method! it's brilliant! it's a bit like these mobius bands that you learn about in maths.

for anybody else out there who hasn't tried that method: try this tutorial! by carol carvalho (fiberimages)