May 27, 2013

D105: Finally!

I finally got the photos printed and into the cubes!
Uh mah gerd I was so slow at doing that.
Tomorrow's job is mailing it off!

I am very pleased with the result though! :)

May 24, 2013

D104: Pie!

Apple Pie from the Cookery the Australian Way bible, with some cranberries (yes, still working through that pack) and butter.  It's a huge pie dish, so even with an extra apple, it's pretty shallow!

Still yum!

May 21, 2013

D103: Mug'goodness!

Tonight I tried this recipe - Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake -  from Not Quite Nigella.   Please don't think of my pictures when you see her photography. [*cringe*]

Oh so rich and steamy... mmmm.
True to the recipe, we had a good amount of goo in the bottom, which Hub was delighted about but it reminded me of uncooked batter too much.  I did ours on medium for 1min, 30sec and 30sec.  I donated mine to him in defence of a possible sore tummy! (He scoffed it down, licked his lips and said "Yeah, that's prolly gunna give me a tummy ache.")

Ours ended up a little different in the end, and I'm not sure why.  Dividing the dry ingredients between two mugs was easy, but they were different by the time I'd added the milk and butter, and then I'm not sure the egg was divided evenly.  The flavours were comparable though, which is the most important thing.

My changes included replacing the oil with 60g melted butter and using broken choc melts.

I highly recommend it for a quick dessert. :)

May 20, 2013

D102: Latches

Experimenting with different closures...
This was challenging. I think the closure is meant for a leather bag and making the hole in the cardboard, while including some padding, interfacing and the fabric, was fiddly.  
The catch portion will be attached once I've sewn this piece to the main fabric and then attached it to the backing board. The catch will go through all layers, including the board, for extra strength. 

May 15, 2013

D101: Quick Tip of the Day: Gadgets!

Today's creative thing is a short Tip of the Day...

Kitchen aid thingy plates
USE YOUR GADGETS!! (Creatively too!)

In the last few months I've used my kitchen aid thingy - I don't even know what it's called - and it's been marvellous.  Capsicum, mushrooms, carrots, fruit - so quick.

From slicing apples for the Apple Roses, to doing all but the broccoli in our dinner meals, to grating apples again! This thing has become very handy since I started pulling it out more.  My thumb says to remind people that the slicer plate is also very sharp. :(
I'm sure one day I'll use the zester, as well as that other plate for something other than grating when the grater needs washing...

Tonight, while cutting pears for baby food, I thought I recalled a corer in our drawer.  It's not the kind of corer I prefer for apples, so I've ignored it for ages (not even sure how it got there). But for soft juicy pears it was pretty much perfect, and way better than a knife.

Corer, spring mixer, parmesan grater
The spring mixer looks useless, but it's actually quite robust and excellent at fast mixing.  I usually use it for cake batters, but have used it to cream butter and sugar for other things too.

And the cheese grater... do you know you can grate frozen butter?  Well, not that neatly, BUT STILL!  I gave it a go!*

So I encourage you too - dig through your utensil drawer and remind yourself of the bits and pieces you've got.  I'd love to hear of any second uses you've found for what you have!  :)

*I also tried using the slicer to chop cold butter for faster melting, but frozen butter really is like a kind of stone - brittle yet changeable.  Oh well, now I know.

D100!: Ursula finds her book

Yesterday was the 100th official day of my doing-something-creative-each-day effort.  They haven't been consecutive days, but the ratio isn't too bad, so I'm very pleased with how it's gone so far.  I fully expected to bow out much earlier, or change the rules somehow, but here I am, sticking to something... Who knew!  Regardless, I began this for the good of my wellbeing and it has certainly made a positive difference to my happiness :D

Yesterday's effort was to finish a story for Bub which I called Ursula asks for help. [SPOILER ALERT!]  It's a gripping tale of Ursula, the bear, broken hearted over the loss of her favourite book, thwarted at every turn, surrounded by fools, until, at last! Dad comes to the rescue and discovers the book secreted away on the top shelf (coz it's totes a top shelf book). Balance is restored to the universe, all is well again.

My original title, "Ursula finds her book", was much more upbeat and comforting but mired in controversy because Hub was fairly sure it was HE who found the book, not Ursula.  It was only my inclination for accuracy which changed my mind and nothing more

Upper panels: building context - Lower panels: resolution - Made on StoryCreator Pro for iPad

I showed it to Bub yesterday arvo and she almost lots her beans looking at Ursula on the screen and listening to my voice automatically read the story.  She may have been a bit tired too.  It's made on StoryCreator Pro.

Hopefully there'll be more tales of high adventure for Bub's toys.  I thought we might have a series of how the toys got their names, because most of them have ea good reason.  For instance, Ursula got her name from being a bear, which is of the Ursidae family of mammals.  We have Camella, so called because giraffes were once known as Cameleopards. 

Clearly, I have a melancholy* streak about such things, since I've always wondered how I'll resolve the issue of carnivores being in the same toy box as their prey... Maybe my next story will be explaining how Leonardo and Ursula are so harmless.  Or why we have a separate toy box for the herbivores. 
OR, how about one explaining how Hiccup always has hiccups yet is quite a happy chappy and somehow not a tortured soul, dogged by the relentless hopping of his chest, robbed of all continuity of thought, slipping into psychosis with every passing hour.  Hmmm, maybe the tale of how he got hiccups should come first.

* As opposed to sanguine, choleric or phlegmatic people, melancholy folk will do things like change the lyrics of a nursery rhyme so that it sticks with generally agreed-upon scientific beliefs.  That's me.

May 13, 2013

D99: Precious Creativity

When creating, be generous, not precious.

Give a large seam allowance.
When measuring, cutting and especially buying: round up.

Prototypes can be close enough.
Treat mistakes like turns, rather than dead ends.
Look for what it is and can be, not what you wish it was.

Give the benefit of the doubt: assume best intentions.
Forgive everything.

Give wholly and without reserve or possession.
Let your ideas be like children, not pictures of your children.

May 12, 2013

D98: Hide and Seek

Today I made this little flap thing. It's part of a project I mentioned a while ago here and here.

The closed flap with a button on the front, and the inside with a piece of appliqué.
I got LOTS of sleep today - thank you Hub and Mothers Day! - and so was able to string enough of my thoughts together to nut this out. It doesn't look very complicated, and it's not, but it's part of a larger project and I've been trying to map, plan and problem solve this idea for a while, with little progress.  

With pattern marking and creating, you have to plan forwards and backwards, beginning with the end and noting the sequence of layers, joints, the way things will interact, as you work backwards and towards the materials you're starting with. (See, I couldn't have made that sentence yesterday. I'm that well rested.) Trying to create in the fog of sleep deprivation is like doing a coin rubbing with the wrong end of the pencil.  Or like making really effective similes.
Either way, I'm at, like, 65% capacity and it feels awesome :D

May 8, 2013

D97: Quick Tip of the Day!

Today's creation is regular dark chocolate brownies from the Donna Hay chocolate book.  I haven't made these yet, somehow.  

Quick Tip!
Here's my tip for lining your pan: once you trace around your tin on the grease-proof paper, cut your corners like so - parallel to an edge and then inside the curve - and tuck the long flap under the shorter edge.  It captures things quite neatly.

D96: Making the Most of Your Jaffle Toaster Part 2: Apple Jaffles!

Mmmm, supper!
These ones are super duper easy and ding dong yum! (Apologies in advance for the povo photography.)

Apple Jaffles!

You need:
  • 1 good sized apple of any type; 
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry; 
  • cinnamon; 
  • a squeeze of lemon juice; 
  • sultanas if you like.
To make:
  1. Peel, cut and grate the apple.
  2. Add as much cinnamon as you like and the lemon juice.
  3. Prepare a sheet of puff pastry by cutting it into square quarters.  Cutting it into triangles - as described in step 3 of the French Toast how-to - would be fine too.  Create cutting lines by pressing the pastry onto sandwich maker before it's warmed - the pastry will melt very quickly upon contact with the hot surface, so no do-overs here.  
  4. Warm toasted sandwich maker and smear butter on the surfaces.
  5. Lay down the bases in the sandwich maker.
  6. Roughly divide your grated apple into four. Squeeze out the juice before you put it in each sandwich triangle.
  7. Sprinkle some sultanas over each sandwich triangle if you like.
  8. Lay over the other two squares. 
  9. Lower the top of the sandwich maker. (Consider putting some paper towel or some such underneath, to catch apple juice.)
  10. Do the dishes.
  11. Check on the jaffles.  Simply wait until they're as brown as you like, but make sure the pastry is cooked through on all edges.
  12. Prise out with a knife and present.  Some cream on the side would work.  Some folk might like to brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Wipe down the surfaces while they're still hot - much easier to get off the sticky apple juice.

This recipe doesn't really work with bread.  Maybe some croissant-like pastry-ish bread would do, but with regular bread it just soaks through.  I think I recall trying something like this with a shortcrust pastry and, in general, it worked but was very difficult to get out of the toaster - lots of breakage.

I think this would work okay in a flat sandwich press, or a rippled one, if the lid was not heavy and you sealed the edges of your sandwich before putting it in.  I don't think I'd recommend it though...

So I hope you're somewhere comfy, enjoying some steaming apple pockets, wondering what else you can do with your marvellous sandwich maker... :D

May 4, 2013

D95: Homey timin'

Today was one of bits and pieces, chores and errands.

Here is the fruit purée I made for Bub.  It's a little experimental, based on a favourite smoothie I used to have, and mostly strawberry & cantaloupe.
It needs yoghurt but I'm pretty sure that still gives Bub eczema, so I used banana and rice cereal as thickeners.
 The experimental part is that I'm freezing it to store but I don't want to warm it when defrosting. Warm cantaloupe? Gurrlegaga! You know how many chins that go with that sound, yes?  So the microwave skill level needed for this dessert is Expert.

I also tried to resurrect some failed baby food. We had two rejected items - potato & spinach and leek & cauliflower - but too much of both to chuck them out guilt-free.
I though fritters might work, with a bit of faffing around. A prototype batch with grated carrot and crushed chick peas wasn't too bad but they were rather flimsy. This batch used the rest of the chick peas, a grated zucchini and some cooked rice.  It sounded so good on paper, so effective.  Alas, the whole thing was very wet and the first batch stuck to the ('non-stick') pan.  I added flour to strengthen it and prepared more oil.  However, I had to tag with Hub to settle Bub and he just cooked the rest as is, in larger palm-sized patties.
The flavour was lovely. I decided not to take a photo... Nuf said.

In small-but-it-counts efforts, I sewed a few press studs onto this delightful flannelette wrap from an Ikea sheet set.  We've been using it to shield Bubs eyes from the night light ,which gently shines like the ever watchful eyes of an overly-affectionate radioactive puppy.  It's really very good, just surprisingly freakin bright.  In fact, once your eyes accustom to the dim, you can't even directly look at it without wincing.
So, after draping a flat nappy and a hanky over the night light*, these studs are to hold the wrap over the rail of the crib.

Hopefully I'll get some more lactation cookies done tonight.  And here I am blaming the night feeds for being tired. :|

Look! Cookies!
Hey! Waddya know!  And I learned something today...  Raisins are pretty large and I've found that if they're in the centre of a cookie then it's way more likely to fall apart.  So when I want smaller cookies I use sultanas/currants only: Raisins are for big cookies.

*No need to freak out about fire safety:  It's a rubber-encased night-light and barely gets warm.  It's more likely to start a fire from burning my eyes.