Sep 29, 2013

D175: Can't say

Well, I can say a little bit: I'm still chipping away at the little Linen Stitch Booties, but I've also started on a project for a friend that's a gift, so cannot share it here.  Sorry.

Sep 28, 2013

D174: Moosehead Brownies

All the brownie recipes I've tried thus far have melted the butter and chocolate together in the pan.  This one, however, using the creaming method.

Sometimes, when I can't be bothered (or haven't time) to wait for our frozen butter to melt I've zapped it a bit to speed things up.  Done too fast and you get melted butter, not softened butter, which separates the oil and translates to a shine in the cake of final product.  This shine is something I've realised I expect to see in brownies, but it's not in this one.  So it felt a bit more like a chocolate slice, but that essentially semantics: 

I made it for a grand final BBQ and none of it came home.

Apologies for not catching a snap of the cut brownies.  Pretty sure I can fix that soon.

Here is a typed version of the recipe, including a few extra weights.  Photo of a photocopy of the recipe is below, taken from The Age back in 2005 (!) who got it from Mollie Katzen's The Moosewood Cookbook.

Moosewood Fudge Brownies

Preheat oven 180°C/390°F

  • 155g dark chocolate
  • 250g softened butter (not melted)
  • 1 cup (180g) brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • Buttered or lined 23x33cm pan

To make
  1. Melt chocolate* and set aside
  2. Cream butter and sugar and add eggs
  3. Add vanilla
  4. Beat in chocolate, then flour
  5. Pour into pan
  6. Bake for 20-30mins (mine was 25mins)
  7. Let sit in pan for five mins before putting on rack to cool. Leave the cutting until serving time.
*To melt chocolate:
In microwave: Heat chocolate on medium/50% in 1min bursts, stirring after each.  Mine took three goes and then it stirred smooth. Chocolate holds it heat, as do many glass microwave, so use stirring when melting chocolate to avoid burning.
On stovetop: put some water in a small/medium saucepan and find a glass bowl that will sit in it's rim, without touching the water.  Put the chocolate in the glass bowl and bring the water to the boil. Stir the chocolate with the water simmering/boiling beneath it until it's smooth.   
Do not get any water in your chocolate - it'll seize up and become useless (except for sulky-spoon-licking on the couch coz you ruined your chocolate).

Sep 25, 2013

D172-3: Designing trial & error

I'm trying to create a table runner with the left over pieces from a previous project.

Current design

The design is built from a squashed diamond shape made from a motif in the fabric.  This motif, together with the shape of the fabric scraps, has determined the size of the whole thing, in a way.

Design idea doodle...
There's some plain-coloured contrast fabric remaining too and I hope to use the pattern fabric as two patterns - parts with birds and parts with just flowers - and sort of get three 'patterns' but I still wish I had another pattern to contrast...
This doodle is my ideal, but it has fat lines and I need something specific.  I was thinking I'd be able to create a leaf shape from the negative space made from tiling the motif piece, which didn't quite work out. The motif shape doesn't have the right kind of symmetry or depth in the curves and, thanks to the scraps, it's not that flexible.
Yesterday's effort, trialling negative space shapes
At the moment, I'm working on splitting the motif shape to create that sweeping line in the doodle, the one that breaks it into three levels, and then extending the design to capture the full motif at least twice.

I might end up paper-piecing this project (here's a how-to), which I haven't done before but I'm willing to try!

Sep 22, 2013

D169-71: Complete - Sashes

All done!

I'm not sure about the curve. I think it would look better if it were less curved, and the width tapered more directly to the base of the loop. But they're done now, so it's all moot.  I do like the top set though :)

Sep 16, 2013

D168: Mandarin Jam

I bought a pack of 'school' mandarins - the type that are good for school lunches because they're low on pips and easy to peel.  Well, I should've returned this pack coz they were more like large cumquats. Bleh.

Once I had 10 left I wanted to try this Mandarin Jam recipe from Erica Makes of Mildura.  Her instructions are terribly simple, which was lovely for my shabby short term memory.  I still put the sugar in too soon but it didn't matter in the end.  And, you'd think for a recipe that's pretty much "peel, cook till soft, add sugar, cook till gooey" it would be so quick and easy. Well, it should've been but these mandarins were rubbish to peel. They were tight, thin skinned and left masses of pith on the segments. Took half an hour and two buckled thumbnails. 

In 'things I changed': the recipe doesn't mention chopping the segments, but I cut them all in half.  I wish I'd cut them into smaller pieces - the sort of size I'd like to have on my toast.

At the 20min mark I did a gel test by pouring a tsp of the jam onto a chilled plate.  If it wrinkles when you tilt the plate it's ready, and I didn't get that till a little over 25mins of gentle bubbling.  I was also getting concerned about the colour and smell.  All the fruit had become translucent and it had a gorgeous glassy golden-orange look about it, but it also felt very close to singeing. I think some flavours can be complimented with a bit of burning, but not this.  I probably could've taken it off the heat at the second gel test, around 20mins, and it still would've set to a reasonable consistency.

Anyway, right now I don't care if it doesn't have a perfect mandarin taste - I certainly wasn't starting with a perfect product - it looks gorgeous!

Next day brekky test:
It's reeeeally well set!  But still yum, like spreadable jelly babies!

Sep 15, 2013

D165 & 166: Sashes!

I'm making some curtain tie backs, which I'm calling sashes, for my MIL.  It's with the fabric left over from some cushion covers and will be used on two baywindow curtains and one larger curtain.
These are a work in progress from my own pattern.

So far, I've made a shape that works for both the shorter curtains and the long one, cut out and joined the fabric and cut out the calico backing.

I wanted the pattern to be the right way up, which was tricky with the way the remaining fabric was shaped.  To avoid any upside-down birds, this required making the sash into a front and back rather than cutting on the fold.  So there's a seam in the middle, which will hopefully be rather unremarkable, and I'm hoping it adds to the strength of the sash and helps to keep its shape.  

I considered interfacing but once that creases (which is not unlikely) or comes away it's not very helpful at all.  I also didn't want to do any quilting, so didn't use any batting.

I plan to work the loops from the top edge of the sash so that the upper edge takes all the weight.  Hopefully this will keep it from bunching up while it's holding the curtain.

D162-4: Cushion covers

My MIL ordered some Spoonflower fabrics some time ago.  They were destined to become cushion covers in the living room of their new home.

Love birds - twilight pallet by Patty Sloniger
and The Chaffinch by Ewa Bursztyka
Well I finally got them done!  

Thank goodness it was in time for her birthday.  Unfortunately, she was under the impression that they would be her birthday gift, which I didn't recall, so hopefully she wasn't too deflated when they weren't in the wrapped parcel.  Ugh! 

The left over fabric is going towards some curtain sash tie backs. 

I'm playing with some ideas from what remains after that.  Seems a shame to waste any of it...

Sep 14, 2013

D167: Serendipity

Hub doesn't understand why I like watching telly sometimes.

I can see his point: Ads are ridiculously annoying, inane and loud. But then, we have a mute button, and other channels to entertain us in the gaps.

Sometimes I can flick on the telly and find a show for what ails me, such as an Antiques Roadshow, or a celebrity I like on a talk show, or even an idiot of recent politics at whom I can rant and work out a few demons.  

Hub gets frustrated that we have so many good shows to watch on the computer - dozens, in fact - yet I'll watch a telly rerun of Friends instead of a Supernatural, Black Books, The West Wing*, or even Buffy.  

What's worse, sometimes I'll want to watch the movie that's on.  Insult to injury, not only may I have seen it before, but we'll already have it to watch ad free!  (If I haven't seen it before, Hub wishes I would get the movie and then watch it ad free, but what if it's not as good as I thought...?)

Poor guy. I'm all "I like that this movie is on now! And I don't have to start it or do anything!" And what good fortune, that amongst all the rubbish and Lethal Weapons, here is a movie I like, or even have affection for! Nope, it's a sign! I shall watch this and enjoy the Magic-Faraway-Tree-ness of the discovery.  Joy!

Serendipity adds a certain I don't know what to things. And that's how it happened with this recipe, which arrived with our fruit and veggies from Aussie Farmers Direct, just as I'd looked at the pumpkin in the freezer and wondered what I would do with it...

I made a double batch, with just under what I needed for the pumpkin, and I had Jap, not butternut. Anyhoo, the first batch are a bit solid in the middle, so shall stay home, but the second batch I left in for a few minutes longer so hopefully they'll be liked at our family gathering today.

I don't really like veggie-things-as-sweet-meals, which include pumpkin or sweet potato pie, but these are reeeeeeally nice!  They're a little bit dense, possibly over-mixed due to a big batch?  Not sure, but I'd do them again.

And! I know my numbers have jumped a bit: I've some backtracking to do. :)

* I don't think I could watch a random West Wing episode.  I think I'd need to watch it from start to end all over again, for the third time!

Sep 8, 2013

D159-161: Slow goings

I know linen stitch is slow to work because of the weaving between rows, but for some reason I'm extra slow these days.  Maybe it's that Bub has been coming down with a cold, so by the time she's settled and things are done there's not much time left for knitting.  Anyway...

Here's how my experiment looks now:

Now, fingers crossed while I weigh this and hope what remains on the ball is at least as heavy, so that I can make two booties...

Nnnnope. What I've knitted is 18g, and what remains is 9g.  Booo!  
So, do I go buy more wool? (I was trying to use up these left-overs!) Or do I run with just doing a single bootie as a prototype? Ugh.

Sep 3, 2013

D158: And now for the cream...

So, for future reference, this only needed 50g of chocolate, not 60g, and even with a half batch of coffee cream I had some left over.  I cut about 3mm off the end of the homemade piping bag.

When I did the outline during Bub's nap I couldn't bare to chuck the remaining chocolate so decided to have them spell out "TA", as in "Ta for all your help!"  twenty times. :D

Granted, some of them look a bit special but, in my defence, I was in a hurry and I don't actually have any experience in writing with a piping bag, come to think of it...

Regardless, this plate was not going to be returned empty!

Sep 2, 2013

D157: Chocolate Coffee Cream Fancy Stars

I was looking for a biscuit recipe and found this one, which would use two neglected things: these awesome star bikkie cutters my sister-in-law gave me ages ago, and my beloved coffee syrup.  

Usually, a few teaspoons of the coffee syrup would go nicely in a cold glass of milk mid-afternoon. However, while Bub is still no good with dairy this yummy stuff has been sitting, waiting, in the pantry.

The topping for these is yet to be done.  Shall look forward to seeing how the coffee cream icing turns out too, in case I can find another place for it in the future.

D156: Fathers' Day Fare

With a last minute message about a Fathers' Day arvo tea at my folks' I still managed to bake an Apple Cinnamon Teacake!

Bub slept on the way home (made complete liars out of us on that front, bless her socks) and I managed to get some more of my linen stitch idea worked out.