October 9, 2011


A Big beautiful bag o lemons were given to me this week, each one perfectly yellow, fat and tight with juice. Smelling like lemon oil.

I'm going to want them in summer when all the lemon trees are sleeping, so here's what I did:

Slice clean lemons and layer in a sieve, with coarse salt sprinkled between the slices.

Leave overnight, over a bowl and under a teatowel.

Pack tightly in a sterilised jar, paprika sprinkled between the layers. Cover completely with olive oil.

And in about three weeks they'll be perfectly soft and not bitter. Amazing in salads and with roasted veg.

Time to plant some zucchini!

September 2, 2011

Breakfast beasts

Cereal Variety Pack

First extra day off after a very long time of hard work and travel. Yes indeed, that means it's a long weekend for me! (chorus of angels) And how should we start? Why, with a large cup of coffee and a sit-down to check out all the yumminess of fabric that's out there on my favourite online shops. Yeeeah.

Truth is I can't wait much longer for the parcel winging its way to me from Sew Mama Sew. This breakfast fantasticness of munching beasts is by SammyK at Spoonflower. Roar.

Update: I ordered a fat quarter of this fabric - now what should I make with it? 

March 8, 2011

Promises to myself

There are things you promise yourself you'd never do.

You know, things like:
- If I were a teacher, I'd never give my class a quiz just to shut them up.

And if I were a parent I'd never give my kids sweeties.
Oh yeah, right.

And if I were a gardener, I'd never, no never, plant too many zucchini plants or fall into the magic land of the pump-action inflating summer squash. No, never that either.

Good thing Mom's zucchini bread recipe is so damn fine.

- - - - - - -
Ma's Zucchini Bread

(Makes 2 loaves)

3 eggs, beaten until frothy
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups loosely packed coarsely grated zucchini (about one zucchini or half a monster)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Beat the eggs in a large bowl; stir in the sugar and vegetable oil.
In a separate jug or bowl, mix all the dry ingredients with a fork.
Add the zucchini to the egg/oil mixture, alternating with the flour. Stir to combine.
Pour into two lightly oiled loaf tins and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour - when they smell so good you're eager to eat zucchini again....

March 3, 2011

What became of the pumpkin?

Well, we ate it, of course.

My goodness, we liked it! I was trying to think up a name for the recipe. 'Agent orange' is not appetising, neither 'Fromorange' - an unholy union between the words 'fromage' and 'orange'.

It's been a long week.

So when my tired stubby fingers hit the keyboard and typed "Pumpklin", I thought, hmmm...

Pumpklin - Stuffed

This is for a small pumpkin or hard-skinned autumn squash like turk's turban, Queensland blue or any of the others of that ilk.

1 small pumpkin, about 1 kg
1 clove garlic
a shred of bacon, about half a slice (only necessary if you live with a carnivore)
1/2 onion, chopped
silverbeet (chard) or spinach leaves, 2 or 3 large ones
1/2-3/4 cup chopped pieces of cheese - I used raclette and a bit of rock-hard parmesan. Needless to say it should be good cheese....the dry bit near the rind will melt nicely if you chop it finely
2-3 tablespoons cream
salt and pepper
nutmeg, for grating
1-2 potatoes (optional) 
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F).
  • Wash the pumpkin and carefully cut a slice off the top at the stem end to make a lid.
  • Scoop out all the innards with a spoon. (You might want to save some of the seeds for toasting, or even for planting in spring!)
  • Put the pumpkin in a small baking dish so tht it sits firmly upright, pop the clove of garlic inside with the bacon (if using). Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Put the pumpkin in the oven, its lid perched in place. 
  • Warm a frying pan over medium heat, add some olive oil and saute the onion slowly 5 minutes, until soft and transparent. 
  • Strip the leaves from the stems of silverbeet (chard) and slice them finely. Add to the onions in the pan, and stir.
  • After 2-3 minutes, rip up the leaves and add them. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. 
  • Tip the onion and greens into a medium bowl, adding a grating of nutmeg. Dollop in two tablespoons of cream, and add the grated or finely chopped cheese. 
  • Remove the pumpkin from the oven, remove the lid and stuff in the onion and cheese mixture, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Pack it quite firmly and pile it up a bit, jamming the lid down when you're done - the cheese will melt and fill any holes! 
  • Any remaining stuffing (I had more than I needed), can be layered with thinly sliced potatoes in the baking dish around the pumpkin base. They'll cook nicely and catch any sweet juices coming out of the pumpkin. 
  • Put the whole lot back in the oven for almost an hour, checking regularly after 40 minutes. When the pumpkin if soft and yields easily to the tines of a fork, it's done. 
  • Slice in half and serve half per person - or just a quarter if your pumpkin was larger and if you serve something else (or dessert) with it.

February 27, 2011

Peter pumpkin, pesto perfect

Isn't this pumpkin the most beautiful thing you evah...?

Well, I did. 

The blackboard in our kitchen advertises the crop of the moment: a beautiful bounty of cooking pears. 
Those who suspect the food processor is new would be correct. 
It made pesto shortly after this picture was taken.

We went to the Lancefield Farmers' Market yesterday and bought this from a guy who looked like a young Aussie version of Lourdes' Dad. We said hello to the beef lady and had a chat with the nice guy from Goldfields Farmhouse cheeses. Their white cheese is yummy and a staple on our list. (I learned how to make it at a cheese-making course I took from them last May, but you know what? It's easier to buy a couple of rounds a month...)

Past the guy from Red Beard Bakery who was wielding a hammer with intent (thankfully his intent was to hammer a tent peg) and we found a new stall, the Piper St Food Co., with wild rabbit rillettes - like the sweetest loveliest textured pate you ever had. If you see them at a market, try it.

We had all-important chatting moments, bought sheafs of summer basil -- one large green genovese bunch and a bunch of the purple that I couldn't help holding like a bouquet and sniffing all the way back to the car.

So the pumpkin? I think it's going to get roasted, hollowed out and the innards mashed with roasted home-grown garlic and a bit of cream, mashed back in and drizzled with basil pesto made this morning, and mmmmm I can hardly wait!

February 23, 2011

City circle quilt

Recently, a friend asked me to teach her how to quilt. We started with some squares and we practised sewing them together. We also looked at easy patterns to get started with, and flicked through some books. Them we met at a fabric store - a really good one, and one I haven't been to in a while.

After I'd paid the hundred-dollar 'exit fee' and was heading off with a bag of new fabric, I was totally stoked about quilting again! There's been too little of it of late.

The quilt top was all ready and sitting in a drawer. I called it "City Circle" because I did the hand applique of the circles onto the blocks while riding the metro each day to work. And I remember where I was working so I have an inkling of how long it's been sitting in that drawer...

Backings, why do I hate backings? It's been Great Mount Backing Blockage that stood in my path to Finished Quilt Gloryville. All I had to do was to let the quilt fabric frenzy endorphin high carry me through making and basting the backing.

It even sustained me through a measured-the-wrong-dimension meltdown (thanks Mr. Tacc., for maths rescue assistance).

Now I'm cruising through the quilting, and loving the colours. I'd forgotten what fun it is to quilt in perle cotton, and seeing all the quilts at Amitie reminded me.

Now I'm posting this, and I found some old photos of when I started the quilt.
No, not last year.

Not even the year before.

An old picture, from BB - "Before Backing" 

The file says "City Circle Quilt, 2006-2008". Guess I thought I'd finish it almost three years ago.

Late like the trains - but at least it arrived eventually.

January 23, 2011

Plats du Jour

I picked up this beautiful cookbook in a second hand bookshop last weekend.

Front and back covers 

I'm shameless. I bought it simply because I love the cover. Both front and back. Plus it was $4. And it's full of basic classic French and Italian dishes, with a very few Eastern and Northern European recipes, too. 

Thankfully, no photos frighten the reader with bilious coloured late-50s carrot flowers and piped mousses, yet it's clearly written for a British public who were just getting an inkling about Continental food (published 1957). 

But that's not what I bought it for. I bought it to read and enjoy the period piece it is. And for the illustrations, because they're just plain gorgeous.  

David Gentleman is the illustrator. I knew it was a bit of a classic cover, but I hadn't realised what a famous illustrator Gentleman is. His long and varied career has covered illustration, poster, book and stamp design. Apparently, he's one of the UK's most prolific stamp designers ever. I couldn't find a lot of his other work online (book illustration is mainly under-represented as art), but there's this nice collection of Gentleman's works in the Tate.

Gentleman draws hairy-armed men on bicycles with swags of onions, but he also depicts the cuts of beef and how to cut a schnitzel (across the garin of the meat, in case you are wondering - which Marcella tells us means the meat won't curl in the heat, of course). He draws hunters standing around with a dog, and the kitchen range, and a variety of lovely things I'll scan and share when time permits.

Clarity of line and good humour. But not too cute. I love it. (The wine was nice, too.)

January 7, 2011

Looking to the open sky

I'm working on a little crafty project for work at the moment. I know, yes, I do savour this moment.

We're printing an alphabet of bunting flags for kitchen gardens. Everyone's sent in their artwork or great ideas for words and images. If this works, we'll do a cooking themed one, too.

This is one of my flags for the row of bunting. The triangles will be cut out and the plain coloured ones (which will be complete) go in-between. I'll show you some more if and when I finally finish it!

We're printing via Spoonflower, of course, and this is the project for which I chose the palette, below.

Can't wait to see it fluttering in the breeze!


January 4, 2011

Colourful vegetables; vegetable colours

I'm having a little fun this morning, playing with colours.
Well, more like - playing in colours, as I'm just browsing the palettes made by other people.

From left to right, this reminds me of kale, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin (roasted) and, mm, very dark carrots.

Tomatoes and peas and - oh my! That's exactly the colour of the green caterpillars I've been picking off my broccoli plants. (Ate the plants to twigs, damn them.)

And watermelon on a hot day. Dusty grass. Cicadas. Tree bark.

I'm looking for something that reminds me of what a lovely vegetable garden looks and feels like. It's for a project on Spoonflower, some bunting flags for a garden. Or reminiscent of a farmer's market; a big basket of vegetable goodies.

This one's what happens when the blueberries roll to the bottom of your calico bag and mooosh...

Yes, something like this, only with lots of blueberries:

(My goodness, the nectarines are amazing at the moment. Can't stop eating them...)

And this one? Not vegetables, just lovely retro bright happy sunny colours. Blue skies, painted aeroplanes, that sort of thing.

Have a look for yourself: the site is ColourLovers, and they have millions of palettes to distract you, trends and patterns and all sorts of colour fun.

I'm trying out the discipline of choosing a palette and making a project with the palette in front of me.

January 3, 2011


Well it's been a while, hasn't it?

Life took over, what with the move and a new job, exciting gardens to be established and a lot of recipes to test and trial and cook in my new kitchen, which of course needed painting...

Good things have been happening, not least the fresh garden produce and all the cooking that's been going on.

Happy new year!