Sunday, 28 June 2009

Scali Bread

I've been following KingArthurFlour on Twitter for a little while now and noticed a mention of Scali Bread which intrigued me:
Scali bread. This shiny, mahogany-brown loaf, coated with nutty sesame seeds, creates lots of Buzz; it's a beauty, too.

Sounded good, and I'm a big fan of sesame seeds, so I clicked over to this blogpost talking about (among other things) what it is and how to make it (step by step with photos). So I printed off the recipe (find it here) and mixed up the starter and left it overnight. As some people noted in the comments the starter seemed really dry, I did add a tiny bit more water than the recipe gives to wet all the flour and hoped for the best.

Next morning the power went out which made me nervous but the starter was looking just as it should. The power came back and I mixed in the rest of the ingredients and set the dough to rise. I think next time if I add a little extra water to the starter maybe I should correspondingly add less liquid when I add the rest of the ingredients since the dough was more sticky and wet than was easy to handle (and I use the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipes usually which are very moist). Still it all came together in the end and before it had cooled all the way my daughter and I had pulled some pieces off from one end and buttered and eaten them.

I did make a few slight modifications -- I subbed in a little whole wheat bread flour (I think 1 cup, I couldn't help myself and it seems to work) and when I went to get the sesame seeds I found I didn't have nearly enough so I added in poppy seeds too which I might just do next time I make this bread too.

Friday, 19 June 2009

bread and jam for me

When I was trying to decide what kind of bread to make yesterday (my daughter being in a toast phase and there being no bread in the bread bin) I noticed that right above the oatmeal bread recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day it recommends eating it with marmalade. Well, that decided me since it gives me a chance to try some of the rhubarb orange jam I made at the weekend. I can now report that they go together very nicely. Maybe for tomorrow I could make my own butter too?!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

wedding quilt

I've been meaning to share this for a little while now. When my mum came to visit recently she brought with her the wedding present she has been working on for me and my husband (our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up in November). All hand pieced and quilted mind you. A lot of the fabric was bought for the quilt, some was fabric from my mum's fabric stash (and from those categories fabrics which relate to me and/or my husband somehow) but there are also lots of pieces that come from old clothes (mostly clothes my mum originally sewed for me - I tagged a few in this closer photo at flickr)! So it's a wonderful gift which is now on our bed making me happy. Thanks mum.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Jam and Knitting (sort of)

Well I completely failed at WWKIP day since I did no knitting on Saturday, nor did I really leave the house. I did, however, make jam and have photos of some recently completed knitted items to share. (And I did knit in public at a contradance this evening!)

First the jam. Last year I had a go at a little jam making with a small batch of strawberry rhubarb jam which got rather over cooked and is tasty but not the most easily spreadable stuff! The lesson I learned from making that was not to rely on my candy thermometer and use the jam on plate in the freezer for a minute method to check for readiness. (That and that if the jam is turning to jam consistency in the hot pan you may have cooked it longer than you needed to already.)

When we went to visit my parents last autumn my mum let me bring my great great grandmother's recipe notebook home with me. I've looked through it (it's full of hand written recipes, some perhaps by one of my great great aunts, along with pasted in cuttings of recipes and housekeeping tips) but still hadn't used any of the recipes until now. There's a recipe in there for rhubarb orange jam which I'd been eyeing and since I had several pounds of rhubarb from the farmers market waiting to be used it seemed as good a time as any.

I followed the recipe mostly as written (supplementing with some other jam making instructions not having done this much before) although I did throw in some strawberries that were past their best. It is pretty sweet, I'd probably reduce the sugar a bit another time, and very orangey.

I'm not a big fan of peel in my jam so I used a vegetable peeler to get strips of orange peel and tried to remove most of it as I was putting the jam into the jars so now I'm wondering whether I'd like the peel dipped in unsweetened chocolate as it is I like the texture but the citrus hit is a little much for me even with the sweetness! A possible experiment for the coming week.

Now for the knitted portion of the post. Two projects, one I have blogged about before and one that I have wip photos for which have been languishing without much explanation in my flickr photostream for months.

Here is my daughter modelling her new knitwear. She selected the yarn (at the yarn store) and the pattern (from a selection of ravelry pages) herself so I hope she's happy with the outcome. I haven't actually found the right buttons for it yet so instead it's held together with a flower badge/pin my dad sent which happens to coordinate beautifully.

Pattern: Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest by Fawn Pea from f.pea
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Superwash Worsted by Brown Sheep - Blueberry Sorbet and Plum Crazy
Ravelry Project Page

I need to knit this pattern again because I made a mess of the stitch pattern of the upper body. Not sure why exactly I messed up but by the time I'd admitted the problem I was past the point where I was willing to rip it back since I think it still looks nice.

My daughter is almost three so I started out knitting size 4 but took a second look at the measurements and decided the 2 would fit my skinny girl better. I liked the idea of a slightly fuller bottom section though so I carried on with the size 4 until the end of the ribbed section and then decreased down to the size 2 stitch count at that point.

The sleeves keep rolling some even after blocking. Perhaps I went down to many needle sizes for them? I wonder whether some crochet edging would help, or perhaps they're fine as they are.

Lastly, now that it's all warm out I've finally got around to finishing the felting of my fuzzy feet slippers. I knit them ages ago(they knit up really quickly) and felted them by running them once through a full laundry cycle, with bath towels, and also a dryer cycle. They were still ridiculously big though so I haven't really used them. Finally this week I remembered to throw them in with my dark towels again, once more through the wash cycle and I think they're about right. Hooray!
Before photo (see another here of my daughter using one as a pirate hat):

And after:

Pattern: Fuzzy Feet by Theresa Vinson Stenersen from Knitty, Winter 2002
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted - Bing Cherry
Ravelry Project Page

Thursday, 11 June 2009

waste less, eat cake

Today, running more than usual on not enough sleep, I've been spending too much time sitting on the couch wasting time with the computer and tv. I watched some of an Oprah show on recognising waste and challenging oneself to waste less.

I've been trying to push myself a little at a time to waste less and do more. Still a long way to go for my idea of what I could be achieving, but watching Oprah made me feel positively virtuous at times (if the families they were following are representative of average middle class America anyway). Setting the heat to run at 75 on a warm day? Trashing still edible food to make space to go grocery shopping? Why would you do these things?? I also can't imagine sleeping with the tv on all night but then I've never had a tv in the bedroom - I do like falling asleep to an audio book and using the radio to wake myself up but I don't think I'd sleep well with the tv on all night. I am definitely guilty of watching too much tv, spending too much time at the computer and of allowing my daughter to watch way more tv than I ever thought I would (especially at her age). I noticed several people on the show (children in particular) saying without those technologies there's nothing to do. Once again my mind boggles. I kick myself for wasting my time with these things because there are so many other things I want to spend more time doing. I don't want my daughter to develop that attitude (I don't think that's likely to happen any time soon thankfully).

Later in the show I caught some of a woman who had challenged herself to consume more mindfully and was thinking about only consuming her "share"; what she needs rather than over-consuming because there's so much on offer out there. That struck more of a chord with me it is an issue I think about a lot. I've been so happy lately because we finally got a compost bin. I try to always bring containers to our coop for my bulk items, and cloth bags for shopping. But thinking, globally, about what my share of the earth's resources always makes me uncomfortable because even though I don't consume as much as the guests on Oprah's show today I do still waste and I do still consume more than I would if resources were shared more equally across the world (which would mean many of us consuming much less of course since the world resources are limited - check out this "game" where you can see what the world would look like if everyone lived like you).

I don't know how much of that I am willing to change in the near future but I do want to challenge myself more. I'd love to live more of a Slow Life but how much my husband would go along with I'm not sure. Little by little though perhaps we can move in that direction. I'm not going to be Riana any time soon (she's certainly one of my sources of inspiration though).

What I did do was turn away from the computer, switch off the tv and spend time with my daughter. We checked our plants outside (we're growing some peas, beans, tomatoes, greens and herbs in containers this year), read a few stories, talked with my parents (using technology to tune in rather than switch off), did a jigsaw puzzle and prepared food.

I've had some over ripe bananas which I've been meaning to make banana bread with for several days and have not quite got around to the baking. So rather than let them get to the point of no return I decided to bake a cake. My daughter liked this idea but wanted to make a smoothie first (there would have been 3 bananas in the cake). By that time we really needed to get on with dinner so I put softened butter and banana into a bowl and gave that to my daughter to mash up while I cooked adding new ingredients for her to work in at intervals.I was going to make banana bread but in the end made a somewhat lighter textured cake. We ate some for our dessert before bedtime with cocoa (which I also sweeten with molasses) and my daughter announced she's having this cake for her birthday. It's just as well I made notes as I went along so that I can recreate it.

Double Chocolate Banana Cake

2 over-ripe bananas mashed
1 stick/4oz butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
a glug of walnut oil
1/4 milk*

1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup whole wheat cake flour
1/4 cocoa (sieve)
1 rounded tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg (one could also use cinnamon or no spices according to taste)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

  • mix together wet ingredients in a large bowl and dry ingredients in a smaller bowl
  • add dry ingredients to wet and mix to combine
  • pour into prepared 8"x8" square pan
  • bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes

*I actually added the milk in at the end because I wanted the batter a bit wetter