Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the kitchen

...fermenting vegetables 

I've been making saurkraut for a while, but have really been wanting to make a mixed vegetable fermentation, but kept thinking.......oh too hard, don't have the proper jars etc.  I went to a workshop a few months back, where I watched and learned but still didn't take the plunge, just continued with the cabbage on it's own......and then the Farmer's Market at Blue Knob, a hamlet about half an hour south of here, had a Fermentation Festival, where I tasted the most divine mixed vegetable kraut imaginable.  It was made by a local woman who casually chopped and broke up a mix of vegetables, eyeballed the brine mix and stuffed it all in jars, talking and answering questions and telling anecdotes about her failures and successes, all at the same time.

Part of the crowd enjoying the various fermentation talks
This young Vietnamese woman gave a great demonstration of how to make miso paste, a very time intensive process. 
snapshots of Blue Knob Farmer's Market

So I thought...I can do that!  but still didn't quite get around to it....you know how it is, other things to do that take priority, oh and there was that fall I had off the ladder...painful to stand chopping vegetables......until today!  I've done it.
Lovely jewels

It was the local Farmer's Market yesterday, so off I went with my shopping list of veggies I wanted for my kraut, and came home with this bounty. It's all organic except for the cauliflower and cabbage, and they're no-spray.  All are grown within 20 kms of town, picked the afternoon before and brought to the market nice and early. 

I spent this morning washing and chopping, and I took some pics as I went along to show you how I did it, in case anyone else is thinking they just have to make vegetable kraut. Cabbage first, as it needed to be salted and massaged, this softens it, and releases a lot of the water, which is added to the jars later.  Blurry pic, sorry, but cabbage is cabbage.



A mix of vegetables chopped and ready to be loaded into jars and the brine added...........


Here I have cauliflower, which I broke into medium size pieces, carrots, quartered longways and chopped, zucchini, the same, there are beans and broccoli from a friend's garden, including the broccoli stems.  I added 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and a chunk of ginger, chopped roughly......these are both organic from the Farmer's Market..... and a half a home-grown chilli.  I could've added dill, peppercorns, cloves  or other spices of my choosing, but since I didn''t have any, I just used what I had to hand.

For my brine, I used 2 cups of filtered water .....not tap water, you don't want chlorine and other chemicals in your yummy vegetables.....and a tablespoon and half of coarse sea salt.  It must be sea salt, not iodized kitchen salt, as the iodine prevents fermentation and can make your kraut taste pretty awful. You can adjust the amount of salt to your preferred taste, using between 1 and 1 and a half tablespoons of salt...after trial and error with the cabbage I found this suits me...I'll see how it goes with the mixed vegetables and adjust next time if it doesn't suit.....some recipes suggest 2 tablespoons, but I found this too salty for me.

So then I spooned all the vegetables into jars that I'd washed and sterilised in the oven, and to one, I added some pieces of chopped turmeric, fresh from a friend's garden, just to see if I like it.  I know turmeric's good for us, but it doesn't mean it's going to make my kraut taste good.  I pushed the vegetables down to get rid of air bubbles, then poured the brine over, leaving a couple of inches space at the top for expansion.  Pushing it all down again, I put a cabbage leaf on top, pushing again, so the vegetables stayed under the brine.  The leaf acts as a weight to keep the vegetables under the brine.



I did a bit of research before making my kraut, just to see what sort of vegetables fermented well, and what to leave alone and some of the sites and blogs I looked at suggested using kraut-crocks...fancy ceramic pots with special weights to hold the vegetables down.....I priced these and at $70 + each, plus postage, I decided to give them a miss, and instead bought these 3 wide mouth jars at the cheap shop for $2.99 each, and the taller one I'd bought kraut in the previous week at the Whole Foods Store, so cleaned it up, and reused it. Costwise, that tall jar cost me $14 ..... the produce from the Farmer's Market was $18, but not all of that went into the kraut, as I bought eggplant, potatoes and avocados as well, and don't have a breakdown of individual items, but still excellent value I think.....the small jars filled weigh 1100gms and the tall recycled one holds just under that. Without being too precise, 4 jars for around the price of one.....not bad, since I eat this with every meal.  I haven't talked about the health benefits, but it's enough for me to know it's good for me, but there's lots of information out there if you'd like to know more, just google fermented food.  Here's a couple of my favourite places to get you started -http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2012/02/how-to-make-lacto-fermented-vegetables.html
and http://www.almostbananas.net/our-family-favourite-ferment-cauliflower/
http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2014/08/simple-sauerkraut-recipe-a-favour/

I'll now leave the jars on the kitchen bench, out of direct sunlight, and in a couple of days, will "burp" them, to let excess gases escape.  Then by day 4 or 5 I can have a taste and if it's to my liking, it can go in the fridge and I can start eating it, but if I want a stronger flavour, I'll leave it out longer, tasting daily until it's just right.  I can't wait!

And all those trimmings off the vegetables...the chooks enjoyed those.


till next time.........

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Extreme Sports Quilt and needle holes in my fingers

...... a finish








It's been a lovely week, bright early mornings with golden pink sunrises, followed by warm sunny days that quickly burn off the frosts, then crisp, cold nights.  It's been a week of stitching and friends and then back to the stitching......so much so, I have needle holes in my finger tips. I had to finish the Extreme Sports quilt by today, it had to be ready to go to Adelaide with the granny of the 4 yr old birthday boy. And I did it...a few late nights and oh yes, those needle holes from stitching down the binding .....yes, I know about thimbles but find them awkward to use.

There's a back story to the Extreme Sports fabric.  I bought it to make my grandson a quilt, back when I'd never made a quilt before.  Probably why it never got made, I really had no idea what to do with all those different coloured squares. That grandson is now a 21 year old and a dad to his own little one....a wee girl, and when offered, he politely refused an Extreme Sport quilt for his little princess, and thought he was too grown up now for a kid's quilt...fair enough.

So when I came across that 20 year old fabric in a tidy-up, I knew it was time, and had just the recipient....a friend's grandson with a birthday coming up, and as she was travelling south for it, no postage required. And I had more of an idea what to do with those odd squares now, or more confident anyway about "trying something/anything".

As red and blue were most predominant in each square, I used both these colours to frame and sash - first a small border in solid blue, then the rows sashed in a subtle red check, with cornerstones for interest.  The finished quilt measured 46 x 66, is backed with a lovely soft thrifted cotton sheet in blue checks, and I chose a  black and white check to bind it, echoing the iconic chequered flag of motor racing. With it's bamboo/ cotton mix batting, and  minimal grid quilting, it's a soft and cuddly, snuggle -in -to - watch - tv, kid friendly quilt.  I think Lucas will like it, yes definitely.

Now that Extreme Sports is done and gone, next on my to-do list is to catch up with the rainbow scrap challenge at superscrappy.blogspot.com.au/.  I remember organising my green scraps for June I think, and that was as far as I got.  So scrappy blocks and  finishing my August  F2F blocks for Susan desertskyquilts.wordpress.com/ is on the agenda for tomorrow, along with some time in the garden.

so till next time....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Putting my foot in it

.... this  block swap party, that is
talltalesfromchiconia

I mentioned in my last post here about working on my blocks for F2F block swap, the brain-child of  Kate and Sue.  It works like this - there are 12 of us worldwide participating, and each month we make 3 blocks for The Chosen One....Kate had already drawn our names and assigned us a month.....the blocks have to be 12x12 finished.....one foot square and any design we like - the Freestyle part.  We all chose our colour schemes....everyone has chosen wonderful colours.... and each month someone receives 33 exciting squishy parcels in the mail.  We  make 3 for ourselves, and end up with 36 big blocks....instant quilt!  I have to wait until March next year for mine, but in the meantime, it's been exciting deciding on what blocks to make... lots of hanging out on Pinterest....and seeing everyone else's marvellous creations.

Esther from ipatchandquilt.wordpress.com/ was June's chosen one, and her colours were minty jadeite-blue-green/coral and mustard with a white, cream or light grey background. These are the blocks I made her.


and onto July....I was late sending these, so my apologies to Annett, July was an awfully busy month, throw in a few sick days, and the schedule went right out the window. *Spoiler Alert * for Annett, if you're reading, if you want to be surprised when your parcel arrives, you might want to look away now.  

Annett blogs at knettycraft.wordpress.com/  and was July's Chosen One.  Her colour choices were shades of orange/green/blue and a white background.  Here's the blocks I made...


I sent this extra block to Annett, it turned out too small and I thought since it's her colours, she might be able to use it with a border around, or as a cushion.  It's a disappearing 9 patch, a block I particularly like, and I actually made it twice !  I thought the first time I'd made a mistake with the cutting, but when the second one turned out the same, and I knew I'd been extra careful with my measuring, I turned to Mr Google for answers. Seems this block can't be made 12 inches, something to do with it being too difficult to cut the fractions of inches needed to make the original 9 - patch. So it was abandoned and I learnt something.

Up for August is Sue at desertskyquilts.wordpress.com/ and her colour choices are any combination of red, white and blue, and I've already made a start on these, don't want to be late again! If you'd like to see everyone else's blocks, go here to Kate's F2F page, and scroll down to the gallery.....an impressive array of blocks and all amazingly different.

I have this " extreme sports" quilt on the pinning table, it's for a little boy's birthday that's looming closer, so I'd better get back to it.....

.....till next time

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Solace

stitched and dyed wonders..........

A while back, India Flint sent out an invitation to................... "make a triangular flag or pennon [meaning a personal ensign, derived from the Latin penna meaning a wing or a feather] preferably using a piece of pre-loved cloth.
Stitch on it a word or a phrase or a sentence that might act as a wish for peace or an acknowledgement of beauty, imply a sense of stillness or simply something that  gives you solace. It can be as brief or as long as you like. A haiku, a snatch of song, a word that takes you where you want to be."
You can read what else she said here.

 So here's mine....... I read about the project  with only days to spare before the cut-off date.....India wanted them all ready to be hung for the Winter Solstice, and because they were going to very remote Andamooka in the South Australian desert, with irregular postal deliveries, I needed to allow almost a week for it to get there. It was a very quick whip together, with little time for slow stitching or embellishment, but as they say, it's the thought that counts.

Front
Back


I used the last of a thrifted linen napkin (serviette) that I'd used for very early plant dyeing experiments and added a favorite Mary Oliver poem. I love this poem for the solace it gives that every day is new, a new beginning and another opportunity for things to be different, another chance to be kind and happy. After I added the back, a scrap of silk from an old shirt this time, with a small dyed heart and the words " kindness" and "love", I did some kantha stitch in a spiral, and then a few rows across the top to hold the layers together.  A big wooden button and ties made with hemp string completed the flag.

And away to Andamooka it went.............and this came back............

On the back, India has written.... "solace - a collective impromptu poem recorded on cloth to sing in the winds"
........a postcard from India, one to each of the contributors, of our flags dressing up the desert, singing in the winds.  India had planned to dip them all in an indigo vat, but a shortage of water prevented this.  I'm pleased she left them in their original state, they glow beautifully in the desert light.

Go here to read India's post about all the flags she received, see the wonderful collage of them, and her response to them, and here to Christi's blog where you'll find links to some of those who contributed and the stories behind their flag, stories that are joyful and inspiring, incorporating wonderful memories on and about scraps of cloth that hold meaning, wishes and blessings.  It's worth making a cuppa and spending a little time browsing these blogs.

so till next time........


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Catching up sort of and Christmas in July


Time to dust things off and crank this blog up again 
Image result for dusting images

I know when life gets busy my poor old blog suffers.....I do admire the bloggers who get on and post every day or at least regularly no matter what's happening in the lives, I don't seem to manage that, although I'd like to....

So in a nutshell.....I've been busy painting -  the house, not art .......then time out for a while when I fell off the ladder!! ...... getting the winter garden planted and keeping it neat and weed-free, sorting and having a big clear-out with a view to putting my house on the market to sell......more about that another time.  My children were here for a visit...my daughter from the US and son from Sydney.  It was good to have the 3 of us together again, this happens very rarely these days.  

I've managed some sewing, some of it secret for Cheryll's Christmas in July Swap.

But yesterday was "Christmas Day" and so it was time to open these beautifully wrapped gifts from my Secret Santa Tania who blogs at Ollieandt.

Before .....with an extra gift....a vintage santa mug
....and after 
Lovely pieced hexagonal table centre, perfect for my round table

Wall-hanging mini and cushion with appliqued baubles
Closer look at Tania's beautiful stitching.  Those squares framing the stitchery are tiny, half an inch square!
 Thank you Tania for my beautiful gifts.  I didn't "know" Tania before, she has a lovely blog so I'll be popping in to see what she's up to from now on....the other good part about these swaps is meeting new people and getting to know them through their blogs.  

My partner was Deb at Frog Cottage Designs and this is what I sent her......

A prim angel, not too Christmassy, I thought Deb might like to have her hanging somewhere all year
Closer look at those knobby knees and stripey stockings
Snowman ornie 
I forgot to take a photo of the bunting I made, so I borrowed one from Deb's blog, hope you don't mind Deb......

Thanks to Cheryll for organizing the swap, you can pop over here to Cheryll's blog where she has a linky set up, you can see what everyone else made.....beautiful gifts sent and received all over blogland.

Ok, need to go do other things now, draft an XXX large sweatshirt pattern for a friend and finish making my blocks for this swap I joined back in March, organised by Kate and Sue .....the first blocks were sent in June, and I have a week to finish July's blocks and get them sent off. 
Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pm
I'll be back to to do a post on this fun swap soon, so see you next time..............



Monday, April 27, 2015

Purple and other colours

....Rainbow Scrap Challenge

April has been purple month, and with only a few days until we change to another colour, I thought it was time I posted my April purple projects......which isn't very much!

Another wonky star....

 more squares cut ready for another wonky star in these different purpley shades


Lots more scraps to play with


.....purple bunting for an 8 year old's birthday

with a nice bit of bling
Those other colours I mentioned are black, yellow and red.  I've been working on this quilt which  is to be raffled and the proceeds to go to a local group of Aboriginal kids ( this link goes to their Fb page, and so is in the public domain and ok to post here) who've just started to learn about their culture, language and dance.  They're doing so well, they've been invited to dance at a Corroboree Gathering in far north Queensland in June.  Whatever the raffle makes will give the kids some pocket money to take with them.  Another border to add, then I can start quilting.

Disappearing 9 patch in Indigenous colours


Our autumn weather's been wonderful, cool crisp mornings and beautifully sunny days with no humidity, so I've been in the garden a lot, cleaning up after summer and planting winter vegetables, flowers and bulbs.  Photos are taking forever to load tonight, so no garden pics, I can't be bothered sitting up for another waiting for them to do their thing.

...'till next time

ps......if you'd like to see what everyone else has made with their purple scraps, pop over to Angela's blog and have a look. 























































































Sunday, March 29, 2015

Scrappy March

Joining Angela at  superscrappy  and all the other RSC players again for the rainbow scrap challenge.  

Our colour for March is yellow and this is the last Scrappy Weekend for the month.

I made a wonky star right at the beginning of the month, but then my camera declined to work, so this is the first chance I've had to post some yellow.  I also made 4 yellow string blocks.   And as there's still a few days until the end of the month, I might get a chance to use up some more scraps.

Wonky star and string blocks

3 stars so far
I decided the yellow strings needed company, so made some pink and blue as well.


These aren't joined yet, I might want to make some in-between shades ...... blue-green, yellow-orange etc.....to link them together later when the challenge is finished.

Pop over to Angela's blog to see more yellow scrap projects.

It's been unseasonably hot and humid here, no cooling off yet for autumn, and too hot to do much in the garden or the sewing room, but I did pick a colander full of volunteer cherry tomatoes.


I cooked these up early one morning while it was still cool, and made some jars of tomato sauce, and then added eggplants, okra and zucchini to the remainder for a delicious ratatouille....all popped into the freezer for later.

And how's this for the cutest rainbow girl............the louvres in my kitchen have bevelled edges, and if the sun's in the right spot, they throw pretty rainbows through the house. Mirrhi just happened to be napping in the right spot.


'til next time ......