Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Late Autumn Activities

Well, you've seen one activity in my previous post; the Craft Fair. About two or three weeks before the fair my textile mojo went for a vacation. Yes, it just up and went. Never giving a thought for bad timing or inconvenience. So it was a hard slog to get things finished and everything else done that is required before you set off to sell your wares. I know from past experience that this situation won't last, but until my mojo returns I can safely say there won't be much of a textile vibe going on round here!

However, other events and interests have filled my existence and I'll fill you in on some of them.

First of all there has been the seeing off of our eldest grandson Chris on his way to a holiday of a lifetime in New Zealand which we promised him when he had finished uni. So he is there now, spending time with his Uncle Kit and Auntie Krissie and taking off on his own, backpacking his way round North Island, and fruit picking to pay his way.

I'm playing lots of music -I  even have a video on you tube - look for Attingham Waltz - Lynne Gill - and there it is. Though you can't see me. Which is a good thing. A couple of music-playing friends came for the day a couple of weeks ago which was lovely. I don't know whether we played as much music as we'd intended, there was some chatting and some eating (see below) but all in all we had a good day.

On the subject of food, I've been cooking up a storm, having great fun trying out new recipes and using different  ingredients.

 I've been glued to Youtube videos of Rick Stein and Ottolenghi, because I love Mediterranean dishes, and I'm  developing a bit of a passion for middle eastern dishes. I've been experimenting with various dhals  and versions of humus which Jim enjoys as well - fortunately!

This is coconut lentil dhal. After we had it hot over rice, we ate it cold as a spread for the rest of the week - I did make rather a lot! It is delicious cold as well as hot.

This is the humus I made when I had friends round for music - we also had the kale crisps, below, which were a hit! I prefer kale this way I must admit, to a cooked vegetable. I know it's very very good for you but......

Goulash and spelt soda bread for a suddenly very cold day! Paprika and smoked Polish sausage. Yum!

 I went to town clearing out my spice shelves and re-stocking. I made a large batch of natural vegetable stock : NO MSG and very little salt. It's quite good.

Dried thinly sliced vegetables in a very low oven. Both root and leaf veggies are fine but they do dry at different rates.

Whizzed the result in a small chopper, until it was a medium fine powder with a few chunkier bits in it.

I added dried herbs, garlic powder, celery salt, pepper ...... I think that's the lot. Looks much like the stuff you get in the cartons. And you don't have to do a whole amount at once, you can just shove some veg in the oven when it is cooling down, and process it in small amounts.

So, here's the neat spice shelves:

And here's something else  that I was experimenting with the other week: Garlic cloves in honey! Apparently after a couple of weeks the garlic tastes like candy, and of course the honey is great for colds and sore throats. I grated lemon zest into it as well, and I could have added some sage leaves too, both good medicinally.

For some reason I've lost the photo of the whole loaf of date and sultana tea bread - but here it is sliced and buttered.

I thought I'd have a go with Filo pastry, and made my first Spanokopita - Greek spinach and feta pie. Filo is fiddly to use, as it dries out very quickly and you have to keep it damp while you work, but the results are well beyond the skill it actually takes to make this pie. We really enjoyed it, I made it with half spinach and half chard.

We collected a fine autumn lamb from friends who run a small flock, so this is in the freezer -  apart from this lovely shoulder which I first marinaded in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice and thyme.

It was delicious, we had two days roast dinner from it and two curries, and six samosas. Beautiful rare breed lamb- tasted like nothing we'd had before. In a good way!

So, I'm afraid there are no textile photos for those of you who came here expecting to see some! I'm hoping that very soon I will be feeling like getting in to the sewing room and picking up a needle and thread. However, I've really enjoyed my time in the kitchen, there's nothing nicer on a cold or wet afternoon than chopping and peeling and mixing and stirring over a hot Rayburn.

Does anyone else find their muse disappears at inconvenient moments? Until next time .......