a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Monday, 27 October 2014

Free lunch - 2 weeks to 26th October

 This past couple of weeks have seen family celebrations and quite a bit of lunching out - so no chance of a free lunch every day. Still, the rest of the time I've managed to find plenty homegrown stuff to make lunch with. The weather's been a bit unpredictable too, so some days we've had soup (curried parsnip and pumpkin, and leek and potato), others it's been warm enough for salads. Very lucky with spinach and american land cress for leaves, lots of tomatoes and a huge bunch of radish. Carrots, apples and cabbage for coleslaw style salad a couple of days but almost at the end of my cucumbers so I've been adding the pickled ones rather liberally to anything and everything, and almost always a dollop of chutney made from summer's courgettes.

..and one of those evening meals with totally from home grown veg - peppers,courgettes and beans  ready to be added to tomatoes for goulash-style stew, topped with potatoes.

Friday, 24 October 2014

More preserving - apple and blackberry jam

 Last week was all about using up green tomatoes, this week I'm finding a use for all the tiny apples from our tree.

 With high winds threatened for Wednesday, we decided it was best to pick apples before they fell down. Some are good enough to store but some are too small and damaged, so I cleaned these up, then popped all the good bits including skins and cores into a pan. 
After cooking them till soft, I sieved them to make a purée to which I added blackberries from the freezer.
 It looks a bit like fruit cake mix at this stage but soon turns dark purple through and through. 
A quick boil, the addition of sugar, and more boiling and, ta da, jam!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recipe testing - Hilaire Walden's Sensational Preserves -Hot Green Tomato Chutney

With the nights dropping colder, I decided last week to clear the larger green tomatoes from the allotment plants.... and then, of course, it's time to make chutney.

I've got a couple of favourite recipes and this time went for a hot spicy version from Hilaire Walden's Sensational Preserves. It's actually referred to as plain 'Green Tomato Chutney in the book, but I label it as 'hot' to differentiate it from the other green tomato chutney I make, and because the chillies and ginger in it make it hot!
As on previous occasions, I tampered with the recipe slightly, replacing cider vinegar with ordinary 'malt' and adding extra sugar. The recipe only calls for an ounce, which doesn't seem much at all - nothing like thw amount used in other recipes - so I upped it to 4. This year I used fresh green chillies (home grown) as called for, but previously I've used dried red ones.

The instructions only suggest boiling for a short time but this seemed likely to leave the veg rather chunky. I prefer a chutney with an almost puréed texture, so I cooked it all for slightly longer and mashed everything up. 
I wish there was a reliable way of predicting the ultimate amount of recipes like this, as I ended up with 2 jars and a bit left over - which never looks attractive.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Free lunch - 12th October

It's been colder this week - which leads to more interesting and varied lunches.
Ok, I still started the week with all-the-salad-possible wraps; cucumber, tomatoes, homegrown chutney, onion, beetroot, and a bit of cheese (not home grown!)

Tuesday, I tried something slightly different - popping a mini sweetcorn cob from the freezer in the oven to warm through while sausage rolls cooked, all with one of my coleslaw salads of tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot and cabbage.

Wednesday - proper cold weather food - leek and potato soup.

Back to the wraps but this time with the yellowy bread and butter pickle made from our cucumbers

Friday - Salad to use the spinach and radishes picked that morning at the allotment

Sandwiches and salad for the weekend

One 'free' evening meal this week - goulash with homegrown tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes and beans.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Making a feature out of wear and tear

 Walking round with hands stuck in jeans pockets is bad for you! Well, bad for the jeans. This perfectly good pair had completely worn away at the pockets - not just on the outside, where I might have passed it off as deliberately distressed, but inside as well. Time for some repair work....

I knew there was a reason I hoarded all the off-cuts left after turning jeans and cords up...

Half an hour's sewing and the damage has gone - hopefully replaced with something that looks like design feature, not a repair!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Free Lunch - 2 weeks to 4th October

It's just been another fortnight of sandwiches, wraps and salads made up of the usual suspects - cucumber, tomatoes and either cabbage or spinach.

Occasionally, I've had radish or beetroot to add to add, and one day I tested the 'bread and butter' pickle ie the very yellow cucumber and onion below.

Having too many tomatoes (and no space in the freezer) plus my own peppers, courgettes, beans and potatoes, I made 'goulash' one evening - it's getting to be a regular feature!

Rainy Monday

Yesterday was a really wet, generally horrible autumnal day - and so I got busy in the kitchen.

First, my lazy passata which is basically skinned tomatoes,cooked for a while, then when I think everything looks thick enough, pop it in jars, and re-boil them to seal.

Next task - freezing runner beans. These were so big and tough that a lot of them weren't fit to keep, but they did have beans inside which I've kept.

They look quite pretty when raw....

but boiling them turns the pink-shelled beans grey so I popped them out of their skins.

On to dinner - an almost free goulash-style meal using our allotment-grown squash and red pepper, onions, mixed batch of cannelini and borlotti beans, tomatoes and potatoes.

I used a small amount of smoked paprika, instead of my normal home-grown chilli which can be too hot, a small piece of pork from the Sunday roast, some left-over breadcrumbs and cheese for topping - so very nearly a 'free' dinner.

And, last thing before settling down with my knitting, setting up cucumber and onion to soak in brine overnight before pickling tomorrow.

First front done.....

 The first front of my new cardigan is now finished, so I'm starting to feel like I'm getting somewhere.

This half was slowed by having to sort the pattern out as I went along, so the second front should be quicker to knit...
..I want to make a few changes...

This is the front edge of the left hand side - and the first cable turns away from the edge while the diamond pattern has a strong diagonal line towards the edge. If I knit the patterns exactly the same on the right hand side, the cable will turn towards the edge and the diagonal line away from it, so I'm going to reverse the twists to make a mirror image. It all makes sense in my head, let's hope it does when I come to knit it!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Old Trousers = New skirt

So, I had a pair of old linen trousers, way past their best and going in holes. Most of the material was still ok though so I thought I'd chop off the worn bits and make a skirt......but...it wasn't that easy.

Looking more closely, I realised the outside had faded, while the inside had stayed a darker indigo - it's most easily seen in this pic where I've removed a pocket. So instead of a fairly easy chopping up and sew together again, I ended up almost starting from scratch.

I decided to use the bottom of the legs with the material reversed but it wasn't quite wide enough so I added a strip of material down each side seam and widening it at the bottom to make a little 'flip' at the hem -  I'm hoping this will look like a feature rather than a fix.

The material for the pockets came from chopping off the old pockets

and after a test try-on, I decided to add some darts both back and front, although it's still baggy enough to pull on without needing a zip. I haven't quite sorted the waistband yet - I need some more material from somewhere - but I'm going to use the old tie from the trousers to gather and fasten it.

So far I think it looks ok and I'm extremely happy to have found a use for the material.