Archive for the “Edible” Category

A few months ago, I heard of a book called The Flavour Bible. I read a few reviews and decided it was just what I’ve been looking for - a book designed for people who can already cook, leaning more towards inspiration and suggestion rather than recipes. I have been cooking since I was wee, and I have never used any of the numerous recipe books I’ve fallen for over the years, so I banned myself from buying any more! I occasionally invest in baking books, but that’s different, being more of a science and less of a throw-it-in-the-pot-and-see-what-comes-out.

I finally got my copy of TFB last week and have been browsing and planning menus, but today I feel it really proved its worth. I got to the end of my soup, tasted, and decided it needed something. I wanted a herb, but which herb? So I looked up Pumpkin - the dominant flavour in the mix, TFB suggested bay leaves, so I added bay leaves, simmered a couple of minutes and voila!

I was so excited that the theory actually worked that I have written up the recipe for you to try if you are so inclined.


Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

1 very small pumpkin
1 large sweet potato
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups pre-cooked lentils
2 (ish) cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the pumpkin and sweet potato into pieces, skin on, and coat liberally with the oil and spices, dot butter on top and roast in a baking dish at 200C for 1 hour or until squishy.

Scoop the flesh out of the skins into a pot and puree with enough stock to make it nice and soupy. Stir in the lentils and the bay leaves and simmer a few minutes to heat through.

Season, and add cream perhaps if you’re feeling decadent (I didn’t have any).


My lentils were leftovers from yesterday, I had cooked them in chicken stock following standard packet directions.

I tend to use chicken stock for everything, but no doubt it would taste just as good with vegie. You could probably leave out the butter too to make it vegan, but I like the way it behaves with roasted vegies.

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It’s been a while, but I’m sure you’ll all understand when I explain that I was busy soaking up sun, sun and more sun at home in Australia :-D

You can stop poking me now.

Here’s a picture so you can see I’m not fibbing:


And yes, of course this is what all Australians (and South Africans) do at their weddings.

We also went camping (pictures from my sister sometime I hope), and spent time at the beach house for New Year’s. I took a break from all knitting, spinning, pilates and anything else that could be construed as work. It was fabulous.


At this time of year, it is traditional to look back in the archives of one’s blog and see what plans were laid out for the year and whether they were achieved or not. From 2009:

1) Finish a handspun colourwork vest (that will be the Deep-v Argyle) Ahem - no.
2) Finish a fullsized (i.e. long-sleeved) handspun sweater See above.
3) Finish (at least) one small and one large handspun shawl Large - tick, small no.
I’d also like to…
4) Knit more stash than I buy (I am in a sock club and a fibre club - so seriously, what else do I need???) Well, I have a lot less stash, but that was partly due to some judicious de-stashing. So kind of achieved.

I was kind of screwed on all of this by the issues I had with my back, so the list was doomed from the start really. But we could make a new list:

1) Train for a new career - tick
2) Set up a new business and begin to establish a client base - tick
3) Get myself back into shape physically (from a long way down, believe me!) - tick

I’m not making any promises this year, but I do have a goal… We’ve fallen into a bit too much of a cycle of going for the easy take-out or meal-from-a-jar options. This year’s challenge is to establish routines of cooking quality meals and reducing the rubbish to a minimum. This is partly financial, partly do you realise how much crap is in take-out and processed food?

I want to make more of my own bread (got a great sourdough book for Christmas!) and try interesting flours. I want to investigate the Slow Food movement more thoroughly. I will still have nights where I can’t be bothered cooking, but that’s what freezers are for. Chilli anyone? I want to entertain more, something we did all the time at home but seems to have fallen by the wayside here. I want to try more new things instead of just ‘Monday is pork chop night’. I want to visit the market occasionally and buy quality produce instead of tired supermarket imports from the other side of the world. I want to love what I’m fuelling my body with at every meal.

Here’s to a great 2010, may yours be full of friends, fun times and of course, great food!

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I can’t believe that tomorrow I’m leaving the farm. On Monday afternoon it suddenly struck me, and I started frantically making a list of all the things I meant to do while i was here and hadn’t got around to yet. One of these was going blackberry picking and making blackberry and apple crumble for dessert - yum! Since I left home for university, I’ve very seldom been at the farm during the right season, Christmas or Easter time being far more likely. I was a little late for this year’s berries, but there were still a few to be had thank goodness.


Blackberrying requires a special uniform (unless you’re an eedjit). Long pants, long sleeves (I ignored that one and have lovely scratches to show for it), hat, solid shoes, bucket and mobile phone. The mobile phone is not protection from the sun or blackberry prickles or to put blackberries in, it’s in case you get bitten by a snake. In the Olden Days, we used to take two way radios, or lots of people, snakes really like blackberry bushes.


Mum came along with me luckily, as I wouldn’t have gone so far afield on my own even with a phone, and the little suckers were pretty scarce - we only got a few off each bush. We roamed about 20mins walk from the farmhouse to get two handfuls of berries. Above, you can see a bush carefully guarding a wombat burrow, feet for scale. Wombats are big.


We made it to our favourite spot eventually, the dam wall. I can remember picking berries here in good seasons that were as big as a thumb (almost), but this year it’s been too hot and a lot of the berries were sunburnt. We got enough though to come home and make my favourite ever dessert.


Blackberry and Apple Crumble:
1. Peel, slice and cook a few (homegrown) green apples, place in a dish and sprinkle in as many blackberries as you could find.
2. Top with crumble made from coconut, sugar, flour and melted butter.
3. Toast in the oven till golden.
4. Gobble with cream.


We managed to have homegrown tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and potatoes in the same meal, and could have been eating completely home-produced if we’d thought to take some goat out of the freezer!

Tomorrow we’re heading to the Field Days, a bit like an agricultural show, then I’m staying with my dad a couple of days then a brief stop with the in-laws in Melbourne. I fly out Sunday and will be back in London at the crack of dawn Monday morning. Sob! I’m not quite calling it a holiday, as farms are pretty hard work in general and we’ve been running around like headless chooks (chickens), but it’s certainly been a break, and a fabulous restful one at that.

Ciao! x

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The weekend spent at Kai’s was wonderful! We lazed around and relaxed and knitted and Neil slept in until midday which is his idea of a perfect holiday. It was freezing, I went a little bit childish about the crunchy grass and frozen puddles (!) but Kai and Ollie’s is thoroughly double-glazed and nicely heated and far warmer than our flat in London, it was lovely.

I took parcels with me, and brought home some more :-D Kai spun this for me:


Stunning. It’s BFL/silk from Fyberspates and there’s a bit over 500m. I’m thinking of doing one of the scarves in the new Nancy Bush book.


Kai also bought us a fantastic curry recipe book, and then displayed tremendous patience while I went through every recipe and asked questions about ingredients and methods and made notes! Neil loves curry and I love cooking, so it’s a win-win. I have to scout around for all the spices and things I need, but it shouldn’t be too hard here in London.

And since Kai is a little sweetie (and we generally raid each others’ stashes without pause anyway) this also came home with me:


I was very restrained though, and didn’t steal any of her fibre this time. Oh, and chocolate is not for sharing. But you know that.

- - - -

Today, to keep my toes warm, I’ve been baking.


Mmmmmm… will you be at Socktopus tonight??

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Something in which I do NOT take after my mother. I love the idea of big gardens and growing things but mostly stuff just dies ;-) The only thing I have been successful with is my herb garden back home, which I really miss. I can’t wait for it to be warm enough to start one here on my balcony.


These are some of mum’s vegetable gardens. The netting is there to keep the chooks out, who otherwise have free run of the garden. This bed at the front has been planted with carrots, celery, brussels sprouts and some other stuff which I can’t remember, and mulched to help retain moisture.


Scampers the guinea pig keeps the grass down on the paths, behind him are the beds being prepared for climbers like peas.


My hands go nowhere near the soil, in case of plant-assassination, but I carried buckets of worm poo and untangled netting :-D I think these are cabbage seedlings mum’s planting here.




And just cause they’re cute - some chooks.

While I was home we had several meals which were almost completely composed of home-grown produce (including some yummy roast goat), it is so satisfying to be able to just pop out and pick whatever you fancy eating. The vegies mum planted while I was home will mostly be ready towards the end of winter and will provide nearly all they need for the season, plus plenty to freeze and preserve as well.

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It’s not news that spinning is meditative, relaxing and even possibly the new yoga. I find it very calming and although I enjoy experimenting with new techniques, most of the time I spin to a standard no-thinking-required grist and finish as a 2-ply. I usually end up with about a sport to DK weight yarn which is one I consider most useful in the types of things I like to knit.

Tulips BFL

Not every fibre likes being this thickness of course, but it works fine on my two favourite fibres - BFL and Polwarth - and funnily enough, that happens to be what I have most of in my stash. I like that I can spin this kind of yarn pretty much without looking or thinking. It’s great when you’re chatting away at spinning group or watching TV or demonstrating at a show. I used it here for the Emerald City yarn, and here again on Nathalie’s Deep Sea yarn (I think I did all of that on a LOTR marathon).

Tulips BFL

Again on the no-thinking thing, I like to choose colours which blend and tone together. This is not the kind of spinning where I want to be fiddling around with matching colours in plies and worrying which end of the strip of tops I should be starting from. I love the way in the Emerald City I get green on blue, and dark blue on blue and bright green on green and more, making it exciting to watch the way the scarf is coming out with each new colour variation.

Tulips BFL

Yesterday I grabbed the bag of Tulips colourway from the Spunky fibre club which has been kicking around since last June. I couldn’t figure out how to place the colours and I have been fussing over it for ages wondering what to do. In the end, I realised it was the black that was the sticking point - I just don’t really like red and black together. So I pulled it out, and most of the yellow and just spun red with a teeny hint of orange. I love it! It’s fiery and really red but has depth of colour due to the slight variation the orange adds. There’s only a little over 50g so I will probably stripe it with something or perhaps do a colourwork hat.

In between spinning, of course, there were muffins. And Ali’s lemon cake. And Jan’s cheese biscuits. In fact, I’m surprised I got anything done at all!


Banana Choc Chip Muffins:

2 cups plain flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 cup chopped banana, 100g good quality chopped dark chocolate, 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

Beat wet ingredients, stir in dry and add banana and chocolate. Bake at 180 C for about 20 mins or until golden. Makes 12.

* Aussie measurements: 1 cup is 250ml, 1 tsp is 5ml.

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Firstly, thank you so much for all your comments on the mag. Kate and I really hoped that what we envisioned would be the kind of thing people wanted and it seems we were right for the most part. Feedback has been wonderful and inspiring and we have been trying to respond in person to as many people as we can.

We really tried to listen to potential readers and create a site that would meet the needs of people out there. We had great ideas and feedback as we were building the magazine and some of the most welcomed features (e.g. the printable pages) have been ideas from you guys out there.

We will continue to listen, and although we know we can’t please everyone all the time, we will always keep in mind that this is a magazine for you and it should reflect the needs and preferences of the public readership. So please keep in touch!

As a result of one email I received on Wednesday I headed out last night to meet up with Helda and the London Crochet Meetup group. Kate and I decided from the first that we didn’t want the mag to be exclusively for knitters and the crochet crowd has responded positively to the inclusion of their art. It was a good night, I met a lot of new people and we talked about ways that crochet’s image can (hopefully) change. Knitting still attracts flak from many sources and crocheters get at least a quadruple dose. I really hope that the Loop can help to let people know that it’s not all sparkly thread and granny squares out there (although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the awesome granny square).

In honour of the occasion (although they certainly don’t ban knitting at LCM!) I thought I’d take some crochet along and decided to start Treenah from the mag. I chose Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and I’m loving it!


I’ve just started the trellis pattern at one end - have I ever mentioned how FAST crochet is?! I’m going to be finished this one pretty soon and I’ll leave it on display at Stash for a while until it gets shipped off for an antipodean winter birthday.

I sound like I’m on a bit of a craze here I know but I have always enjoyed crochet, I have never used icky acrylic and hardly ever skinny thread. There is definitely a place for it and it deserves a better wrap than it traditionally receives. Why not dig out a hook this weekend :-)


P.S. Who’s going to be at Spinning Group tomorrow morning :-P


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No time to write much now, I’m off to spinning group :-D Have a great day!


I’ll give you the recipe later, in the meantime you could look here.

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to eat more vegetables. Better ones too, which really ends up being part of the more - because if you buy good quality then you’re much more likely to eat it rather than throw it out. Also, you’re much more likely to eat it and not throw it out if you paid premium prices.

Last year we were chuffed when the first London Wholefoods store opened up right across the park from us. Sadly, it’s a really BIG park and although WF was walking distance it wasn’t really masses-of-vegetables carrying distance. So we tended to wander down there for the cafes and to buy tomatoes. For a long time I’ve been tossing up the idea of getting a box delivered and finally, after a bit of research and advice (there are a MILLION organic delivery companies in London) I settled on Abel and Cole and this arrived last week:

Veg box

Let me tell you, there is nothing like having all those heavy vegetables delivered right to your doorstep to make it easier to eat more. I really like the fact that not only is the produce local (don’t get me started on Tesco’s snow peas from Peru - not that I have anything against Peru, I just don’t think my snow peas need to travel 35 million miles to my house), it is also seasonal, and you can be satisfied that you’re eating stuff that hasn’t sat in storage for ten months. So I can’t get snow peas? Well, swede soup is a bit more hearty for this weather anyway.

On Thursday I was inspired by Crazy Aunt Purl’s post and so yesterday I got up early to collect my box (in my pyjamas, and got sprung by a man walking his dog - I think I saw him snigger) and see if there were suitable vegetables. There were - so into the crock pot went parsnip, carrots, sweet potato and potato, on top I put four chicken thighs, on top of that went some sprigs of thyme from Jan’s garden and I poured over a cup of vegetable stock. Press the button, go to work.

When I got home it smelt great! I thickened it with a little cornflour and tried to convince Neil that he really did want to eat some even though it had orange bits in. He didn’t - thus all the more for me. I have promised him that next time I will make it with just potato, or at least with all the orange bits down one end of the pot.

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Being home sick is fun for the first day or so - you can put whatever you want on TV, sleep in, knit all day. After a while though, even knitting seems less desirable (especially when all your wips except two are at work and you’re getting sick of the two).

Enter the mixing bowl.

I always try to keep everything on hand in the pantry to make choc chip something. I don’t always have eggs, but the Domestic Goddess was smiling today. I kind of used a recipe from a book I brought over from home: I didn’t have brown sugar so I used half white sugar and a big dollop of golden syrup instead, and I didn’t have coconut so I left it out. Neil doesn’t like coconut in his cookies anyway. I made sure I left in the huge chunks of chocolate though!

 I mixed in front of the TV, bowl on my lap. I’ve never had an automatic mixer and haven’t had even a hand-held electric since I moved to London. I’ve always really enjoyed the action of beating eggs, butter, sugar by hand and I’m not usually in a hurry when I’m baking. I can still remember creaming butter and sugar for my mother when I was a child. We had a pale yellow mixing bowl and I was supposed to keep going until the mixture matched the bowl.

Roll, press with a fork, set the timer for 12 minutes.

 Now I just need someone to share them with… 

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