Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Knit Content

I've now got as link into my blog, from who wouldn't love a hand knitted gift/ KAL, so I ought to blog about knitting, just a little bit.

I learnt to knit when I was 7 - Mrs Philips taught me at school. My mother knits beautifully, complicated lace and colour work, so I grew up with knitting around, and she would help me make things.

The first thing I really knitted though was a blanket, which I did all by myself in my teens. It was in a huge range of scrap yarns, of different colours and weights. Each square was made by casting on 20 stitches on UK size 8 (4mm) needles.

Other things followed, toys and sweaters for example. Then I went through a bit of knitting wilderness, caused by the wrong projects, but now I'm doing lots of it. However most of the things I have done in the last few years have been for other people: time to do things for me.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Herb bread, made in a breadmaker

Sometimes the Gods smile on you: and they did today.

I made toasted cheese for lunch, and as I pulled the grill pan out from under the grill, one of my slices slid off the edge and onto the floor. Bye bye tasty, toasty cheese-on-toast.

But my luck was in:

  • the toast landed cheese side up

  • the floor had been cleaned yesterday, and that makes it clean enough to eat from

  • the toast was made from herb bread, and a visual inspection only showed black bits that were from the herbs in the bread.

It was very yummy.

To make herb bread in my breadmaker:

Starting with a very low heat, warm 60ml of olive oil in a saucepan.

Meanwhile, squash a clove of garlic under a knife blade and cut in half: add to olive oil. Add herbs, perhaps a bayleaf, or a sprig of rosemary, and also some dried ones: 1/2 - 1 tsp of oregano, sage, basil, and thyme. Put the timer on for 2 minutes. When the timer rings, switch off the heat and go away - do some shopping, or knitting, or make a quilt.

After several hours, get out the breadmaker. Put in 1.5tsp of dried yeast (ie normal breadmaker yeast), 12 oz bread flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. Then add 60ml milkand 120 ml of water, and finally the oil: take out the bayleaf, rosemary or similar first, but leave in the rest.

Set the breadmaker for medium loaf, medium size and white bread, and wait for it to cook.

Feed to hungry children and grateful husbands.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I am ... Einstein

OK, this may be totally inaccurate, but I rather like being compared to this famous leader.

It came from here.

I'm not so keen on the famous film I am, so you don't get to see that. Or rather, it is yet another classic film, that I haven't seen, so I don't know whether I mind or not.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You covered what?

I wonder if the makers of the the Bowflex Ultimate™ 2 Home Gym (a total-body solution) are surprised at the number of people comning to them from a knitting website.

The crafts council's knit 2 together exhibition had the ultimate cover up though, with their "domestic interior": a sitting room where every item was covered by white aran knitting.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Scotch broth's distant cousin

I like making soup: you start with a pile of unassuming ingredients, and through some kind of culinary alchemy, you end with a meal.

As meals go, it is a particularly cook-friendly one. There are no tricky timings, and it can be prepared ahead without problems. Re-heating does not change the texture or dry it out. And there are endless variations.

Scotch broth is a classic soup made of lamb, barley and vegetables. This recipe has no barley in it, but took its inspiration from it, so I call it Scotch Broth's cousin.

A note on the ingredients:

Lamb: the meat came from some chops I cooked for my childrfen. I had cut off the fat, which had some meat imbedded in it. I slivered the meat from the fat (the fatty bits were chucked out ), and then cut it up finely. I ended with slightly less meat then you get on one chop.

Butter beans: not a traditional ingredient. I took a handful of beans and soaked them over night. Then I simmered them for an hour, before removing the outer skin, and adding them to the soup to simmer for another hour. They picked up lots of flavour from the broth, but STILL HAD NOT COOKED AT THE END. So they were discarded before eating.

The other ingredients were lurking in the fridge. All the vegetables were cut up
finely, typically in 2mm cubes. It took ages, but the result was good.

The cooking

I started with finely sliced spring onions which I sauted in vegetable oil. Meanwhile I chopped two sticks of celery, and added them. Then I chopped a carrot and a parsnip and added these. Next I added half a red pepper and three mushrooms, also chopped. I stirred it for a bit, then add the lamb and stirred a bit longer, before covering generously with water, and two mushroom stock cubes. Finally once the water was boiling, I added the peeled butter beans, turned the heat to a brisk simmer and left it to cook for about an hour.

And that was that: rich and tasty, served with bread to soak up the juices.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another dilettante posts again

A few years ago I read a book called something like "Play to your strengths". It had a line that stayed with me - "choose one of your strengths and master that: don't be a dilettante". My immediate reaction was that being a dilettante was my strength.

Of course, I could claim to be a Renaissance (Wo)man or a polymath - except I'm not either of those. The dictionary definition of a polymath includes "excelling" at multiple fields. A true Renaissance Man has a desire to truly master a subject, and I'm too much of a generalist to get that depth. Neither polymath or Renaissance Man describes me well.

So that leaves a dilettante, a dabbler, an amateur. That's me. I like to find out about lots of things, and have a range of skills, but there are too many things to learn about to spend too long on any one subject.

What does that mean for this blog?

It means I'm going to write on a variety of topics. To find out what they are, check back later.