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31 January 2012

when life gives you tomatoes...

Print by Fleur Harris

make tomato sauce!

I made a wonderful sauce for dinner last night using some of the
tomatoes from our own garden, a red onion from the root cellar, 
rich virgin olive oil, some organic dried basil and the recipe from 
Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer's great  Tuscan Cookbook

I added a tsp of vegie stock and a tbsp of sugar to please Ari's palate.

Over home-made pasta (there's a great gnocchi recipe in the book) and 
topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, it's simple and delicious...
and sure to please the fussiest eaters. The chew chew spoon helps too!

You cannot safely bottle the recipe due to the ph level but I plan to give 
this recipe for bottled pasta sauce a go when the next tomato crop ripens.
I found it via this post on tomatoes by the always delicious Food In Jars.

Bon Appétit 

26 January 2012

The Night Owl

It's a public holiday tomorrow (...err today)

There's no need to wake early or rush about anywhere. And
Ari's in holiday mode at the moment. He'll most probably sleep 
in for a bit.  So I've been burning the midnight oil once again.

Two large folksy owl cushions in need of some stitching

It is in the early morning hours, when all is at rest, that my head buzzes
with ideas. When finally, I have time to completely focus on my art and 
immerse myself in my work, the studio becomes quite a hive of activity.

I've been playing around with colours & patterns tonight/this morning.

I find that I am moving away from the gelati brights of the 60s and 70s 
and toward a more muted, off-beat palette. I've been looking at 30s and 
40s designs lately. Dada, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Depression Era, Wartime...
these eras are beginning to influence my craft making as well as my art.

This is the current view from a tidy corner of my worktable 

And I do love the way form, shapes and geometric pattern 
are used in the designs of those eras. So inspiring.

Later on today, whilst much of Australia celebrates 'Invasion Day', we 
plan to head on over to Artplay & try our hand at stop motion animation.

It sounds like it should be fun! Take a peek here.

Lunar New Year

Last week, we headed down to the festivites in Victoria Street. 
It was fun... but really hot!  Summer has finally arrived here.

We stopped for cool drinks (and a cupcake) on the way there. 

Ari's super cute cap is from Australian label Rock Your Baby.
It was a birthday gift from my brother. Thank-you Uncle Karl!

My sweet skirt is by another Australian label  High Tea With Mrs Woo

It was a rare and extravagant purchase for me. I bought it when I found
out that I was pregnant with Ari (while working as a costume maker.)

It's made from a combination of cotton and vintage silks. I love it to bits.

There was so much wonderful colour and oh, the food... 

sweet sticky rice, cane sugar juice, vegetarian egg pancakes, 
rice paper rolls, icy watermelon juice, vegie dumplings. Yum!

Ari went on a couple of rides and bought a beautiful new blue 
butterfly kite. What a wonderful day we all had in Richmond.

It's New Year in Chinatown this Sunday.  

We're looking forward to seeing that beautiful dragon once more.
 Festivities run from 10am till late. The dragon awakes at 12.30 pm.

Maybe we'll see you there... xoxo

18 January 2012

Mister Owl

Just look at this dapper little fellow. I do SO fancy him. And he's 
such a 'Man About Town'.  He seems to be everywhere I go!

Why, just the other day I spotted him again at this sweet little cafe 
store in Yea.  I admired his little bow tie and whimsical way once 
more whilst sipping a most delicious iced chocolate and eyeing off 
the public pool across the road... it was such a sweltering 40℃ day! 

We nibbled at homemade carrot cake, whilst perusing ↓this great book.

They had a lovely selection of organic gardening and cookbooks and 
I happily still had some Christmas money, so we purchased this one.

The Dapper Mister Owl wasn't for sale, but you can find him online 
at the wonderful Made590.  And many other lovely things to boot!


Sweet patchwork designs in Banderole's shop and 
lovely blog found via the ever lovely fine little day

Organic Shine Society

These beautiful kilim cushions can be found here

(n.b. this Etsy shop appears to have closed down)

14 January 2012

The Mad Square

 available from Amazon

Ari + J gifted me this fabulous book for Christmas and 
I've been just swooning over it these past weeks.
I particularly love the wonderful textiles it includes.

The NGV is currently holding an exhibition on 
' Modernity in German Art from 1910-1937 '
The Mad Square  is on until 4 March,
we're hoping to visit next week... it looks brilliant!

... someone's been rather keen to get in on these photos

6 January 2012

Sugar Plums

The last of the plums are almost gone from our beautiful trees!

We have spent this week madly picking, eating and preserving them.

We had been eagerly pouring over the home canning books with 
anticipation.  Last Summer I made a wonderful relish and some truly 
delicious jams and chutneys. And what a pantry we had last Winter!

this morning's breakfast

This year it's Onionz Limone ChutneyAsian Plum SauceBlood Plum 
& Vanilla JamCherry-Plum Jam, Cherry-Plum & Raspberry Jam,
reminds me of my childhood pantry :), Plum StreudelUpside-Down 
Cake and the most delicious German Plum Cake from a family recipe!

For those of you enjoying a Summer harvest, here's the relish recipe-

Plum Relish

2 lb cooking apples
1 lb onions
1 lb seedless raisins
3lb red plums
2 1/2 cups malt vinegar
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp each ground ginger, 
cayenne pepper and dry mustard
1 tbs salt
1 tbs allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 cup brown sugar

Wash and sterilise jars. (If you have not preserved 
fruit before, it's easy to do, but please visit this site
for more information and further safety specifics.)

Peel and core the apples, chop finely. Peel and
chop the onions. Place the apples and onion in
separate saucepans, add 1 tablespoon water to
each and simmer, covered, until soft and pulpy.

Chop the raisins, stone and chop the plums.
Place raisins, plums, apples and onions in a 
cooking pan. Add 1 1/4 cups of the vinegar,
and the ground spices and the salt to the pan. 

Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer
very gently, uncovered, stirring frequently,
for 45 minutes. Add remaining vinegar and
sugar continue cooking as before for a further 
45 minutes to 1 hour or until thickened. 

Ladle into sterilized jars and seal while hot.

Water bath jars for 20 minutes, label and store in a 
cool dark place. Should keep 12 months or more. 

So good on bread with cheese!

Recipe from Preserves and Pickles by Alison Burt 
(Octopus Books 1973)

It's plums aplenty here, but not only plums in our pantry...

this afternoon's harvest

Carrot Cake Jam and Golden Gossip Chutney are tomorrow's mission
since I've just picked this wonderful bounty of heirlooms carrots.

And there are red onions & green tomatoes ready to use too, so perhaps
Good Ole' Green Tomato Chutney will be hitting the stovetop next week.

Indeed this is somewhat how our kitchen looks this Summer ↓

from the delightful Bramley Hedge's 'Autumn Story' 
image found via this lovely post

...only rather less pretty than Mr & Mrs Mouse's (and rather more messy).

I've spent the last few days (and much of 2011) madly researching the
Fine Art of Preserving via my books and the many wonderfully delicious
(and well-researched) canning blogs and sites scattered across the web.

(I've listed my favourite links in the column to the left of my blog under Kitchencraft.)

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
available here from Amazon

If you're keen to give preserving a shot, I'd advise you to refer 
to this invaluable site first, for specific guidelines and advice ↓

National Centre For Home Food Preservation (US)

and if you don't have your own fruit or veg at the ready

this site:  Pick Your Own (Australia)

can offer links to orchards in your area (there's a US site too)
plus plenty of recipes and advice on home canning & preserving.

Preserving is a most rewarding and delicious endeavour
& really quite easy once you understand the methods involved.