Sunday, 2 March 2014

Finishing. Starting.

Finished: Book

photos for blogThe Circle by Dave Eggers.


I thoroughly enjoyed And you shall know our velocity by Dave Eggers, so when my work friend Nick was reading this I asked if I could borrow it.

I tend to read borrowed books faster than my own as I feel the impetus to return them before they get lost in my piles of book. I had no trouble finishing this and found it compelling from the start.

I won't say much about the plot (I hate spoilers and hardly ever read the blurb on the back of books which seem to give away half the plot) but it starts with a young woman leaving her dull hometown job to work at a googlesque company, Circle.

I work in digital communication which may have piqued my interest but if you use the internet (and here you are dear reader), you should read this. Heck, I'm not even sure I should be blogging after reading this book.






Started: Allotment 2014



photos for blog We headed to our strip of land on Saturday.

Most of the work was wedding, pulling up an excess of strawberry and anise plants which had continued to spread through the mild winter.

I also admired the bare stems such as these wintered chive heads.

However there was some bounty. Red chicory, a turnip, lettuce and Jerusalem artichokes had grown well and were ready for the eating.














Finished: Chicory and lettuce

photos for blog
















Started: Garden

We now have a small garden all to ourselves. It's pretty unkempt at the mo and there are some minor jobs such as weeding and pruning as well as the possibility of total overhaul. The brickwork is pretty crumbly and I'm not keen on the paving stones. There's a fair bit of work to do in our new place too, so we'll see which gets done first.


photos for blog

Started: hot sauce

photos for blog

Hot sauce recipe. I've made this before. Scotch bonnets are a pretty fierce chili (hence the gloves on the left) but they mellow into a tasty, zingy, sauce with this recipe from Epicurious. Stage one involves roughly blending the ingredients and letting them ferment for at least 12 hours. I'll finish the sauce tomorrow evening.


Almost finished?

photos for blogAnd finally, knitting!

Of course, it's socks.

These have turned out to be pretty international. I bought the Norweigan yarn (Drops) in Sweden before Christmas. Cast on in Ecuador, knitting a bit more on my flight home via the USA - including a stop in Atlanta to see my in-law in laws - knitted some more in France, and almost finished them in Yorkshire last weekend. I've got one more toe to do, then they're off to my mum (back to Yorkshire) for Mother's Day.

Pattern: Into the Groove
Designer: Knittingtastic
Yarn: Drops something or other 4ply
Needle: 2.25mm (my first socks on chiagoos, mmmm, so smooth)

Crikey!

2013, where did you go?

Last year was stupidly busy and I think it's OK to accept that sometimes some things have to give way. I my case it was this little corner of the internet, as well as a lot of crafty time, that was sacrificed for other things.

What other things I hear you cry? Well without banging on too much they were moving house and my job. It wasn't all work and new home hunting. I did cram in a fair bit of travel and adventure and if I find the time I'll do a spot of retrospective blogging about that.

Where does that leave me now?

Over the last few months I've felt the urge to blog, so I'm starting here. I also occasionally feel a tad hypocritical as my day job is running a blog site, and I don't want to lose touch with the insight I get from keeping my own blog.

Hopefully this won't be one of those "I'm back" posts followed by weeks, if not months, of silence. I've had a weekend at home, which has been a rarity over the last five months, catching up on my allotment, a spot of knitting, as well as some well needed down time reading a book. Yes, a real life paper book. I've got a few things to say about all of that so... watch this space....

Monday, 11 February 2013

Plastic fantastic?

Just a quick post to say I spotted this challenge for Lent http://plasticbeaches.blogspot.co.uk/

On first glance it looked fairly easy, on closer inspection it's very, very hard. I'll be following Emily's progress and while I don't think I can quite match her in cutting out plastics from my life I'm going to try and reduce the amount I use.

Good luck Emily!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Strolling

MrG and I went out for a nice stroll this afternoon, along the Thames from Wapping and its expensive warehouse apartments to Tower Bridge and St Katherine's Dock. We had fun trying to stick to the Thames in Wapping, including turning down a side street heading down to the river to discover steps leading into it. A bit too much Thames for our liking!

Thames steps

Our reason for heading to St Katherine's Dock was a replica pirate ship was moored there and was free to visit. According to MrG it was featured in Hornblower and the crew would try and sell you onions? - can you tell I wasn't paying much attention and was just along for the ride? Anyway, just as we arrived at the dock the ship was leaving so while we didn't get to poke around the galley and splice the mainbrain (or somesuch pirate speak) we did watch it carefully manoeuvre out of the dock back to the Thames.

Hornblower

 We also discovered The Honesty Shop housed in an old routemaster.

  Honesty bus

There was a little bit of British merino yarn, knitting kits and John Arbon socks (I highly recommend these, I have a couple of pairs, they're toasty and wash well) as well as lots of lovely gifts.

Woolly goodies

We then headed over Tower Bridge to South Bank and the We Make London Christmas market. I picked up some tangy raspberry curd and gooey, delicious Somerset goats cheese and stopped by to see my friend Julie and her Tilly Flop Designs stand. I love Julie's work which has a witty take on knitting jargon and the frustrations that many of us crafty folk face with her "Oh how I'd rather be knitting" tea towels and cards.

Tilly Flop Designs

After a good catch up with Julie I spotted these cards which put a grin on my face. There's something about cats being humiliated in headgear.




Cat in figgy pudding festive hat © Jo Clark designs

I bought a selection from Jo Clark Designs for my friends and family who are also cat people. She's got some great prints, including a sloth, which I would have snapped up if I had wall space for it.

We rounded our outing off with some quality coffee and a chilli hot chocolate infused with ginger and cinnamon as well as chilli for a tasty kick.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Winning

I went to Stitch London's Christmas meet up on Monday night. As well as catching up with old friends and meeting some lovely new knitters there was a raffle.

Now I used to run lots of raffles when I organised p/hop and as I was the organiser I couldn't enter. I din't mind this as the money we raised helped MSF's incredible work, though I did covet some of the prizes we were donated. So it was with some excitement entered Stitch London's raffle buying a few tickets as the money was going to Great Ormond Street Hospital, my old workplace. I'd entered their raffle last year too but didn't win anything so wasn't holding out much hope.

Low and behold my name came out of the hat bag not once, not twice, but a cracking seven times, including drawing my own name three times. While I was pretty pleased by this it did seem excessive so I turned down some prizes when I drew my own name out plus gave one away. However, with some encouragement from Deadlyknitshade, I came home with some pretty nifty swag.

Raffle Swag

First up is this delightful woodpecker badge made by the talented Teasemade, perfect for me as I'm a bit of a closet ornithologist. The colours are beautiful and capture the essence of the great spotted woodpecker beautifully.

Raffle Swag

Next is this inspirational card from Craftivists with this spot on message:

Raffle Swag

And finally the yarn. Oh, the yarn. You might be aware that I've been on a yarn diet this year. While I have indulged in a few items I've only bought one skein of sock yarn all year so this was very exciting.

Raffle Swag

It's from new dyer Trailing Clouds. The yarn is called Mind the Gap and is, drumroll please, self striping! I'm saving this for when I catch up on The Killing III over the Christmas break as I can only knit plain stocking stitch when reading Danish subtitles.

How do you say "ssh, I'm knitting and reading subtitles" in Danish?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Orange

New gloves
Calendula Milorange Scotch bonnets Molly Wesley socks

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Wanton abandonment

One of the things I enjoy about living in London is the easy availability of ingredients from all over the planet. Just off Leicester Square is Chinatown, home to a fantastic supermarket with three floors of Asian delights. If I'm in the area, usually at one of the independent cinemas or National Portrait Gallery, I'll pop into the supermarket and browse with a mix of intrigue and bafflement at the range of ingredients from Japanese carrot milk to Thai galangal to wanton wrappers.

Chinese New Year 2011
Chinese New Year 2011, London

In summer 2011 I went on holiday to China. Our fantastic hostel in the hutongs north of the Forbidden City in Beijing held a dumpling night which was free for guests, where they demonstrated how to make dumplings/gyoza/wantons. We mucked in and after a few messy attempts were proficiently wrapping parcels of veg, egg and pork for the meat eaters.

Dumplings

 See the look of concentration on my friend's faces.

 Dumplings

I had a go at this when I returned home but making the pastry was tricky, so the next time I was in Chinatown I picked up a pack of wrappers in the freezer section.

Gyoza experiment

Tonight I had a go at making wantons. I'd been sprouting mung beans (yes, I'm that sort of person) so I minced some of those in the food processor along with some ginger, garlic, cavolo nero leaves from the allotment (again, just think of me in the Good Life) and quorn pieces which I'd stir fried for a few min before chopping.

Gyoza experiment

Taking my wrappers out of the freezer it dawned on me that I didn't know how to prepare them from frozen.  Trying to prise them apart with a knife shattered them and the instructions on the back of the packet were in German, so I had to improvise - yes I could have googled it but where would the fun be in that? I poured some freshly boiled water into a dish and let the wrappers sit for a about 20 seconds which enabled me to peel off the bottom few wrappers, repeating the process until I had enough. I popped the rest back in the freezer for further experimentation.

Gyoza experiment

Stuffing them was fairly easy, though I found it hard to get the edges to stick compared with fresh dough. Keeping my fingers and the wrappers wet helped and stopped them from sticking to everything else.

Gyoza experiment

After some fiddling I decided to chance it and boil the gyoza without worry if they fell apart or not. It worked! Sort of. Some did fall apart, partly due to my lack of patience when I was fishing them out of the water.

Gyoza experiment

Here's the worst of it

Gyoza experiment

and the best of it.

Gyoza experiment

The stuff drizzled over them is my improvised teryaki sauce which is dead easy to make - see the end of this post for details.

So, the important part, nevermind how they looked, how did they taste? Pretty good, seeing as we gobbled them down in a matter of seconds.

Will I make them again? Well the prepration to eating-time ratio is pretty high so maybe in another six months I'll have another go. In the meantime, Chinatown also sells frozen Korean kim chee gyoza, which are pretty excellent and only take a few minutes to boil. Sorted!

Teriyaki-esque sauce

This is a variation from a recipe in Yo Sushi: the Japanese Cookbook

I didn't have any sake (a shame, I know) or mirin.

3 tbsp low salt soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp Japanese rice wine vinegar (a wine vinegar with gentle flavour will work well)

Boil ingredients, adding a small amount of water if the sauce gets thick to quickly. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is the consistency desired. That's it. Told you it was easy. Keeps any leftover sauce in the fridge.

Dumplings
Hostess with the mostess dumplings