Sunday, September 29, 2013

A little knitting

This leaf motif is from Golden Hands Magazine, published in the mid 1970s. There are many different leaf motifs: Oak, Ginko, Elm... so I've selected 4 to try.

I wanted to practice my Fair Isle technique (which is not so good). 

I plan on making about 16 motifs and joining them together into a little blanket. I think it will look great, its just taking some time. Each motif takes me about 3 hours to do.

Still, I love how it is turning out.

The dark green yarn is a silk/cotton blend left-over from a top I knit last year. The bright green is mercerised cotton. The motifs have nice drape due to the silk and so will be lovely as a blanket.

Should be done by this time next year!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Gluten-Free Happy Things

Going gluten-free has not been that difficult for the most part. It has been only a small adjustment from the relatively low gluten diet I was eating for the last few years. At first I had thought it was just wheat that was the problem, but it turns out to be the whole gluten family: wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, barley... And I've also developed a mild egg allergy (though I can still get away with a tiny bit every now and then - like in a little icecream!)

However, the hardest things have been good pastry, cakes, pancakes and bread. I've got a good basic shortcrust pastry recipe that works well for either sweet or savoury pies (I just leave out the sugar for savoury)

I use this recipe for the pastry, but instead of shortening I use butter (and I use about 1/4 cup instead of 1/3), I skip the vanilla and for the flour I use half soy flour and half rice flour. I also double the quantities of flour (but not anything else) as the recipe only makes enough for the base of my tin. I find the rice flour is too crumbly by itself while the soy flour is too sticky. So putting the two together gives a balance of crumbly and sticky. It also allows you to press and knead the dough a bit without it falling apart. This mix holds its shape nicely when baked but you can't over-bake it as it tends to get tough. For a more textured version I use 1/3 cup of ground almonds and reduce the rice and soy flours to 1/3 cup. 

Here I used the pastry for a blueberry custard pie. I used a gluten and egg free instant custard powder with about 500g of blueberries piled on top. Then I mixed about 1/3 cup of blackberry jam with a dash of water to make the glaze. Then baked the lot for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius. I did blind-bake the pastry for about 5 minutes first because I was worried the base might get soggy. 

Turned out great and tasted wonderful. 

This sticky date pudding is soo good. I used this recipe here without any modifications (except using 'Egg-Replacer in place of the 2 eggs) . It was perfect. Totally not gluten-free weird tasting. The caramel butterscotch sauce was just lovely.

This was my first grilled cheese sandwich in 2.5 years. Two and a half years is a long time for anyone to go without a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.  I almost cried in happiness while eating this sandwich. 

It took a few tries cooking these to get this Ricotta Pancake just right. As I have a gas stove, it was a little too hot to cook these nicely. However, on the lowest temperature and moving the pan around while the pancake cooked, it turned out perfect. I served these with a dollop of ricotta on top and some blackberry jam. Though these are nice on their own. Certified good by the real-pancake eating Mr (and he is very particular about pancakes).

 The blog has some excellent looking other gluten-free recipes I'm looking forward to trying and the photographs are lovely.

My next challenge is gluten-free Snowskin Lotus Mooncakes as its the Mid-Autumn Festival. I plan to use this recipe. 

The trials and tribulations of Avocado growing

It has been a tense few weeks here as we watched our two avocado plants that I've been growing for the past year slowly loose all their leaves.

I sprayed them with some non-toxic bug killer to no avail.

Then I decided to do some online searching to find out what might be killing our beautiful friends. I finally discovered that they had fungus bugs eating their roots. Many of the sites said too bad the plants will die or to use lots of chemicals but one gave some helpful advice: stop watering the plants and let the soil dry out. Apparently the fungus bugs need moisture to survive and with no water the bugs will die but the plants will be fine. Once the soil is completely and utterly dry, you can start to water again, watching carefully for bug-action.

Today our second avocado lost its last large leaf. So both plants have are now stick-like and at first glance leaf-less!

However, both have started to sprout new leaves this week! Hurrah! 

I like to think that the little pep-talk I have with them every morning about them being such lovely plants and how much we want them to thrive has also helped. So yes, you should talk to your plants and tell them that they are great! (but also do some research on bugs!)