Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dying with eucalyptus leaves

Today I finally tried dying some silk with eucalyptus leaves.  I got the leaves from some trees on campus while I was waiting for Grasshopper (seriously, that is the man's name) to take me to the car fixing place.  There are some mature trees not far from the library, but I've no idea what species they are.

My inspiration for this was reading about India Flint in a Fibrearts journal where she was featured along with her work. 

So, having leaves and silk I laid out some lengths of fabric and placed the leaves on it.

Then I rolled them around some sticks and tied them up with some cotton.

Then put them in a pot to boil for a while.  You can see the water has started to colour from the leaves in this photo.

I felt a bit like a witch making potion! It was quite magical to unwrap the bundles and find this.

I have to admit, I'm not sure how colour fast these will be.  I'll try one out in my felting and see if the soap makes it disappear ;-)  But we'll see.  I liked the effect, but I think I could have boiled it a bit longer and tied the bundles a bit tighter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pie Odyssey #4 Mince & Dumpling pie

I really like dumplings.  There is something magical about blobbing sticky balls of dough into a stew and seeing them puff up and become a crispy topping.  So my choice of the next in the Pie Adventure series was the Beef Mince and Dumplings pie (pg 85 of Perfect Pies).

First up you make the filling.  A nice mix of onions, garlic, celery, and carrot.

Fling in the mince and brown it.  Then add a bay leaf, a can of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and some beef stock (and a slosh of wine if you like).

 After simmering that for a bit you put in the dumplings you have prepared.  The recipe calls for suet - something I haven't ventured into.  I normally just use butter for dumplings.  However, in the interests of scientific endeavours I purchased some Shreddo and launched into my first suet experience.  As it turns out, it was super easy to use.  I'm not sure what I envisioned from it - the name sort of implies strange noodle shreds of fat or something.

I was a bit distressed to learn I needed parsley given my garden is a scene of desolation and despair owing to DH's war on oxalis.  I went out there to ponder it and I noticed some little parsley plants surging forth so was most gratified to harvest them!


The whanau were pretty pleased with the pie.  I thought the suet made the dumplings more porous and lighter but in fact we all thought the ones I make with butter were preferable. I think it's because we're used to a 'more-firm-to-the-bite' mouth feel.  It will be interesting to try the suet in some of the other pies in the book later.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Lemon sago

Sago is a weird thing.I mean, whoever looked at a sago palm and thought, "Hey, let's open that up and use the pith for eating chaps!"

Anyway,  I like making lemon sago with it.

1/3 cup sago
2 1/2 cups boiling water
juice and rind of one lemon
3 Tablespoons golden syrup
1 Tablespoon sugar

First you boil the sago in the water until it's clear, stirring regularly.

 Take off the heat.

Then you add the other ingredients and stir well to disperse the flavour.  Put in a bowl and chill until jelly like.

Serve with cream.

My kids love this stuff.

Sufferin' Samosas! Pie Odyssey #3

The pie saga continues with Samosas - a delicious snack that I enjoy eating.  I haven't made them from scratch very often because the authentic ones involve deep frying which is a skill I'm not too good with.  I don't have a deep fryer, or a thermometer to monitor heat so I have to do it in a smallish pot and try and watch it carefully.

To start I made a curry for the filling.  I made my own vegetarian curry with paneer and potatos, courgettes and spices.

It looked pretty tasty.


The pastry was easy.  I used the food processor with the pastry cutter again.  I should have made more since I had a large amount of filling left over.

I divided the dough into 5 pieces like I do when making roti and rolled it with my roti rolling pin which is quite good for making round-ish pieces.

Even though I cut the filling bits up quite small I always manage to over fill these things!  The pastry was pretty forgiving.

Into the pot to be fried.  I discovered a bit late that my oil situation was a bit low so I had to make do, hence the slightly burnt bottoms.

Still - they tasted pretty good with a cucumber and mint raita. I made them for lunch and there were complaints about not enough being made despite the fact I served the excess filling too.  Also, there were some complaints from some quarters about the vegetarian nature of them!  Can't please everybody it seems.