Monday, June 30, 2008

A is for Artichokes

This article is the first in a series of recipes featuring winter vegetables. Buying seasonal vegetables is a great way to ensure you are getting fresh, ripe produce. Futher, eating with the seasons is a great way to ensure you are eating a healthy mix of different seasonal fruit and vegetables. It’s natures way of giving us the blend of nutrients we need.

A is for Artichokes

I've always loved the look of Artichokes but besides buying them for pet bunnies or pickled in olive oil or on a pizza, I've never been particularly confident about cooking them. So I've done a quick search of the Internet for recipes.

Kristina’s Artichokes

-To clean them, set a big bowl of water with lemon in it, and start by breaking off the exterior leaves until they come off very easily. You’ll notice the difference as you get closer to the center, and they’ll be more yellow at the base than green.

-Lop off the toughest ends of the ‘flower’, and then take a sharp knife, specific trimming knives exist but I don’t have one, and trim the ends of the leaves all the way around to clean it up. (The woman from whom I buy my produce said to worry about the ‘hairy’ inside after cooking, which saves time, so I do.)

-Trim off the stems, just long enough so they’ll fit in your pot and use a knife or vegetable peeler to clean the tough outer part of the stem. As your clean each artichoke, place them in the bowl of water. IMPORTANT: Use the lemons to thoroughly and excessively clean your fingertips or else you will have stained cuticles and underneath your nails will stain for a week to follow. Not cute if you work in an environment where proper grooming is expected of you.

-Finely chop two or three cloves of garlic, a handful of parsley, and a handful of basil. Place these in the bottom of a pot that is high enough to hold your artichokes.

-Pour 1 / 2 (one half) cup of olive oil in, and then a cup of water, or enough so that the artichokes are covered by about two-fingers of liquid. Put the artichokes in face down, add salt and pepper, cover the pan with aluminum foil (or not) and then the lid.

- Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer until they are cooked, about 20 minutes. (A knife inserted through the center goes in with little resistance).

Great Vegan Bake Off!

I'm really looking forward to this, I enjoy making vegan snacks as they are often healthier than their animal related counterparts and a great challenge to boot!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I have a wonderful new stockist!

Polka Dot Rabbit goodies can now be found at:

I Dream A Highway
259 High Street
Northcote Vic

So exciting, we are all clapping!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nice things happen unexpectedly....

A woman on the train today told me I had a great sense of colour and looked very pretty. :-)

Things that charm and amaze

I'm not into children's things that much, but I saw this and I love it! It's made by Bread and Roses on Etsy.

And this paper cut art by Heather at SkinnyLaMinx is simply exquisite! You can see a tutorial here and check out her online shop here. I'd love to be able to do paper art like this, but lack the patience if I'm to be completely honest!

And perhaps most charming of all, my partner and i are organising a weekend away to Glen Harrow Cottages in the Dandenong Ranges for next month. No tv or computers, just lots of relaxation. Can't wait!

Virals and vitals!

've been away from work for a couple of days with one of those viruses that seems to strike everyone at once and makes you feel too sick to go to work and infect people but guilty enough about not being at work...
'Anyway, I have picked up a few goodies (mostly on ebay) I wanted to share:

Some Pyrex:

Cute Melmac plates from Savers. Chris says they are too girly- I think he finds most of the house too girly alas!

Cute cups that are aching to be used:

I love the 'wrap n go range', I had a similar dress but lost the pattern a few years ago:

Book for reading in bed (after I finish Bill Bryson)

And lastly, here's proof that I have been working on Softies for Mirabel!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fashion on the Ration, birthdays and crafty goodness!

Despite a roaring hangover (from Chris' birthday celebrations the night before) I very much enjoyed the "The Way We Wear" vintage clothing festival in Williamstown last weekend. The theme was 1940's war time 'fashion on the ration' and it was fascinating looking at historical clothing and items such as these:

This booklet has inspired a craft project I'm working on actually (I'll post a picture when it's finished). The clothing was lovely but there was very little over a size 10 so I suspect my dreams of a retro dress for my wedding will now be a dress made with a vintage pattern.

Last weekend it was Chris' birthday. We had a rather adventurous day. We were in a film clip for the band Bachelor of Arts, had multiple drinks at Lambs Go Bar ( my round the world drinking game was a roaring success!) and went to the Spun Rivals EP Launch. Here' some pics of us in our merriment:

(Yes it is a maracca, made by our dear friend Rayna! Chris loved it and played it all through the gig!).
I am lucky having such a supportive partner. Our birthdays are three days (and a few years) apart and this year's was the first after the death of my twin. Whilst we have very different ways if dealing with grief, Chris came with me to the cemetary and put up with me being not much use over the last week.

Here's a couple of photos of goodies gone for consignment. I now have four retailers which is very exciting and I got a pleasantly large cheque from one today. It would be wonderful to be able to craft full time. I figure if the workshops I'm running go well, once I get my training diploma I may be able to branch out to running more workshops....Watch this space...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Belated Nut Roast Recipe

This was delicious and was enjoyed by all! I'm looking forward to Chris making it again.

  • 14 oz (400g) tofu, chopped into 1/2 centimetre cubes
  • 6 oz (170g) onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of finely-chopped dried hot chillis
  • 1 oz (28g) butter
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1/2 cup (110ml) boiling water (for the stock cubes)
  • 4oz (110g) finely-chopped closed-cap mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 oz (100g) pine nuts
  • 9 oz (250g) cashew nuts
  • 3 oz (80g) walnuts, halved =or= 3oz (80g) chestnuts, halved
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp fresh basil (or 3 tsp dried)
  • salt and black pepper

Throwing it all together

It’s worth preparing the nuts and veg before you do anything else, because there’s quite a lot of them.

The garlic needs to be crushed - just place the unpeeled clove on a chopping board, place the blade of the knife flat on top of it, and press down reasonably hard. The skin should flake away as the clove crushes. Then just separate out the crushed chunks.

The cashew nuts need to be finely ground. This is possible in a blender if you stop once in a while to jumble up the remaining whole nuts, but a food processor is probably easier if you’ve got one. Your other option is a reasonable-sized pestle and mortar.

The other ingredients (tofu, onions, mushrooms, walnuts/chestnuts) should be prepared as described in the ingredients list.

Now make up your stock from the cubes (alternatively you can use fresh stock if you have it, of course). Add it to a large saucepan, and then add the onions, chilli and garlic. Bring it to the boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes. There should still be enough liquid to cover most of the onions at the end of simmering. Top the pan up if it runs low.

In a large bowl, combine the tofu, eggs, butter, basil, walnuts/chestnuts, pine and cashew nuts and mushrooms. They come together best if you stir them all in with a fork. Season with as much salt and pepper as you like.

Once the stock and onion mixture are ready, fold it into the tofu and egg mixture, mixing thoroughly so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

(Note: it’s possible to put the mixture in a container and refrigerate overnight, if you want to prepare it ahead of time.)

Now, grease a loaf tin with some butter, and place the mixture in the tin. Frankly, it’ll look pretty unappetising at this point, but it’ll cook beautifully. Really. I promise.

Cook it for 40 minutes at 350F (180C).

When you stick a knife or a skewer into the loaf it should come out clean, without any liquid mixture stuck to it. Leave it for another ten minutes or so if it doesn’t quite seem cooked at 40 minutes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Doily bowls! Tutorial!

How wonderful is this bowl?

It's made by the talented designer Jane Schouten
And you can find the tutorial here:

I'm tempted to have a go at one tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Winter Hibernation Part 1

I would possibly never leave the house if I owned one of these winter hibernation suits

It would be like wearing a doona forever! Oh my....

Happy Birthday Lizzie!

Here in Australia we got a long weekend thanks to being a member of the Monarchy ( I knew there was one good reason)....

Things I got up to:

I picked up some lovely retro bargains:
Must decide what plants would look best in these....

Went to a Going Green Expo with an alarming display of 'enviro gone corporate'. I can see it is great that these causes have now reached the popular masses, but it's a little concerning that corporate means massives of coloured paper, mass production etc etc and a $1200 four day stall to flog your latest enviro friendly car/spa.... I got rather frustrated at the lack fo products available for Renters like myself, so I am planning on starting a blog/website later in the year catering for people like me.

I also saw some lovely modern art which from memory was being created at Wooden Shadow art space in Richmond. Makes this South Bank building look much more interesting!

Chris and I went for drunken karaoke at The Brunswick Hotel. Here's us after many drinks and a performance of Presidents of the United States' Peaches:

I adore old record covers and I think the Brunswick hotel displays theirs to great effect:

Chris made a wonderful roast lunch yesterday and a bunch of friends came over.
On the menu was:

  • Red and white wine in copies quantities
  • Crusty bread and butter for starters
  • Nut Roast (recipe to follow)
  • Roast potatoes and parsnip
  • Green beans, carrots and garlic brussel sprouts
  • Chocolate cheesecake for 'afters' as the english like to say!
We also went and saw The Orphanage last night. Kind of a Spanish psychological horror by the maker of Pan's Labrynth. Enjoyable with enough scary bits for people with overactive imaginations like me!

I've also been doing some crafty bits and pieces but nearly not enough! Here's some bits and pieces waiting for me to take them to shops after work today:

And I also have some writing in Hoopla and Mixtape coming up!

Lastly, here's a couple of random nature shots from this morning walking to work as I love autumn.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Recent purchases on ebay (how i love thee)....

I'm working on some softies this weekend for the softies for Mirabel appeal and if I get them all done I will work on one of these dolls also!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things I see around Melbourne....

Recently we went to Druid House to view some Next Wave Festival Art:

Next Wave Festival art:
The artist gathered all the rubbish in the multi-leveled stairwells and decided to paint it and put on display (Around my work the rubbish is usually tissues, papers and used condoms but sadly none of these were immortalisd).

Colourful RMIT university:
Graffiti at the train station on the way home:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Golden Gloves

Well not quite, but they are warm! And they are available at my online shop for $15 a pair. I also offer wholesale and consignment to various stores...