A Christmas treat

Christmas pudding ice cream is deliciously sweet and spicy - it's not very healthy eating but that's fine once in a while. You don't need an ice cream maker; I use the medium sized container from a set of 3 Lock & Lock bowls. The recipe makes 6 portions, takes about 10 minutes to make plus 12 hours freezing time. 

225g dried mixed fruit (bog-standard supermarket mixed fruit is just as tasty as the more expensive 'luxury' fruit)

2 tbsp brandy (or whatever spirit you have at hand - I used spiced rum this year)

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp liquid glucose

1 tsp of mixed spice

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of ground coriander seeds

1 x 500ml tub of ready-made custard

300ml double cream

Put the dried fruit in a bowl, pour over the brandy and set aside to soak. Place the container in the freezer. In a pan, gently heat 75ml water with the sugar and liquid glucose until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add the spices and remove from the heat. Stir to blend and allow to cool.

Icecream1

In a large bowl, mix together the custard and cream. Add the sugar syrup, fruit and brandy. Stir until combined.

Icecream2

Take the container out of the freezer, pour in the mixture, return to the freezer and leave for six hours. Take out of the freezer, whisk with a fork to distribute the fruit evenly through the mixture and freeze for a further six hours. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before you're ready to eat.


Bananas!

A break with tradition today - here's a recipe from guest blogger Mairead :o)

What to do with manky bananas

When you get a banana that is 'on the turn' and about to go brown and squishy instead of chucking it, slice it up and put the slices in a freezer box and freeze. Add to the box whenever another banana goes the same way. When you have about six bananas take the box out of the freezer and allow to defrost for about 20 - 30 minutes. They still need to be mostly frozen, but just a little soft round the edges.
 
Put them in a food processor or liquidiser and tip in a punnet of raspberries. Or strawberries, or other sweet fruit that takes your fancy. Blitz. 
 
You will now have ice cream the texture of an Italian semi-freddo and you can eat it straight away. What you don't eat can go back in the freezer for another time. If it lasts that long, as being fat free it is also guilt free! 


Knitting and food

I think I've finally managed to get Wingspan out of my system after knitting another in Silk Garden in blues/greens/purples. The Silk Garden was out of stash and I started knitting this pattern with it; after my usual bout of Knitter's Denial (I knew I couldn't live with the way the eyelets were placed as the shawl got bigger), I frogged it. Hence another Wingspan...

After fiddling around with the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern and rewriting the last three eyelet rows, I had another go.

Aya_shawl

The yarn's another Noro one, Aya, which is a cotton/silk/wool mix that feels lovely and soft. I'll post pattern mods when I've blocked it and added it to my Ravelry projects.

OK, that's the knitting out of the way; on to food. I bought a pressure cooker a couple of weeks ago and I'm surprised how different it is from the scary Prestige Hi-Dome I used in the Seventies. This one's as whisper-quiet and efficient as you'd expect from a piece of kit made in Switzerland.

DSC06329

So far I've made stock and cooked batches of beans and chick peas for the freezer. I'm surprised how good pressure-cooked chick peas taste compared to tinned ones.

Bread

Finally, a loaf of wholemeal bread straight out of the oven. I haven't baked bread for, oh, about 20 years and I'd forgotten how easy it is. This loaf's a slightly weird shape along the sides because I baked it in a silicon loaf tin which stretched; next time I'll either make rolls or get hold of a metal tin. Hope the bread tastes as good as it smells!


End-of-the-Week Soup

End_of_week

This should really be called Bottom-of-the-Fridge Soup but that doesn't sound particularly appetising, does it?  Here we have some elderly veg that wouldn't have lasted much longer (fennel, swede, onion, celery) cut small and simmered in 500ml of water with one of those gel bouillion thingys for about 10 minutes. Two cubed chicken breasts chucked in and the whole lot cooked for a further 10 minutes, then garnished with fresh parsley. Enough lunch for two days and very tasty...


Crustless quiche

Not really a recipe as such, but this is how I make one:

Heat oven to 175C, 375F or gas mark 5.

Butter an ovenproof dish (I use a Le Creuset ceramic dish 20cm square).

Beat 6 large eggs in a bowl, add 275ml double cream and beat well. Season with black pepper and a little salt then leave to stand while you prepare the other ingredients. 

Grate 100g cheese. Cheddar is good or a mix of cheddar, mozzarella, red Leicester or whatever's in your fridge.

Chop up a combination of any of the following and fry in a little butter: pancetta, onions, garlic, red/green peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, leeks. You can also use left-overs of cooked food including broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, broad beans, peas, ham, chicken, salmon.

Spread fried ingredients across base of dish, cover with grated cheese and pour over the egg/cream mixture. Grate a little nutmeg over the top.

Cook for about 30/35 mins until set and golden brown. Timing will vary depending on the size/depth of your dish and your oven; check after 30 mins and cook for longer if necessary.

Remove from oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes before eating.


Bonus

Avocado2

I like avocados; food and foliage in one neat package. I ate this avocado a few months ago, planted the pit (stone) and the resulting plant is coming along very nicely. I didn't bother with the toothpick thing which is fiddly. I soaked the washed pit in water for a couple of days, peeled away the skin, planted the pit in an 8cm pot of compost and stuck it on the kitchen windowsill to sprout. I repotted the plant into the next size pot when it had grown four leaves.


Birthday stuff

I celebrated my birthday last weekend, starting with a trip to Scoop & Crumb. Emma's birthday is two days after mine, so this was a joint knit 'n' scoff 'n' open presents afternoon.

Birthday_scoop_crumb 

Liz was down for the weekend (she took the photos) and the weather behaved - sunshine, blue sky and sea - nice.

Lifeguard_flag 

I had lovely presents (some yarny and some non-yarny) including purple merino/cashmere handspun

Birthday_handspun2 

and a beautiful knitted cushion.

Birthday_cushion2 

The basement cat decided she was not amused...

Basement_floss 

Photographs in this post copyright Liz Marley 2009.


Insomnia

Friday night/Saturday morning at Wibbo Towers was rather sleepless (no particular reason, just a whizzy, whizzy brain that wouldn't switch off); this is the sky at 5.37am on Saturday. I knew it was early when I looked out of the window; I could still see the moon.

Insomniacs_sky

By 10am, I was on a bus going to Stash Yarns, as desperate to escape from my surroundings as the Prisoner of Zenda. I took my usual socks to knit on the bus and a crochet wrap I was trying to finish. I call it The Interminable Wrap; intended as nice quick make but in reality it took me several weeks to get to that irritating almost-finished stage. Had a pleasant day crocheting and chatting to lots of folks including Sue and Alice. I almost reached the end of the wrap before I came home and finished the last few rows and the edging last night.

Interminable_wrap    Interminable_wrap_1

Interminable_wrap_2    Interminable_wrap_edge_detail

OK; the details...

Pattern: my own (I'll type up the instructions and post them later today); size: unblocked, 76cm x 230cm; yarn: just over 10 skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Pioneer, a really nice mix of denim blue, browns, rust, greys; hook: 3mm Clover Soft-Touch.

Shepherd Sock is my favourite yarn at the moment. I think I like it even better than KPPPM (sacrilege, I hear you gasp); it's soft and easy to work with but strong and durable because of the added nylon. The colour range is great. Lots of subtle dark colourways like Pioneer and bright zingers like Bittersweet (below), some skeins of which came home with me from Stash. Oh, and a ball of Trekking XXL. Nothing else. Honest!

Trekking    Shepherd_sock_detail

Trekking_detail

Birthday celebrations are finally over. I made them last as long as I could; you only get one shot at celebrating a Big Birthday! I've seen lots of good friends, eaten an enormous amount of delicious food (special mention here to Pukka and their amazing vegetarian dumplings) and had a really lovely time.


Birthday, Episode 1

Met up with Liz on Saturday for an early birthday celebration. I have a Big Birthday this week and have every intention of making it last for several days. We met at the British Library which has a rather nice caff where you can drink coffee and linger happily for a few hours.

Baudelaires_1

We both knitted socks and Liz finished her Baudelaires. It's a slightly odd photo; Liz is busy photographing her feet. You can't really see the socks very clearly but there are more pics here. We had intended to see an exhibition, but got sidetracked by a trip to Loop and a Very Large Late Lunch at Browns in Islington. Lunch was delicious; especially the warm chocolate brownie which was decadent beyond belief. We were both very restrained in Loop and didn't buy yarn, just needles and a magazine.

Birthday_yarn_and_needles    Birthday_yarn_from_top

Module_magic    Birthday_card

Liz gave me lots of great presents; the knitterly ones included Lantern Moon ebony needles, a set of vintage needles still with original paper tags, Ginger Luters' Module Magic and a ball of hand-dyed MSSSY* sock yarn. There was a lovely card with a purple flower; definitely one for a clip-frame. She also brought me a present from mutual friends in Texas.

Birthday_alpaca

Isn't this gorgeous? Three balls of the softest alpaca you've ever felt in a beautiful colourway that's somewhere between purple and aubergine. At the moment, it's saying lacy scarf, but I'm resisting the tempatation to cast on until I've finished my Leaf Lace Shawl (scroll down).

Have to say that I'm looking forward to Episode 2........

* You won't have heard of MSSSY yarn before - click on the photo and read the details on the label!


Delicious!

I'm taking time out from work to have a delicious cup of tea (a single estate Darjeeling from The Hampstead Tea and Coffee Co) and put my feet up for a few minutes. Yesterday, I bought some of my favourite fruit.

Blood_oranges

Blood oranges. They're equally delicious; it's a shame about the unappetising name!