Monday, August 31, 2009

The eggs the chooks laid

No photos - it all happened too quickly for that!

I thought I'd share with you what we did with the eggs the school chooks laid this weekend.  

The recipe is courtesy of Stephanie Alexander's "Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids".  This recipe book is one of our favourites.  It's not all macaroni cheese and eggs with soldiers type cooking (although there's nothing wrong with them either!), but gives opportunities for children to explore new tastes without much fuss.  The instructions for kids are great too, and our older ones enthusiastically jumped in to help prepare and cook.  I'm going to give the condensed version of the instructions, because I haven't got all day, you know!

Ricotta pancakes with sugared strawberries

30 strawberries (we used a punnet)
1/4 cup castor sugar
300g self-raising flour
30g butter, melted
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
150g ricotta
cream to serve

Hull the strawberries and slice into several pieces.  Place in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the castor sugar.

Sift the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.  

Whisk the melted butter, milk and eggs together.  Make a well in the flour and pour in this mixture.  Use a wooden spoon to mix well until you have a smooth batter.  Crumble the ricotta into the batter in small lumps and stir.

Do you need instructions for cooking the pancakes?  Use a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Drop a couple of spoonfuls of batter into the pan, allowing room for the pancake to spread.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles form on the uncooked side, the flip the pancake over using an egg-lifter and cook for another minute.

Serve with the slices strawberries and a dollop cream and watch them disappear!

Makes about 10 (depending on the size you make)

Thanks chooks!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chubby - oh my!

In the moments before drifting off to sleep the other night, I had a revelation about what I wanted to furnish my market stall.  I've been thinking about this a bit since November is shaping up to be a bit busy.  Two of the November markets are just for kiddie related gear and the stall space will be bigger than usual.  Last week the latest Ikea catalogue landed on my lap, giving me some inspiration.  But, I'd really like to find some second-hand bits that I can paint and customise, rather than going all new (you know, reduce, reuse, recycle).  On Friday morning, after the kinder drop-off, followed by the school drop off, Luce and I headed off.  First stop was the pool to retrieve the bathers left by the eldest of the offspring on Wednesday night.  Of course, they weren't open yet.  Fuming, I continued on my way.

Kinder pick-up is at 11:15, so I figured I would spend some time visiting a couple of op-shops.  I must admit I don't often do op-shops.  This probably stems from the nature of op-shops - narrow aisles crammed full of goodies that aren't the greatest place for little children.  It's so easy for them to play hide and seek, pull over a pile of old jumpers, wipe out a display of depression glassware with one wild swoop of an arm...  Before children, one of my favourite places was Aunt Edna's Treasures.  Loved that shop!  Haven't found anything that even comes close.  *sigh*  It was within strolling distance from my first marital home near Queen's Park (Moonee Ponds) and I'd often pop in on a Saturday afternoon and walk out with a plate or two, a butter dish or jug.

Anyhow, the op-shops I visited didn't have much in the way of furniture but the last one was a treasure trove of doileys, old patterns, hook and eye sets and china ware.  Not as well organised as Aunt Edna's, but it spoke to me in hushed and loving tones.

I know this isn't the greatest pic, but I had to share it with you anyway.  A while ago My Mum passed her old patterns over to me - and the one at the front would fit in perfectly!  It's a size 2, so I'm thinking an outfit for Luce is on the cards.  It is obviously from less politically correct times, since the envelope bears the warning "not for chubby girls".  I did find other patterns marked "for chubby girls".  I guess nowadays you'd see something like "generous fit" or "plus sizes" but never "chubby"!  I also picked up the ric rac and a pattern for dolls clothes (I have a little collection of those too!).  I'll be going back to that shop - there are items with my name on them!

Feeding the chooks

Our two eldest go to a great State Primary school.  Even before we had children, we would walk our dog through the grounds on weekends.  In those days, it was the resident sheep that caught our attention.  The sheep went a few years back, but the chooks are still there.  Fruit trees are in blossom right now, and an enthusiastic band of parents maintain the veggie garden.  On weekends families volunteer to feed the chooks and rabbits.  This weekend it's our turn and the special bonus is keeping any eggs that are laid.  Winter is not the best time for laying, and so far we have only collected two eggs for our efforts.  We don't mind - the eggs are the bonus.  Our kids love to feed the chooks.  Actually, the grown-ups like it too.  We let them out for a free-range run around the orchard and then everyone helps to usher them back in.  This morning we also had a run-away bunny.  That caused a moment of panic - I wasn't sure how long the recapture would take.  Thankfully they're pretty friendly, although Marv (the name given to Miss Six by Miss not-yet-two) sustained a nip for being a little too friendly herself!

This is Im with two of the "girls".  These chooks are lucky, I reckon.  They spend their days scratching around inside their fox-proof run.  Classes take turns with attending to their daily needs, they get to roam about under the trees.  Of course the eggs are fantastic - you can't get much fresher than that.  In fact, this morning as we checked the laying boxes one of the hens was in the process of depositing her egg.  Very exciting.  Let's hope the delighted squeals of Im and Marv haven't put her off future egg-laying!

Last night I was busy doing more cutting out.  I like to do this in big batches, so then there's always a project to get on with, instead of having to start from scratch.  And, let's face it, the cutting out is not always the most exciting part of the process.  However, there is a great sense of achievement seeing the piles of fabric ready to be sewn.  Perhaps some new garments will be ready by tomorrow and I can photograph them in the morning light.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Helping Hands

I've had a couple of weeks off sewing.  Not because I wanted to, but there were all these other things to attend to. *sigh*  The good news is the garden is looking much better.  We are in the process of ripping up the lawn and replacing it with one big garden bed.  On Monday afternoon we traipsed off to buy some new plants.  It was decided we would wait until after school, so everyone could help position, dig and plant.  Little Im was at the ready with her new green watering can (a birthday present).  It was all going swimmingly, it looked as though all would be finished before the looming storm unleashed itself on our patch of the world.  Then came the distraction just as the man of the house and the two eldest offspring were planting the tree.  Attention was diverted elsewhere when we heard the SNAP and the anguished cry of Miss Six.  Broken at the graft - no hope of salvage.  Wave goodbye to our lovely new EXPENSIVE tree. *sigh* (again!)

Moving right along - I'm back at the machine.  A new batch of cotton a-lines is on its way. Yay!  Tuesday was a fabric-cutting day and now I have a nice pile of bits ready for sewing.  I'm outta here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wait - did you say it's nearly September??

My gosh - today is the 25th of August.  It's been a busy month.  That's obvious, because I seem to have been absent from here for some time!  I have a great set of excuses.  I'll share them with you!  I have just celebrated my 40th birthday - good to get it over and done with because it's been looming for a while!  My little Im just turned four, and we staged a family party in the park for her (thank heavens the weather was glorious for August in Melbourne!).  In between the birthdays we went to Lorne for a long-weekend.  We found a spot perfect for us - Allenvale - run by lovely Sarah.  As it turns out Sarah is a crafty lady herself, being a keen quilter and creator of obi-belts under the name Syrup Sisters.

Early August saw me working on some special projects - a baptism ensemble for a special client, some gear for Im's birthday (a rather particular client!) and floor cushions for the playroom (since the old couch went out in the hard-waste collection there's been nothing to lounge on).  Oh, there was also the creation of the Sweet Tweet a-line dresses.  That's my baby modelling one whilst playing with her big sister's tea set (shh, don't tell anyone!).  There are a couple of versions, currently available to size two, with plans of making sizes 3 & 4 too!

Hmm, what else?  I have started work on cushions and coverlets.  No pictures yet, and the light isn't good at the moment anyway.  We are securing the perimeter and tying down the children so they don't get blown away in the nasty storm predicted for tonight!  They've just munched their way through the remains of the iced shortbread I made for Im's party and want to know "what's next??"  How can these children eat so much and remain as thin as whips?  They certainly didn't inherit my metabolism!