Commitment

Well, it’s been absolutely forever. But I have news…

In December we started talking about getting married, and eventually, after weighing up the options, we settled on getting a Civil Partnership instead, with a small Commitment Ceremony in the park near where we live.

Which took place last Saturday.

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It was very lovely and I’m tremendously glad we did it, but I’m also rather relieved I can stop thinking and planning and waking up in the middle of the night feeling that I might’ve forgotten something. I might even find the time to knit and to post more recipes.

For more info, check out the blog I made to keep our guests informed

I’m collecting photos and putting them here on Flickr, they will be public for the time being.

A few more of my favourites are under the cut: Continue reading

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And so that was Christmas…

December sort of vanished in the midst of the Christmas retail experience, in which I sold many hundreds of Oxfam unwrapped cards to the caring people of Canberra and felt a strong desire to never see wrapping paper again.

xmas 03

Christmas day was quiet and lovely. We didn’t leave the house, and we nibbled our Christmas treats, and played with our new toys, and read our new books, and watched our new movies.

I’ve not picked up any knitting in at least a month, but I have done some baking and roasting and other culinary things.

But my biggest achievement for today is catching up on all the posts in my blog reader, which is actually empty for the first time since the beginning of December. Maybe next week I’ll even get around to commenting…

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Apple Cake

Apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Sometimes the baking mood can strike when I’m short on supplies, but as long as I have eggs, sugar, some sort of flour, and spices it’s usually possible to throw something together. It’s even easier when there is fruit that needs using before it gets too old.

Today I had 3 apples, an orange, and some cinnamon. So clearly the solution was to make an apple cake. I also had some lefter over cream cheese, which we had with smoked salmon and capers on turkish bread on the weekend, so that took care of the frosting.

I decided to use a mix of gluten-free flour and almond meal, to make the cake dense and moist (and allergy friendly).

The finished cake is rich without being too sweet, and would make a pretty good tea cake just as it is, but the frosting takes it to a whole other level.

Apple cake with cream cheese frosting Continue reading

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Pomegranate braised lamb shanks with creamy leek and potato

This recipe is heavily inspired by Danielle’s Pomegranate ginger saffron braised lamb neck on Habeas Brulee.

But it’s made with lamb shanks.

And the method is a little different.

And I was out of beef stock.

shanks 01

Here’s what happened:

It was my partner’s birthday on Thursday, so I went to the Fyshwick Markets to pick up some steaks from the organic butcher, and I noticed they had lamb shanks, which are probably my favourite cut of meat, so I grabbed four. I didn’t get home until 6.30ish, so I made the steaks for the birthday dinner, and put the lamb shanks in the fridge to cook on the weekend.

But a week or two before that, I was working at Oxfam one afternoon, and I took my lunch break at about 3pm, and went to the Italian cafe/deli place in the Canberra Centre, and as I was eating my pumpkin and chick pea pie and drinking my coffee, I spotted pomegranate molasses on the shelves, and they haven’t had any in months, so I bought a bottle, and since then I’ve been thinking about what to use it in. So when I got the lamb shanks, I knew they would have to be cooked with the pomegranate molasses somehow or another, and the other night I was skimming through the Habeas Brulee archives for inspiration.

Now, earlier in the week I’d told my friend I’d bake her a cake if she got into the gold and silver smithing course she was applying for at the ANU (and take her out for sweets and alcohol if she didn’t). On Wednesday she found out she got in, and she was free yesterday, so I baked the Chocolate raspberry pudding cake from Nigella Lawson’s How To Cook, which was very rich and chocolaty. But there wasn’t enough time to bake a cake and roast the lamb shanks, so we ordered Chinese food, and ate the cake. Then they left a little after 10, and we watched a tv show, and I went to bed and read until very late. I got to sleep before dawn, but probably not by much.

And today I woke up at the crack of 3pm or so, and stumbled around eating toast and catching up on the internets, as I do on the weekend, and all of a sudden it was nearly five, and I figured I’d better start doing something about those lamb shanks if we wanted to have dinner before 9pm.

So after flipping through a few different recipes for lamb shanks, I decided I would braise them on the stove for an hour and then put them in the oven to roast for an hour or so, and with any luck they would be tender and ready to eat by about 7.30 ( Which would have worked if I hadn’t received a phone call before 7- we didn’t eat until a little after 8.) Continue reading

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Baby Knits

I’ve been knitting baby clothes lately for imminent sproglets. I’ve finished two tops, and there’s another one which is mostly done, but I still need to weave in ends and block everything.

Because it’s summer, I figured that it would best to knit the woollier items for 3-6months, rather than for newborns.

1. Seamless Baby Kimono, by Jacki Kelly, in Cleckheaton Bamboo.
baby kimono

Very cute and easy to knit.

2. Baby Soleil. baby soleil

I based this on Alexandra Virgiel’s Soleil pattern, from Knitty, spring 2005.

Because it is so much smaller, I only did one repeat of the lace chart, and because babies are fat little things, I ignored all the waist shaping.

Knit in Patons “Serenity” cotton and bamboo blend.

3. Raglan Jumper.
baby jumper

Made up as I went along, because raglan is easy that way. I may post my pattern notes once this is finished and blocked.

I frogged the green mitred squares and reused the last of the tidal wave yarn, with the sari silk/merino blend to make up the rest of the length. I love the way these two colourways work together.

baby jumper - colour change

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Sticky Date Ice Cream

It’s summer, and that means Ice Cream!

sticky date 03

This is a particularly rich and creamy ice cream, which works equally well on by itself, or accompanying cake or pudding. So if it’s not summer where you live, don’t let that stop you trying it. Seriously, what’s the point of indoor heating if we can’t have ice cream in the middle of winter.

Recipe:
Makes about 1.5 litres.

Very Basic Vanilla Ice Cream mixture sticky date 02
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Basically making ice cream is like making custard, and then freezing it.

Mix a couple of tablespoons of milk with the cornflour in saucepan and stir until smooth. Boil or nuke the rest of the milk and cream, then add to the milk/cornflour mix. Bring to boil, then let cool.

Beat sugar, egg yolks and salt until thick and creamy, add about 1/4 of the milk and mix together, then pour this back into the to saucepan and heat on medium, stirring continually until mixture thickens slightly. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla. Pour into suitable container and refrigerate.

(I often use a vanilla pod, which I heat with the milk and cream, and then slice lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mix. But this time I just used vanilla extract.)

Sticky Date mix:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp butter
1 cup roughly chopped dates

Place sugar, water, and butter in saucepan and bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium, stir until sugar is dissolved, and add dates. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until the dates are gooey and caramelized. Cool.

Start churning the vanilla cream mixture in ice cream maker as per instructions. When it is just over halfway churned, add 1/2 the sticky date mixture, and continue churning. Then, when transferring ice cream to a container for freezing, fold in the rest of the sticky dates so that they form ripples of caramelized goo.

Freeze until needed. Eat.

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Banana Loaf

Banana loaf

This is a recipe I’ve been using and tinkering with for a few years. It started out as pretty simple recipe for banana muffins. One morning I was making them, and had half a pot of leftover coffee, and thought that banana and coffee are pretty much a match made in ingredient heaven, so I used the coffee instead of milk, which had the added bonus of being suitable for people who can’t have dairy (while at the same time making them completely unsuitable for small children).

Later on, I added some dates and walnuts, and poured the batter into a loaf pan, and the banana loaf was born. While I list wheat flour in the recipe below, I’ve made it several times using gluten free flours, and plan to try it with spelt flour in the near future.

Is it a bread or a cake? Well, that depends on how you eat it, and which of the optional ingredients you use. With dates and/or walnuts it’s more like a cake, and with seeds, or plain, it’s more like a bread. This time, I used sunflower seeds, so it was leaning more toward the bread end of the spectrum.

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The other thing about using coffee as an ingredient is that, if you’re anything like me, you shouldn’t eat this in the evening. At least, not if you have plans which include sleep. Instead, it’s perfect for morning tea, or even for breakfast. After a day or two (if it lasts that long) it can be toasted, and spread with butter, or ricotta, or whatever takes your fancy.

Mostly, I like to have a slice or two in the morning with a cup of strong coffee.
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Recipe: Continue reading

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