Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Macy-I'm-sporting-a-fabulous-comb-Grey, Wordless Wednesday 31st July 2013

We've not had one like that in the coop before, it's quite spectacular.

Butternut Squash, Leek and Spinach Lasagne with Vegan Cheese Sauce

The vegan sour cream experiment continues... sour cream sussed, the next "I need to get it sorted" was a good "cheese" sauce for lasagne.  This is based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver and a "cheezy" sauce recipe.  I would post a picture showing you just how good it looked but we were far too busy demolishing it to stop and pose for photos.  It went down well.

The recipe goes something like this:

Chop 1kg butternust squash into 3" cubes, put on a baking tray with a good sprinkle of EVOO, salt and pepper and over bake at 190C for an hour.  Set aside.

Slice 4 leeks, add to a pan with a tbsp of EVOO and saute (with the lid on) for 10 minutes till soft.  Add 200gms spinach and stir in till wilted.  Add tofu cheese sauce (see below) and set aside.

Cheat and buy a large jar of Dolmio Lasagne Sauce!  And fresh lasagne sheets; they cook better than dry in this recipe.

Tofu Cheese Sauce:
1/2 small Red Onion
1 medium clove Garlic
1/2 tbsp EVOO
1 pkt Silken Tofu (firm)
Soya Milk
1 tbsp Arrowroot
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Black Pepper

I blitzed the onion and garlic in the blender till fine and the added all the other ingredients except the milk. This was then blitzed till smooth and enough milk added at the end to thin it to a single cream consistency.  All but 4-6 tbsps of the sauce was then stirred into the leek and spinach mixture.

Building the lasagne:
Spread 1/4 of the Dolmio sauce on the base of the pasta dish.  Lay the first layer of pasta sheets down.  Cover these with 1/3 of the leek and spinach mix and then press 1/3 of the squash pieces into it.  Pour 1/4 of the Dolmio sauce over this and then add a second layer of pasta.  Repeat this process and when you reach the third layer of pasta pour the last of the Dolmio sauce on top and the remaining cheese sauce.  Mix these two gently together and grate a little black pepper on top.

Oven bake, with tin foil on top for 15 minutes (20 if the pasta is dried) at 190C and a further 15 (20) minutes with the foil removed.

Enjoy.  We did!

Vegan Sour Cream, part 2

Yes, were sour cream in concerned, there can be a part 2... in my world there could easily be a parts 3, 4 and 5 if you let me!  The reason for part two is simple, I have perfected the recipe and it is this:

1 package of Mori Nu Silken Tofu (firm)
2 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt

Blend all till smooth and enjoy!

It looks like this:

and works great in twice-baked potato with spring onions.


Sour Cream, especially the utterly guilt free kind, rocks!

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Corset... done!

It's been a funny old week, lots of stuff going on and nothing worth talking about... mainly just a blur of a poorly Finn, sleepless nights, general chaos and very confusing (just this unit please) homework.  In and amongst it all I found a little peace in finishing the corset - a task made all the more interesting by the fact that the foot pedal of my sewing machine has broken and stopping and starting it now needs to be done by unplugging the pedal and putting it back in again.  Very disconcerting, it made sewing a straight line almost impossible; a new pedal may be nearly £50 but it will be money well spent!

But enough, none of it is the point.  The point is the corset is complete, finally.  Complete. I'm going to savour the moment, it's been far too long a time in coming.

Yes, I need different coloured laces and further decoration is still to be sorted out, but I have a corset.  Phew.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Vegan Sour Cream/Lemon Cheesecake Recipe.. and a good Chilli to try too

The lovely boyf commented the other day that he misses cooking now that its mainly a meat-free affair.   I know what he means, cooking no-meat, no-dairy (especially the no-dairy part) is a whole new frontier, especially when it comes to "veganising" some of the former regulars like, as in this example, sour cream.  He is a great cook too, and I had forgotten, until I was snuggled on the sofa under a pile of pooches catching up on the episode of Hannibal that I fell asleep during, how nice it is to savour the smells of someone cooking for you.

Earlier in the day I'd popped into our local garden centre, which is having a Chilli Festival, and picked up some Habaneros, thinking of a chilli, based on this recipe that I had found.  It was easy to veganise (tofu beef and HP/soy sauce for the Worcester) and looked good and tasty, so I left him to it and crawled onto the sofa :o)

Just before the snuggling though (not to be completely left out of the kitchen!) I made some tofu sour cream based on this recipe by the Vegan Epicurean.  It caught my eye because of the lemon and we certainly loved the taste, light and fresh (I initially used 2tsps lemon juice and ¼ large lemon zest) with the chilli which was in itself amazing; full of flavour and with a lovely kick, it is a new firm favourite.  

The next day, however, the leftover sour cream was a revelation.  It had thickened in the fridge overnight into a wonderfully smooth mousse with a delicate lemony taste.  I added another tsp each of lemon and agave and just over another ¼ of the lemon zest, let it sit a second night in the fridge and I have a no-bake lemon cheesecake filling.  It is glorious... rich, creamy, lemony and just how I remember lemon cheesecakes to be!  I have tried many a vegan cheesecake recipe and none have come close to this.   

There wasn't much left, and it didn't last long, but I know the perfect people to try it out on properly... the lovely Mr and Mrs B will be getting an invite to dinner soon.  Chilli and Cheesecake.  Yum, yum, yum.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Macy and Stu, Wordy Wednesday 17th July 2013

Well it had to happen, despite all my crossed fingers and hopes of some mix-bred mishap, Stu came out and announced himself on Monday morning.  I'd like to say it was a grand moment, having kept us all on tenterhooks for so long, but the sorry truth is that he sounded rather like a strangled cat and didn't even manage a "doo" to end his "cock-a-doodle" (possibly a blessing in hindsight!)  His saving grace, it was quiet; the girls make far more noise than that.  That said, I'm of no doubt he'll get into his stride eventually; at which point, if I've not come up with a way of minimising the impact, I'm pretty certain I will have some unhappy neighbours.  He's a lovely bird; very bonded with Macy, an absolute wimp when it comes to the other ladies, even Tiny, and now very much part of the family.  If I have no option but to, I will find him a rescue, but I would like to see if we can't make him village friendly first.

Monday night I tried Option A, rounded everyone up and put them in the coop with every crevice and crack covered.  Roosters, I've read, will learn to stay quiet if its dark enough and I'm hoping a "Good Morning" around 7 or 8 am will be acceptable, depending on how loud he is of course.  It was a marvellously peaceful Tuesday morning, even if they all came shooting out like scalded cats at 7 am, complaining and grumbling and not quietening down until I put out a second scatter of corn.  Stu and Macy were a little in shock, as the lowest members of the flock they still keep their distance and I'm guessing a night in the coop with the other girls wasn't a completely calm affair, and he didn't even attempt a doodle.  As I was giving them a little "buck up, you'll be fine" talking to, I couldn't resist a couple of pictures.  Macy is such a sweet thing and Stu just looked rather magnificent!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sunday Sardines...

I've had insomnia for a couple of weeks now, it doesn't go well with close stitching corset insides.  It's frustrating but I'd only be unpicking so I decided to change tack.

Mollie Makes arrived this month with a Sardine key fob kit and it got me thinking.  Our bathroom light pull was pretty dull, dull, drab.  The cord had lost its end twice (I'm sure there's a little innuendo in there somewhere) and the knot to stop it fraying didn't do much for me either.  It had "needs improvement" written all over it.


Nothing a small grey, spotted, Sardine couldn't fix!  It was all pretty self-explanatory and, with only one Sardine to make, a very quick little project.  I used my favourite string (finger knit though I could have plaited it too) to make a new pull and, in a moment of very lazy pedanticness, finger painted the cord holder to disguise the rather nasty plastic "bronze" finish. The final touch was to add a lovely wooden pull that I bought for the old cord and never used.  It reminds me of a fishing basket.

I could add a couple more, a line of Sardines... but we'll see how One-Eyed Fred gets on first.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Four days in stitches...

It started Friday...

God only knows where I'm going with this... that and the ever growing library of "oh I like that" pictures.  I have that many now, I could start a Pinterest board ;o)


Bottom edge binding and spiral bone sewn in.
Toying with more ideas...

It was definitely the right choice to get new eyelets.
and Monday:

It's been a very busy few days.  The 12yo was swimming in her Club Champs at various times from Friday night through to Sunday, there was a huge pile of logs to get stored away (more of that here), the usual housework to be caught up on and... and, we had to make the most of the sunshine and get a BBQ and some volunteer dog-walking (otherwise known as "auditioning for no.3!") in between :o)  There was time for sewing of an evening, but no photos and blogging.  The original, in hindsight rather ambitious, plan was to have the whole corset done; as it was, I was lucky to have got just the one side finished.  The hip shape is now exactly what I had hoped for and the inside looks far better than I thought it might! Now for the other side and then I can actually try this thing on... and I'm counting on that giving me a few more clues as to where to go next.

The other side of the Greenhouse

So our good friend AW had a pile of logs that needed a new home and a couple of sweaty hours later (the boyf not me!) they appeared on and took over our driveway.  As it was definitely BBQ weather this weekend, we set to clearing them away; cutting them to size and storing them in our new log store i.e. the other side of the gardenhouse.

Yes, it's still "not quite" finished.  Where there is perspex at the front, the back is now wood panelled, though there will eventually be small windows above the little bench that is above the log store.  And yes, I really (really, really, really) need to finish painting!

But I have space for some of my old bottle collection (maybe not the wisest place to put them, I will secure them properly in place!) and the plants are doing very well, I now need to move the tomatoes outside...

and, as we had guests, I indulged in a little more decorating and tidying; piano keys and hooks for all my hand tools.

The alliums have all died off, so the 12yo picked out some lovely geraniums to fill the trough till next spring.  The menu board is, I think, one of my favourite things: its such a good decorative idea, saves your voice when you have a garden full of hungry guests and proved great grafitti fun with adults and children alike as the afternoon progressed.  And yes, there is a huge cobweb above it....

but just look at the size of the spider!

I'm brave, but not that brave.  If (s)he wants a web there, I respect that.  It adds character.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

"Lining" the Corset, Pannier Hips and long Blue Wigs

My bits arrived from Vena Cava so I can push on with the corset again.  I'm really in the mood for a little handsewing of an evening so I've been looking forward to lining the corset seams with bias binding.  I'm trimming each seam to 3-4mm and then slip stitching the binding in place.  

Before, during and after.
It's a lovely clean finish, so clean in fact that when I proudly showed my two the results of my work, they didn't know what they should be looking at!  I also have my new eyelets and the spiral bones for the hips; it's all a little exciting.

I've also been a-googling and became very interested in pannier hips, particularly their reappearance in the 1920s which, until then, I had known nothing about.  I had started off on the Mermaid tail trail but the more I looked the less I liked.  Well, with the exception of this Steampunk costume which is kinda cool!

But, going back to my original costume, there wasn't a hint of Mermaid tail and the more I thought about making one, the more I felt like I don't want to turn this one into something so different.

I prefer hint 'o Mermaid and I like the idea of recreating my rather pitiful attempt all those years ago with my new and improved skills!  So, a little googling more, and I found this, this and this:

Lots of gorgeous pannier hips, Mermaid hips and everything.  To add to the general madness, I then found these.  Yep, can't go wrong with a little Miss Gomez!  It's the fringed skirt I love, it makes me think of seaweed.

I'm not sure how it all goes together yet but I'm already far more comfortable with it than I was the tail idea.  It sticks with my vintage vibe, includes trying something new and is far more "me" than any Mermaid tail would have been.

I've never been so confused by a costume before... there's a lot to be said for following a pattern!  It feels a whole lot messy most of the time, but I am also enjoying the randomness of it all; it's been giving me idea after idea, after idea.  It also prompted a rare moment of pre-planning and I ordered a wig.

Usually I'm so tied up in the costume that it comes to Halloween itself and I look blankly at my head and wonder what to do with it!  Last year's hairpiece was a very lucky last minute find.  Mermaid's, however, need Mermaid hair and I want no repeats of the shocking green nonsense I was so proud of on my first attempt.  I found a blue-grey wig quite by accident on Ebay and bought it before I could talk myself out of it.

Excusing the bags under my eyes and the rather goofy grin, I think I look good with a blue rinse ;o)  Now I need a big plastic crab or shell or something... every Mermaid needs a hairpiece!

The Insect Wing, Wordless Wednesday 3rd July 2013

Monday, 1 July 2013

Embroidering the 1873 Corset

In between other bits and pieces, and whilst I wait on my delivery of bones, bias and eyelets (the ones I had were too dark and so I have ordered silver ones to match the spoon buck), I decided to try some embroidery on the corset.  I chose the fan and cross designs, varying them to include a leaf stitch.  I have a number of embroidery threads in shades of grey, green and blue and and splitting them to make mixed colourways that match the various shades of the fabric.  

I've concentrated on the gussets and smaller bones in the front panels to start with.  The photos are taken with a flash to better show off the stitching.

In the meantime, I am doing some serious research on the bottom half of this outfit; it has become the thing I think about last thing at night and first thing in the morning.  I need to have a plan.

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