A diary of all my mad projects.

I am glad that you stopped by - welcome to my world. Its a little mad and hectic as I sew, knit, embroider and generally craft my way through life. My newest resolution is to spend more time sewing - less time dreaming about it. I love to read comments so I am looking forward to hearing from you all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jam jam jamming!

Great fun in the household - son #2 had a friend over and they grabbed the Apple and the guitars keyboard and spent the time creating - I have yet to hear what they ended up with - I went to bed with earplugs but they were very happy with themselves.  I am happy as with all the money we spend on music lessons its nice to see it alive and well.  I do not think #2 should give up his day job - the White Stripes he is not but he loves his guitar and jamming.

Jamming of another sort was today when I cleaned out the freezers and boiled up all the berries I have been saving for Three Berry Jam.  A favourite with #1 son always turns out well.  I made a large quantity - 2.5kg Strawberries, 2kg blackberries and 1kg raspberries, juice of 2 lemons and 5kg of sugar -  which takes a long time to boil to setting point.  I find that smaller quantities help preserve the wonderful flavour of fresh fruit but just wanted it over and done.  Three Berry Jam is a family favourite only topped by Raspberry Jam which has to be guarded.

It is very satisfying to enter the kitchen and see all the filled jars waiting to cool on the bench - I have plans to bake Louise cake with one jar of the jam from the Edmonds Cook Book.  This is my husbands favourite treat and he is returns from work on Friday.

Louise Cake

75 g butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups Edmonds plain baking flour
1 teaspoon Edmonds baking powder
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut

Cream butter and first measure of sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in egg yolks
Sift flour and baking powder together
Stir into creamed mixture
Press dough into a greased 20 x 30 cm sponge roll tin
Spread raspberry jam over the base
In a bowl beat egg whites until stiff but not dry
Mix in the second measure of sugar and coconut
Spread this meringue mixture over jam
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until meringue is dry and lightly coloured
Cut into squares while still warm.

Makes about 24

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Shirt a Month Club - Stitchers Guild

This year I have decided to become a more active participant in things I enjoy doing.  I am very involved in my children's rowing, as a committe member and camp mum but have let slide things for myself personally.  I love sewing but really spend little time for myself on this.  My space allocated for this shifts around the house depending on season and family activities.  My husband is finally converting his shed into more than a storage area and is spending time and money so he can finally work on his beloved motorbikes.  I have one bay in the shed but this has also become a storage area with the intention of walling the area off for a craft room and an upstairs teen room.  Money pressures have put these plans on hold but I need to stop waiting for the upgrade and just set up and SEW out here.

As a result of these thoughts I have joined the shirt a month club or SAM http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php/topic,16492.0.html.

 My first has been a shirt for my husband using the Simplicity pattern 4760 and some Kiwi themed quilting broadcloth we purchased last year.

Green is a family favourite for some reason and we both liked the pattern.  The pattern had a few glitches - I read the instructions wrong and cut off one of the bands so had to add it back on.  I decided to do it in the contrast colour and now wish I had done the same thing to the left side as well.  I have yet to add the buttons but now have them waiting in the wings.

I like the finished shirt and hopefully the husband likes it too.  At present he is working in Ethiopia but will return around the 20th of January.  I can not wait to see him again. 
Well thats enough for the moment off to complete the buttonholes and sew the buttons on.  I think it is a good start to the SAM and have quite a few more shirts on the design board.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two years on - nek miunt 2012!

Once again I am trying to blog. Maybe I am more a reader than a writer, I keep up with lots of amazing blogs and feel a real connection with the writers as they share aspects of their lives.

Weather has been on my mind lately as we have had so much rain that in some areas of our beautiful country the hills have been sliding down. In my neck of the woods the rain has turn our picturesque valley into a garden paradise. Trees, shrubs and flowers look freshly minted like a enchanted forest. The vegetable garden is full and all the plants are flourishing. Unfortunately this also means the weeds are giving their best, but I console myself with the thought that they will help the next years crop as compost!

With all this rain the Christmas Plums have been slow to ripen and are full of juice and splits. I have given up trying to get jam to set from these fruit and have made Plum Butter. This is a wonderfully rich and lucious tasting spread but with less sugar than jam. It is wonderful on vanilla ice cream and a friend is going to use his pot as a base for his famous Hot Plum Salad (no he won't give me the recipe but has promised to cook it for me so I'll construct my version then). Next up in the kitchen is some Plum jelly as I think by adding lemon juice I might be able to get this to set. Plus we have plenty of Plum Jam left from last years crop.

Plum Butter


This recipe is very simple but time consuming.

Wash and sort plums - if they are large enough, cut up and take out pips. If not just put in pan. Quantity does not matter but the butter keeps its beautiful colour if made in smaller quantities (max 3-4 kgs). It is best to use a heavy base pan to stop the bottom catching.

Do not add any water other than what is clinging to the plums from washing - slowly sweat the plums to bring out their juice, once there is some juice at the bottom turn up the heat and bring to the boil mixing the plums up to cook them all. Stir frequently to stop the bottom plums catching and burning.

When they are all soft and pulpy either push through a sieve to separate stones and break up the skins or if no pips blend. Measure the sieved pulp and for every 2 cups of pulp add 1 cup of sugar. ( I prefer this lower amount of sugar but you can add up to 1 3/4 cups of sugar for every 2 cups of pulp).

Return the pulp and sugar to the pan and bring to the boil stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Boil the mixture for another 15-20 minutes stirring regularily until the mixture is thick and gluepy ( the more pulp you have the longer this will take and can result in caramelisation of the sugars and changes in the taste.) To test if the butter is ready have some small dishes in the freezer - take one out and carefully drip a small quantity onto the plate. If it is ready it will cool to a thick gel and hold its shape. My children always seem to appear at this stage and love to be the taste testers.

Bottle into sterilised jars and cap with lids or covers.

To sterilise jars wash them and rinse, invert them but leave them with a film of water. Place jars in an oven set to 120C for 45 minutes. I place lids into a pot of water and bring to the boil for 10 minutes.

I store my preserves in a dark cupboard and have had no problems with spoilage following this method but if you are unsure you can keep this butter in the fridge. It is necessary to keep the butter in the fridge after opening as the sugar content is low.