Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cosy Gift

Our two eldest daughters are in France at the moment. They are staying with Dean & Erica's French daughter (AFS) and being spoilt by Marion's family as we speak!
We have sent them off with a gift for Marion who became very much a part of our family when she was here in NZ.
I made her a scarf out of beautiful NZ Wool that had been hand-dyed by a local woman around the corner from our house!
Woolrae Studio 534 Kihikihi Rd, Te Awamutu. NZ.
I had walked past the sign countless times and kept meaning to pop in on a Saturday for a browse... eventually I did and was pleasantly surprised!
Isn't it great when you discover local, backyard artists who produce stuff that's a bit unique and passionately, lovingly handmade-y! I love it!

We wanted to give Marion something that was authentically NZ-y and it was extra special to be able to knit loving thoughts of her into every stitch! She's off to Switzerland to begin her Tertiary studies soon so we are hoping the scarf helps to keep her cosy.

A scarf is a great micro-knitting project for a beginner, especially when you use triple knit/chunky wool and size 7 needles! It means you see it grow real quick and you have something to show for your efforts in no time at all. Buy online OR try your local wool shop OR maybe even a backyard fibre artist!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ladies a Plate

While we're on the topic of home baking.. this morning I heard on the news that 'Ladies, A Plate - Traditional Home Baking' by Alexa Johnston won a Montana Book Award. Yay! She deserves it.

She has done some fabulous research bringing us a lovely, warm history of NZ home baking. Each of the recipes included have been tested in her own kitchen. The book is beautifully set out, gorgeous pictures, stories behind the recipes - a pleasure to read. AND it is very practical and instructive for any novice home baker. Well done Alexa!

My Mum and Dad gave me a copy for my birthday early this year - a treasured gift. My Mum knows all about 'ladies a plate' and is still 'making plates to take' to all manner of gatherings long after her years of filling the cake tins for our family are over! AND Dad still gets affectionately scolded for sampling the goods before 'the plate' disappears out the door! Mum also bakes his favourite things for his lunch box and delights us all with her home baked treats when our family gathers. Thanks Mum for all the delicious baking AND the fantastic example you have set for us too xo. Yay for home baking!

Monday, July 27, 2009

ANZAC Biscuits

Sometimes a time honoured, family recipe is called for. My Darling Man has been recovering from shoulder surgery. His shoulder is healing beautifully but his stomach has taken a huge hit!
So as he ventures back into eating normal food again, my baking has gone back to basics. One of his (late) Mum's recipes - in her lovely handwriting. It comes from the days of baking with basic ingredients already in the larder. It fits the bill perfectly!
While I bake I enjoy a warm emotional connection with my lovely mother in law.
I think of her and all the baking she did over the years for her family (10 kids). Darling Man is double-y comforted remembering his Mum as he dunks his ANZAC biccy! Classic comfort food.

ANZAC Biscuits.

Melt together -
125gms butter
2TBspn Golden Syrup

Meanwhile mix the following dry ingrediants together in a bowl -
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut

Mix 1 tsp baking soda with 2 Tspns boiling water and add to melted ingrediants and then mix together with dry ingredients. Roll into small balls and flatten with a fork.
Bake 150degC until golden - about 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cosy - ness

One of the scrummiest of cosy experiences I had recently was when we turned up at a family dinner. The kitchen was warm and buzzing with Davieth's Mum Maartje making home-made pizza. It was her adult son's choice for his birthday dinner. Dough and flour and toppings and cheese all over the table - guests crammed in a snuggling space, gorgeous foody/winey smells and everyone talking at once. The cat and darling doggy adding their own havoc to the domestic scene. Lots of light and love and laughs and hugs and... well - heart-warming cosy-ness!
Another kind of cosy-ness is a hot water bottle on a cold night OR day for that matter. I enjoy working with colours when I am knitting. I'm not so good with patterns - I seem to get myself into a tangle and end up with the wrong number of stitches which then makes it difficult to proceed! Texture in wool doesn't seem to please me the same way that colour does! I also love that hotty covers are so 'old-school' and that brings its own comfort.
They are really fun to knit and quite easy for a beginner. Paton's Book 2108 'The Big Book of Small Projects has all sorts of hottie cover patterns along with many other knitted things. Buy online or even better, go to your local wool shop and enjoy a browse and the delicious anticipation of creating something cosy with needles and yarn!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making Do

'Making Do' in the 1970's when I was a teenager meant inserting a strip of interesting fabric to lengthen a pair of jeans because my legs grew at a rate that the budget for new jeans could not keep pace with! Me and my friend Maggie Bain pictured here says it all really!
In her FABULOUS book 'Thrift To Fantasy' Rosemary McLeod addresses this old-fashioned value - "Because women worked with textiles they naturally turned to using them in thrifty and ingenious ways as a response to the need to economise." Pg 219.
My Mum tells me that when I was little she made me a toy box from a cardboard box, covered in wallpaper and decorated it with pictures from old magazines. What does 'making do' mean today?
Waikato Times 'Your Weekend' Magazine reports on May 16th 09 in an article - 'Recession 101' - "Tight economic times mean a steep learning curve for the 'lucky' generation Y. How are they coping with their first recession?"
How will Generation Y who have mostly had it all laid on respond to the recession? What will 'making do' mean for them I wonder to myself? They are a creative bunch... techno savvy... how will they respond?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lovely Leeks!

My husband is definitely the chief gardener and I am his humble assistant. When I read NZ Gardener's Weekly email and got inspired to grow leeks and he saw how teeny the seedlings were he didn't fancy himself the fiddle of planting them. I put my hand up and offered to do it proclaiming that the promise of Leek and Potato Soup would make them worth the trouble. A slow and tedious job it turned out to be - tweezers may have been a helpful tool!
However, we are now harvesting them and making gorgeous soup - a recipe from my flatting days. AND it adds to the taste knowing the leeks have been lovingly planted by moi! I may even attempt a French Leek Tart of some description in time! (The celery we grew wasn't quite so good - a little too damp here in the Waikato in winter I think!)

Vichyssoise Soup

3 or 4 leeks
3 or 4 stalks of celery
2 cups diced potato
1 onion
1 Maggi Chicken Soup (or Stock) & water to mix
1 1/2 cups milk
salt & pepper
2 Tbspns butter
Trim leeks, cutting off green tops. Chop leeks & onions. Saute in butter until slightly brown. Add chopped celery, potato, chicken soup dissolved in water. Add salt & pepper and enough water to cover veges. Bring slowly to the boil, simmer 3/4 hr with lid on. Put in blender/kitchen whizz or mash and enjoy a few lumps! Add milk or 1/2 cup cream - reheat gently but do not boil.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Return to Domesticity

Recently I watched a slot on 60 minutes - “Housewife Superstar” by Ellen Fanning (TV3 Mon 22nd June 09). I felt deeply moved! Here were all these ‘20-something Mums’ choosing to stay at home and raise their own children AND they’re proud to say, ‘I’m a housewife.’ It seems that there is a new wave of women who don’t ‘want it all’ and they don’t want to ‘turn into their own frazzled, working Mothers’ either. This sounds like the 50’s reborn! Is there more to retro than clothes and furniture? Is there a new generation who are rejecting feminist ideals because they are sick of the struggle and juggle of trying to raise children AND have a high powered career?

Australian Women’s Weekly ran an article in April 2009 ‘A Return to Domestic Bliss’ by Louise Mackay. ‘… it appears that women of all ages are heeding another call….. harking back to simpler times of home, hearth and heart, where the back garden was more than a manicured lawn and the occasional topiary tree and the kitchen was the bustling epicentre of family activity.’
I am enjoying being a housewife again after years of my own struggle and juggle. Our children are all grown up now so I am seriously indulging myself in all the delights of domesticity again… along with developing my passion for writing and family history. Our girls call me the ‘Domestic Goddess’ and so this blog is born. I hope my musings will inspire others to enjoy domestic life to the full – whether working outside the home or not!
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