Sunday, June 05, 2011

Cheat mulled wine

So tonight I was craving comfort food - something rich and warm.  Even though my dear husband had made me a scrummy Margherita pizza I wanted something else - specifically warmed cider or Nutella mug cake.  In the absence of appropriate ingredients (ie cider or Nutella) I remembered the quarter bottle of merlot in the kitchen.  Brainwave!  Mulled wine!

I have made mulled wine before for a party.  Done properly it involves lemon rind, fresh spices, even fresh apple.  Given the lack of appropriate fresh fruit I did my usual thing and cheated experimented.  Here's what I used (all measurements very approximate!).

Cheat Mulled Wine
Approx 3 servings.

1 cup of apple juice
1 squirt lemon juice (I always have a bottle in the fridge)
Half a cinnamon stick (or just powdered cinnamon)
Quarter teaspoon of ground cloves (or real cloves - I swear I have a bottle but couldn't find it...)
1 Star Anise (optional)
1 cup wine

Heat apple juice, lemon juice and spices in a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 mins
Add wine, heat until warm (best not to boil!)
Serve in an appropriately thick vessel (it cools rapidly in a wine glass).  I didn't have an appropriate flagon so I used a green tea cup (sacrilege I know).

It wasn't too bad - warm and rich just like I wanted.  Not super sweet - you could add sugar to the juice if you want it sweeter.  You could also add more cinnamon or cloves to make it spicier.  I added the star anise because I thought the licorice flavour would be nice, which it was.  You could substitute nutmeg instead.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Opulent Raglan - jumper in progress

So at the start of the year I wrote a list of crafty new years resolutions.  The only one I've manage to make progress on is knitting a jumper.  So here it is!

Opulent Raglan (in progress)

"That's not a jumper," I hear you say, "that's a vest.  And what's with the random blue stripe on your bust?"

Well my friends, it is a jumper, I just haven't knit the sleeves yet.  And the blue stripes are lifelines - very useful and handy if you need to rip back a few inches (which I did at one point).  They are placed at my bust because I was experimenting with shaping - I added some more decreases to pull in the waist more than the original did.  And dang if it didn't work!  It fits very nicely, although I think I would have probably been quite happy with the original shaping as well.

Opulent Raglan (in progress)

The pattern is Opulent Raglan and it is so lovely and easy I could knit it again. And again.  In different colours.  But I won't.  I will knit other jumpers and cardigans because now I have the jumper bug.  I can knit jumpers that are long enough to meet my jeans without the freezing gap of death, whee!

But I should probably tackle something else from my list of resolutions first.  In fact I really should get back to spinning...after I finish these sleeves.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ginger and apple tea

I've been sick with various colds and viruses for the better part of May and let me tell you I am sick of Lemon and Honey tea.  So I've concocted a very pleasant alternative that is still chock full of restorative elements.

Peel a chunk of ginger (approx 1cm) and steep for a few minutes in boiling water.
Add half or one teaspoon of honey.
And the secret ingredient - a splash of apple juice.

Ginger is a common folk remedy for cold symptoms, honey is soothing for the throat (and antibacterial if you believe the reports) and apple juice is full of Vitamin C.  Non-caffeinated tea is also a great way to keep hydrated, which my pharmacist assures me is essential in kicking this blasted cold.

Plus, you know, it just tastes good.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blog resurrection and Apple Couscous

My poor blog is a neglected creature that reads like a list of broken New Year's resolutions, all on the theme of promising to blog more frequently. Arguably this post is on the same theme, but this time I'm hoping to follow through a bit better. Not only will I post about my knitting but hopefully a bit more about cooking, bellydance and pretty things I find over on Pinterest.

In that spirit, here is today's cooking experiment - Apple Couscous. Recently I was reminded of a sweet breakfast I tried, based on orange juice, dried fruits and yoghurt (a bit like this one).  I didn't have any orange juice but I did have couscous, apple juice and plenty of dried fruit so I went in hunt of an apple couscous recipe. I modified the Fruity Breakfast Couscous recipe from by excluding the peaches and nuts and adding in dried apricot.  Otherwise I followed it pretty much exactly.

Apple Couscous - serves 3-4

1 cup couscous
1 cup apple juice
1 Tablespoon honey
Half a cup of dried fruit (I used sultanas and dried apricots)
1 apple, grated
Dollop of natural yoghurt

Bring juice and honey to boil in small pan
Stir in dried fruit and couscous
Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 3 mins  Separate grains with a fork and cover another 2 minutes.
Stir in apple
Serve with yoghurt

So how was it? 

Firstly, couscous is deceptively simple yet I always end up with a clumpy mess (this time wasn't as bad as others!).  The San Remo packet recommends stirring as you pour in the couscous, let it stand 3 mins and then stir for the last two.  I didn't stir as I poured it in this time so I will definitely try that next time.

Secondly, the apple juice made it quite sweet.  I must say I prefer the orange juice couscous I once had.  If I make this one again I would try half apple juice and half water and maybe toss in some cinnamon and flaked almonds.  

All in all it was a quick and filling treat with real fruit, great for breakfast or dessert.  Or lunch or dinner in this case!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pretty things

This is the pretty new laptop bag I got from TrackandFieldDesigns.

Owlish netbook bag

It's customised to fit my netbook, a thick A4 notepad and a book or small knitting project.

Netbook style

I've been wanting a stylish, easy-carry padded laptop bag for ages. I got it with some Christmas money. Will be carrying it into the city for a conference this week :D

It is not to be confused with this gorgeous carry-all I got from the MIL for Christmas.

Marbled goodness

I use this every day when I go to work (I don't usually need my netbook for work).


I spun this! Merino, 2 ply. I think it will knit to 8ply/aran weight although I need to do the wpi test on it.

Lofty 2

It's going to be a shawl I think. I need to spin up some more first! I hope I can keep the weight relatively even.

And a quick knitting update...

Feather and fan ripples

I am almost finished this Hap Blanket (pattern by the amazing Ysolda Teague). It is for Geoff and Sophie's gorgeous new boy Rafael Zephaniah. It's Bendigo Woollen Mills 4ply cotton held double. I threaded a lifeline in red and suddenly wished I used red as the highlight instead of green. But it was way too late by then!

Yarn Over Ripples

That's ok, it's still pretty and funky. Even if DH does complain it's Deceptacon colours.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

In which a New Year commences

When the New Year comes around some retrospection is usually in order. Since this is a knitting blog that's what I'll focus on! I'm looking at my Ravelry project page and this is what struck me:

  • Socks. In 2010 I learned to knit socks, and I love them. Can't wait to knit more.
  • Lace. I participated in the 10 lace items in 2010 challenge. I managed 6 with a 7th almost complete and an 8th on the needles.
  • Sock yarn. Look at my Ravelry stash page and you may notice I have a wee addiction to locally purchased, hand-dyed sock yarn. Clearly I need to knit more socks. And gloves, and scarves and shawlettes.
  • Spinning. In 2010 I aquired a wheel and got the basics down.
So what's ahead for 2011?
  • More socks. I am going to knit Moonchild and hopefully enter them in the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
  • More lace. I want to knit something in laceweight (2ply) yarn which will be a first.
  • More spinning. I'd like to learn some more technique and knit something from my handspun.
  • Something new - overcoming my fear of knitting fitted garments. I have just ordered the yarn for a scrummy jumper.
  • Knit from stash. I just fell down and bought jumper yarn and (of course) some sock yarn with my Christmas money. But that's it. I have 2 crates of yarn and one of fibre. I can't get any more unless some leaves - by being knitted or by being sold.
On a more general note...

It's fair to say that 2010 was not the easiest of years for Hubster and I, so I look forward to 2011 with hope. Hope that Hubster will find a satisfying and rewarding job, hope that my health helps me rather than hinders me. I have a lot of hope for work - after spending much of 2010 in a holding pattern, changes in my team and the business' leadership have put lots of exciting projects and opportunities on the horizon. There is a lot to look forward to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In which I am inspired by a wedding's aesthetic

Yesterday hubster and I attended a wedding at the Hungerford Hill winery in the Hunter Valley. It was a beautiful location and has definitely whetted my appetite to see more of the Hunter. But what particularly impressed me was the design aesthetic of the wedding. Nature and natural things were a theme from the invitations right on through. The couple bought two fruit trees as symbols of the occasion and the bouquets included roses, gumnuts and herbs. The guest register was actually a large print of a bare tree - you added a thumbprint in green ink to create leaves. The cake was actually cheese (to see what I mean look here!) And the bonboniere were very clever - little pots of jam or mustard that doubled as placenames and thankyou cards. We forgot our cameras so all we had were our iphones - but here's a photo of the ceremony plus the delightful bonboniere. Chanel's dress was gorgeous, such beautiful floaty material.


A quick update on the knitting. I have been working on two lace projects: Oiseau de Feu (Ravelry link, non-Ravelry example) and Brandywine Shawl. At this stage they are both intended for me! The photos below don't look like much: neither is blocked and my little digital camera has significant issues with that vibrant red. I shall have to read up on photographing red projects before I model the final product!

Oiseau de Feu

Raisin Brandywine
Brandywine Shawl

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