Saturday, July 12, 2014

Elderflower Cordial and a Book Review

Every year, as June turns to July and the days grow longer, the scent of elderflower hangs heavy in the warm air.
If you don’t have any elder bushes in your garden, then
head off out with your basket - they are very common in the hedgerows and easily identified by their clusters of creamy-white flowers and distinctive scent. (If in doubt
use a book to identify them, or take a knowledgeable friend along). Here is a recipe for elderflower cordial. Haven't tried it but it sounds lovely!
  • 250g elderflowers, cleaned
  • 1.1L  water
  • 900g caster sugar
  • 50g citric acid
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
Bring the water to the boil, pour the boiling water over the sugar. Stir to dissolve and let it cool completely.
Wash and cut the lemons and limes in quarters and add to the stock syrup.
Pick the elderflowers and remove any dead bits and leaves. Place the elderflowers in a colander and wash under cold running water.
Let the elder flowers drain while the stock syrup cools.
Once the stock syrup is cold add the elderflowers and the citric acid, mix and place the mixture in a deep container in the fridge, place a layer of clingfilm directly on top of the mixture.
Let the cordial infuse for 48 hours, stir a couple of times during this period.
Pass the cordial through a fine sieve and pour into sterilized bottles. Keep refrigerated.
Makes approximately 2 liters of elderflower cordial
Food Fanatics Tips
If you add the elderflowers to they syrup while it's still boiling hot you will scorch the flowers and it will change the taste of the cordial. I have made this mistake in the past and the end result is not pleasant. Instead of keeping the cordial in bottles you can pour the cordial into ice cube trays and freeze them, this saves space and it will keep slightly longer.
Are you going to the Sheep and Wool Festival in September? 
I am thinking about getting a fleece and wonder if many of you do buy a fleece at a show like that? How do you know what is a good fleece? If I could take my knowledgeable friends with me I might be able to make a better informed choice. I know that you want to have as little vegetable matter as possible as nothing is so disappointing as trying to spin a wool that has a lot of twigs and seeds in it. I also don't feel as if I am a very versatile spinner and usually like roving or batts, not top. I find it that top need me to do a lot more pre=drafting. 
I am excited to look for a fleece this year. And who knows, I might buy on this year!
Just finished reading  The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Eric Larsen. It was published in 2003 so it took me quite a time to get to reading it but it was on my To Be Read list for a long time! You'll be reading a two-for-one with this Erik Larson's book. Either story line could be made into a compelling read for different folks with different tastes. One story line gives the reader a dark insider's look at how an intelligent serial killer moves through his world bringing a evil chill to society. The second story line contrasts that dark mind against the brilliant minds of architects in the U.S. in 1892 working against financial, political, and feasibility odds to create an astounding and forward thinking world's fair. Larson's book incorporates abundant biographical detail with architectural detail. The reader will see a different view of public buildings and parks when finishing this book. Larson's excellent research will delight those with inquiring minds Especially anyone with interest in the history of Chicago.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Here We Go Again

I have been missing in action for so long that you may have given up on hearing from me but I have decided to remedy that. I am going to post once a week for awhile to get back in the swing of writing.

Well to begin, I finally got a chance to read the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Did any of you read it? It is VERY dense and has really been in my mind since finishing it. The story begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills narrator Theo Decker's beloved mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. “Things would have turned out better if she had lived,” Theo said of his mother, fourteen years after she died. An understatement if ever there was one, but one that makes the selfish reader cry out: Oh, but then we wouldn’t have had this story!

I have been knitting this sweater:


I bought some yarn at our friend Michele's garage sale. I am using Cozette by Knit One, Crochet Too in amber. Love the yarn and having fun one the stockingette part...well having fun once I finally got it right! I had to cast on FOUR times before I figured it out! 
I have also been working along on my Christmas in July/August exchange gift. I am nearly finished and could have been done by July, but this gives me more time to add to it. 
For those of you who aren't familiar, Our fiber guild, Then String Alongs has a gift exchange at Christmas where you bring a gift and get a gift. Then the Christmas in July/August is a specific gift for the person whose name you picked. I always love to be involved with these exchanges because you can make the thing you most enjoy doing and then pass it to someone who may not do that craft at all! Also you can really think about the person and aim the present at their personality. 
We have recently gotten a new puppy named Sami-an American Coonhound. She is a leopard coonhound and will grow to be a pretty big girl. We in no way had our house puppy proof when she arrived and we are still trying to put things out of her reach! Here is a picture or two of my little girl:

  I guess that is it for now but I will be back again soon....
see ya then.


Monday, June 11, 2012

 This is what I am trying to do most this lovely day but I have a lot of house work to get done today too!
Here are a couple of pictures of a felted cat bed I made. Very popular with all the cats and Eddie too.

This picture has a little catnip in it-also very popular here!

This is a bad picture of a silk scarf I knit for my mom for mother's day. Hand dyed by me and bound off with beads to give it a lovely drape. It was well received!

And I finished my landscape after about 6 month's work! And what fun it was too...

after a bout of bronchitis and for Joe pneumonia, we are getting back to house work and maintenance. I need to do a ton of dishes and vacuum, get the garbage out and feed the birds and water plants! Oh and laundry-tons of laundry...  Nice day for it though!
Nice to have windows open again. The cats sure prefer to get out on the porch swing or lay in windows and who could blame them.
I'm thinking I might want to knit this:

 And this baby blanket: Baby's Breath, an old Minerva pattern that I saw knit up by a friend and just loved!

Well I'm off to play my words with Friends and then to house work!
Talk to you soon,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

At Long Last!

 Let's see now...I haven't written in ages so I will begin with a possible class at Craft Center: 
The Honey Cowl. Very pretty, easy and a way to use  a small amount of luxury yarn, Let me know if you want to knit this with me-just five students makes a class.


I just bought this pattern on Etsy

Can't wait to knit her!

I have been reading some old cosy murder mysteries by Patricia Wentworth featuring Miss Silver. One of the nice things about Miss Silver is that she knits! I am in the middle of Miss Silver Deals with Death.

Miss Silver investigates a case of blackmail in an apartment house
Vandeleur House was great once. The home of a prominent court painter, its ballroom and parlors hosted the brightest of the Victorian era. Now divided into eight flats, it is an apartment building whose glorious fa├žade conceals a nest of diabolical intrigue.
There is Maude, a young woman who was crossing the Atlantic when her steamer was struck by a Nazi torpedo. She survived; her husband did not. Then there’s Ivy, a sleepwalking maid with a curious past. And last there is Mrs. Underwood, a snobbish woman dreadfully embarrassed that she is being blackmailed by another resident. And all that drama in just one flat. There are many secrets in Vandeleur house, and it will take the full force of gentlewoman detective Maud Silver’s intuition to unravel them.

Oh and on another completely different subject: 
I want a baby! Westie that is! Don't you just love his little feet!

The string Alongs meet tomorrow night at Sandy's house and I thought I might make these:

Talk to you later,
Miss Silver lives by a simple code,"Love God, honour the Queen, keep the law, be kind, be good, think of others before you think of yourself, serve Justice, speak the truth."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Joy in the Morning

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself. ~Tecumseh

I think this relates to attitude. The way you look at what happens effects how you feel. To a certain extent: Love wholeheartedly, be surprised, give thanks and praise—then you will discover the fullness of your life! I know this doesn't always work for the truly depressed but it can certainly help-along with simple things like taking your dog for a walk! Fresh air and sunshine can make a huge difference. Making sure that you do the good things for your body every day can help with chronic pain. Ask me about Chronic colors everything you do and can make life VERY hard. But I thank God I am alive. Even if I have pain I still see the beauty of this life-my animals, my work & family-all make life a joy.

We have no money and it only gets worse...but I have most everything I need anyway. Don't need to buy anything and people prefer gifts that are hand made or from the heart anyhow.

But there are ways to live the good life...not by having a lot of stuff but,

All of this requires discipline. And practice. But I always tell my knitting students that if you practice something fifteen minutes a day, in two weeks you will have learned it!


Ring the bells that still can ring.
    Forget your perfect offering.
      There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets it.
-   Leonard Cohen

Love to you-

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


  • Pumpkin seeds must be completely dried out in the oven before combining with spices
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 5 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp. salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. peanut oil


Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pumpkin open from the bottom, removing seeds with a long-handled spoon. Separate flesh from seeds, and reserve the flesh for another use. Pumpkin should yield 1-Cup seeds. Spread seeds on parchment in an even layer. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool.
In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne pepper. Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook until sugar melts and the pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds.
Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Let cool. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie 

 Apple Filling
    4 to 6 lemons
    5 to 6 medium to large apples*
    *Cook's Note: A mixture of Crispin, Granny Smith, and Cortland is nice if you can.

    Apple Filling Seasoning
    1/3 cup raw sugar (castor, unrefined, large granule sugar)
    2 tablespoons flour
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
    1 egg beaten
    Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
    1 teaspoon sea salt (flake)
    Special equipment: Mandolin for slicing, and a pastry brush
To make the pie crust:
Prepare one 2-crust batch of your favorite all butter pie crust. Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.
To make the apple filling:
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Cook's Note: A mandolin works great for producing very thin slices.

Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.

To make the apple filling seasoning:
In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.

To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).

Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Cook's Note: Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.

Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.

Let the pie cool, then slice and enjoy.

 Yes it is Autumn and I love this weather and the foods that go with it (in my mind, at least).

Talk to you soon-I'm listing some knitting and embroidery on ETSY!