Friday, 13 January 2017

Fibre Arts Summer School

I am away in Ballarat at the Fibre Arts Summer School. The class that I am taking is called Threads of Meaning and is with Roxanne Lasky.   The class has a stitch focus, however, it is designed to be contemplative with a focus on making connections between the 'why and how' so that when the work has greater meaning and becomes a more personal statement and reflection of individual style. You can read about her here.

Words or text appear in much of her work and her practice has a strong emphasis on Journalling.

The front and back covers of one of Roxanne's recycled paper bag journals.

And some of the pages.

Another journal, this is the stitched cover. Turkey 'wishbones' arranged in a star or flower pattern are embedded into the appliqué layers. Stitch further emphasises the motif.

A page from the journal, the image says it all.

With so much inspiration it was time to get to work. I liked the idea of the journal and made the decision to restrict my palette to neutral colours. Each exercise would be worked to a scale that would fit in a large book. This is the cover of the book that I am making. The cover is made from a recycled placemat. The weaving was completed in response to the word woven appearing on my word list. The pages inside the book are coloured with an ink made by boiling plants and metals together, the ink applied with brushes made from assorted plants tied to the end of a stick.

This page was the result of the instruction to lay a few of our materials down on a page and then arranging them in a way test was meaningful to us.

This one a response to the quote 'Everything breaks, Things Fall apart. 

This is an old handkerchief that was ripped. I arranged the handkerchief pieces to form a heart shape and then stitched heavily around and in between the pieces. The underpinning idea for this is Mending a Broken Heart.

Another weaving, this one made to decorate the branch of a tree. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Stir Fried Pork with Noodles

My favourite go to quick dinner dish especially in Summer when the temperature makes me want to get in and out of the kitchen with minimal cooking time. The preparation can be done in advance and noodles boiled as the stir fry is being cooked. This is a very basic dish, add more garlic, chilli or ginger and some oyster sauce or sweet chilli for extra flavour.

How To

Cook the onion

Then the pork

Combine the onion, pork, cooked noodles and blanched broccoli

Toss ingredients together over low heat

Stir Fried Pork with Noodles
500 g thinly sliced pork
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small knob of green ginger grated
oil for stir frying.

1 red onion, sliced thickly
250 g green beans or 1-2 bunches broccolini
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute

1 mild large chilli or capsicum, thinly sliced/julienned (optional)

1/4 cup stock, water or sherry (optional)
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cooked noodles of choice (drained and hot)

Combine pork, garlic, ginger, soy in a bowl and marinate. If possible refrigerate it overnight.

Heat pan/wok until very hot, add a little oil and then add onions. Toss/stir for a minute or two until starting to brown and nearly cooked. Remove to a clean plate or bowl.

Heat pan/wok again until very hot, add a little oil and then add marinated pork. Toss/stir for a minute or two until pork is brown and cooked. Return onion to the pan,

Combine the broccolini, cooked noodles and capsicum/chilli (if using) to the pork and onions and toss gently to mix. 

Add stock and sesame oil and  bring to boil. Check flavour, add a little soy sauce if needed.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A Little Break

I have been taking a little break, not really a holiday away but taking some time to regroup, tidy up and get organised. My friends tell me that is is a staycation. Not very exciting, just day to day life at a very leisurely pace. In fact all my usual group activities are on holiday as well, no line dancing, limited water aerobics, no Textile Art or Patchwork groups and no printmaking. Luckily, the neighbour's dog is not on holidays and keen to go for walks.

One of my favourite cartoonists, Judy Horacek has summed it up perfectly.

There was a very special party and an opportunity to 'glam' up.

The engagement party was held in this very opulent marquee

that become quite magical by night.

It was a fabulous party, great food, dancing and a fabulous fireworks display.

Lots of cooking and baking from my new books.

Bonjour Brownies and Belgian Blondies from Brownies, Blondies and other Traybakes.

It is Summer and plenty of very hot days, too hot to bake, however, there are goodies that can be made without baking, like waffles.  These are the spinach waffles from the Fika & Hygge cookbook.

 The Christmas Pudding Trifle, from Layered Desserts.

It was a good opportunity to make a large batch of toasted muesli and package it up ready to give to those friends who have become as addicted as me.

There is always something to do in the garden, even if it is just watering, weeding and dead heading the flowering shrubs and perennials.

The remodelled front garden beds are coming along quite nicely, a mixture of ornamental and edible offerings. We will plant a few more things to fill in the spaces.

The nature strip /verge  also recently remodelled is struggling, however, the succulents are very tough and tolerant of dry conditions. Hopefully within the year they will grow and cover the ground.

committed to a new project, A Stitch a Day for a Year. We started on New Year's Day, a small group project that we photograph regularly (daily) and share with each other. This is Day 1

And Day 9. From time to time I will share my progress.

Morris, the borrowed dog, enjoys an outing

And like me, is happy to 'cool off' under the hose.

The final word, again from Judy Horacek.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year's Eve

 New Year's Eve is a time for reflection, however, I tend to think about the things to come.

Like the fireworks. Gathered from my stash, this paper reminded me of fireworks that I will be watching to ring in the new year. 

The garden can be a reflection of life. The anticipation and surprise of things to come, the disappointments and sadness. 

Today it was surprise of finding that the stone fruits are starting to ripen and will soon be ready to pick.

This succulent bowl was planted up a couple of months ago with the hope of being ready for the Christmas and New Year Festivities. It was not quite as advanced as I had hoped but showing promise just like the year to come. 

Monday, 26 December 2016

Beetroot Cured Gravlax with Cream Cheese, Onion and Dill Sauce.

From time to time I make gravlax, a Scandinavian cured fish that is an excellent alternative to smoked salmon. It is easy to make but is best made with a large piece or side of salmon. I particularly like adding Beetroot to the cure, the colour of the Beetroot seeps into the flesh of salmon and creates a lovely blush on the outside edges.

A side of salmon makes quite a large amount which makes it a good choice for Christmas or when you have large numbers or a number of events in a short period of time.

Every third year we host a breakfast on Christmas Day. It has been a long standing tradition between three families who take it turn about and we start early! I try to do something different each time we host, this year we had a bit of a Scandinavian theme and included the gravlax, some home made rye crispbread and cinnamon scrolls.

Gravlax is easy to make but you need to allow at least twenty four hours for the cure to work, a large piece of salmon needs a couple of days.

Beetroot Gravlax

1 side salmon (anywhere from 750 g, this piece weighed 1.5 kg but needed to be trimmed )
2 beetroot, washed and peeled
1 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 bunch dill ( keep 1/4 of the bunch for serving)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 -3 juniper berries, crushed, can be omitted but add to the flavour.
1/3 cup vodka or gin


To make the cure blend all the ingredients together. If making by hand you will need to finely grate/chop the beetroot and dill.

Trim the salmon to fit your dish.

Remove the skin (optional) and pin bone or get the fish shop to do it for you.

The dish needs to be a non reactive dish like this pyrex dish. The side of salmon that I purchased was quite a bit bigger and used the excess in another meal.

Line the dish with a layer of cling film/ plastic wrap.

Place a layer of the cure in the bottom of the dish, add the salmon, skin side down and then cover with remaining cure.

Cover with another layer of clingwrap/plastic film, then with a cutting board. I use a sheet of plastic (from an old A4 Art Journal) that I have cut to fit the dish.
The salmon needs to be weighted. I use a brick contained in a plastic bag and place the brick in a tray that also fits in the dish with the salmon. Use tins of food or other heavy items. Stand on tray to collect any liquid that may ooze out of the dish. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours but longer if the salmon is thick. If possible leave for two days.
Remove salmon from the cure and discard the cure. Use paper towel to blot the salmon and remove cure from the surface. Some additional vodka may be used to rinse the surface but I never bother.
Using a very sharp, long thin blade knife slice the salmon diagonally into thin slices. Slice only as much as you need. Wrap unused gravlax in clingfilm and refrigerate. Use within a few days.  

Cream Cheese, Onion and Dill Sauce

250 g cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/2 red onion, very finely diced
1/4 bunch dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cornichons/dill pickles, finely chopped
a little freshly ground black pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well and check flavours. Add a little more lemon juice if needed.