Thursday 27 November 2008

More Keepin' Warm

This is what happens when you've been boiling cherrystones for an hour or two.

It was a warm and sunny summer day when the farmer handed me the cherry pits I had requested with a wry "Well, I'm never doing that again." :-) I hadn't asked for them dried, just saved, but she'd gone to the trouble of kind of cleaning them and then laying them out in the sun to dry. Unfortunately all her trouble meant that I this past weekend I had to rehydrate them to get more of the gucky stuff off for them to be usable. I think I'll be brave and very nicely ask her again next year, but suggest that she just keep them in the freezer instead!

Why? I can hear you saying "but why?" (well, I can hear Mr. S., anyway ;-)

When you're playing chicken with the furnace, it's good to have a secret weapon, I think. In The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe kept her panties in the freezer to beat the heat. Well, I'm going to keep this pillow in the oven to beat the cold! Maybe not as sexy, but certainly as practical!

Here are the instructions for making a cherrystone bedwarmer, you know, in case you have that many cherry pits lying around. I boiled and rinsed mine twice and then added some more cold water rinses at the end just to get as much cherry off as I could - I'm sure it's easier with freshly pitted stones. Then they dried off in the oven at very low heat for a couple of hours. Made a little cotton pillow, filled it, sewed it up well, made a cover for it, and ta-da! guaranteed warmth.

We don't have a microwave, so I'll just pop it in a low heat oven for a while (it's covered in a felted wool cozy, and wool is very flame resistant) and that should keep our toes toasty when we dash under the chilly blankets at bedtime.

Someone's toes are already trying to snuggle in!

Monday 24 November 2008

A Golden International Breakfast

French toast, Turkish coffee, and Indian chickpea flour "crepes" with ginger, garlic and fennel seed potato filling - that is the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. And, don't forget the last of the homemade mango chutney so gratefully received from my friend Kat.

The French toast was mainly for Safiya and Mr. S.; it's a Saturday morning ritual. The rest was my indulgence - I've been playing around with a lot of different grains lately (and some not even grains!), making bread-like stuff. The chickpea flour crepes are to die for; savoury, silky on top and lightly crisp on the bottom, and you don't even have to flip them! I'm hoping to venture into bean-based flatbread territory soon, using one of my favourite cookbooks, Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Coooking.

Some plain leftover potatoes were transformed into a better version of homefries ;-) using one of my favourite recipes, sookhe aloo ("dry" potatoes with ginger and garlic), from Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, and voila, a golden warming breakfast on a chilly almost-winter day. They're so good (we find the fennel seeds essential and put extra in, and will also substitute anise seeds if there is a we-have-no-fennel-seeds emergency), that I'm trying to share the recipe here; if you can make it out, it's worth it!

For breakfast, lunch, or dinner.... :-)

Note: thank you, Google! Here's the (almost-identical) recipe for the potatoes. And here's the chickpea-flour pancakes (although in Jaffrey's cookbook there is much sprinkling of oil around and on top on the pancakes after they're poured :-) Enjoy!

Monday 17 November 2008

Playing Chicken With The Heating, Part the Second

The reason I don't make clothes for myself (so she says) is that it's impossible for me to take flattering self-portraits. So here I am, with my woolly socks and mid-morning-even-though-it's-after-lunch hair, but still inordinately pleased that these are done. When playing chicken with the heating (I signed us up for Crunchy Chicken's "Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2008" challenge, just for fun :-), one requires more than flimsy cotton pyjamas in the evening....and morning....and afternoon....

Everybody has been raving about Amy Butler's Lounge Pants, and since I like lounging as much as the next person, I figured this was a good start to making-myself-real-clothes-from-real-patterns. And I have to say:

I love these pants. They are comfortable, roomy, lounge-y, but not slouchy. I will not be ashamed to take the garbage out or check the mail in these. And this pair is warm.

Given my penchant for wool and my dislike for being cold, I had a dream: woollen pyjama pants...lined with silk. Both wool and silk have wonderful insulating properties. With some wool from my Mom's old stash (had to piece it together a bit to make enough length) and just enough leftover silk from when she very generously made my dream curtains for our first house, I made them in about a weekend and a little bit here and there. Voila! the perfect pair of pyjama pants. I hadn't made pants before, never mind lined anything, so that's a testament to the clarity of the pattern.

It's a bit like walking around in a cocoon. I love it when utilitarian meets decadence and then they make love...and have a woollen pyjama pants wearing baby :-)

Speaking of curtains and babies:

The original curtains, and one very cute and beautifully chubby seven-month-old Safiya. Why? Because I can. Kind of like the pants :-)

Friday 7 November 2008

Playing Chicken With The Heat, Part the First

Simple leggings for a fall day:

Take one felted wool sweater (one that still has some give) and cut the arms off past the shoulder seams (be generous in the length, and choose a sweater that you guess will fit the child in question). Then, after a couple of wriggly fittings, sew together to create a middle seam. With the top folded in once to make the casing for the elastic, these are easy-peasy, and if you are not interrupted a gazillion times, probably sewable in precisely two minutes. O.k., so I exaggerate, but it is really easy.

I put a dot on to mark the back:

See, it really was made out of just the two arms!

A bunch of these are on the drawing board because we're playing chicken with the heat, so long underwear will be a necessity around here (this November heat wave has been so lovely), and because the wonderful wool long underwear that we bought for Safiya two winters back are starting to wear.

Actually, to be fair, the pure wool long underwear has not started to wear; it's a bit short, but still going strong. We had also got her a pair in a lighter silk/wool blend, and those are the ones that I'm going to have to darn. These woollies were worth their weight in gold (I should mention that I'm not associated in any way to Nova Natural), and we got them before my new-found-ish let's-clothe-the-child-in-cast-off-sweaters bravery started. Frankly, since the proper $7 second-hand sweater will now provide us with not only leggings but mittens and a scarf from the body (or a hood.....or a tea cozy....), I wouldn't spend that amount on long underwear these days, but if you don't want to sew your own, we found the ones we got to be really really useful, well-fitted and warm, and all kinds of nice.

Oh, and if you want a proper tutorial, I saw that Green Kitchen has a nice sweater-pants tutorial that is very clear. It's in a similar vein to the pants pattern that I used for Safiya's pants.

Clearly my sewing methods are not proper, and it's highly probable that the next pair of leggings that I make for Safiya will not resemble these ones in the least :-)

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Something Like a Miracle

Yesterday was a day of puttering around the yard, cleaning up, and exploring corners that have gone neglected for a while. Being a very novice gardener with a lot of knowledge stored away in my brain, but little experience is a disastrous combination. For example, I'd love to just skip right to growing fields of quinoa if I had the space. :-)

And I forget about things. Usually the outcome is not good. However, this year I noticed some rather tall pretty yellow flowers that had sprouted up (from nowhere?) and then remembered that Safiya had planted some sunroots (Jerusalem Artichokes/sunchokes) left over from groceries earlier in the year.

Pulling them up was a momentous event. Such pretty things! After relocating our friend the worm, Safiya plucked, washed, smelled, cradled, and nibbled them and then insisted we eat them for dinner. One was elected to go into the curried butternut squash soup, and the rest were sliced and fried. yum.

From one little root to many, feeding many. Nature is something like a miracle.

Sunday 2 November 2008

A Dinosaur Goes To Brunch

We have a rather large addition to our house, courtesy of my Father-in-Law. I think Safiya is in love.