Thursday, 28 January 2010

new in the shop...

Thank you for all the great advice on my last post. I am going to buy a few AIO nappies in a few brands you recommended and see what works. And I am currently 'bidding' on some hug a bub ring slings. So off to a good start. Keep the advice coming!

I have been 'working' on some of these for months. And months. Well when I say 'working' I mean pushing them to the side and forgetting about them. So fueled by the need to sew for the baby, I made my self finish these off and put them in the shop. There are more to come and when I finally get them done, I can focus on those tiny pants and little wraps and small bodysuits that are waiting to be tackled. And not to forget my big Minnie; requests have been made for very similar items to those she modelled. What good taste she has...

Monday, 25 January 2010

baby stuff: in need of some advice...

The weeks are ticking by here and I am now 26 weeks. Time is moving slowly and quickly all at the same time - I think that strange experience with time only happens when you are pregnant. I have started a little sewing for the baby (some of which I will post this week) and have turned my mind to preparing for the practicalities of the arrival of our baby. And I am after some advice;

1. Can anyone recommend a brand/type of all in one washable nappies? (Sorry, I am not up with all the lingo here - I think its an AIO?) With Minnie I only used disposables, I would like some washables as well. I cannot deal with the old fashioned square cloth that you fold in some origami way and I know there are many snazzy and functional nappies out there.

2. I know there are a million slings on the market but would love your feedback on what's good and possibly, what's not. With Minnie I used and loved the Baby Bjorn Active but want a sling for when the baby is tiny and so they can spend longer in it. Minnie almost lived in that carrier or in a sarong tied up like a sling so I think this time a dedicated sling is in order. I wore that baby all day and I am sure I will be doing the same again! Or if you have made one from a good pattern, can you please let me know which one.

3. Does anyone have a good supplier of organic cotton jersey/stretch fabric (around 200gsm) and organic cotton flannel. I have been making baby pants and tops and cannot bring myself to buy the rubbish jersey fabric from the big shyster type stores in my area.

It's like consulting the oracle - I thank you in advance!

Friday, 22 January 2010


I seem to struggle with some aspects of gardening (like spacing and actually facilitating the survival of some plants) but one thing that seems to thrive under my care is basil. Thank goodness then that we all love it. Well not quite all but Minnie will eat a leaf straight from the plant and was a wonderful assistant in out recent pesto making session.

I was a very luck girl last birthday and received the wonderful Stephanie Alexander's 'Kitchen Garden Companion.' It really is a fantastic book for anyone that grows and cooks. I use it often, with either our own produce or in season veg from our local farmer. A cannot recommend it enough.

So thank you Stephanie for this great pesto recipe. We cut a big basket of basil from the garden and made a double batch of this sauce/condiment. We ate it simply stirred through pasta, made into petso butter, served with thick pork cutlets and also in my pasta sauce recipe (more of an 'idea' than a recipe) that I have added at the end.

(from Stephanie Alexander's 'Kitchen Garden Companion')
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to seal
1/4 pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt
60 Parmesan cheese, grated

Put basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor and blend/whizz/process until smooth. Stop the machine a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. When evenly blended, scrape the paste into a bowl and stir in cheese (we actually added the cheese to the blender at the last minute and gave it a quick whizz - saves dirtying another bowl).

Spoon pesto into a clean glass jar. Push down with a spoon to ensure there are no air pockets. Cover top with the remaining olive oil (so the pesto will not brown). Store in the fridge.

(Stephanie does not indicate how long you can keep it for but we had ours for about 5 days and it was fine, as long as you keep out any air pockets and cover with olive oil).

My Pesto Cream Pasta Sauce
In frying pan cook several rashes of bacon over medium heat until starting to brown, add a couple of hand fulls of cherry tomatoes, cook until they start to split, reduce heat. Add a few big spoons of pesto, and stir through a few spoons of cream. Heat gently until combined. Serve on pasta of your choice.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

(I am a) raspberry fool...

Raspberries are my favourite fruit. Hands down. I love the juicy, sweet/tart combination. I love their colour. I love them, I really do. And I miss living in Tasmania at this time of the year. My mother grows lots of canes in her garden and sadly, her produce doesn't make it here as often as I would like (the berries have arrived, frozen, packed in with her clothes or in her handbag with her books and glasses).

We do of course get raspberries in Sydney but at $9.99 for a tiny tray they are a very special treat. So yesterday and today I was overjoyed to see them at the local fruit and veg shop at 2 trays for $5.00! Quite a few trays have made it back to the Blue House. Last night I simply had them with a little cream and tonight, I will most likely do the same.

If I have stash of frozen berries from my mother, this is what we usually make. And yes, there is more cream. Of course. Its me.

A Fool for Raspberries
(Raspberry Fool recipe from Donna Hay 'modern classics 2')

Place 1 cup of raspberries in a frying pan and crush slightly. Add 2/3 cup of caster sugar and 2 teaspoons of lime juice (Donna recommends lemon and either works here). Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for around 3-4 minutes or until the berries are soft and the juice is syrupy. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

Beat 1 1/2 cups of cream until whipped. Fold 1/2 - 1 cup of fresh raspberries into the cream and then fold in the cooled berry syrup. Don't over mix - just fold gently.

To serve, spoon into glasses.

Monday, 18 January 2010


A little sweet something for my sweet man. He misses out on many of the treats in this house as they are not always gluten free. So while a batch of 'full of gluten' chocolate chip biscuits were in the oven, I whipped up this apple tea cake just for him.

I have had many hit and misses using regular recipes but substituting gluten free flours. Some baked goods do not fare well but others, like this apple cake, seemed to do OK. This is a recipe adapted from 'Little Kitchen', and I made it an even speeder version. Instead of rubbing in the butter, I threw all the dry ingredients in the food zizzer, added the butter and zizzed it, just as you would when you make pastry. I then tipped the mix into a large bowl and mixed in the liquids. This may not be the correct method, but when its 36'c and you are stood next to a blazing oven, that will do, thank you.

'Little Kitchen' is one of Minnie's cook books that can be found here. Its a fabulous book - full of proper recipes, not just 'how to put carrot eyes on a sandwich' type things. It has savouries and sweets and some special treats. And it includes very easy to follow recipes with illustrations of all the equipment you will need. Minnie can scoot off around the kitchen collecting all the required bowls and spoons while I heat the oven or sharpen the knives! Although Minnie still fusses over food, so enjoys 'reading' her cook books and suggesting things to make.

(Super Fast) Apple Tea Cake
adapted from Little Kitchen
1 1/2 cups of plain flour (substitute Gluten Free flours)
1 1/2 tsp (gluten free) baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tablespoon Sugar (I think in all I used 5 Tablespoons of sugar)
1/4 cup butter - softened
1 egg
3/4 cup Milk
2 Medium Apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
1/2 tsp cinnamon
double cream to serve (optional, but essential in this house)

Pre-heat oven to 180'c.
Grease sides and base and line base of a spring form pan (In find this easier than the square cake tin recommended in the recipe)
Sift flours and baking powder, add to zizzer (food processor). Add butter and zizz until butter combined. (Or the correct method is to put flours and baking powder in a bowl and rub in butter).
Put flour butter mix in large bowl. Add 4 Tablespoons sugar, reserving 2 Tablespoons for topping (adjust if you are using less sugar).
In smaller bowl, whisk egg and milk.
Add egg and milk to dry ingredients. Mix until smooth batter. You may need more liquid here if you are using Gluten Free flours.
Pour batter into tin.
Arrange apples on top, pushing down a little into the batter.
Mix cinnamon with remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and sprinkle on top of cake.
Bake at 180'c for around 30-40 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

reading and making...

Firstly, thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments after my last post, in which I shared our lovely news. Physically I am feeling great, however these hot muggy days are completely zapping. Emotionally, although I am desperate for the day I get to birth our baby, I am trying hard to relax now and enjoy this pregnancy.

In other news from the Blue House, we have recently started reading a 'grown up book' with Minnie after she became increasingly interested in the books piled on our beside tables. She sits in awe as I read the odd sentence from 'The Great Gatsby' or 'Love in the Time of Cholera' and congratulates me on my reading skills!

As we decided that Orhan Pamuk is not really suitable for a 4 year old, I thought we could start with one of my favourites - 'Charlotte's Web.' Each night, before bed, I read a chapter or two. She is engrossed. Minnie asks for more and in the morning at breakfast, she asks if we can read it again that night.

This morning, on the way to Minnie's first day back at pre-school, she asked for a new school bag. A Charlotte's Web bag. So of course, I obliged.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


...a new life. A precious baby to join our family. Our arms wide open, waiting for the day we get to meet you. The day I get to breath again. Scared, overjoyed, nervous and impatient all at once. But I think this is going to be a good year.

Monday, 4 January 2010


How wonderful life is with you in our world.
Happy birthday Minnie. Happy, happy birthday