Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So passionate. So fruity.

I'm talkin' 'bout passionfruit.
It's passionfruit season and I am very happy about that. I love them. I love them passionately. I love them fruitily. I love them raw and cooked and on top of pavlova and stirred into yoghurt. I love their funny, silly, purple-black wrinkly skins and their crazy seed-to-fruit ratio.
It was my friend's birthday last week, so I gave her the gift of passionfruit incorporated into passionfruit curd. I also made a goofy homemade card with an image snipped from the 1960 NZ Holiday Annual, because that's just the sort of person I am.
Get a load of that scenery- how's the serenity!

Passionfruit curd: Just like lemon curd, only passionfruity!

100 g butter
1 c sugar
juice of 2 big juicy lemons
3 eggs, beaten
4 passionfruit

Microwave method: Melt the butter gently and cool it a little, then add the sugar, lemon juice, and eggs. Mix well but don't let it get too foamy. Then microwave on high for 1 min at a time, stirring at the end of each minute. It takes about 6-8 minutes to thicken in my experience. Add the passionfruit pulp at the end. I strain the passionfruit pulp through a sieve first, then add a few seeds back in, because I don't like too many seeds.
Stovetop method: Heat butter, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved. Add this mixture slowly to the beaten eggs, then return to the double boiler and cook until thick. Add the passionfruit pulp at the end, strained if that's how you like it.

Here's the jar I made for myself.

Sometimes I'm such a guts I shock myself. I'm a little dissapointed with myself, because I thought this would be great in Neenish tarts. However, it was also very nice straight off a teaspoon.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Make it smirk

Blog friends, I have been a very uninspired blogger of late. I was sick of everything I make. This kind of craft fatigue meant that I needed something new and interesting to do. Something nice for myself, because goodness only knows my wardrobe could do with a boost.
I settled on a worthy project: A second attempt at making something grey, since the last time I tried to do that I accidentally ended up looking like an elephant.
Pattern: Simplicity 2656.

I made it in grey rayon, because it hangs nicely and I thought it wouldn't need ironing. In case you think the same thing about rayon let me tell you right now, it does need ironing. I chose a pattern with a design feature that would show off a trim because I had a lovely lichen coloured trim I wanted to use. What do you mean "What's lichen coloured?". It's something that's the colour of lichen growing on rocks at the top of Mt Arthur, of course!

Lichen on a rock, see? Anyway, here are some sewing details. I used bias binding to do the hem because the edges just kept on fraying so I thought it best to just cover them up. I handsewed the hem using herringbone stitch, which I had almost forgotten how to do. I tried and failed to do an invisible zip, so I did a crappy old style zip instead.

And now I'm going to show it all made up, with me lifting up my top just a little small modest amount so you can see the top. Yes I KNOW my eyes dissappear when I smile. I'm sorry. It's the best I can do. At least I'm not scowling like SOME people I know.

Now, the reason why I called this post "make it smirk" is partly because this post is a little like my sister's blog, all of this talk about sewing garments. The other reason is probably immediately obvious to anyone who went to Logan Park High in the 1980s.

Yep, I have accidentally made my school uniform. Oh dear, dear, dear. Please console me by sharing a sewing disaster of your own. Log in as anonymous if you have to.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Jelly! It's the tight-wad's friend!

Recently I was given some free apples from a friend's tree. They were quite tangy (read, 'sour and horrible') so were no good for eating. At the same time, a school notice came home begging for contributions to the school gala. "Home preserving" was one of the items requested.
Aha! said my inner tight-wad. (Actually who am I kidding? My tight-wad is not inner at all, it's an intrinsic personality trait that I wear proudly for all to see.) Let's make jelly!

Jelly is so delicious. It's a bit of an old lady cupboard item, I'll admit that. But it's beautiful like stained glass and has a delicate flavour that's good with pikelets or toast, or brushed over fruit tarts as a glaze, or even alongside roast lamb if you're into that.

This is how I make jelly: Don't even bother to peel or core your apples, just wash them and chop them into chunky pieces. Add other fruit if you have some to get rid of (I added four sour plums, just because). Add some water to the fruit- almost cover it but not quite. Simmer the fruit until it is soft. You can press it gently with a wooden spoon but FOR GOODNESS SAKES don't break it up too much or your jelly will be cloudy. When the fruit is soft, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Then, strain it though a clean cloth (I use a new 'chux' cloth) and let it drip through over night. You will be tempted to squeeze the bag, but I again I say DON'T DO THAT FOR GOODNESS SAKES or your jelly will be cloudy and old women will tsk tsk when they see it.

Then, measure your juice and bring it to a simmer. Add 2 c sugar for every pint of juice, and the juice of 1 lemon. Then boil until you reach a set (I have a stack of saucers in the freezer, then I put a little on the saucer and see if it forms a skin when I push my finger accross it).

Total cost: Jars, free. Apples, free. Sugar, $1.50. Total cost per jar, $0.30.

Have a lovely weekend everyone! And if you have any good tips for other things people like to buy at school fairs, please share!

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Delusions of craftiness

Hello craft friends and others. I say "others" because my statcounter tells me that my most popular page ever is the one about making a lemon battery, so I know that many of you have not come here to talk about craft. The second most popular page is the one about acids and bases, and the other experiments for small folks are all in the top 10 pages too.

Oh well. Not to worry. We are all complex mixtures of interests and talents, aren't we? There's no need to be one dimensional, even on a blog that you feel should fit into a clearly defined niche. Well, niche be damned. I now deem my blog to be a "craft, kids science, home made items and robots blog". I bet you've never visited one of those before.

Speaking of craft (were we speaking of craft? Oh yes, we were, this time), do you ever feel like you're a one- or two-trick pony? I do. Most often, if I am faced with a birthday, I make either a) a robot or b) some pillowcases. Pillowcases appeal to me on all sorts of levels. First, they are just straight lines and I never mess them up. Second, they are practical, and deep down I am a very practical person. Third, they are a fun way to put fabrics together. No one ever matches them up the same as I do. Fourth, they are a great stash-buster.

Pillowcases: Back of each pillowcase is blue with white dots; front is beige with a teal paisley trim.
These pillowcases were made on the auspicious occasion of my friend's 35th birthday. She is very sweet and funny so I made her some sweet and funny pillowcases. She thanked me sweetly and funnily.
Are you a one trick pony? What do you like to make?
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Professional Development

I may have mentioned previously that I cannot pride myself on my housekeeping skills. However, I am quite proud of the fact that I bottle fruit and make jam rather well.

The way I learned to bottle fruit was the simple and functional way that my Mum did it. (Mum, I hope you don't mind that I call it simple and functional). But that's what it was. You boil up the fruit, add some sugar, ladle it into hot jars, fill up the jars with syrup, then seal. It's simple and quick and it tastes delicious, but you don't get that A&P show look, you know?

What was your favourite section in the A&P show? Can any of you claim to have won a prize for your carrot cake? (You know who you are, Nicola). My favourite section was always the bottled fruit and the jam. I couldn't have cared less about the farm animals, but I did so love the preserving, the baking, and the craft items.

One day, I thought to myself, I will learn how to bottle fruit like the jars with the blue ribbon at the A&P show.

Ta da! My friend Sue taught me an easy overflow way to bottle fruit, A&P style. Here's what to do. Have everything ready: clean jars keeping hot in a low oven, a syrup simmering on the stove top (1 part sugar to 1.5 parts water), lids ready to go. Prepare the fruit, place the cut side down on a plate or board to stop it going brown. When you have enough for 2 jars, drop the fruit into the hot syrup. Bring the syrup back to the boil, this is usually enough to cook the fruit. Then, move it off the heat, and put some hot syrup in the bottom of your hot jar. Using a slotted spoon, quickly arrange the fruit in the jar, top up with hot syrup, then seal as usual. Hey presto!
And now for a few little ditties about apricots: Each one looks like a little bum! (Well, someone had to say it). They are native to China. They travelled to the moon on the Apollo mission. There. I think we've all learned something new today.
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