Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Creative Space_Culinary Patchwork


I think I’ve reached a turning point in my cooking career – I can take a recipe and turn it into something different without feeling the urge to adhere to it completely. And it even tastes good.

All started this weekend, when I got some free radicchio from my MIL. Lots of radicchio it was, and it has to be cooked, as it’s rather bitter for a salad. I had a recipe on hand, too. So off I went today, to buy all the necessary ingredients (listed in the book, that is). And then I added this, and this, and made my own dough, and made a pie out of the whole thing instead of a strudel. It turned out very tasty, slightly bitter, and a nice company to a glass of red wine…

Would you like to know how I did it? Well, first of all, you’ll need a pie crust – store-bought or your own. I’m not very good with pie dough, so I have a go-to recipe that NEVER fails you. I mean it, never. It’s foolproof. Really. You just take 200 g butter and 2 cups of flour (my cups are 250 ml), BUT mixed with baking powder; you cut the butter into the flour, just as with the regular pie crust. And now comes the fun part: you take 250 g cottage cheese (known as topfen  in Austria) and simply mix everything together, with your own bare hands. Perhaps you’ll need some more flour. The good part is that you are allowed to knead the dough a bit more than a pie dough – you have to mix everything well. And then it’s ready to get rolled out and put in the pie form! Out of the above mentioned amount I got a double crust pie.

The filling: actually, it needs some time on the stove, so you’d better start with it before – the dough does not have to rest because of the baking powder. Cut some nice juicy onion in rings and cook it slowly in fragrant oil. Then add radicchio in stripes and let it cook, until it reduces its volume and gets soft. Salt and pepper, of course, and a nutmeg was such a nice addition! Then let your fantasy roam free, I would say. Mine went into the direction of some button mushrooms, cooked together with onion/radicchio mixture, and some ham and cheese in cubes, added at the very end. Then just put the filling into the pie crust (no pre-baking!), cover with the “lid”, cut some holes in it to let the hot air out, and slide into the oven, 225°C, 25-30 min. And then pour a glass of full-bodied red wine and enjoy!

Creativity goes wild here

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Creative Space_Going Green


I'm going green. No, not with envy. Just having lots of green recently in my fabric choice. I had a green room as a child myself, and I am still partial to this color in room decor. But what I will never be able to have at home is purple-green combo. It's OK to see it in other people's homes, (though to be honest, sometimes it's tiring, too), but I will never be able to live with it. Well, I've slid off the topic without even starting, as usual.
Back to our sheep: I've noticed there has been lots of various shades of green in my sewing lately, and mostly baby-oriented (sewing, that is, not shades of green). I love to read how other people „whip up“ things. It sounds really so effortless and überquick. I, on the contrary, can not „whip up“ anything, apart a baby bottle (I mean, THAT'S idiot proof – just mix water and formula; the baby is already almost feeding himself). My sewing, even simple, has nothing to do with whipping anything up. It's a tedious process, constantly interrupted by demands of my attention either by my cat or the baby. Usually they put themselves in line (using a figure of speech here) and make kind of chorus where one voice is being joined by the other almost at the very end; you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But nonetheless, I still managed to make something, and even stage a small photo shoot while the baby was busy with his gym and the cat was enjoying the quiet time. 

The blanket is super simple, just sewing two fabrics together (I had cotton and some not-so-attractive-and-dark flannel) and turning the whole thing inside out. I really wanted to have a binding there, as without one it looked really just like that – two pieces of fabric put together. But the shiny satin tape really changed the look! I used zigzag this time, and it does make a difference. Zigzag is forgiving, and you get a much neater binding this way, at least, if you have very little experience with it.
The remains of the fabric became the bibs (we've just moved to Carrotville, so bibs are more than essential), with the pattern from the Purl Bee – wonderful pattern and great instructions! Though I have to confess that my very first bib with that pattern never made it – I simple could not turn it inside out. So the next one got a hole on the side; much easier. I've made already so many of these bibs, this is perhaps the only thing I can almost sew in my sleep. On the back there's terry cloth of some wonderful emerald color. In large amounts is rather difficult to digest, but in small drops in form of bibs it's great! For closing I've used Velcro tape – it's much easier to fasten the bib with a Velcro, even if the baby is not holding his head yet.

And then there was the ‘sausage’ pillow (also seen on the very first picture). Actually, it was born out of necessity. My son just started turning on his stomach, and for reasons for me resting in darkness, he was doing it even in his sleep, waking up frustrated (because he could not hold his head in that position yet, I’m only guessing here), not sleeping himself and waking us up, too. In the end I could barely sleep, as I was busy being scared that he will turn on his face at night and not be able to turn back. Following the recommendation of my Mom, who had only one child but is still full of useful information about child rearing, I first rolled up some baby blanket and put beside him. I could clearly see, how RELAXED he looked while sleeping peacefully, without all this stupid turning. And then the pillow was born. I made it myself, too, using up all the filling I had. It’s very light and soft, so there’s no hazard. But such a pillow can not be washed, so I had to make a cover for it, of course. This IKEA fabric is lovely, and it stands out really when you use it for some larger surfaces. It’s a source of major attraction for the baby, too. He loves watching the shapes. Sometimes the pillow attacks, but normally is soon wrestled into submission. I’m very happy with how it turned out and that it’s used so much!

And now, even though I realize you must be text and picture overloaded already, I can't resist showing you some more greenery, a baby blanket I crocheted some time ago (Ravelled here). The original pattern was for knitting, but it was easy to figure out the blocks, and I decided to crochet it, as I could not stand the idea of having numerous stitches on the needles. And I needed the needles, too, all the rest were already taken. I love the greens there! They just work together so well!
So, have I inspired you to go and dig in your yarn or fabric stash for some greens?

Even more creative spaces you can find here

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Creative Space_Baby Sweater on Tiny Needles

Sock yarn and 2,5 needles… (size, that is, in mm). But the colors are oh so lovely! They remind me of watercolors and thunder sky here. I’m enjoying the time when I can still knit something for my son and he WILL wear it. He’s only 6 months old and cannot speak yet. He can not say “I will not wear this!” (oh, thank God!). I guess, when you are that small, the only thing you care about when it comes to clothing is if it’s scratchy or not and how much discomfort it causes you to put it on. Life is simple then, isn’t it?
It’s a basic top-down raglan cardigan, in Regia Merino Twist. Yes, a thicker wool will yield a sweater much faster. But I need something for the coming not too warm and not too cold weather, and sock wool is perfect for that.
Falls are pretty capricious here in Austria, in the mornings it’s rather chilly, you do need gloves or at least fingerless mitts, and in the afternoon you start swearing over all the clothing items that have to be put somewhere, as NOW it’s too warm in your poncho/scarf/cowl/whatever you threw on in the morning. And in the evening… well, just check above about the morning. But beautiful they are too, I have to say. A golden fall, with leaves not turning all wrinkly and ugly yellow over the night and falling off altogether, but slow, with spells of warm weather, and leaves showing all the possible colors – yellow, ruddy, greenish, you name it, you have it. I grew up in a place where summer (if you get any) usually turns into more or less winter very abruptly – cold, humid, windy, rainy – you want some more?. Leaves are falling off altogether exactly there. But here… ahhhh, fall crawls slowly, letting you enjoy and not want to look back to summer. Here are some leaves I photographed last fall – I have never seen anything like this before. And of course, needless to say, such a fall is perfect for a knitter. So many opportunities to wrap yourself up in something hand knitted! I strayed aside in weather nostalgia… sorry! I wish you a lovely (knitting) fall!

September, 6th_Better late than Never

Crafty snippets of my day:
sewing in the ends:
staging a small photo shoot:

Yesterday I finished the baby blanket I’ve been working on. One year later, it is a present for a friend’s baby. I was planning to make one BEFORE she was born. Plan never became reality. I did start a blanket, but I was struck by a rare gauge disease – my squares were getting smaller and smaller. I’ve blogged about the symptoms of this malady here.
But truth be told, I think the knitting gods must have been watching over me, as the idea I’ve chosen later fits so much better! And I have to say, the blanket worked up much faster and (almost) without incidents. It really looks striking, if I say so myself, and the pattern is super easy to memorize. I’m very pleased by how it turned out, and really hope that it will be used a lot! Yarn is a very baby-friendly cotton, machine-washable, and should survive quite some tear.
Pattern: Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September, 5th_The REAL knitter

My Autumnalis Cowl is almost finished. How I'd like to write something like I'm binding it off while I write! That will never happen, though, since I, miserable creature, resemble a common human being and not Shiva. So pathetic. I could use an extra pair of hands right now, and both growing out of my own body, please.

But let's get serious: I was going to make a small photo shoot, to show 'my' progress on the cowl, when I was met by a reproachful look of Her Feline Swedeness. How could you??? Were these eyes asking me. I could not, indeed. So here it comes: please, meet the real knitter behind my projects - Her Feline Swedeness Selma the Cat. The only reason she is not holding the needles is that she has been working so hard that she got too tired even to sit up and look nice. I'm sure you understand.

This cowl is joining the trio of cowls I've finished but have to sew/add the buttons. I haven't even added the other two to Ravelry yet, as I was not sure if they were going to turn out right. But they look good, phew. Stay tuned for more update!

P.S.: I've managed to bind of  the cowl while writing this post - my computer has  been THAT slow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September, 2nd_Berrylicious

This is grand opening post of the new Carpe (Yester)Diem blog!

Amidst my knitting and keeping my baby from falling down from all possible surfaces, I was in a baking mode yesterday (the blessed moments when he was sleeping). I’m trying (hard and not always successful) to stick to some kind of diet, to lose the baby fat, and those buns fit the bill – just with some honey for sweetness and fresh berries, for even more dolce-ness. And they look just as good as they taste!

Here we go (all measurements are in ml here, as it’s a Swedish recipe; conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit was done on my mobile phone, so please don’t take the numbers too seriously):
50 g yeast (I used dry here)
500 ml milk
50 ml vegetable oil
50 ml honey (use the same measuring cup you’ve just used for oil – honey glides out effortlessly then)
200 ml oats
about 1110 ml flour 
200 ml fresh berries (blueberries, for example)

Warm up the milk to about 40°C/104°F (use your small finger, it should feel the heat already!). In the meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil, honey and berries to the milk and then gradually add the flour mixture. Very often you can need less flour – I’ve noticed how much flour varies even from package to package. The thing is to get the dough that is NOT firm enough to knead with the hands – all you have to be able to do is to mix it with the spoon. Or machine, if you prefer it that way, but it can mash the berries.

Leave the dough for 30 minutes to raise and preheat the oven to 225°C/437°F. Scoop up the dough with a spoon and put it in heaps on the baking sheet (well, you can always strive for a certain bun-likeness). Bake for 12-15 minutes. And then comes the best part – devouring them still hot with a cuppa of your preferred drink and perhaps some butter!

Change of (Blogging) Orientation

After realizing that my blog is lacking the “spine”, I’ve decided to make some changes, hopefully successful! I’ve been toying with the idea of a photo blog for quite some time now, but always thought that I don’t have the ‘balls’ - ‘balls’ here meaning a proper camera and interesting enough surroundings. But that doesn’t lead us anywhere, right, just sitting around and thinking that since I don’t lack this and oh, if only I could have that, and of course, that I will never have, I’d better not even try to shake the air.
So I’m going to use whatever ‘balls’ are available and give it a try. It will be mostly a photo blog, but devoted to yesterday. A challenge to myself, too – always have my camera ready and look for beauty in the mundane (I mean, how big are the chances of my going on a safari? I can dress my cat up as a tiger, but this will be a forever sleeping one). This will be a blog about my yesterdays – yesterdays spent crafting, cooking, going for walks with my growing-up-too-fast little boy or contemplating Her Feline Sweedeness Selma the Cat lying in all possible places around the house, extremely busy with a very important task – resting. (Please, don’t underestimate the difficulty level of this activity, ever. The secret is a constant training.)
The new name of the blog reflects its topic, too. Here I have to go up into the attic of my brain and dust off the knowledge of Latin still left from my university years (to tell the truth, that’s more or less all I could find in the dark corners of my mind). But it fits, phew.
So, the blog of yesterdays starts officially here!
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