New cushions

April 30, 2014

2014-04-28 20.10.33


Decorated Easter Eggs

April 30, 2014

2014-04-30 09.06.37

Dandelion Wine

April 28, 2014

When I was a student in London I lived near to Hackney market – we got used to going down late afternoon and taking home gluts of leftover fruit. These were really meant for the bin men but if you beat them to it you’d have ready ingredients for wine-making and preserving.

Photo courtesy of Cooking Projects
I remember a flat full of gently bubbling demijohns and of never being able to leave the wine for long enough to mature before we drank it! We made a mixture of very drinkable and not such great wine. I kept on making wine – because I enjoyed the making more than the drinking really. I know that sounds mad but all you bottlers and jam makers out there know the satisfaction of making something perfectly. From scratch. With mostly free ingredients. And labels. And the sound of airlocks bubbling is so soothing!

wine airlocks
So when I tidied out what we like to call the ‘cupboard of doom’ the other day and found 3 demijohns of blackberry wine – made before I moved to this house 12 years ago this week – I didn’t know if it would still be any good. But before I just poured it down the sink I had a close look found it was bright and clear – a beautiful tawny amber colour. And delicious with a lovely complex sherry taste. So I’m going to bottle it up this week and start drinking it! Anyway, it got me excited about making wine again and as the derelict bit of land next to our house is covered in dandelions I thought I’d hop over the wall and pick them and make them into wine.
I LOVE cold sparkling dry wine but remember from my keen winemaking days that dandelion works well as a sweeter wine. So decided to make it with some rhubarb as well. Rhubarb is great for adding body (instead of adding raisins or sultanas) to country wines but also makes a lovely light sparking wine.

So here we are: Dandelion and Rhubarb Sparkling Wine

6 pints of dandelion heads – some recipes say to cut off all the green stalks but others say that the bitterness adds a complexity to the final flavour and also makes for a good long maturing wine. I left them on because I really can’t be bothered to cut them all off tonight. Another day I might’ve.
Then add 3 long sticks of rhubarb cut into tiny slices. Then 6 ½ pints of boiling water poured over it all. Now I’m going to cover it over and leave it for 2 days.
Ok – so I’ve left it for 2 days now. So I strained out the dandelion heads and the rhubarb chunks and added 300gs of bashed raisins – bashed in a bag with a rolling pin.

And the rind and juice of 2 lemons.

And 1 lb of sugar – I’ll add the rest in smaller batches later.
And yeast and yeast nutrient and a spoon of Pectalase. The Pectalase helps the yeast to utilize all of the nutrients from the raisins and lemon. And the yeast nutrient is there to provide all the nutrient that the yeast might need but not get from dandelions and rhubarb.

Recipe: based on a recipe from Jack Keller
6 pints of dendelion heads – loosely packed in a jug
3 long sticks of rhubarb chopped into small pieces
6 ½ pints of water
300g raisins – chopped or bruised (bashed with a rolling pin!)
peel and juice of 2 lemons
1 level tsp yeast nutrient
1 level tsp Pectalase
2 ½ lbs sugar – added 1lb then 1lb then ½ lb

Rico Double Knit Necklaces

July 29, 2012

This month I’ve been mainly making crocheted necklaces. I’ve been working in Rico Double Knit cotton, which comes in the most beautiful colours and has a sheen to it that makes it almost jewel-like when it’s worked up.

Basket of Riko cottons

It has quite a tight twist on it that makes it feel springy. Anything you make in it has a kind of depth to it because it looks slightly 3 dimensional even after it’s been pressed. I started with these daisy rings.

Crocheted red daisy necklace

This one is modeled by my 10 year old so it looks a bit big on her. They fit a bit snugger round my neck!

And also these collar necklaces.

I began by looking through all the old buttons I’ve had for years and choosing ones for fastenings.  The first one I chose was actually slightly too heavy for the collar and kept working its way to the front as I was wearing it. So I went to my local craft shop and got some great little clips that are light and strong – and cheap!

The necklaces are easy and fairly quick to make. I’ve made lots of variations – each one is slightly different.