Wednesday, 24 March 2010
My mother was always very busy with her work, and with a florist business in the tropics, from growing to completed displays, it was hard work too. Flowers soon go over, and often there were flowers in the big fridge rather than dishes. She still had time to make cakes, using the Kenwood Chef, which she had managed to bring hand luggage from England....can't see that happening now with hand luggage restrictions!
We also had two lovely maids, gosh that sounds so old fashioned now, who were excellent cooks, producing local delicacies. In Quatre-Bornes in Mauritius, where I grew up, in view of the cliff like Corps de Garde Mountain, we had access to a vast array of exotic foods. In those days we had itinerant vendors, well known to the old families, who came selling door to door, things which they had made, grown or picked that day: gauffes, which were thin crispy biscuits to serve with ice cream; macatia ena coco, sweet bread buns stuffed with coconut and sugar, still warm from the oven; gateaux piments and dhal purris: fresh wild raspberries and guavas picked that morning from the mountains, huge bunches of bananas, leitcheess and mangoes. Most intriguing to us children octopus and huge fresh lobsters, the eyes of which were touched so that they moved and you then knew they were still alive and therefore fresh and good to eat. This was in addition to all the things which grew in our garden and those of neighbours and friends. During the hunting season, often there would be a tap at the door before breakfast, and a gift of a huge slab of venison. As very few people there had fridges back then, it was the norm to share around produce as it was ready to eat, and it had to be preserved or eaten within a day given the temperature and humidity. Those days have now past, and the super markets with their ready packed and prepared meals, their packaged fruit and veg. emulate their European counterparts. For lots of other reasons just as in the UK, food production, preparation and consumption has changed so much.
With a turn towards more activities and outings, I am trying to have dishes ready in good time and which can be eaten over a couple of days, rather than cooking just as they are needed, which is more my usual style. Often Friday I spend time making up dishes, or preparing food ready just to assemble when we come in from gallivanting.
Some russet apples had been lingering in the fruit basket, and wondering how they would be like baked, I popped them into the oven, cored and stuffed with mincemeat, below the Italian lemon and mascapone cheesecake. I had picked up a large bag of russet apples at Kenilworth Market for £1.00, which is a bargain. These apples are only usually available in the autumn, so these must have come out of store, but they were fresh and firm. They baked beautifully and being smaller than granny smiths, were ideal for platting up with a slice of cheese cake, which we had with a good dollop of Greek yogurt, drizzled with some of the juice from the baked apples. They made tasty partners, and was excellent warm and cold. I even warmed the apples through for 10 minutes the next day, so this would make an excellent combination when having visitors, being able to be cooked in advance and then produced when needed.
I had been thinking of a birthday present for a friend, and browsing through a book from the library, I came across a pin cushion. The technique is based on Cathedral Window Patchwork. I looked through my stash and found a beautiful piece of wool, woven in the Cotswolds, and also a lovely old silk tie. Both sides have a inset, and boy is silk slippery. I wanted the silk so remain soft so didn't want to use bondaweb or similar. I ended up having to tact it right across the surface before turning the edges over.
It took me all day...yes no washing up etc, and nearly every room in the house had been used. Half an hour before Mr S was due home, I was still at it, but managed to have a big tidy up in time.
The next day I placed the pincushion on the mantelshelf to admire, and I was tickled pink to hear Mr S say he thought that my friend J had sent it to me, and how nice it was. The reason he thought this, was that it was propping up a postcard from J!
Anyway J now has the pincushion and some special pins, so I can now post this.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Should I sell any patterns, then I think it is fit for the proceeds to go to a baby unit somewhere, so I shall have to find one nearby.
Earlier in the week, I went over to Harjinders to pick up my lost needle and tape measure, which she had rescued a couple of weeks back from the table at the Almanack. She showed me some of her quilts, silk painting, and other wall decorations, and I was bowled over by her skill at both in design, execution and choice of fabrics. Harjinder brought some recent sewing projects to this week's knit and natter session, and she had made the sweetest pair of pink corduroy baby dungarees, and also a peg bag and cooking apron. The group is pretty talented and a forum for all sorts of topics and skill sharing.
Its great to see friends knitting projects finished: Mandy was sporting her jacket with the wonderful wooden toggles, whilst one of Mandy's smaller baby jackets was being worn by a cute little lad.