Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wine making 2012

Here is a vat of fermenting cabernet sauvignon, our wine for 2012.
Even though we have 100 shiraz vines here, we haven't been able to use any of the grapes for three seasons. Too wet, and the grapes have succumbed to fungus. Meanwhile, our 20 or so chambourcin vines go ok in the wet, but produce too few grapes to do anything meaningful with them. We just eat them and give them away as table grapes.
Lesson for new players: don't grow shiraz in a humid climate. It just doesn't work.
While we procrastinate over what to do with 100 shiraz vines, we've been buying grapes for the last three seasons. In 2010, we made grenache shiraz mouvedre known in the wine trade as GSM. Last year we bought in Merlot. This year its cabernet sauvignon. Action Man, chief winemaker (I am the sidekick and critic), reckons it is the best wine he has made yet. All the readings have been textbook, but by the main reading ie. tasting, I would have to agree with him.
Pressing was on Saturday and AM had a few people over as an audience. Fortunately, because he had a major back spasm during the process and the audience became the winemakers that day at least. Since AM has been dubbed Inaction Man, as he has been literally laid low.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A bit of mincing

I'd been wanting to buy a mincer for quite a while, but hadn't really found anything until two weeks ago, out checking out my local town shops with Libby.
"Going to do a bit of mincing, are we?" the (gay) shopkeeper asked with a bit of a wink.
Well, yes pal, but not the mincing you're thinking about.
I've used it a few times now, but not to mince meat, yet. A friend of mine who was born in Jordan makes the most amazing hummus. Smooth and creamy, not like mine which always seems a bit dry.
When I asked about her recipe, I checked off the ingredients. Chickpeas, check. Tahini, check. Salt, lemon juice, garlic, check, check check.
The difference, though, is to process the chickpeas through a mincer. Somehow they come out smoother. Don't ask me why.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Made By Me No. 4- Burda top February 2008

A recent, eye-watering make using Burda magazine February 2008 edition. This is the fourth time I've made this top. The first time was four years ago when I first started sewing my own clothes and if I remember rightly it took me quite a while. This one took a couple of short sessions, and I didn't refer to the instructions.  I guess I'm making progress.
This is one of those makes that keeps me sewing.  Simple, straightforward, no fuss, and I like the end result very much.
Someone asked me the other day whether I sew for my daughter. The answer is no, but that's not from want of trying. I've asked her many times if she would like me to make her something, taken her on fabric shopping expeditions, shown her patterns that I think would suit her, but the reaction is a bit lukewarm. Without a bit more enthusiasm I'm a bit reticent to devote time to making a garment that she won't wear. She hasn't expressed it this way but maybe she doesn't want to wear homemade clothes?
A bit of a contrast to how it was with me and my mother. Mum made practically everything I wore, and I took a keen interest in plans for garments from a young age. But then, home sewing was a lot more common then - I certainly wasn't the only one wearing clothes made by mum. Even though wasn't so keen to have a go myself at sewing when I was young (why make something wonky, when I had an excellent dressmaker happy to make me stuff) I got that making your own clothes was something you did. And I must have been learning something by osmosis perhaps, because when I finally got around to learning myself I knew my way around a machine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

More knitting in public

Around this time of year, I spend a lot of time at swim meets, cheering on the offspring. Yesterday we were at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Speedo Sprints.
Usually I am required to timekeep at these events. Being a state carnival yesterday, though, I got to sit on the sidelines, which was an excellent opportunity for uninterrupted knitting time. I picked up an uncompleted project: a cardi-wrap thingy from Jo Sharp's Knit Book 10. The wool is Jo Sharp DK Silkroad Tweed in colour Emporio. This is an excellent beginners project, as it is basically three rectangles which are ingeniously sewn together to make the final garment. The yarn feels lovely as I knit it, I can't wait to wear it.
I was sitting at the end of the row (with an excellent view of the finish line, and the garbage bin). As I was knitting, this bright little six-year-old called Hallie sat next to me on the stairs and asked if she could watch me knit. She chatted non-stop for a good half hour, watched me knit, asked tons of questions, and told me she was going to ask her neighbour to teach her, because her Mum couldn't knit. She was a bit of a card, and pretty good company!
Another unexpected delight happened as I was lining up to enter the centre at 8am. A familiar face walked past, and I suddenly realised it was Kirsty from lower your presser foot, one of the sewing blogs I follow. Well, I had to act quickly otherwise I would miss my opportunity, so I bounded up to her and introduced myself (I had sent her some children's pattern books a few years ago). Hope I didn't freak her out too much - I can understand if  it did. It would be disconcerting to be accosted by a stranger who then tells you they read all about your sewing projects on the internet. One of the weird joys of blogging I suppose.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday miscellanea

Sundry items for a Friday:

  • Africanasussie and Cabbage Tree Farm asked what I did with the mega-mushroom from the previous post. Did we eat it, they asked. No, we didn't. I've been a bit funny about unidentified mushrooms. Recently, someone in Canberra died from eating a poison mushroom. So, no, that beauty was not eaten.
  • I got up today at 5.30am to wave the men of the house off to swimming training, and for the first time in yonks, I saw the moon. Amazing.
  • It's been a great day. I met Libby, fellow blogger from Life's a Journey not a Destination, for a catch up over tea and a poke around the shops in Berry. After what seems like weeks of rain, today was fine!!Without fail, every retailer remarked on the sunshine. Believe me, we've all been waiting for this day for a while. Lovely day with Libby too, who I've met through the net.
  • Returned home with dark clouds threatening and as I write we are getting another dump of rain. Sigh.
  • Twelve years ago as I write, I was delivering our daughter Amelia. At about 3pm I had been in second stage for two hours, and things were getting tense. I'll leave out the blow-by-blow detail I am sure you are relieved to know, but three hours later at 5.59pm, Amelia was born by emergency caesarean. The end of of a long day, I tell you.
  • Above, Flower of the Moment, a beautiful Bromeliad, propogated by Amelia in Year 3, so it's 4 years old, or thereabouts. Lives in a pot on the back verandah.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Now, that's a mushroom

There is no other way to describe this past summer than "wet". Save for the odd dry day here and there, it's pretty much been hosing down since the beginning of December. If I wasn't Vitamin D deficient before, I would be now. Sunshine - what's that?
Action Man brought this ginormous fungi in last night.  Here it is next to a 20 cent piece for scale - huge. And with another 100mm forecast for the next 24 hours, there will probably be more.
In the early 1990s we lived in the UK for 3 years, and the grey skies I think gave us both doses of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter months. I definitely think people were more cheerful when the sun came out. The greyness of the last few months reminds me of that - any glimpse of sun is disproportionately cheering.
Meanwhile, sports training for winter soccer and netball hasn't started yet because of sodden sportsfields, and we are getting mould where mould has never been before.
I do appreciate a good soaking, I really do, but we've had enough now. Really, rain, you can give it rest for a while.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More ways with zucchini than you can poke a stick at

It seems to be the way that in the vegie garden every summer, one vegetable will absolutely go ballistic and give us more produce than we can cope with. One year, pumpkins - 45 off two vines. Then tomatoes. Last year, cucumbers. This year it has been the turn of the zucchini, that has survived and prospered in one of the wettest three months we've had in years. Go figure.
The fortunate thing about zucchinis is that I find they are up there with potatoes in terms of versatility. Here's how the zucchinis have been cooked in my kitchen over the last few weeks:

Sliced and grilled, dressed with vinaigrette, garlic and parsely (as above, with grilled eggplant and capsicum)
Grated and made into fritters
Cut into batons, dipped in eggs and breadcrumbs and fried
Cut into batons, dipped into batter and fried
Sliced, roasted with eggplants, capsicum, tomatoes to make oven roasted ratatouille
Zucchini slice
Zucchini cake
Made into a soup with peas and green onions
Sauteed with butter, served with roasted chicken
Grated and made into pasta sauce to serve with penne
Zucchini frittata
Zucchini gratin, with tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley and breadcrumbs
Sliced finely on a mandolin, and served as a salad - a zucchini carpaccio
Parboiled, split in half lengthwise, stuffed with leftover rice and onion and baked
Preserved as zucchini sott'olio (zucchini under oil)

That's all the ways I can think of for the moment...am I missing anything?