Saturday, June 30, 2007

How do you like mushrooms?

I have a mushroom glut! Look at them all! Overnight they all just went *pop**ready to be picked now!* And Badly Coloured Boy is away on a filmshoot this weekend, so it's only me to eat them all up. I think tonight will be the mushroom pasta/ beet leaf/ pasta combo again, with thyme or parsley from the garden too. Any other ideas? Especially ones that will be something I can take for lunch during the week.
I was thinking of making beef-free stroganoff, but that will have to wait until next week's groceries to get the sour cream (must remember to get paprika from the wholefoods store too - they have it in the cutest little Spanish tins, and I've been wanting an excuse to buy some forever).

I remember from when I was nine and had a mushroom kit that afterwards my mum tipped all the peat into the garden, and next year a few mushrooms grew. Well, I'm going to heavily encourage that in a sheltered, mulchy spot underneath two pencil pines in my garden. The stem stumps are all being thrown there right now, and I tossed two whole mushrooms in there so they can spread their spores all about.

And in other garden news, my beanshoots are showing! By September I should have broad beans!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It feels like a bit of a cliche to say 'Don't worry, not dead, not abandoning blog, just busy!' but it is rather the truth. Virgin Suicides Collection and Marie Antoinette Collection will be photographed asap, but I really want to put a bit of effort into the MA Collection, so need to wait until I have time for 'proper' photoshoots. I've been working full-time during the week on an internship-placement type thing, while working my ordinary shifts on the weekend, and covering for a staff member who had his wisdom teeth out. All a bit crazy. But I'm loving the internship-type thing to pieces.

I'm also loving our first mushroom. Beautiful, huh? Such a perfect mushroom. When you cut the gills it bleeds sort of pink, a bit. And they're so tasty raw! The bought ones are so yuck raw. I picked this one yesterday. Tonight we had to pick a whole bunch, because they're crowding each other out of the box! The caps were being squooshed into weird shapes, and the stems were fusing! So dinner is pasta with mushrooms, brie and beet leaves from the garden. Pretty special having half our dinner come from our own garden.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Sofia Coppola Collection - Lost in Translation

Yep, that's right. My week of sewing has been arranged into themese based on Sofia Coppola films. I don't actually love her films that much (Badly Coloured Boy does), but things did kind of fall neatly in categories.

Using Japanese (Echino) fabrics to make homewares, the Lost in Translation collection.

I really, really like this cushion. The colours look awesome against the couch. Obviously, it also uses my Kristen Doran fabric too. The back has two panels (lined in cream cotton) that overlap, through which the cushion insert can be stuffed/ removed. No sewn in insert for me!

Placemats out of Echino too, and backed with the olive floral sateen I made a dress out of a while ago. I only made two because eventually a table runner will take the place of these two placemats, and the placemats will sit on the other two edges of the table. I'm so-so with these. They were based on the Amy Butler In Stitches placemat pattern, and damn they are huge! Look at them! I would suggest shaving an inch or two off the finished measurements should anyone else want to try out this pattern.

Here is where I had to handsew part closed, because my dodgy topstitching didn't catch the backing.
To think they failed my ability to slipstitch in compulsory Year 8 Home Ec! (I also nearly failed cooking, because I burnt a beef burger which my vego cooking partner/ best friend refused to touch, and we both had tantrums about having to make devilled eggs (neither of us eat eggs and spent the class gagging over the whole ordeal. I have never cooked an egg before or since). Honestly, who eats devilled eggs these days? It's like the course wasn't revised since 1953. My friend did fail outright, because in the written exam she labelled a colander a 'lettuce drainer' and a ladle a 'soup sharer'). I wonder what Mrs Feathers would think of me now.

And, um, last up, here's my mushroom kit. It's such instant gratification compared to gardening. I've had this thing maybe two or three weeks. Look at all those edible funghi! The largest is about the size of a 10c/ 10p piece.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

potato, banana, potato

Although I've made a few bits and pieces over the past couple of days I'm saving up to blog the whole 'collection', if you will, over next week.
So, to tide you over, here's some Happy Culinary Events from the past few days.

First up, organic black potatoes. Look at the bright purple juice on the knife! My mum had bought them once before from the gourmet grocers behind my work. I was making a beef and mushroom stew, with french bread 'croutons' on top. Needed to bulk up the stew, but didn't want another pale carb. These fit the bill nicely, and (to my surprise, as I'd had them baked before) they imparted this really unusual smoky scent to the stew.

Next up, in my erratic attempt to consume less, I went to make banana bread rather than throw out some old bananas. They became muffins, because I don't own a loaf tin. And I'm really very pleased how they turned out, because I fudged the measurements a bit, and didn't have any cinnamon, and replaced the self-raising flour with flour + baking powder. They'd be better with walnuts in, though.

And finally, I made gnocchi! The moment when they actually rose to the surface in the boiling water was a true joy. I had fears of gluey masses, or disintegrating powders. They were a little bland, but for my first attempt at a potato-dumpling-dough they were certainly quite edible.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

oh marie

I haven't visited BurdaStyle in a few months, so was most delighted when SpidersKnit sent me a link to one of their new designs. While that dress was a wee bit fancy for l'il ol' me to wear while knitting anoraks or growing mushrooms (did I mention my portobello kit in the laundrey?), this looks far more suitable for everyday. Yes, you can snicker. I'm imagining it in a terrible 70s metallic brocade. It's a bit of a pity design-wise that it doesn't have an invisible zipper, but a plus Lupinbunny-wise, as I don't know how to put an invisible zipper in. It's also unlined, which I'm a bit disappointed about. I'm torn between trying to put a lining in myself, and just being glad that I won't have to pay for lining too. Maybe I could spend the money I save on lining on some collagen injections so I can pout like the model. I'd like that.

I'm going to buy the fabric on Monday afternoon. Monday through Friday is my Super-Special Holiday - not even going to work on my dissertation. I'm going to sew Built By Wendy top, the Lotta Jansdotter reversible apron, a cushion cover and some placemats. And that Marie skirt. Busy me!

Friday, June 15, 2007

felt is made of wool and so is this:

ta-da. It's the fronts and sleeves of the arwen cardy. I have a back too, but I'm not 'wearing' it in that photo (in case you didn't work it out, I've just put the sleeves on, and draped the attached fronts in place). Only the hood to go, which won't be started till after i finish exams (Monday...). Don't click to enlarge, it'll be blurry. I took the photo in the bathroom mirror, and it doubles images slightly. Well, that's my excuse.

'What's that on her t-shirt?' you say. Well, maybe you don't, but I wish you would because I've been trying to figure out a reason to blog this for a while. It says "Joseph Beuys". Cool, huh? It's from a series of fan t-shirts made by... some artist made for Supermart '04 (click 'program', scroll down till you you find it).

Now, to Spidersknit's meme (though I note she hasn't photographed her pantry, so I'm not sure why I'm bothering *pointed look*). I also doubt how grown up I am.
I wish I had been when I grew up:
- Bilingual. Or trilingual. I'm so embarassed by my monolingualism when I travel. When my tour guide in Morocco speaks five language fluently, but can't afford an overseas trip, y'know? When every European waiter swaps in my language because I order my food in theirs, y'know?
- A curator. Preferably a textiles curator. Preferably at the Victoria & Albert Museum. While I may seem interested in sewing 'n stuff now, sit me down in front of Historical Fashion in Detail and watch me spazz out. I'm still a little bitter that there's nowhere in Perth to study fashion history (one uni teaches fashion design, and they offer one unit on 20th century fashion only). Obviously I got partway to this, what with the art history degree and all. But um, there are few jobs in Australia, the pay is astonishingly miserable, and I saw people studying around me with so much passion and no other alternative career they would consider, and I just thought that they deserved it more than I did. So I didn't do any post-grad. I'd kind of like to go back and do my arts honours one day.
- Able to stay up late at night and drink a lot. I'm the person that leaves parties before midnight because they're too tired, and ever since an awful incident involving a bottle of absinthe on New Years Eve 2003 I'm pretty much unable to drink anything at all without waking up feeling seedy. Oh, I'm well worth inviting to a party, me.
- A writer.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What Do You Eat?

The lovely Muerto de Risa linked to this facinating photo-essay, and it got me curious. How would my weekly shop stack up against everyone elses? I decided to give it a go. The result reminds me of 17th century Dutch still lifes.

For the approximate sum of $80 Australian, or $70USD.

Of course, mine's a little contrived. As a rule of thumb I tried to include things if we bought them once a month or more, or a representative. We don't buy icecream or museli bars weekly, but I do tend to put some kind of sweet junk in the trolley on a weekly basis. We don't buy soy sauce or olive oil weekly, but we do use it weekly. Due to my less than stellar composition skills, you can't really see the kumara (sweet potato) or the half a butternut pumpkin behind the colander of potatoes. The can of tuna is a little hidden by dried beans (psychoanalyse that!). My dirty stash of lollies is cleverly disguised as wholefoods (it's next to the craisins in the lower right hand corner).
I forgot to include Badly Coloured Boy's stash of ham, because I never eat the stuff. And there should be another black plastic tray of roo steak, but we don't have any because the supermarket had run out when we last did the shopping.
I'm a little embarassed by the absence of plain milk, but there you go. Unless I have a specific recipe in mind, BCB and I only get the flavoured stuff. Different varieties of coffee flavour made by the same company, no less. Also a little embarassed by the abundance of cheese. In fact, there was also some feta in the fridge, but as the last shop was even more cheesy than normal, I left it out for the sake of representativeness.
Strangely, I think our groceries (on a meat/ seafood/ fruit/ veg/ bread/ things in packets/ sweet things type breakdown) are most similar to the Kuwaiti family! Or maybe the Germans, actually.

It was an interesting exercise. And I'd like to meme it. The Hungry Planet meme. I have no idea how these things take off, but I want to encourage anyone reading this to stack up the weekly groceries (and a representative of any regular takeaway you buy too, if possible) and photograph them. Be as honest as possible. Then tell everyone else who reads your blog to do the same. Let me know if you try it. I'm curious to see inside your pantry.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

winter's comin' - news from the kitchen front

I know because even though the days are still t-shirt-warm, I have a hankering to make soup. Witness the Best Soup Ever.

Those vegies are actually all raw right now, they're waiting for the chickpeas to be done soaking. I've never cooked with dried beans (except lentils) before. The little clinking noises the chickpeas make against the edge of the bowl as they expand gives me the giggles.
I don't count lentils in the 'dried beans' category because they don't need soaking. I made a well wicked lentil cottage pie this week. And this week at the wholefoods store we bought dried cannelini beans. Not sure what they'll become yet. I have a hefty suspicion that I may end up shelling out for a piece of free-range speck, to make a speck-adulterated cannelini bean stew. For some reason the start of winter has me feeling like (not so bad as craving) pork.

I also stewed some rhubarb, as part of my plan to eat more seasonally.

Not so appetising, huh? Thing is, only green rhubarb was left at the markets. They say that green rhubarb is exactly the same as red, flavour-wise, but it just isn't going to look so pretty over ricotta (left over from a divine pumpkin, cauliflower, feta and ricotta cannelloni that Badly Coloured Boy and I fudged together between ourselves on Friday).

I also mixed some biscuit dough, and froze it in logs so I can slice it up and have just two warm cookies whenever I want. This recipe for double chocolate worked very well (I skipped the vanilla, because I didn't have any). The slices tend to shatter a little as you cut them (I think because I skimped on the butter a bit too), but can easily be pushed back together. Never again will we need the trans-fat laden supermarket logs of raw dough, which is quite a nice thought.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Still Life with Owl and Grafted Cable

Alright, it's a pretty lousy shot, but in my defence it's overcast outside and a single energy-saver bulb lights the living room. And I have a rent inspection in half an hour, so I wasn't going to get too creative.

Owl is my Owl from Sugarloop. Framed in a cheapy Ikea frame. He lives propped against the wall on top of Badly Coloured Boy's chest of drawers, because the hook I bought to hang him off is too big to shove through the little picture hook hole on the frame clip. It's an awful photo. I promise he's amazingly crisp and detailed in real life, and I am quite the Sugarloop addict now (as is my mum. Every time I speak to her she manages to bring up how great my print is. I see a Christmas present coming on...)

The fabrics are my newest echino fabrics from Duckcloth. The green dots will pair with the Kristen Doran or the Lara Cameron to make a cushion. The other will be used up in the Placemat Campaign. I really, really love the deep red on natural colourway. It's sort of crisp and retro and rich at the same time.

And you're also looking at a completed left front/ left sleeve for the cardigan. Right side up is the point at which I kitchener stitched the cable together, and the entire sleeve. It isn't perfect, and blocking will help, but I think I did a pretty good job. The whole sleeve had a provisional cast on, because I hate picking up stitches. The instructions called for a regular cast on, then you picked up some ninety odd stitches and kitchener'd them. Figured I'd skip the picking up bit.

There may well be silence blog-wise for a little bit. I'm on study break right now and, lo and behold, am actually studying. Turning off the router during business hours does wonders for my productivity.
Oh, and I'm on Ravelery now. Same username as ever. No pictures yet, as I don't actually have a Flickr account, and the thing is set up to take images from Flickr.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Knitting and Video Art

Here is Arwen, blocking the migratory path hundreds of Lara Cameron geese. I'm more than halfway through the sleeve now, which feels nice. I've cast off the shoulder bit (the part of the front that becomes the hood is still live, then the shoulder is cast off, then the sleeve is still being knit. Weird, eh?) I think I'm going to put together a tute on fixing complex cables, as I've done nine in total now, and feel quite the expert. Contrary to what other tutes say, you don't need to drop both cables down to where they cross. Dropping one works plenty fine.

Now, for an aside. See, thing is, a bunch of units on postmodernism down and I still have trouble with video art. I just don't like it. There is an awful lot of bad video art around, and bad video art is worse than bad still art, because bad video art makes you keep watching in the hope that it will somehow turn good. The Histrionics (or here) wrote a painfully apt satire called 'Video Art', to the tune of Horror Movie. The chorus ran 'Video art, right there on the TV... and it's boring me right out of my brain.'

The worst piece of art I ever saw in a gallery was an array of of broken pallets scattered on the floor, with two TVs on top of two pallets. One TV played a loop of a shot of an empty road in the desert, the other played a loop of the artist dressed as a scarecrow dancing awkwardly in front of a bluescreen to the tune of 'If Only I Had A Brain', from the The Wizard of Oz. Short of unkind remarks about the aptness of the song, I honestly have no idea what the artist was exploring, or trying to communicate to me.

Anyway, my point is that this video (beware! movie with sound load automatically!) is what makes video art worthwhile. I don't particularly care for the song (should I know the band? Blonde Redhead?), but the clip. It's beautiful. I think it's about limitations and possibilities. It works with the limitations and possibilities of film to create the work. Just when you think you can predict the next pose, the director snatches away to something else. It explores the limitations and possibilities of the human body. It's both static and dynamic. It's aesthetically interesting and attractive. It's imperfect - the artist shakes - just like us. I adore it.