Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Random Recipes-Winter Warmer Root Vegetable Soup

The other day I was making an oven hot pot of garlic, onion, carrots, potatoes and chicken breast and failed to add adequate water or a tight enough cover for it to cook perfectly. When I got home later, the chicken was perfect (being buried under the veg) but the veggies were a little too brown and wrinkly for my taste, not to mention that of my five year old daughter. However, they still tasted good and the extra roasting had caramelized some of the sugars and they tasted nice so I was loathe to waste them. My resulting recipe ended up as a lovely warm and hearty winter puréed soup that I froze some of and am currently enjoying the rest of as I type.

You will need
2 cups chopped potatoes (I used 4 smallish red potatoes, skins left on)
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Lawry's or Johnny's or Old Bay seasoning salt
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper and 2 tbsp white vinegar and a little extra garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger (optional but nice)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can of great northern beans (or your choice in beans) drained.
Olive oil

For the first part, you need to roast the veggies. Take the onions, potatoes, garlic, ginger if you're using it, and carrots and put them in a baking dish. Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning salt and paprika. Baste with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil. Put in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for approx 45 min to an hour, checking every 10 min after the 40 minute mark to see if they are done. You can overlook them to a browned (but still squishy feel, nothing burned to a crisp here) look, but mainly they just need to be soft.
Once they are soft, put all remaining ingredients and the veg into a blender and purée. Add more Frank's red hot and lemon for taste if you like. If it's too thick, add a little more broth. Consistency should be a little thinner than pudding.
Garnish with a sprig of basil, rosemary or chives and enjoy! Creme fraiche may also be swirled in if you prefer. Best with a lovely piece of toasted, sprouted grain bread and butter (or olive oil).

Makes approx 4 servings

Friday, 19 October 2012

And now for something completely different....

Meg: "My father died in childbirth." "Your father died in childbirth?" "He got drunk and fell off the roof while I was being born."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sky Blue Venetian Gown

Ever since I first saw the portrait of 'La Bella Nani' several years ago, I have been wanting to make a Venetian style gown like the one in the painting. Up until now, I have not dared to try. So, here goes. Several hours of perusing other dress diaries of the same style, and lots of googling, here I am. A few weeks ago I was at the pub where I work and saw a package of fabric laying on a shelf. Upon closer inspection I found a pair of ivory cotton blend curtains with a simple scroll design on them. My boss said I could have them, since they'd been lying around for over a year and no one had claimed them, so naturally, I did! (Incidentally I also got a nice piece of red cotton velveteen from this same pub, it had been stuffed in a dusty hole under the benches next to the gas pipes along with scraps of newspapers from 40 years ago). A couple of boxes of Dylon Fabric Dye in China Blue and a rented washing machine later, I had this lovely shade of baby blue. The scroll pattern shows up a LOT more when it's this colour, and I'm still deciding if I like it or not, but it is pretty....just, maybe not too period (although I didn't think polka dots were period and then they found a polka dotted damask child's burial gown from the same time period). So given that, I'm going to ignore the pattern for now. I'm sewing the entire gown with white thread, so if I ever change my mind and decide to remove the colour, I'll be ok.. I am going to make this gown with a slightly less pointy front and
with a split skirt, using a white damask fabric as a completely separate petticoat. I'll only be using the damask for the front half, since I don't have enough for a full skirt. I found some lovely handmade looking lace with pointy bits that looks a lot like the laces I've seen in some other Venetian gowns, and that will be going around the neckline, cuffs, and possibly the shoulders as well, depending on what I'm going to do with the sleeves. I'm not going to have cutwork sleeves, as I don't want to go out and buy a matching velvet or another fabric for them, (the blue fabric frays like heck). I think I might have paned sleeves, fitting tightly, with slashes running down them like the Red Pisa Gown, but due to me having limited fabric (and wanting a full skirt) I may jazz it up with some thick white velvet ribbon on the edges of each blue panel, and to imitate slashes, join the ribbon/fabric panels together at regular intervals with pearls. For the gown I am going to try the doppia technique as shown here, and I am going to make a corded hem on the petticoat to make it stand out a bit. I hate hoopskirts. Mine always get bees and wasps stuck up them. I am terrified of wasps. For the corded hem, I'm thinking of buying some of the horrid, but semi thick orange rope they always use for construction projects. It's 100%plastic, so washing won't be a problem. It holds it's shape, and it's the right mix of firm/flexible to work..I think. We'll see. For the bodice I have used the corset pattern for Simplicity 2621 without the tabs, and modified a little. For starters, I made the opening at the front, and cut the back in one piece. I also made the shoulder straps wider, and longer. The picture below you can see that when I cut out the pieces, I made sure the blue polarfleece was cut about 1cm skinnier than the other layers for seam allowance, so I was only sewing the thin fabrics together.

 I rarely go out and buy fabric for a specific project, unless
it's a customer's order. For me, I tend to make do with what
I have around the house. For instance, 1 white cotton drill
type fabric in the form of a bedsheet (no longer! mwahaha)
white iron on interfacing, and the remnants of blue polarfleece
which I was going to use for a coat for my daughter.

Cutting the fleece just inside the seam lines allowed me to
sew only the thinner layers together and resulted in nice flat
seams. To stiffen the whole shebang, I stitched rows of zigzag
stitches along just the inside unseen layers then starched the heck
out of the whole thing.In the process I discovered that if you let
starch dry on you while sitting on the floor doing all this,
you will be glued to the carpet.

First attempt was a resounding success. Please ignore
my sad quickie attempt at linen breastbinding, but I
had to cover with something. Next time I will stitch
the rows of zigzag in the direction I want the front
to go (not straight up and down, unless the front is
flat and not a V-opening like here, and I will cut
only 2 layers or less of fabric at a time.
My poor scissors. My poor fingers!


Hor those who have said 'Venetian gowns had only closed skirts!' Here is my proof otherwise. Ha!
AND it has paned sleeves....

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Gown Photoshoots!

I found this lovely photographer named Az, the genius behind LemonTree Photography (http://lemontree-photography.co.uk/). One cold spring morning earlier this year he and I wnet out to the hill behind the town I'm in and took these photos (and a lot more).

This photo made me want to put fur (faux) on one of my next gowns....

Italian Renaissance gown, Ophelia style

The first proper gown I made, I made this during my
16th year, mostly on the school bus, and during
classes, choir (while singing), maths, English, and
occasional science classes :-)

My 'Mary of Scots' gown, amazing what fabric does for the
overall look of a gown

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Life, Divorce, Drama, School, and Work. Not to mention children.

Yep, I have been occupied offline with 'other things'. See title of post. I may or may not be going to school in the UK, and I will be moving in the next few months. Which means, all my sewing kit is in boxes, and my usual fall/winter flurry of dressmaking activity has been suspended. BUT, I do have some snapshots of finished gowns sent in from customers taken 'right out of the box'.

I sold my first ever Elizabethan gown to this girl for her first faire,
I must say, her hat is much cooler than mine was!
She's wearing it off the shoulder and with the ruff loose,
but hey, it still looks cool!

This is Di's gown, she just took it out of the box and popped it on,
no underlayers or ironing so it's a bit loose (as requested) and sadly, wrinkly...
I really wish I'd gotten time to take more pics of the detail..

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

WHEE! Nearly there!

Di's gown is almost done! I have cartridge pleated the skirt, finished the bodice etc. All that remains to be done is to put the boning along the zipper in the bodice, hem it, put the hooks and eyes on the forepart and skirt, and add the trim, most of which will be done today. Muriel's gown has the lining done, boning put in, underskirt finished, all I have to do is piece together the outside of the gown, attach it to the lining, put on the zipper and trim, and voila! HOI's gown is cut out, minus the bodice as I still have to wait for her to get the mockup, and is one of the simplest so far due to really easy fabric to work with. At this rate the first two gowns should be shipped out by early next week, and the third by the middle of the month! Photos will come later, I am too busy to upload now!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Yargh, January is not my month.

I am going to simply re-do the slashed sleeves, with some beads on the ends, but with smaller slashes, and no ribbon trim for Di's gown. It will look a LOT better. For Muriel's gown, I am going to use the current polyester habotai skirt I have as a removeable (maybe) underskirt only. I have purchased 100% real silk habotai, and will be using that for her gown instead. One good thing though, for the third and final gown order I've had so far, I managed to make a mint green fabric, look like a lovely sage colour! It did take 2 baths of Dylon Olive green, but, SUCCESS!! It is a shade darker than her original colour sample, but VERY close to her final choice of fabric (which was sold out. I should be the only person allowed to sop at my local fabric store. such hassle of finding replacements!). I finally found a childminder, now I just need a little more time on my own, WHE I'm awake, and I'll be able to FINALLY finish them! Having a toddler who won't watch TV on her wn nstead wnting to ''help'' mama, is an adorable, but nearly impossible to work around distraction. Tonight, I crack down on the gowns. Coffeepot, here I come!