Category Archives: Dessert

Victoria’s Stitches?

Is this a portrait of who I think it is?

Is this a portrait of who I think it is?

While on a break, Mum, Papa and I visited the antique stores. In a dim corner, hung low on a wall in a frame that was almost in pieces, I spotted this photographic print. The print was marked by the dealer: “Queen Victoria and ?” I squinted at it and thought, “I’m pretty sure that is Queen Victoria and that looks like the then Princess Alexandra.” I hadn’t seen a lot of photographs of Queen Victoria at that age, so I wasn’t 100% sure and to be honest, I’m still shy of calling it (I’m chicken like that!). I noticed the ball of yarn, though, and the dog, and showed it to Papa. He offered to buy it for me, since it wasn’t horribly expensive, but I demurred. I’d just made another purchase and I didn’t want to be greedy. So I walked away.

Thankfully, Mum and Papa returned a week later and Papa surprised me! And what a surprise. In the light, I could make out that both the women had knitting in their hands!!! I ran online to see if I could trace the image, but I can’t find it. I can find an older Queen Victoria knitting, but no younger images.

So, what is “I’m-pretty-sure-this-is-Queen-Victoria” knitting? I think she’s knitting a stocking! I could be wrong, but she has a very find needle in her hand and the work looks quite small.

Is that a stocking?

Is that a stocking?

And “I’m-pretty-sure-this-is-the-then-Princess Alexandra” appears to be knitting a sweater or cardigan with an openwork design.

Sweater knitting

Sweater knitting

Queen Victoria did love to knit (there’s a piece about it here) and around that time, knitting became increasingly popular as a past time. I laughed at this little poem about it! So, irrespective of royal status, I love my little glimpse into knitting history.

In fact, of late, I’ve gone a little Victorian.

Friends have been rather bemused by my insistence on kitchen gadgets and tools from the 40s, 50s and 60s… well…

Back to the Victorian kitchen

Back to the Victorian kitchen

Ummm… yes, I decided that, really, the Victorian kitchen is the place to be!!! Mum and I developed a slight jelly mania over Christmas as earlier indicated. Add to that a copper kettle. Happily, we found a very old household hints book that advised cleaning copper with buttermilk (you pour it on quite thickly and let it stand for just a few minutes and then rub). See the difference between the kettle and moulds? Buttermilk. I know some will throw up their hands in horror and talk about patinas etc, but I’m afraid I like using my Victorian kitchenware, so I’d rather it be clean. It’s all tin-lined and safe. And I like the look of shiny copper.

We were in part inspired by an episode of Royal Upstairs Downstairs. Trust me, you’ll never think about jelly the same way!

Although… we did have a slight failure on our hands yesterday.

An extreme wibbley-wobbley jelly

An extreme wibbley-wobbley jelly

That’s pink champagne and rosewater blancmange with flower petals… alas, the titanium strength gelatin wasn’t quite strong enough. Still, it tastes divine! And next time I know… more gelatin. After all, I can’t always be showing off the successes. Sometimes I think it’s good to celebrate the mistakes along the way!

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A Wibbly-Wobbly Christmas

The Scot: I give up. I have no idea what she's up to.

The Scot: I give up. I have no idea what she’s up to.

It was Boxing Day. I had Spoonflower fabric.

Pins! Pins! Pins!

Pins! Pins! Pins!

I decided to make another Meringue skirt. I’m not sure why, but it felt a little naughtier, a little geekier, to be making a Doctor Who skirt than simply wearing a Doctor Who T-shirt.

But you know what else I did?

It has pockets!

It has pockets!

I figured out how to give my meringue skirt POCKETS! I even used piping for the first time. I’ve never sewn pockets OR piping. Consulting with a very clever mother, I figured it all out.

And you know what else?

The pockets are bigger on the inside!

The pockets are bigger on the inside!

I put stars in my pockets!

All in all, it was a great Christmas. The Scot and I made cookies for our dog buddies.

So many dog cookies!

So many dog cookies!

We delivered them all on Christmas Eve.

I picked a purple cabbage from the garden for our Christmas day feast. I swear it was the best part of the dinner!

Purple! Purple cabbage!

Purple! Purple cabbage!

But I could be lying, because although our puddings didn’t look perfect… they were simply delicious.

pudding

Delicious puddings

See the white pudding? That’s jelly. A variety of fruit jellies set in a bigger blancmange. REAL fruit jelly. That’s right – we made it from scratch with actual blueberries, raspberries and oranges. I’m not sure I can ever go back to Aeroplane jelly.

What’s more, we’ve become a little obsessed by the wibbly-wobbly stuff around here. We went looking for moulds, because if you’re going to make good jelly, it needs a good mould. What did we find? 19th century copper jelly moulds! Including one with a squirrel!

Put a squirrel on your jelly!

Put a squirrel on your jelly!

We just tried out our first little mould and seriously… best moulds ever! This is a soy chai jelly. (No, we do not allow boring jellies in this household!)

soychai

So, with this image, I wish you a wibbly-wobbly Christmas and a timey-wimey New Year!

Got Pie?

Soft focus scottie dog

When you see a face like that, how can you resist granting his every wish? So, the Scot got pie. Strawberry and rhubarb pie.

Pie!

Actually, the weekend was kind of domestic. I was doing research, but I also whipped up a skirt, a Meringue from The Colette Sewing Handbook.

Mrs Higgins whips up a skirt

And it’s too big! Oops. I should never be trusted with a tape measure. On the other hand, other people can keep their zipper foots and gadgets, Mrs Higgins put in our first zipper no hassle! Mum, who is a sewing genius, asked how I did with the seams. I told her Mrs Higgins hit the sherry for a few of them. “Stop blaming it on Mrs Higgins!” I may have to hide this skirt from her when she next visits… I’m pretty positive she’ll check my seams the moment she steps through the door.

I also finished the first sock of a new design I’m playing with. Spot the little joke at the toe?

Socks wear bow ties. Bow ties are cool.

Hmmm… I think I might grab some pie now, actually. Tomorrow’s a big day.

Just another sunny afternoon*

* So named after one of my favourite Kinks songs.

Back from a day at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. We ate clams, sea weeds and wild rice out of flower pots (we were at the Greenhouse by Joost). I even had a cocktail out of a mason jar and it was really delicious – black pepper, madagascar vanilla, basil, strawberries and Vodka. We had coffee at Pellegrino’s. And we had wonderful gelati at Brunetti’s.

Gelati at Brunetti's

I am now completely full and will have to walk the Scot twice. Incidentally, I think I’m improving my dog clipping skills. I gave the Scot a shave and haircut myself and it didn’t turn out half bad.

Shave and a haircut

Despite his sorrowful look here, he was downright frisky after all that attention.

I am still working on ‘The Doctor’s Wife’. She’s coming along very nicely and I’ve moved on to knitting bubbles. I have to say, it’s fun.

"Imagine a great big soap bubble with one of those tiny little bubbles on the outside"

If you squint a bit, you’ll also see something else just below the bubbles (and above the Ood who, frankly, creep me out whenever I stare too long at them!). It is part of a masterplan and I’m very excited about it.

And, it actually is looking like a shawl now!

Soy Ice Cream Trick

Jazzing Up the Soy

There’s a small problem with having to avoid too much dairy (and no, it’s not the problem Leonard on The Big Bang Theory has – honest).

I really miss mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Then I realised something. Take some softened vanilla soy ice cream, add a little peppermint essence, grated dark chocolate and a few drops of food colouring…

It’s not fancy, but it totally works.