Home-grown honey and home-made marmalade

It is a good week to be a toast eater in this house. We have a slightly wild mandarin tree here that threw out more fruit than we could handle this winter, so I’ve been making marmalade. When life gives you mandarins, etc. This is the second batch that I’ve made (the first had Cointreau in it — very fancy) and I feel like I’m becoming pretty pro at it now. Especially since I have worked out a nifty little hack to get around the most tedious part of marmalade making: shredding the peel. Our mandarins have a very soft, thin peel, which becomes even softer after cooking, and I discovered that it shreds up quite nicely when given a whiz in my Tupperware Turbo Chef. (Oh wow, could I sound any more Soccer Mom?) Of course it’s not as neat and even as hand-cut peel, but it’s a good shortcut in what is otherwise a very slow-food process.

This is the marmalade recipe that I’ve been using, and it’s a winner.

Anyway, no sooner had I proudly screwed the lids on Marmalade Mark II than I received a kilo of some of the nicest honey I’ve ever tasted. And guess where it came from? Our own block of land. A friend of ours had been trialling a couple of hives of bees on part of our block a few months ago and this was our sweet, sticky kickback. Honey generally tastes pretty great no matter where it comes from, but this has a creamy, mellow flavour that is truly delicious. Who’da thunk a bees with a diet of basically nothing but lantana could produce something so yummy?

So it’s been tea and toast more or less round the clock here these past couple of days. You don’t eat much more local than this!

Crochet baby blanket in grey ripple, La Petite Grise pattern

Hello friends!

As I said recently, the crochet bug has bitten me hard. After making a couple of baby blankets for friends and family, I decided it was about time I made a blanket for my own little one. And I have settled on this pattern: La Petite Grise by Patty crochète. It’s so pretty with its ripple effect and lacy fan motif. And I love the way the grey wool keeps it from being too OTT girly.

 

Close-up shot of crochet ripple baby's blanket in grey

It’s just as well I like the pattern; I’m going to be working at it for quite a while, by the looks of things! I made it quite wide by accident, so now instead of being a pram/bassinet size, it will be a good sized bedspread for a toddler bed. I will just have to make sure little Hadley will still be sleeping in a toddler bed in her early teens, which is when I estimate I will finally have this blanket finished.

Close-up shot of crochet in progress on ripple baby blanket

I am using a 3.5mm crochet hook and 4 Seasons 8 ply superwash merino wool in Silver from Spotlight.

If you’re thinking of hooking it for yourself, you should know that the original pattern is in French, but a kind commenter has translated it into English. Just click through to the post and scroll down in the comments until you find the English translation (US terminology). I’ve also just found this translated version, which you could also try.

Until next time!

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You know how there are certain treats that are better bought from the bakery because there’s no way you could create the same deliciousness at home? Well, this is not one of those treats. These buttery, caramelised scrolls are so much better than the regular scrolls you find at mainstream bakeries that they almost shouldn’t be allowed to share a name. Yes, they do take a couple of hours to make but don’t let that deter you; the end result is totally worth it.

 

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Macadamia cinnamon scrolls

 

Makes 8 scrolls

Adapted from The New Zealand Bread Book by Simon and Alison Holst

 

Ingredients

Dough

14 grams (about 2 teaspoons) dried instant yeast

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

25g melted butter

2 cups strong flour

 

Filling

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar

Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

 

Topping

2 tablespoons soft butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

 

Method

Making the dough

Mix the yeast, milk, warm water, sugar, salt and half the flour in a large bowl. Allow to stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes in a warm place.

Add the remaining flour and combine into a dough firm enough to knead. Adjust the texture with a bit more flour or water if necessary.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. You can try using the window pane test to see if you have sufficiently kneaded your dough.

Coat the ball of dough in two teaspoons of neutral oil (strong-flavoured oils such as olive will interfere with the flavour of your dough) in a large bowl. Cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size. (I use my microwave — not switched on, of course — as it is a reliably draught-free place)

Shaping

When the dough is nearly ready, prepare a 20cm round cake pan with your Topping ingredients: rub the butter all over the inside of the pan, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and chopped macadamia nuts.

Punch down the dough and roll out to form a rough 30cm square. Gather your Filling ingredients; brush the dough square with the butter, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and chopped macadamia nuts.

Roll up the dough to form a long cylinder, then cut into 8 equal scrolls.

Arrange the 8 scrolls in the cake pan. They won’t fill the space completely yet — this gives them room to rise.

Cover the pan and leave in your warm, draught-free place to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Your scrolls will rise even further during baking.

Baking

Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius.

Place your pan on a baking tray to catch any drips (my scrolls leaked caramel all over my oven the first time I made these!) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Invert your pan over a plate or board immediately and serve while warm.

 

Serving tip: These scrolls are best served while still warm from the oven, but keep ok for a day or two. (Pfft, as if they will last that long!) Just warm them again in the oven or microwave before serving.

So something’s happened to me in the past 6 months or so… I’ve become a bit of a nanna. Specifically I’ve taken up crochet, and you could say I’m, well, hooked. A friend of mine taught me the basics, then I plodded through this excellent video tutorial series to build up my skills. And now I just can’t stop!

Here’s a little look at some of the projects I’ve finished recently.

Crochet bassinet blanket

My very first niece or nephew is due to arrive in the next few weeks, so I made this bassinet blanket as a welcome present. It’s based on this pattern by creJJtion. Not only is the design simply beautiful, the instructions do a great job of decoding a relatively advanced pattern for a beginner like me. And how cute is that bobble-stitch border?

Here’s an aerial view of the blanket in full:

Crochet baby blanket in full

 

Once that blanket was finished I was feeling a bit bereft and my hands a bit restless… but lucky for me there were more babies on their way in my life. A dear friend of mine welcomed a baby boy just a couple of weeks ago, and I jumped at the chance to pour some love into this little blanket.

Crochet baby blanket folded

It’s a gorgeous lacy design that was actually pretty easy to hook — a perfect pattern for beginners. You can find the original here.

Crochet baby blanket - sewing in yarn ends

Sewing in my yarn ends

 

Now it’s finally time for me to make a blanket for my own bubba — I’m going with this beautiful pattern. The original pattern is in French but a multi-lingual crocheter in the comments has translated it into English. I’ll see how I go!

This weekend has been a lovely, full one of excursions with family and friends, closing with a quick visit during the closing hours of the Brisbane Finders Keepers Markets.

The Old Museum is such a fantastic venue. Brisbane doesn’t have as much in the way of these grand old buildings as our southern cousins, and the Old Museum is so beautifully, authentically preserved.

The Old Museum, Brisbane

Aren’t these hand-woven stars pretty, spinning and fluttering from the huge tree in the museum courtyard? They were the product of a star-weaving workshop run as part of 1 Million Stars to End Violence. I missed out on the workshop this time, but there is info on the project and instructional videos on weaving stars here. I’m looking forward to sitting down and giving it a go.

Hand-woven stars hanging from a tree

 

Pink lemonade in the sun. Yum. I’m going to need to work out how to recreate this recipe, come summertime. It was tart and sweet and refreshing; the perfect thing to accompany a soak in the late-afternoon sunshine.

Pink lemonade

 

I could have spent money on so many, many beautiful things! I restrained myself (for now — most of the talented stallholders have Etsy sites that I am sure to be visiting soon) but I made an exception for a teeny notepaper-and-envelope set from Bespoke Letterpress. Time to start writing some little letters.

Petit letter set by Bespoke Letterpress

Laduree The Melange and teacup

 

Good morning! The house is silent and I am settling in for a productive workday, this morning with the added power of a dainty cup of Ladurée Thé Mélange. I tasted it for the first time a few weeks ago at Ladurée in Sydney during a weekend away with my sister. My tastebuds instantly fell in love: it’s like Earl Grey mixed with roses and honey. (Maybe that sounds like it shouldn’t work but trust me, it totally does.)

That beautiful sister gave me box of the tea for my birthday so I can relive the experience whenever I like. To be honest, sipping it at my messy dining table isn’t quite as good as having it alongside salted caramel macarons in a Marie Antoinette-inspired tea room… but it’s close.

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It’s misty and rainy outside and both my babies are asleep. I guess I could be running around frantically trying to get things done while I have both hands free, but I think instead I might just put the kettle on and sit quietly for a few minutes. Enjoy the sound of our chooks clucking downstairs, be grateful for the rain that is watering our garden and filling our tanks, and smile at how full and rich my life is.

PS. Just another thing to be grateful for: I made rocky road before and it is going to be GOOD. So good.

bright and cheerful

Moving into a new house means I’ve got renovation on the brain! These four adorable kitchens are providing some inspiration (if only the bank account could keep up). I love how the one in the picture above is actually quite small and simple, but the bright splashes of colour still make it inviting.

pink fridge

I know that happiness can’t be found in objects, but if it could, I think the object would be a pink Smeg fridge. And maybe a matching KitchenAid.

quaint and rustic

I’m not sure where this kitchen is, but something about the flowers drying from the distressed painted ceiling beams and the way the light falls through the doorway makes me want to believe it is in a farmhouse in Provence.

love green kitchen

I think this one might be my favourite. In fact, you could go so far to say that I… love it. Sorry.

 

Which do you like best? And what do you look for in a kitchen? 

All pictures via Pinterest.

white hammock

Hammocks have long been an obsession of mine. Something about the way they cocoon you in and their gentle swinging motion makes them so soothing. Plus if you have the style that curls up at the edges, it’s almost a hiding spot for getting lost with a good book. (Sticking point: I can’t see how cups of tea and hammocks can coexist without spills and scalds. Anyone have a solution?)

The thing is, I’ve never lived in a place that’s been big enough for one. But we’re about to move house, so I’m allowing myself to dream of finding a nook in our new place where a hammock could go. Somewhere for reading, daydreaming and maybe snuggling with a baby or two. And how perfect are the ones pictured here, which are all indoors? You wouldn’t even have to contend with the mosquitoes that seem to go along with many garden-based hammocks.

indoor hammock

I’m thinking sturdy wall fastenings are a non-negotiable.

purple indoor hammock

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