Friday, February 27, 2009

Quinces are my new favourite fruit. The colour of them cooked and uncooked is gorgeous. And the taste - I like them cooked but my husband likes them raw - he likes the dry fibrous texture - yep, sometimes he's weird like that;)

And I especially like that they remind me of this painting, which I love. There is something about the subject of kitchens and food like fresh fruit and vegetables that appeals to me. Maybe it is something to do with their symbolism - of home life being worthy of our attention, of a warm kitchen, a productive garden, of growth and nature and the natural beauty of a pumpkin or some eggs (subjects in other favourite paintings of mine).

I have been meaning to make this recipe for a long time. Sorry I'm not sure where it is from - I have had it written down in my recipe book for so long now - but it seems like a basic jam recipe I think.

Quince Preserve:
4 quinces (about 1 kg total)
5 cups sugar
5 cups water
3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1. Bring quinces, half a cup of sugar and water to the boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1.5 hours. Put quinces on a plate to cool and reserve cooking liquid.

2. Coarsely chop quinces, and return to pot (including seeds, cores and skins). Bring to a boil. Slowly stir in remaining sugar and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until mixture is thick and deep orange (about 25 minutes). Put through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Let cool.

3. Transfer to airtight containers - refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Changes: Next time I make this , when the quinces are cool and I am chopping them (step 2) I plan to remove the seeds so that when it comes to putting it through a sieve the left over solids are ready to eat - I tried a little of them from this batch and they were so delicious and would be perfect with ice-cream or on muesli. Such a waste not to use them.

The preserve was so delicious. It didn't totally set but is beautiful and thick - for my first attempt I was very happy. If you have any jam making secrets let me know.

Today I had some on toast with parmesan cheese and we had some with yoghurt for dessert. So good! Quince and cheese are made for each other.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making Mondays: His little hand

I love this - it was so quick and easy, looks gorgeous framed and is a special little Yashar keepsake. I came up with the idea when Yashar and I were drawing and I was tracing around our hands.

All you need to do is trace the little one's hand on the back of some wrapping paper (some nice fabric would also look great). Ok, this was actually a little harder than it sounds - Yashar does not keep still for more than 2 seconds!

Then cut the hand shape out and glue it on some nice textured paper (I used some thick water colour paper). I also wrote Yashar's name and the date underneath.

I put it in a plain box frame from Ikea and put it on some shelves where we keep some of Yashar's books and toys. I think it would be so nice to do one with a few hands lined up in it - either as he grows or with 'paper hands' from his cousins. Yashar is growing so quickly, it will be so good to have this record of his little hands. I hope you make this one too!

p.s. thanks for the new name!

pps. I have now moved to a new blog address:
I hope you come over for a visit!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Come and spend a morning with Yashar!

Now that Yashar is walking our daily outings are so much fun! I thought I would share what we did on Friday morning with you, which is pretty much a typical weekday morning for us.

This morning, knowing our usual routine, Yashar got his shoes and sat down by the door trying to put them on - so cute! Then he carried my scarf over to me and then tried to put his shoes on me. He loves to go out for a walk!

We got rugged up and quickly headed out the door and walked down the steep hills with me holding his hand very tightly and making lots of stops along the way to say hello to neighbours. The area we are in mostly low rise apartments (3 or 4 floors) - many have a different generation of the same family living on each level. Others are rented by professionals and students. Most of the gardens are full of fruit trees, especially mulberry, pomegranate and cherry trees. One of our neighbours even has beehives in their front yard:
I love the faded pink paint on this place.

And Yashar found the beehives mesmerising!

Then it was on to the park.
With a stop to look at all the birds and dogs around.

Then over to the local cafe to warm up and to have my essential coffee for the day. Lots of the customers stop to chat to Yashar and one lady helps him to pat her gorgeous and friendly dog. The staff there all know Yashar well and play with him while I relax. Love it!

Then the walk home, today through our Friday market. I stopped to do a little fruit and veggie shopping while one of the stall holders, a beautiful older lady that brings in produce from her village, gave Yashar a cuddle (like she does every week!) and then she showed him some sheep in a yard next to the market. Yashar was so excited!

By then Yashar was pretty worn out so I carried him up the last few steep hills and he fell asleep in my arms not long before we got to the front door. A perfect morning!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New work

I just put the finishing touches on this girl and her little friend. I think I will do one more, find a really good printer and then open the etsy store. Ahhh! I am so excited!

Thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging comments about the illustrations. You all really made me want to jump in and try it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crafty Monday

Yashar and I have been getting so crafty lately - as in making stuff, not using sly moves and Yashar's cute smiles to get me free coffee (although that also works well for us!) So I toyed with various ideas - 'make it yourself monday, 'take a bedazzler to it Tuesday', and finally decided on Crafty Monday! (I'm taking submissions for a new name as this one kinda sucks!)

I am hoping to share a little project with you every Monday and I hope you join in with us now and then and get all crafty too!

This week we made some cards for all of Yashar's cute little playgroup friends. These were for Valentines Day, but I could also imagine using them for birthdays, fathers day, any day!

First of all we used the idea for 'Jell-O Fingerpaint' that Tanya gave us. We used Raspberry flavoured jelly for that sweet-heart colour and just slowly added hot water to it until it was a nice thick consistency. I let it cool, put Yashar in a tracksuit that I detest, spread some newspaper down and let the finger painting begin!

Yashar had so much fun doing this! I would drop the fingerpaint all over the place and he went crazy smudging it all over the paper (and himself!)

I let the masterpieces dry over night and prepared small cards from some thick watercolour paper I already had. Then I cut little hearts out from Yashar's artworks and stuck them on the front of each card using a glue stick. I wrote each of Yashar's friends names on the front and a little message inside.

I think they are pretty cute! We have one that we made for his Baba hanging up and I love it!

Oh, and can we pretend it is Monday today...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Handmade Help

There has been such an amazing response to helping all the people affected by the bushfires.

My blogging friend Keryn emailed me about the blog 'Handmade Help'. Through this blog people can donate handmade goods that are then sold, with the money going to the Red Cross and Wildlife Victoria. They are also coordinating some other projects and have a great list on their right sidebar of so many ways to help. What a great idea.

Through this blog I found the 'OzBushfireAppeal' etsy shop. Many generous people have listed handmade items in this shop and all sales go to the Red Cross. They have already raised an amazing $10,000. Wow! Here are some of my current favourites from the shop:

I love the atmosphere this Winter Tree photo block conjures up.

These pears look so soft and tactile.

These whales would look so good in big white box frames in a little boy's room. Grab them before I do!

What an amazing photo! And the tones are beautiful.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Turkish home cooking - my favourite dish

Of all my mother-in-law Sevim's Turkish home cooking this is my absolute favourite. It is called Karnıyarık which means 'split belly'. Sounds a little scary when translated into English but it is so yummy and the split belly being referred to is the belly of the eggplant (and maybe mine after I eat so many of them!).

I actually never have to cook Karnıyarık because Sevim is always sending some home with us - she knows we love it. But I asked her to share the recipe with you all and she proudly obliged. All the measurements are approximate - of course Sevim never uses a recipe, she cooks it by heart.


4 or 5 eggplants - the thinner type are best
2 onions
Mince -about 250g
Salt, Pepper
Lezzet - literally translated this means 'taste' - it is a spice mix usually made from paprika, pepper, salt, dried tomato powder, grissini flour, semolina, dried parsley and dried thyme -If you can't get lezzet I think some paprika and parsley would be fine.
Large spoon of tomato paste

1. Chop tops and tails off eggplants and put in a large pot. Add enough oil to come about half way up the eggplants. Cook on the stove until the eggplants are soft (making sure you turn to allow all sides to cook).

2. While eggplants are cooking, dice up onions finely, then fry in pan until golden, add mince, salt, pepper and lezzet and cook mince well.

3. Take eggplants out from pot. If they are large chop them in half length ways. Take off a small slice along one side to make a flat base for the stuffed eggplant. Lay the eggplants down in a casserole dish.

4. Slit eggplants down the middle (don't chop through the ends) and fill with mince mixture.

5. In a small bowl mix tomato paste and 1 cup of hot water and then pour this over the eggplants.

Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

We love to have it with thick slices of bread. This recipe is definitely worth trying (if you don't have a Turkish mother in law to cook it for you that is!).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In search of the ultimate knitted hat

I have been knitting a ridiculous amount of hats for Yashar lately. This is attempt number 2. I saw this wool at the local Pazar (our local Friday market) and suddenly I had the impulse to make something bright and colourful for him, instead of in the pale blues and greys that I would normally choose.

This one is pretty simple - I just knitted from the bottom up in a rib pattern on circular knitting needles. Once it got to be about 15cm long I started decreasing by knitting two together at the start of each rib on alternate rounds. I had wanted to it to fold up at the bottom but it isn't quite long enough (although it is long enough to keep his ears nice and warm). I think it looks like a little tea cosy!

I have knitted two more hats for him that I will take photos of as soon as we get some light enough weather. Despite all these hats, I need to make more! None of these have been quite right. So I had a good look on - a website I had known about for a while but only just got into. There are some really gorgeous patterns to be found on there (after a bit of searching). I especially love this owls jumper.

I think/hope I have found the ultimate hat for Yashar. It is on the needles at the moment. To be continued...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Victorian Bushfires

I have been hearing from my family about the horrific fires that have been burning in Victoria and have been reading about them in the paper. Even though I am so far away I still feel the shock of something so devastating happening so close to 'home'. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with all of those affected by the fires - the family and friends of those that have died, the people that have been injured and the people that have lost their homes.

Donations to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal can be made through the Red Cross Australia website.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Make a wish...

I just finished this little illustration and I am so happy with it. I hope you like it too. I think I must have been dreaming of warmer days when I did it.
I really feel like I am progressing with the illustrations I have been doing. I have been learning so much along the way and, most importantly, it has made me so happy. I think that this is the first time I have felt like I have found something that I would be happy doing forever and ever. I am seriously thinking about trying to make 'it' happen - with the first aim being to open an etsy shop.

I love the idea of etsy - people from all over the world being able to sell their handmade goods - and would love to be a part of the 'handmade revolution'. I am thinking I should just take the leap...

ps. thank you for the comments on playdough, especially all the recipes from Tanya (who writes a really interesting blog about living in Cambodia) for playdough, including yummy edible kinds (which will be perfect for Yashar!) and the recipes for fingerpaints - edible and non edible.

We are going to have so much fun with these! Check out the comments from yesterday's post for all the recipes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yashar Update: Playdough!

Yesterday we finally made playdough! I had been wanting to make this with Yashar for a little while but hadn't been able to find food dye or cream of tartar which most of the recipes use. Five supermarkets later I decided to improvise!

I diluted some powder for a flavoured bright red drink and it ended up making a pinkish dough. Now I just have to find some more colours! The recipe I used was:

1. Put 1 cup of flour, half a cup of salt, 4 dessert spoons of oil and a third of a cup of water (mine had the red drink powder in it) in a large bowl and mix (Yashar did the mixing).

2. Knead until it forms a nice dough adding more oil if it is too crumbly.

3. Play time!

Yashar loved it and I am glad I didn't just buy the playdough ready made - making it was definitely half the fun for Yashar (and me!). We were also lucky that there was the perfect play surface already in the house that made clean up easy. It was a big board left here by the owners that's used for rolling out the large pastry sheets used for making desserts like Baklava and savoury 'borek'.

Does anyone have a different recipe? I would love to know what it is.

I feel an emotional post coming on - about being a mother and how much Yashar has grown - but I will leave that for another day when I have time to contemplate it all.