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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Quest to become a Domestic Goddess

One of the joys of not working full time is that it gives me a lot of time to enjoy all my crafts and to try a lot more home cooking and use of fresh produce. I used to always cook fresh in the UK, even when working full time but it tended to be old favourites that I would cook in bulk every month and freeze individual portions. Better than eating ready meals or junk but it just did not scratch my itch of trying lots of new recipes. Well now I have the time I have been spending a lot of time each week reading through all my recipe books - mainly Nigella Lawson - and picking out the next recipe to try. It has been so much fun with some successes and some failures but all good fun to try. Jarlath is very good to cook for as he gives good constructive criticism, I would hate it if he juat ate everything I put in front of him. Well he does eat it but will tell me honestly what he likes and dislikes about each dish and whether he would request it again.
I have also been trying to use up any produce from the garden and as most of you know I have had some lovely fruits over the summer.

Above is a jar of preserved figs from the fig tree. We ate a lot of the figs fresh but there were just so many that I didn't know what to do. Everyone here kept suggesting Fig jam but I only really like Raspberry or Strawberry jam and as I had a lot of Raspberries from the garden as well I had to think of what else to do with the figs so they didn't go to waste. I originally tried a recipe from the Nigella Lawson original book "How to be a Domestic Goddess" which was preserving the figs in a rum syrup. I did one jar load of this but it just looked too sweet and very sticky so decided not to do this for the rest of the figs. I didn't put a photo on as it looks kinda disgusting - a jar full of brown blobs!! I am sure it will taste fine and will let you know once we open them. Nigella recommends leaving them for 3 months or so before trying. So I ended up searching the internet for a preserving recipe and found the above one where you basically preserve them in sugar syrup and lemon. They look really nice and with the jars I picked up in Ikea they make really good presents as well. I gave Kim and Andrew a jar full and have two in the cupboard as well and these should be ready for eating right around Thanksgiving.

Here is a picture of a couple of the jars of Orange marmalade that I made. The oranges were shop bought as we don't have any growing in the garden. The reason I tried this marmalade is because Jarlath is very fussy about his marmalade. He only likes the Irish thick cut orange marmalade and I could only get that here in the imported section of the supermarket and I just refuse to pay $6.00 for one jar of marmalade so I thought why not try myself. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It could do with being slightly thicker but that happened because when I was squeezing the muslin bag, to get all the natural pectin out of the mix, it burst and I probably didn't get enough out as well as boiling it for slightly longer next time. It does taste yummy and has passed the Jarlath test as he uses it most mornings on his toast and says it tastes perfect but agrees with me on it being slightly thicker next time. This was my first ever attempt at making jam or marmalade so I was quite chuffed by it. The recipe was from Delia Smiths basic cookery book.

This raspberry jam was my second attempt at jelly making and it was so easy it was laughable. There is a large raspberry patch at the side of the house and the yield of raspberries was unbelievable. We ate loads fresh, I baked Rapsberry muffins, we even gave some away but again I had to find some other way to use them all up so I thought of jam - I just love raspberry or strawberry jam. The recipe was Hands free Rapsberry jam recipe again from Nigella Lawsons Domestic Goddess book. The smell of the jam and the fresh raspberries just make your mouth water. Again it passed the Jarlath test with flying colours and no criticism so I gave Vicky a jar as well and she loves it too. The rest of the raspberries I ended up freezing to use later (I am actually using some more today to make some more jam as we have already finished the last batch). I followed the advise from RISI of freezing each raspberry individually on trays before moving into bags and it worked so well that I can take the exact required weight out of the freezer as I need them. I also looked out a recipe today for Raspberry and Mascarpone chocolate tarts which I will try at the weekend once I have bought the right size tartlet dishes.

Ok so one of my favourite crafts is knitting. I was taught how to knit by my Mother as she has knitted my whole life. I usually only do baby clothes as I get too impatient with adult stuff as I like to see a finished product fairly quickly but as it comes into Autumn and then winter here I thought I would branch out and try some adult stuff. So what better than some fingerless mittens, hats etc to keep everyone warm when it goes to minus 21 here over December and January.
I downloaded this pattern free from the internet - don't you just love what you can get free from the internet these days. It is so simple and is my first attempt at knitting something where I have to use three knitting needles when you are doing the twist in the cable stitch. Guess what everyone is getting for Thanksgiving presents from me!!! lol. I have so far only done this orange and the beige set but I plan to knit myself a black pair as I just got a black beret.

Here are some of the baby clothes that I have made recently. We seem to be going through another spate of births with family anf friends. The pink and white bootees and mittens have been sent to Canada as one of Jarlaths cousins up there have just had a wee baby girl. We are going up there just before Thanksgiving to visit and see wee Ciara Grace.

I have also been doing some cross stitches for some of the babies. The last couple I forgot to photograph but I remembered to do the last one for Ciara in Canada. It is on a cream background and wasn't too difficult to do just time consuming but I did it over several months a wee bit at a time while doing other projects as well .

This is the final framed product. I will need to learn how to mount and frame them myself as it costs an absolute fortune to get them framed. I decided on a double mount with the black and the beige for this one because I thought the extra black brings out the eyes of the teddy. The guy in the frame shop is getting to know me now as I have had four framed now and he just leaves me to rummage through the frames and the mounts until I put together what I want, although it was him that found the right brown colour for this one.

Well that is the story of my journey towards becoming a Domestic Goddess. I still have a long way to go on this path but I am enjoying every minute of the journey. Glad I could share it with you. Xx

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