Updates from the kitchen: oatcakes, basil, flowers and mushrooms

Here is the weekly highlight of small and happy updates from my kitchen and my windowsill. First of all, Scottish oatcakes! A friend of mine has relatives in Scotland and regularly brings back these crunchy savoury snacks, that I enjoy alone or with cheese. As the package runs out super fast, I finally tried baking some at home, and it ended up being surprisingly simple. I followed the instructions from Penny’s Recipes. For the next batches I would put the oven to a higher temperature so that the oatcakes get cooked faster and don’t dry out too much, but still I am proud of my first attempt πŸ™‚

On the windowsill, the basil is growing happily and making beautifully curved deep-green leaves. I try to trim it so that all leaves get sunlight, I gave it a stick of mineral fertiliser and it seems to appreciate it. I bought this pot of basil as a discounted, sad-looking thing – with the slight but marked sense of guilt that no one would buy it – and I am relieved to see that its condition is improving a lot.

In the larger flower container I planted the seeds of various edible flower species, given to me as present from a dear friend. After a few days of regular watering and careful observation, many of them are sprouting and are enjoying today’s rain.

Last picture for today’s post is the side dish of mushrooms from yesterday’s lunch, following the Italian recipe called “funghi trifolati”. It’s a quick and tasty recipe that starts with stir-frying garlic, then add mushrooms in dices or stripes, and when the mushrooms are soft add salt, pepper and parsley. This time I added a bit of ginger. I forgot to stir at some point and some parts got a nice crust, so my note for next time is to forget to stir again πŸ™‚

There are a few knitting updates that will get their own post. In the meanwhile, take care and enjoy the weekend!

Baking, cooking and knitting updates

Hi there! It’s two weeks since last post, so there are a few updates from the kitchen. First of all, breads #120 and #121:

Then a fluffy simple cake with coconut and cocoa. The recipe is super simple and has no egg, so it comes out a little chewier but it also keeps longer:

And last but not least, a surprisingly tasty lettuce soup! I got a huge head of lettuce from a friend and I looked for recipes where I could cook part of it. I went for Epicurious’ lettuce soup and I was very surprised by the round taste of the result. I was afraid it would taste bland or slightly bitter, but instead it came out as sort of spinachy and full of flavour! I enthusiastically recommend it and I will surely cook it again, especially using lettuce leaves that lost the original crunchiness.

And last, some knitting progress… I started knitting Panda Sky Cat Socks from Mary the Hobbit, and despite some challenging moments while deciphering the instructions, I’m very happy with how they look. Maybe the self-striping yarn is not the best for a non-symetrical sock (the heel is knitted separately and it messes up the stripey pattern), but it still looks good:

The linen sweater is sort of on hold, I am halfway of the first arm, but the 3 DPNs setup is not very comfortable. The stitches slide off the needles too easily. Maybe I will go for a mix of magic loop + 1 DPN and see if that feels easier to work with. I bought some more mixed pastel yarn and I plan to make this same pattern again, maybe with large stripes. More to come in next posts, likely when I will finish the Panda socks πŸ™‚

Take care and stay healthy!

Nature journaling – first page

A very short post about today’s observations in nature:

I tried to focus on something simple at the park (where a lot was going on, and I don’t start about what is going on around the world…) – something down to earth. The ground just in front of me became my observation area and I picked a pinecone as main subject. Not pictured are ants, tiny spiders, aphids, various grasses, and a green caterpillar that fell from the birch tree above me. It was likely an orange underwing. I took it back on the birch and looked at it climbing the trunk in its characteristic looping gait. Just as I arrived there, a small treecreeper was hopping up the birch tree and chirping very quietly.

Bread #119 and stripey socks

Well, the title tells it all πŸ™‚

I baked bread #119 with the fresh yeast that I mixed with flour and put in the freezer, and I was worried it didn’t survive. When I took it out of the freezer, I added some warm water and a spoon of sugar, and that helped a lot. The dough leavened very nicely and the bread came out fluffy and tasty.

The sesame-crust bread in the third picture is actually bread #118, a softer bread with yogurt, that disappeared in a few days πŸ™‚

Last but not least, the socks are my first project with 2mm double-pointed needles. This set is 20cm long so the needles stick out a lot when knitting such a small item, and I noticed they were more manageable when I divided the stitches on 4 needles. I have similar-weight sock yarn, so I’ll be knitting more socks with 2mm needles, and maybe will get a shorter needle set. Suggestions welcome!

Weekly update in pictures

Not easy to find a short title for the post, so let me jump straight to the pictures:

This watercolor sketch is from the sunny morning at the park near my house. I found it difficult to choose what to paint, because many views were pleasing but also challenging, so I went for my usual shaded spot and turned around until I found a view with enough depth but not too much to paint. The combination of grass, trees and dark background was just right for my taste and so I started painting. I’m sort of happy on how it turned out, I was able to mix paint so that it came close to the actual scene and sort of controlled the dilution of colors, but I guess there is much to improve about the trees in the background and in general about the technique. Practice makes perfect πŸ™‚

Knitting also progresses nicely. I finished the first of the blue-stripey socks and almost finished the body of the linen sweater:

And finally, bread #116 and #117. I had to bake the second one after less than a week from baking the first, because it sort of vanished (innocent looks…):

The weather is not going to be luring me outside next week, so I forecast more knitting updates… stay tuned, and stay safe πŸ™‚

Crafting updates #2

Hello all, here are some more pictures of my hobbies’ progress these last two weeks. I mostly knitted and drew:

I started this sock toe-up, so that I can stop anytime on the leg (actually I want to use the whole skein, so I will stop after I used 1/4 of it; for some reason most of the knitting instructions for socks estimate 100g per pair, but I will have pretty long socks using half of it). Toe-up sounded challenging at first, and the 2mm needles are both thinner than usual and a bit too long, but it’s progressing nicely and very regularly. As the weather is still cold I plan to use them before next cold season.

The yellow sweater is made of linen and it follows the Audierne pattern by Regina Moessmer. I am fascinated by how it drapes and am very curious to see how it will look after the first wash. The picture shows the back of the sweater, with the cables-and-ladder pattern. One cable runs below each arm as well.

Regarding drawing, I finally took the courage to start using the waterbrush I bought almost a year ago (the water-filled pen on top of the picture), and followed the waterbrush introduction by John Muir Laws. This is my first experiment with it:

I was very surprised by how easy it was to paint uniform shades of colour. There is very definitely space for improvement but I had way worse results with a simple brush. The palette is an ordinary kindergarten set so the colours have no special merit in the result, nor the water πŸ™‚ I will definitely keep using this tool, and keep you posted with useful tips and links I happen to find.

I wish you all to stay healthy and safe, and maybe even sane, until the lockdown measures will be progressively lifted. I wish you find great ways to stay in contact with your loved ones and to not have to worry for work or housing. Hugs to everyone!

Crafting updates

This week was pretty busy, here is a mix of pictures of the progress in my hobbies:

These are in order: the baby blanket (finished before the baby’s birth!), two pages of sketches alongside John Muir Law’s video on how to draw water with a ballpoint pen, and my bread #115 which came out with a tiny heart on the crust πŸ™‚

I was in BΓΌrgerpark for Easter and there were a lot of people, the weather was very nice and sunny:

Unfortunately for the nest on my windowsill there are sad news… One morning I found the nest empty, and two crows flying close by, followed by the pigeon pair. I ran downstairs and on the ground just below the nest there were the rests of the eggs. I feel sad for the parents who were so dedicated, and as the breeding season is still at the beginning, I hope they find another safe spot for the nest.

I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to strive to feed on the positivity you can find inside and around you.

Life update

I have been quiet recently and I am now staying home, as many of the people I know, and I must say I am lucky and privileged to be able to stay safe and have all I need.

Apart from home office, I am knitting quite a lot, and making good progress on the Bairn blanket and the Audierne linen pullover:

I even started drawing again… not much, but I feel that I need to keep in touch with the combination of nature, observation and scribbling. John Muir Law‘s videos are for me a source of inspiration, insight and cheerfulness. Even when I don’t draw along, I feel revived in my interest for nature.

And last but not least, a pair of wood pigeons chose my windowsill as the place to make their nest. I had a heather plant that didn’t manage to thrive, and they apparently found it a great start for a nest, to the point that they first laid an egg and then brought twigs. Then yesterday I was nearby when they switched nesting duty, and I saw a second egg! I am very curious on what will happen next, and will keep you updated too πŸ™‚

That’s all for now, I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to be able to deal with these challenging times as best as you can.

Tangram

I first thought that my life would be a blank canvas, on which I would trace my own drawing.

Then I thought about it as a blank canvas, on which I traced a drawing under the guidance of other people.

Then as a puzzle, and I started noticing missing pieces, and the immense task of finding the right place for each of the existing ones.

Finally as a tangram, where the pieces have no predefined place, and there are minimal rules on how to compose a figure out of the seven geometrical shapes.

Gimpo airport stn line 5

If there will be any step after the tangram, it will be a variant where I can use less than all seven pieces, where I can develop the figure on more dimensions than the flat plane…

Unexpected whiteboard art

Yesterday I tried to clean my whiteboard at work, and discovered that the markers I used were not really whiteboard-friendly… but the half-wiped effect was unexpectedly artsy:

That’s all for today. It’s a quiet phase and I am monitoring nature for the first signs of spring. It’s still cold but the days are quickly getting longer. See you all in two weeks!