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 🙂

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 🙂

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

Knitting progress

I’d like to share a few pictures of my knitting projects. Lately I got up to speed to a point that I have three or four open projects, and I can resume each of them without having forgotten too much, or the stitches got the mark from staying on the needles:

Rye socks – my second pair, got a bit faster, and more regular in the double-pointed needles knitting
My second Flax pullover made with sock wool, it’s really comfy and easy to wash
My first cable project: a baby blanket, the pattern is Bairn from Julie Hoover

I like the combination of repetition and change that is in varying proportion in each knitting project. The Flax pullover had large parts of uniform stitches, while the Bairn blanket requires a lot of attention the whole time. I am not yet that good in picturing the result of a written set of instructions, so I am more or less surprised by what takes shape while knitting, and I hope that this sensation will stay. The silence and concentration are comfortable to me, and the presence of other knitters when we gather at our meetup is a mix of talking/sharing and of staying in our own bubble, busy with our current work. I find this less stressful than a social meeting based on chatting, because I like to listen and to observe, which is very interesting when each participant of the meetup brings a new technique, a gadget, or a story.

Today I bought some more kilometers of yarn at the yearly sock wool sale of my favourite shop… stay tuned for more colourful pictures! Too bad that the Internet doesn’t allow to share the texture of the wool, but maybe that will be implemented soon? 🙂

Yearly bread update and goodbye 2019

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last post… so here is a long-due update about my baking! I got to bake bread #107 last week!

I have a few favourite recipes, but also like to try new ones or add some extra ingredients. Baking has been one of the hobbies I enjoyed most this year, and by far the most relaxing.

I wish you all a great start in the new year, a bunch of fresh energy for your plans and projects, and memorable moments with your dear ones. Take good care of yourselves!

Bread update: breads from #61 to #70

Here’s a visual update of the last results:

Some are missing because they were eaten before I could take a picture 🙂

I keep baking with the same procedures and setup since a long time. The only changement is the addition of a sandstone that heats up in the oven, stores heat and therefore keeps the temperature more stable. I got it from a friend who was throwing away a grill/raclette set, so I’m sure it’s OK for food use. I am not yet so sure how it changes the baking process, as I don’t see much difference in the results, except maybe that the crust doesn’t get that golden (that could be because I don’t let the stone get hot enough before putting the bread in the oven, so that it keeps eating up heat for a while).

I am baking more than once a week, so next update will come really soon!

Raining, finally

It finally rains again, after a very dry summer. It seems that autumn has arrived suddenly, yesterday in the space a few hours: sudden rain, wind, clouds, temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Celsius. It made a refreshing changement and a few evenings with wonderful skies.

I have impatiently waited for autumn, as I do almost every year. Now that the weather changed, I feel a new energy, the one I remember from my childhood, when autumn meant going back to school: new books, new topics, new pens and pencils, warm clothes, quietness indoors. I am ready to celebrate autumn and new beginnings, with the joy that others associate with spring and the rebirth of nature. I celebrate the red and gold of falling leaves, the arrival of autumn groceries (I love pumpkins!), the coziness of staying indoors and taking care of the house, the joy of getting ready for winter, when nature stays dormant for many months. Autumn is for me the bountiful harvest at the end of vegetative season, the fireworks of nature, a season of bright light.

Drawing update: horses’ ears

A few days ago I challenged myself to draw horses’ ears. I have been drawing horses for as long as I can remember, but with a moderate and varied amount of attention to detail. Therefore I am able to draw horses’ ears somewhat by memory, so that they don’t look that convincing. Thanks to a library book with a lot of pictures (I prefer to copy from printed images instead of from a screen) I found plenty of portraits from which I could draw. Here is the result:

Drawing practice: horses' ears

As usual, the first two sketches are a warm-up. From the third onwards I tried to notice something characteristic from each sketch, and for the forward-facing ears of sketch #3, it’s the angle in the inner ear side (I used to draw round ears by default – some horses have a less pronounced angle, but it’s always there). The same angle is visible when the ear is turned backwards: in sketch #6 I drew the ear as a trapezoid|trapezium, instead of a triangle. It felt strange to draw the ears like that, but in the end they look more realistic. The following sketches are more about ear positions and differences among breeds and individuals.

My next focus will be on hooves/feet, stay tuned for next post!

Pictures post: tour to Müggelsee, Berlin-Köpenick

Yesterday I went for a walk around lake Müggelsee in the south-east corner of Berlin. It was a wonderfully sunny day and I snapped a few pictures:

The highlight was the ferry trip, for all passengers 🙂 The walk around the lake was nice thanks to the tall trees which provided shade, even if they were also masking the view. It was a long walk, but also refreshing and very quiet. I plan to go to Müggelsee again and maybe rent a kayak to paddle around 🙂 Will keep you posted for sure!

Bread update: breads from #51 to #60

Yesterday I baked bread #60 in my list, and here are pictures of the last ten breads I baked:

Actually, I have no picture of bread #52, and as you see I have grown a preference for whole grain loaves. I try to keep them interesting by varying the recipes a bit, but I rarely change the shape 🙂 Making buns require more space to leaven and bake, so it has to be a special occasion!

Happy baking and cooking everyone 🙂

 

Rhubarb-ginger-lemon jam

From a visit to the local library I brought back this intruguing little book about ginger:

IMG_20180515_104145
Publisher’s page

The title translates roughtly to “Ginger – health and taste” and is a collection of interesting recipes with ginger, with an informative introduction about the plant, its history, and its many culinary and medical applications. From the many recipes I picked the one for rhubarb jam, that included gelling sugar (that I bought last year but didn’t manage to use), lemon and of course ginger juice. I went grocery shopping and I came back with a kilo of rhubarb, in the form of three huge stalks (really huge! I had never seen such large stalks in Italy!). At home I washed and cut the stalks in small pieces, and removed only the largest fibres. I put the rhubarb pieces in a plastic container, poured the sugar, put a lid on and put everything in the fridge overnight. The day after, the rhubarb had let out a lot of juice. I asked my friend to taste a piece of rhubarb, to know whether to filter the fibrous parts away, but he said they were quite soft, so I blended everything in a purée and transferred it into a pot. I cooked the jam until it started gelling, and then added the juice of a lemon and a lot of ginger juice (it’s sold in small bottles here, and it’s so practical). I stirred the jam and poured it into little jars.

IMG_20180515_112200

I’m not that fond of ginger flavour, but my friend is, and this jam has become a fixed part of our breakfast 🙂 It goes especially well on the dark bread that I just baked, and is #59 in my bread count:

IMG_20180516_191527