Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fish soup/stew, extra yummy! (the cheats way)

Grab a large handful of frozen prawns in their shells. (these must be cold water shrimps or prawns to get the flavour). Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes or longer.

I use frozen Fruits de Mer and I had some frozen cod.  Take it out of the freezer now (you don't have to wait for it to defrost). These are cereal bowls to give you an idea of how much. This will feed three or four people.
Finely chop one large (mild) onion (less if it isn't mild) and 2 or 3 stalks of celery and one clove of garlic.. Fry them very very slowly in butter or mild olive oil. This is more like sweating them than frying. It should take about 20 minutes, the slower the better with the lid on until it is almost a mushy mess.

Whilst the prawns are boiling and the onions and celery are gently cooking, get a few tablespoons of mayonnaise (I use Helmans but it doesn't matter as long as it isn't Tesco's own brand). Add a small crushed clove of garlic. Add a bit at a time until it has a flavour you like. Then add a little pepper sauce, not too much, you should almost not be able to taste it. 

By this time your prawns should be well cooked. Let them cool down a bit and then put them through a blender or food processor. Do this this in batches, otherwise it spits everywhere as it's hot.

Sieve the blended prawn and their liquor into the onion and celery mix, push with a back of a spoon to get some of the mushy prawns through.

Add some tomato purée, not too much as it's easy to overwhelm the fish with too much. Passata is good as an alternative, or even a couple of chopped tomatoes.

This should be the colour, or a little more red.

Add a couple of good teaspoons of fresh or frozen chopped parsley (never use the dried parsley, it's yucky).
Now slice up a long baguette of French bread and toast it. Grate some parmesan cheese.
 Add the fish to the stock and bring gently to the boil, (we're women we can do the toasting and this at the same time), low the heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Once the fish is nearly cooked add the shellfish, bring it back to the boil, turn off the heat. In five minutes the residual heat will have cooked the shellfish (you really don't want over cooked calamari if that's in your mix, it goes like rubber bands).

The cheese and mayonnaise go on the table with the toasted baguette.

There are  two ways to serve, our favourite is to have it one go. Spread some mayonnaise on a bit of the toast, sprinkle some cheese over this and float in the stew. I add some chilli oil, just a drizzle to mine, but DH doesn't. As the bread started to go soggy, you will be in food heaven.
The other way is use your ladle to serve the soup, have the bread, mayonnaise  and the cheese with this, then serve the fish as a second course.

I cannot tell you how yummy this is.
If we are feeling posh and I have the time for a dinner party, I make it with monk fish, shellfish and other white fish. I use the heads and bones in the stock as well as prawns.

Friday, 21 October 2011

If I were Superwoman

I would be sewing these by hand.

But I'm not so they are all done on the machine with the blind hem foot. I have finished this pair and half of the next, so many to go.

It's amazing how you can procrastinate when you are not enthusiastic about a task.

We went to the cottage again last week and crossed the new Severn Bridge. I find this one so much less scary than the old one as it has these barriers which stop me feeling like I am about to drop off the edge.
It was a rare glorious autumn weekend.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Make a Boob

I think these are brilliant Make A Boob!  I shall make one in between being saddled with making 21 pairs of curtains.....
not a happy Sally but needs must.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Feather on a Wire

 Dawn who writes 'Sweet as Cinnamon' asked why we have named our blogs what we chose.

What's in a name? Mine came from living in Greece at about the same time as Leonard Cohen. His song Bird on a Wire has always resonated with me and that's what I named my first blog. Finding a name for my new blog was easy, I'm known for my feathers and it became a natural follow on from that.

Go 3min 20 sec into the video if you wish to avoid the preamble.

I checked to make sure no one else had used this phrase ever online and took it as my blog name.

Some idiot on twitter who has not only read my blog but commented on it as well, has decided she can use it. Is that stealing, lack of imagination, impersonation, just down right rude or some other weird personality flaw?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

First borders

These two borders shall go top and bottom. I haven't yet decided whether to add birds at each end or to continue the feather....

This is a close up of the appliqué work. The line in the between the lobes shall be covered with the spine. Don't worry about the black lines, they wash out. If you click on it you will see a fine cat's hair but the stitches are still difficult to see. You can see the needle holes just. I used a 60 Microtex needle. Once it's washed, these holes will disappear as well.
The close up also shows the dress shirting fabric I've used as a background. That pattern is in the weave, it is not a white on white.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

It all takes time

If you click on these photos you'll see what I'm doing.
I'm adding a little free motion embroidery on some of the appliqués. Here I'm just adding veins to the leaves.
Then I changed threads and stitched between each of the red fabrics on the flowers. The effect is subtle. The ones at the top of this photo have yet to be done and the bottom ones show the difference.
And this is what it looks like on the back.

Just a little detail to the birds.

And then a little tip for when you come to appliqué borders or any long strips. Roll up the work at each end and fasten with a safety pin. This way as you turn the work through 360° you do not run the risk of getting anything caught under your work. As you move along the piece, just reposition your safety pins.

Autumn arrived today and the cats are happy to snuggle down on a sofa in the conservatory.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Don't do what I do (or learn from my mistakes)

Remember how I had the idea to pad out/trapunto the areas behind the appliqué before joining the blocks together? Seemed like an amazingly sensible idea at the time. Well the idea is not bad, it is in fact a very good one given two things I didn't take into account. One is if you have to add more appliqués which go over the joined seams. You can see how hard it is to fit it all in the harp of the machine. When doing machine appliqué you want, no you NEED no drag on the machine when you are trying to control a stitch just less than 1/16" wide.
I wanted to use Quilter's Dream Deluxe to pad out the shapes. I couldn't find it anywhere in England but luckily Hancock's of  Paducah had a free shipping offer on and I took advantage of it. I have used it before and been pleased with it for this sort of thing but this time it seems to have more bulk and be less drape (this is probably my memory or it could be just the sheer amount of it I am using in this quilt).

The other problem it presented was how the bulk of this batting wanted to push the fabric over when I was doing the quarter inch seams.
And a third problem was I hadn't trimmed back my blocks to the completed size before adding the trapunto. There had been a good reason for this. I did not want the edges of the block to fray during so much handling, but it is very difficult to cut and line up accurately when half of the block has trapunto in place.....

So this is it all joined up with the trapunto cut out from behind (mostly)

I still have the vases to cut away.
I was very pleased with myself I remembered to mark the quilting lines on the vases before the trapunto. It would have been nigh impossible to do it afterwards with any accuracy. You have a sneak preview of my next border here. It might not look like much but just preparing all those lobes for these feathers took three days (and I haven't even started to stitch them yet).
And I need help. Does anyone have any idea what this shrub is called? It's up at the cottage and the builder has planted it.

It's five or six years old now and needs a trim but I would like to do it at the right time of year and using the right pruning method for it. I am at a loss without knowing what it is.....