Thursday 25 November 2021

Nobody Died...

I made foraged mushroom soup. Andy always gets a little nervous when I do this. I used to go mushroom picking with my uncle when I was a child but only because he was a man of wide girth and couldn't be bothered to bend down and pick them himself. He held the basket, pointed and said, "That one". I would bend down, cut it with a penknife and pop it in the basket and so it would go on until the basket was full. We picked field mushrooms and parasol mushrooms. We used to see shaggy ink caps but he didn't like the texture of them when they were cooked so we always left those. I am no expert, I know the ones I know.

When they are curled round they are fresh

and as they open out they become a bit more soggy as you cook them. Parasol mushrooms have a loose ring around the stem that you can slide up and down.

You can't wash mushrooms; they just go soggy. I wiped each one with kitchen towel.

Mushroom soup is not the most glamorous soup to photograph but boy was it delicious. Parasol mushrooms give a very subtle flavour; not the more harsh taste you get from a nearly black field mushroom soup.

My mum visited in the afternoon and we both had a taste. When I presented it to Andy later, he asked his usual wary question, "Will it be alright?" I replied, "Nobody died!" I picked 1.5Kg of mushrooms and batched up the soup for the freezer. It has been lovely as our latest Saturday soup.

Foraging has been the late autumn choice of activity. I bagged the last of some windfall cooking apples from a neighbour, mixed them with a couple of handfuls of my crab apples and four eating apples to make an apple wine brew. It had a great smell because you also added lemon zest. It is a bit cloudy at the moment but ready for its first rack now that the bubbles have stopped. Racking is when you sieve the wine into a clean demijohn to keep removing the sediment. You might need to rack a wine two or three times over a few months before you bottle it.

The damson wine has been racked and is looking ready to bottle then lay down for 6 months. Damson is one of my faves. You don't drink this wine like table wine - you would fall over quite quickly! Instead you have a double shot of it like a spirit. 

 Sloe Gin is always on my Autumn list. I like to give little bottles as presents. If you spot any, wait until there has been a frost, then pick them on a dry day. I use a rule of three: one part gin, one part sugar, one part sloes. You have to put the gin in last to visually gauge this. The girls helped me prick the sloes to release the juice. Shake it every day. The longer you leave it the better it is. 

I also like to do a little supermarket foraging too. These wastenot boxes are £1.50 and a lot of fun to cook with, albeit that the cooking has to happen on the same day! I made dauphinoise potatoes; a soup with carrots, swede onion and potatoes; roasted pepper pasta sauce and a beetroot and cottage cheese side dish to have with fresh mackerel. The two apples went in a fruit salad and the tomatoes went in the pasta sauce. Yum! 

The limes? I grated the zest into my Christmas cake bake up. There is a small one for my brother-in-law, a round one for grandparents and a medium one for Heidi and me.

Hoping you have all had a good week. Jo xxx

Sunday 14 November 2021

 Hello there, welcome to of foraging this month so here goes.

Foraging - in our fields for parasol mushrooms. I left this one because it had opened out too much but I picked a whole basket full.

Walking - to get some exercise. Beano the boundless spaniel helps me to walk quickly and get out of breath.

Cutting - the very last summer flowers from the garden. Now I have planted up some bulbs in all of the outdoor pots.

Going - to a ball - I know! My friend has a charity ball every year (except during covid) where we get the chance to dress up and catch up with friends I only see once a year.


Sewing - A dress for the occasion. None of my evening dresses fitted me. The margins are small on evening wear so a little adjustment in waist size can knock an outfit off the list. This time I went for a wrap dress to eliminate future body changes. This is the glitter lace fabric with a satin back which I used - such wonderful fabric and a versatile pattern.

Fixing - my sewing machine! It was making a funny noise so I lifted the foot plate, cleaned it out and found the very tip of a broken needle in the bobbin case. I re-oiled it and put it all back together. This saved me about £80 I reckon, the minimum charge for a service. Very chuffed with myself today.

Baking - white chocolate and cranberry cookies with Meg.

Eating - Homemade cinnamon rolls. Meg wanted to make these but Jeez they took all day. Mixing, first prove, rolling and filling, second prove, baking, resting...but they were nice. 

Visiting - Hergest Croft Gardens to see the glorious late autumnal Acer trees.

Cheating - by making this Tilly and Buttons Nora top from a cotton waffle knit fabric. For a knitter like me, the lure of a sweater made in 2 hours was a novelty.

Finishing - my latest (real) knitting project. I am thrilled with it. A teenage sweater pattern called Jory in 4ply. It was in The Knitter issue 168. Heidi looks fabulous in it but I knitted the arms longer so she liked the fit.

Thinking - out a few plans for Christmas knitting. In the meantime, to give me some head space, I have this stop gap crochet shawl which I add to every time I need to think. It includes all the ends of sock yarn I have left over so it sort of grows and changes over the year. I have recently added some of the grey from Heidi's jumper to use up an end ball and break up the mad colours.

Pre-washing - fabric for sewing. I don't know what yet, something long sleeved to pair with the autumn leaf design. But hey, you know me, it will probably become lots of things to the very last scrap. 

Searching - for Sloes to make another batch of sloe gin which I gift at Christmas.

Firing - the young 'uns outside for a bit, they have been a bit glued to the TV of late. They really enjoyed themselves on their tree swing and remembered just how much they like playing out together.

Leaving - you with one for the road as always. This was just before everything turned orange in the last week.

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xx

Sunday 7 November 2021

A Finish, a Newbie and a Save.

Hello there! Time for a little catch up and a knit and natter. My latest make is a tank top from The Knitter issue 166. It is a cabled top called Demeter by Emma Vining

I am loving tank tops at the moment. Our house is too warm for my old chunky knits of the past but sleeveless tops are perfect. This has a complex interlocked rectangle design which was tricky. Using stitch markers every 15 stitches helped me to keep the pattern accurate. 

The top is made from Stylecraft organic cotton which is double knit, it is worth noting that, for a cotton yarn, it did not spilt. I used seven skeins so it was a very economical make. I always joke with my girls that they are allowed to disown me when I start wearing beige. Heidi reminded me of this when I finished the top to which I replied "It is an "Antique Rose!" The colour is actually 7188 wood.

I always have my next knitting project in my mind while finishing the previous one. So let me introduce Jory by Outi Kater, a fairisle kids knit that goes up to age 13-14 years. Bingo! A sweater knit for Heidi that looks grown up but to which I can make the arms longer for my gibbon girl.

Heidi does not wear pure wool well so I plumped for Sirdar Country Style which is 50% wool and 50% acrylic. The only draw back of the pattern is that it is in 4ply. I ploughed my way through some catch up TV and the grey body in anticipation of the patterned yoke.

I am really enjoying the colourwork, each row takes about 30 - 40 minutes but I like to ensure the floats are correct so that yoke still has stretch. The yarn bloomed just enough for stranded work without being pure wool. This sweater will take me to the end of November before I start knitting for Christmas.

My final knitting project to show is a save. I desperately wanted to save my joyride jumper. It had an old issue and a new issue to solve. The old issue was that I had cast on too tight so the rib constantly flipped irritating. Since making this jumper I know now that if I cast on with needles it is better for me than the thumb method and stops the issue.

The newest issue is that I washed it after a bonfire party and it grew! It was already a touch long and with the added length it was really unflattering. You would think only the brave would decide to shorten a sweater from the bottom but it was actually quite easy.

With a double length of contrast yarn you pick up the stitches all the way round a little shorter than you would like to allow for an added rib. Do this in good light so that you don't drift onto another row above or below.

You will know you have kept to the one row when you return to the beginning and you are one row below where you started. Snip the yarn above the contrast yarn. Leave a couple of rows if you are not feeling too brave!

Pull back the un needed yarn and roll up to use as your rib. Ensure you are using the correct needle size for the yarn. 

Luckily, I keep a knitting journal so I looked up the needle size from 2019. Geeky or what!

Pick up the stitches from the spare yarn trying not to split any yarn. Pull out any spare rows carefully. All you have to do now is knit on a rib using the yarn you have taken off.

Ta dah! A fantastic save: a better length, no flipping rib and the bonfire smell has gone. It is a bit big in the arms but I kind of like nice long arms to fill my coat sleeves for dog walking.

Any seasonal knitting happening at your end?
Jo xxx