baking bread, a colourful laksa, woolly tails and some gentle knitting….

Bernard and a selection of my china dogs

After a week of busy-ness and knitting we’re having a quiet couple of days, mostly it’s tidying my work room, getting things ready for next Saturday’s craft fair at Glory Days in Holt, making notes of any last minute sewing that needs to be finished…..obviously some of us always seem to be taking it easy.

For best part of the last week himself has been taking up residence in his cat basket which we’ve had to move up onto the coffee table….he’s not one for sleeping low down and likes high places where he has a bit of a view, right by the window is perfect as he can peer out while loud chatty people wait for the bus, (generally giving them a proper Paddington Bear stare) it’s also a good spot to pounce on balls of wool if they roll onto the floor…I’m always amazed at how nimble he can be when he wants.

milk and silver

I’m about half way through my Moonraker shawl, I’m now just taking it slow and steady, knitting this has been really nice.  I had a lovely chat with the lady who owns my local yarn shop yesterday about how therapeutic knitting is, she said just watching someone knit apparently releases lots of endorphins which help you to feel calm, grounded……I know Bernard loves watching me knit, he gets a bit excited sometimes if the wool is wobbling around near to his face (yeah sometimes I do dangle it about to tease him so if he gets a bit swipey I only have myself to blame)…a couple of times I’ve draped this around him and it blends right in against his fur…all soft and moody, shades and sulks of grey with little “pips” in milk and creamy gold…..the above two rows are Blue Faced Leicester by Woolyknits from my local yarn shop and some good old Seely Suffolk from June Onigbanjo…I’ve also used a little Wensleydale from Serena Plenderleith in some earlier rows which is such a golden glossy wool…like the top of clotted cream.

woolly tails

As I mentioned on Thursday I’ve just found out about a brilliant kal over on the Caithness Craft Collective Ravelry group…it’s split up into 3 divisions…division 1..old wips…things you’ve put aside and have forgotten about  but which you still love and need to finish, division 2…knit a “unicorn”, basically knitting something to please yourself, a project you’ve been wanting to knit but hadn’t got round to it for whatever reason, and finally division 3, more of an unkal really as it’s about unfrogging something you know you’ve fell out of love with.  It’s such a great idea and just opening the doors of my cupboard where my clothes and “truck” get kept I’m always half in fear of my life with things tumbling down on top of me….most of my wips tend to be sewing related (so many half started patchworks)…but my main woolly wip would have to be my grannies paperweight blanket…..the main part of the blanket is all done and dusted, but turn it over and there are all those tails….my heart sinks every time I see them….and I also need to finish off the sides, I’ve thought a lot about making a border using all browns and greys to pick up the colours of the boy and since knitting with the undyed natural shades I’m definitely thinking those are the colours to use…

sesame and spelt overnight sourdough

It would be a rum old week if there wasn’t some bread being made at some point….after leaving the sponge for the bread out overnight and making the dough the next morning I’ve experimented this week a bit more (I’ll say experimented but if truth be told I forgot all about the left out sponge til nearly two in the afternoon)..the sponge had about 17 hours to bubble and get all activated, I made the dough, let it rise for about 3 and a bit hours, gently knocked it back, let it prove for just over an hour and a half in a proving basket before popping it into a hot oven….I’d added a handful or so of sesame seeds to the dough before kneading it and the smell of them was so tummy growlingly good when the bread came out…..the boyfriend said this was one of my best loaves yet, the taste of the sourdough starter was much stronger, it also had a firm, chewy crust which he likes for his sandwiches…it smelt so nice the next morning for toast with some salty butter slowly melting in little golden pools…..

pumpkin and tomato thai style soup

It was pretty chilly at the start of the week, we woke on Monday to a proper snowfall (which sadly had all but melted away by mid morning) so I felt a spicy soup was needed for tea….I love Thai food but it’s really difficult for us to buy ready made pastes as we don’t eat fish and most Thai dishes seem to have fish sauce in there somewhere…I’ve bought some Thai curry paste before from a health food/vegetarian grocers but it was really heavy on the garlic (which I really do not like and have never actually used when I cook…the boyfriend uses it and that’s how much I love him..I’ll eat garlic for him but if I’m the one cooking then the garlic isn’t anywhere to be seen)… now I tend to make my own paste, and make up enough for several meals, putting extra servings in the freezer so the paste is good to go as and when I need it….my paste is made up of fresh ginger, red chillies, lemongrass and coriander, all pounded up with a big fat mortar and pestle before blitzing in a food choppy whizzer thing with lime juice, fresh mint, lots of salt…each time I make it it’s a little different.

The soup is based on Nigel Slater’s Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa which uses steamed squash or pumpkin and cherry tomatoes (this time of the year we use tinned ones).  Changes I’ve made to his recipe include adding mushrooms and using a can of coconut milk along with a third of a block of coconut cream (I find the coconut block has a more intense coconutty taste, but the the milk gives it a nice smooth texture).

We like the soup with spring rolls and a fiery sweet chilli dipping sauce, then any laksa left over I have the next day for lunch.  I never mind how dreary and dismal it looks outside when I have this to eat, it’s so bright and orangey, all tingles to my taste buds….it just makes me so happy to cook it and then eat it.