Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lemon Curd (More Appetizing Than it Sounds)

When I first moved to England there were a number of new tastes I had the pleasure (or not) of discovering. Salt and vinegar flavoured crisps (yes!), Marmite (no!), lemon barley water (yes), Ribena (not so much), tea (took me a while, but yes!), Christmas pudding (with all the will in the world, no).

Lemon curd I loved at first bite,even the store-bought variety, but it wasn't until a friend gave me a small pot of homemade that I really came to appreciate its rich, silky, tangy lusciousness. A few years ago, on a visit to my parents, I took the opportunity to pick a handful of lemons from one of their trees and attempt a batch of my own. It's surprisingly easy, if somewhat time-consuming, and you do have to pay attention. I made another batch while we were there at Christmas and then another last week when we had company to dinner. I'm kind of addicted now.

There are various ways you can choose to make it: directly in a pan, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water; with yolks only or with a combination of yolks and whites. Liking a culinary challenge (and feeling, obscurely, that taking shortcuts in cooking is somehow "cheating") and also the richest taste, I've only made the yolk-only, water-bath way. Eventually I'll try one of the other methods and see if it really makes any difference.

The recipe I've been using is this one from Chowhound. Mom and Dad have a couple of Meyer lemon trees so that's what I used at Christmas and I loved it so much I searched out Meyers to make it at home as well. I think some people like the sharper taste of regular lemons in curd, but to me the fragrance of Meyer lemons is an ecstatic experience, so I adore the curd it makes.

I am very bad at remembering to take pictures of food so this picture is not mine - I got it from The Galley Gourmet website - it just looks so gorgeous, I couldn't resist it. I'll try and remember to take pictures next time I make it!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Knitting Update January 2016

Just a quick update on the small amount of knitting I've done in the past few months.

I made these socks from wool I bought in a yarn shop in the Shambles in York last winter. Unfortunately I can't find the ball band, but it was a fairly local yarn.

I knocked up a quick rolled-brim hat out of the Maiden Hair I bought in Kelowna in 2014. I haven't blocked it yet.

And I finally finished off the Multnomah  with a bit of mauve yarn I had in my stash. I think it blends in pretty well.

In the summer, after the experiment with the cabbage, I went on to dye another skein of sock yarn with loquat leaves I picked off my parents' tree. I'd read that you can get a pinky colour, but mine turned out a rather lovely pale pumpkin-pie. Normally I'm not fond of orange, but this shade's not bad.

I've also knit or crocheted several scarves of navy blue acrylic for our homeless project at church but I didn't get pictures of them.

I still have a couple of projects I keep picking up and putting down (and sometimes ripping out entirely). One is a beaded lace shawl I just can seem to get right. I love the pattern but it's tricky and I just can't get the edge to look nice. I may just have to give up and try another pattern. The other is a spring green shawlette I started last summer when I was a little depressed and needed something bright to knit on. I'm not sure why I can't seem to get this one done. I like the yarn and the pattern. I think I'll just have to sit myself down with a good audio book and force myself to get past the section I'm stuck on.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Catching up on 2015

So...2015. Quite a year, huh?

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I had a lot of trouble with my arthritis last winter, and it followed me into spring and summer (which were very late). I missed a lot of work, either not being able to come in at all or, more often, coming in late because my joints are worse first thing in the morning.

I finally got a mixture of medications that seemed to work pretty well, but by that time I'd given some serious thought to trying the work-from-home route. It's something I've always wanted to do but, as a secretary, my skill-set didn't lend itself to remote working. However, in the past few years I've picked up a fair amount of copy-editing experience and, more importantly, contacts. So, in August, I finished up my job and went into business for myself.

I am now sole proprietor of Taylor+Foote, freelance research and copy-editing. So far I have four clients, two of which are fairly substantial and one which may become so. I don't have enough coming in yet to match what I made before, but I think I can build it up in the coming year.

In the meantime, I very much enjoy getting to sleep in, slouch around the house in pajamas if I feel like it, and work whatever hours suit me (when the work comes in). I may have mentioned that I am not a morning person.

I'm also really loving having the time and energy to do more things around the house. Especially cooking. I've been making bread, and finally managed to get a wild-yeast sourdough starter going (after a few failures). I've also been experimenting with fermenting vegetables and kombucha, which I'll post about another time.

I've also been rearranging my work spaces. I decided to have the room upstairs strictly as an office and move my sewing and crafts to the basement (except the yarn, which, as Bartholomew-bait, stays shut up upstairs). I cleared a corner of the basement, moved down my sewing table, and put up some shelves and I'm gradually getting things organized and put away down there.

I haven't been knitting a lot - I suffer from startitis, but not much motivation to get things finished. I'll try and get some pictures of the few things I have done.

Now I'm off to peruse seed catalogs - it is January, after all.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

I only have one New Year's resolution this year...to write a blog post once a week, all year long. Unlike "exercising more", "eating more healthfully" or "losing some weight", this is specific, and do-able.

This first post, being New Year's Day, is on a Friday, but I'm going to try to post every Sunday here on out - the first will be a catch-up post since I haven't posted since last summer. We had some big events last year so I may spread those out over a couple of weeks. We will be traveling to some interesting places this coming year, including India and Turkey, so there will definitely be travel posts. I'm currently writing this in the United lounge in San Francisco airport, on our way home after 10 days with my folks over Christmas.

In the meantime, Happy New Year to all my friends, and may 2016 be blessed.



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