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reverse shibori, maybe a little too reverse

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A while ago, I was seeing a lot of posts about shibori workshops locally… the Japanese dying process involving twisting or folding white fabric and dying in indigo…

I figured that I can do this myself, I don’t need a workshop !

So I was looking up one of my favourite websites (design sponge) for how to do shibori, and came across a link to another site called fall for diy – they were doing reverse shibori – taking coloured fabric, folding/tying shibori style, then bleaching… and I had some blue fabric that I thought was an ok colour when I bought it, but really wasn’t… perfect !

IMG_5837Some rubber bands, a bottle of bleach, the blue fabric and a pattern cut from my favourite top, and I was ready to give it a go…

I tried some test pieces, one folded (with pieces of milk carton to block the bleach) and one with a rubber band circle.  The result wasn’t what I expected, but I thought that they looked kind of pretty…

I decided to pre-cut my fabric pieces to be able to kind of control the pattern on the panels, so lots of pieces tied up with rubber bands hit the bowl of bleach…

IMG_5843After 5 minutes in the bleach, they didn’t look like they were losing much colour, so I decided to keep them in the bleach a little longer… and a little longer… maybe 10 minutes in total… but, as soon as they hit the water to rinse (with a little white vinegar to help neutralise), there seemed to be no blue colour left !  I had to laugh at myself for not following my own instructions…

IMG_5857So, choices… throw it out or sew it up… so, I made the top.

and in the end, I like it… I really like it… it looks great with jeans, and when it’s cold my pink hand knitted cardi and jade-green lace knitted scarf look just perfect with it… I’ve had people compliment it…

Looks like sometimes I need to keep not getting things right to get things right !

(PS. total cost well under $10, but fun making – priceless !)

sour but sweet…

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A few weeks ago, I got into my head that I wanted to try to bake sourdough bread… and it’s taken weeks from that thought becoming an actual loaf…

Relying on a book I bought a while back (the Bourke Street Bakery Ultimate Baking Companion), I started my starter… a little flour and a little water… a little more flour and a little more water… and soon-ish it was bubbling away…

I nearly killed it at one point… I forgot to feed it one day, all sorts of grey liquid on top and an acetone smell, but I managed to bring it back… I also had to keep it in the fridge at some points, as it was going nuts and I felt it was growing way too fast… but I admit to not being consistent at the time of day to feed…

The days before baking, it was feed feed feed… then a late evening mix, prove, knock back, prove and shape into batards, for the final prove overnight in the fridge… The next morning, they were out of the fridge to finish their prove for a few hours before baking.  I’m not sure if they were supposed to get bigger – they didn’t seem to get as big as I thought they would, but they sprang back as supposed to, so bake time !

I didn’t want to take a risk of baking all at once and stuff up all three loaves (the standard recipe), so decided to bake one first, then the other two after…

The book said to have the oven on high, put the loaf in, spray water in, and not changing the temperature – I was worried that this was too hot, but went with it anyway…

I got it out, tapped the bottom, sounded hollow, seemed done – but I thought that the crust was a bit harder than I was expecting… then I realised, the oven was on fan-forced – perhaps that made the oven too hot, the bread a little crusty…

So, for the next two loaves, I decided to turn the oven to not fan-forced…

If only my oven dial was a bit clearer… it was halfway through baking, when I had a quick peek in the oven that I realised it appeared to be on grill !  oops !

Instead of being less crusty, these two loaves had harder, darker crusts on top !

On a positive, everything except for the dark top was really delicious – tasted great fresh (with too much butter!), made great sandwiches for hiking the next day, and the slices taken with me toasted beautifully a few days later… sweet !

The remaining starter is still alive, living in the fridge, being fed every couple of days or so… ready for the next attempt, when I’m sure I’ll do a better job of baking !

 

the romance versus reality of pallets…

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Now, before I’d even gotten back to Australia, I had a romantic notion in my head of making things from pallet timber… I’d seen pallet projects on some favourite websites, and pallet projects were always coming up in my Facebook feed, and everything looked so good !  but, as you may expect, romance and reality doesn’t always match…

Doing the good old internet searches revealed that can dismantle pallets a cheap way (using a pry bar) or a more expensive way (buying a reciprocating saw – cheapest found was more than $70).  Feeling that spending so much on said power tool defeats the purpose of cheap things from free pallets, I chose the pry bar option.

The boys up the road at the cheapest load of rubbish were absolute darlings when I headed up there asking for pallets – hearing that I didn’t have a car but lived in the street, they brought the pallets to my front gate !  I am so glad they did – they are heavy ! (PS I also scored an old office chair !)

Dismantling pallets is not the easiest thing to do.  They’re designed to not come apart.

Of the half dozen pallets I got (none of which were remotely the same), one came apart fairly easily with the pry bar, two were near back breaking to dismantle with the pry bar, and the other three – forget it !  So, with the limited power tools I have and not wanting to buy more unnecessarily, I attacked them with my very cheap jig saw – so shorter pieces of timber… which is ok too…

The timber has been made into 2 things so far – a large-ish planter box for vegetables, and some smaller planter boxes outside my kitchen window for herbs and lettuce… don’t look too closely at any of them !

but, I’m going to make some more longer ones (with instructions), and some other designs, next week !

 

worms

i have worms !

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worm instructionswith veggies sprouting up nicely (from seed!), and plenty of scraps and scrap paper needing to go somewhere other than the bin, it was time to get my worm farm going…

after thought and investigation (and failing to win an off-the-shelf worm farm for a good price on eBay), I decided to make my own.  I’d gone to a Saturday morning workshop on worm farms put on by Marrickville Council (The Watershed), so had picked up instructions.

worm farmThe people down at the fruit & veg shop down at Marrickville Metro were lovely, and almost couldn’t wait to give away styrofoam broccoli boxes, even getting me a trolley for me to take them to the taxi stand !  I picked up a few supplies from the big green hardware shop (some of the cheapest flyscreen, a bucket and a block of coir), acquired a couple of milk crates from the pile of wrecked ones up the road, and dug out my stapler, screwdriver, stanley knife and packing tape.worm farm construct

Holes were punched in the lid for air, and in the bottom of the box for castings to worm pee to pass through… decided to reinforce the corners, to help ensure that the boxes don’t fall off each other – another use for a 2L milk container !

wormsThe worms to go inside were my request for a birthday present (yes, I wanted worms for my birthday!), and got started on the coir and last week’s inner west courier…

A couple of days ago, they got their first dose of vegetable scraps, and I’ve managed to not kill them yet !

Total cost ?  the worms to get started were worth about $30… other than that, it was $5 for the taxi to get the boxes home, and less than $5 for supplies…

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not quite mozzarella…

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not mozz 1last weekend, I tried to make mozzarella cheese…

I’d been fairly successful with simple ricotta in the past, so this felt like a next step up.

Finding rennet tablets wasn’t easy, but the supermarket had junket tablets, so grabbed them, some citric acid and some milk.  Some websites seemed to indicate that junket tablets might work (with variable quantities stated depending the site), others said wouldn’t work.  Let’s try anyway !

not mozz 2In the end, I settled on 2 junket tablets for my 2 litres of milk… some sites said 1/4 tablet rennet, some said 1/2 tablet rennet, some said 1/2 junket tablet, one (that I can’t find again) said 2 junket tablets since they’re not all rennet…

Well, the curd didn’t look like any of the pictures on the blogs – certainly wasn’t something that could be cut !  But I scooped it out anyway and strained through muslin to remove all the extra water being scooped out !

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It looked (and kind of tasted) a bit like the ricotta I’d made previously !

I warmed up the whey (because I don’t own a microwave to use that method), and put chunks of the cheese in the hot whey to warm through.

not mozz 4Then I tried to stretch it !  ha ha ha !  it just broke into pieces, even after I heated it some more in the whey !

Troubleshooting after something doesn’t work ALWAYS reveals new sites… maybe it was the junket tablets, but another thing was using chlorinated water to dissolve the citric acid and rennet… maybe bottled water next time !

The end result was a little chewy, lumpy, but tasty… a friend tasted it too, and we definitely concluded to not throw it – and it tasted great crumbled over my salad for dinner…