Friday, 8 December 2017

July to August 2017

Theme: Frida Kahlo

My card

Portrait of Frida Kahlo   3/3
Appliqué, stitch, drawing

The swaps

Flowers for Frida   2/3
Embroidery in a variety of surface stitches.

Untitled (Frida’s Eyebrow)   4/4
Hand dyed fabric, leaves worked in stem stitch, eyebrow - prefect and fly stitch


Theme: Snowflake

My card

There is always One that wants to Stand Out   1/3

Paper, hand stitch, beads

The Swaps

Very Little Snowstorm   1/3

Painted calico, beads, hand embroidery 

Tatted Snowflake   1/3

Tatting, beading, metallic fabric tuille 


Theme: Towers

My card

Port Hedland   3/3
Appliqué, handstitch

The swaps

The Lighthouse   Towers   3/4

Appliqué, stab stitch, machine embroidery



Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Little Roadtrip

We have had a bit of a road trip - Port Fairy via Cavendish. A little break from our day to day life and an opportunity to meet up with some old (longstanding) friends and of course explore some new dining places.

First up was lunch at the Bunyip Hotel. 

A country pub at its finest, offering excellent value with a ‘Chef’s Plate’ menu. No choice with several courses as selected by the chef and a Spanish influence on the food.

One of the courses was this pate served with toasted grape bread.  I love bread making and often make a fruit loaf but have not one made with fresh grapes - this is something that will be made in the future. It was an excellent accompaniment to the very rich pate.

These lamb shanks had been braised with onions and whole peppers/very mild chillies.

The dessert was a luscious vanilla ice cream swirled with Dulce de Leche, a thick milk caramel.

Keeping a watchful eye over the dining room, I think the Bunyip was painted by a relative of the proprieters. 

Then on to Port Fairy. A walk around town, along the pier and the Moyne River, was an excellent way to stretch the legs after so much driving and sitting. Port Fairy and nearby Warrnambool was once home to the 'Maloney' clan, however, any remaining relatives are either unknown or moved away. 

A quiet night at home followed by a day in town for me and the golf course for the others.

A good day begins with

A coffee and the newspaper 

Shops and galleries were visited - inspiration everywhere. 

More coffee

And a very interesting banana and peanut butter muffin with peanut butter icing. More inspiration!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Simple and Classic Chicken Dishes

The hot weather arrives and I sort of  'down tools' in the kitchen and look to make the most of the stovetop, microwave and the stockpile of curries, braises and casseroles in the freezer. At this time of year broad beans and asparagus are in season and not too expensive so I like to make simple classic dishes that feature these ingredients. This recipe is in the classic French style, although perhaps a little less creamy than you would expect. In classic french cooking the broad beans would be double podded to show of the vibrant green colour and remove the somewhat fibrous and tough skin. I do not mind them left with the skin on and it is certainly much less work. Ifyou have lots of broadbeans use them as the leftover sauce and broadbeans are delicious reheated and served with a slice of crusty bread.

Broadbeans and asparagus are not available or in season all year round. This is another version that uses sage instead of thyme and spring onion instead of broadbeans, mushrooms may also be used.

Tuck a leaf or two sage underneath the skin of the chicken for added flavour.

How To

Pan fry chicken

Add garlic, stock, thyme, sherry reduce sauce

Sometimes I remove the chicken to reduce the sauce and then add the cream. If using chopped spring onions in place of the broad beans add them towards the end of the cooking process.

 Chicken with Broad Bean and Sherry Cream Sauce

4 chicken thigh fillets, or breast fillets
2 -4 cloves garlic, crushed
fresh thyme leaves* 
Small amount of oil for frying

1 - 2 cups cooked broadbeans
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup chicken stock, fresh if possible
1/3 cup light cream/cream
black pepper, freshly ground

To serve
Fresh thyme leaves
Blanched or lightly cooked asparagus, 12 spears

Heat a small amount of oil in a frypan, add chicken and gently until golden brown for approximately 8 minutes. 

Turn chicken and cook for a further minute.

Add broad beans, garlic, thyme and sherry. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced by half. 

Add cream and some black pepper, Simmer gently for a few minutes to allow sauce to thicken slightly. Remove from heat.

Place a few spears of asparagus on each plate, place a chicken portion on top and then spoon over the broad bean sauce.

Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

*I use sprigs of thyme and do not worry too much about the stalks.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Salmon with Smoked Paprika Rub (microwave)

When there is a run of quite hot days even the most die hard cooks look to recipes that require minimal or no cooking. The best thing about this recipe is that it is delicious served hot and cold. Smoked paprika adds a light smoked flavour and lovely red colour to the flesh, hot smoked paprika also adds a little heat. The salmon is cooked in the microwave and cooks very quickly. The downside is that the skin is not crispy, however, it can be pan fried if preferred.

It is fabulous served cold in a salad or as I have here as part of a shared plate or antipasto platter. Once cold the salmon breaks up very easily into bite sized chunks. Commercial mayonnaise with a clove of crushed garlic, chopped walnuts makes a very tasty accompaniment to the salmon.

Here’s How

The Rub

This is just a guide, you may need a little more oil or  extra paprika and garlic if cooking more salmon.

1 tablespoon olive oil or lemon olive oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika or hot smoked paprika

Place the salmon fillets skin side down in a microwave safe dish.

Coat the salmon with the rub. This can be easily done by putting the rub and salmon fillets in a plastic bag and gently massaging the plastic bag.

Cover the dish with cling film or a lid. 

Microwave on high for two minutes per fillet. Very large fillets will take a little longer or fun be cut in half.

Serve the cooked salmon with a squeeze or lemon and with whatever salad or vegetables you prefer. If serving cold remove the salmon from the cooking dish, place on a clean plate, cover and refrigerate. Remove the skin before serving.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Solar, Photopolymer or Sun Plate Workshop

This weekend I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in a Solar, Photopolymer or Sun Plate workshop at Studio 54 with the Print Sisters Annie Day and Robyn Ezra, you can read about them here  have had a little experience with making this type of plate / printmaking but was quite interested in their approach and the technique for inking the plates a la poupee.

The first step in the process is to organise both suitable images and then to have them copied onto overhead transparency sheets. I selected a couple of photos and images that I thought may be suitable and they were reproduced.

The next part of the process was make test strips. The plates are expensive and it is better to do a small test plate to determine the time that the plates need to be exposed to the sun or UV light box.

The small tests strips are inked and details of exposure recorded for reference.

Once you are happy with the exposure a full plate is made and things can still go wrong,


The original photograph of my cat Rosie.

The plate

First print and Ghost print using traditional inking method.

A la poupee


Drawing onto drafting paper.

Test strip and inking onto scrap paper.


Print from test strip

Printed using traditional inking method and a la poupee.

Leaf Litter

The original photo

Inked using the traditional method.