While staying with my folks recently, Mum and I made a batch of beef croquettes. This starts with simply boiling stewing beef in water. That smelled so good that I had a sudden thought that maybe the problem with my beef stews is the vegetable bulk? So I'm trying a more beef centric stew version to test that. Of course I couldn't resist making it more complex than just beef in water, but there is very little volume in there other than beef and enough liquid. Anyway while I remember what I put in the pot:

750g stewing steak, cubed and with the chunkiest fat evicted
brown this in olive oil in 3 batches
deglaze with a glass of red wine
add: 3 smallish flat mushrooms chopped
~1T tomato juice/passata
1 cube frozen parsley
~1/2t dried thyme
shake of hing powder
~8 turns black pepper
grated nutmeg (maybe 1/8t?)
enough water to barely cover

bring to the boil, drop to a simmer for 2-3hrs, lid on. Must check for seasoning later, the only salt in the above is in the parsley (and tomato goop I suppose). I mean to thicken it a little at the end and treat as pie filling.
montjoye: (Default)
( May. 8th, 2016 01:08 pm)
Right. I've added ties from the side seam to the side of the front panel. Hair up, long beads, slightly darker stockings, heeled shoes*, lipstick.

It's still not the most wonderfully flattering frock ever and I'm not sure yet if I'll wear it to the folk's shindig, but I'd be perfectly happy to be seen in it.


more.... )
I wanted a dress to wear for my parents Golden Wedding celebration. I decided to use a length of panel printed silk crepe I've had for a couple of years, but was struggling to find design inspiration to turn it into a frock. Then I remembered this lovely and simple dress I found in Kelvingrove art gallery, Glasgow back in 2008. A child's dress in silk batik. Made by Jessie M. King in 1923. I think it's delightful and I spent quite a while looking at it. I came up with a plan to position the printed panels that I thought would be pleasing.


So I made it up.


I'm rather curvier than a small child, so the effect on me is not that flattering. Another trademark elegant sack? or just ugly? It is very comfy and nicely floaty though. I'm still interested in garments from simple rectangles, triangles, but they are challenging to make look good on a curvy figure. One needs a big enough circumference for the outward curves, shall we say, but then there is too much bagginess around the inward curves :-)


Like most loosely fitted things on a curvy girl, it looks better when I'm moving. Some will find these pics amusing.

.     .

Now I need to decide if this acceptable? or simply too dowdy and I need to think again?
montjoye: (Default)
( May. 1st, 2016 10:26 am)
Jotting this down because the dessert pizza topping combination last night really worked, though the (doushkasmum's home built, wood fired) oven wasn't at optimum temp and the base didn't cook properly.  It had cooked a bunch of really good savoury pizzas first and I put the sweet ones in too quickly after the fire was replenished.

On your pizza base, put a thick smear of ricotta, another goodly spread of apricot sauce. Top with dark chocolate buttons and slivered almonds.

Come to think of it, I could do something like this at home if I really wanted.
Posting this in case some find it useful. Also because I'm delighted to have come up with another useful variation.

I will only buy free range chicken, and buying it in pieces is expensive. So every so often, I buy a whole free range chook, from which I get at least a dozen meals, sometimes more.

The legs and wings make two meals. I usually make a ginger/soy/honey marinaded slow cooked thing with noodles and veg. Tonight I did a baked thing with cream/zucchini/mushrooms/rice instead.

The thighs make two meals. My standard is a cacciatore variant

The breasts make about 4 serves. I usually do satay or curry but random pasta sauces are also good.

Then the new thought was- instead of just making stock from the resulting carcass, steam the meaty carcass for half a hour. I put thyme and bay in the steaming water. Let this cool, strip the carcass and one gets about a cup of cooked chicken, useful for sandwiches, pasta, pizza etc. Say another two meals. If you have inexpensive white wine, use that for all or half of the steaming water. Either way, the resulting water is a rich stock.

The steaming water counts as stock, then one can boil the bones(including the any of the other bones you haven't already boiled) for more stock. Say 1-2L stock that will make 4-8 serves of soup.
Edit- more like 1L or less stock from only one chicken carcass. I usually collect the bones in the freezer and make a larger amount, hence my confusion.

Not bad for just one chicken.
montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 25th, 2016 12:56 pm)

I feel the Montjoye beer stocks are getting thin. So to help decide what next to brew, I've just been through the cupboards and done a stocktake. There is still a great deal of booze!

13 PET bottles of Golden ale. This is 49 x 330ml serve equivalents. I'll take this to parties and events in the prompt.
the rest are all in small glass bottles, 330ml or near that.
7 of Little Teapot stout- nice to drink in cold weather, and works well in a stew.
9 of Amiable Ale English mild- best drunk unchilled but I think this has gone too fizzy to take to parties now- like much of my brewing sadly
16 Twice Bitten dry amber lager. This has been very popular. I think it goes down better in hot weather, so this might sit for a while.
2 Free Falling pale ale (hopped with Cascade only, hence the name). Other people seem to like this. I think it's a bit boring.
7 Festival ale (English best bitter)
6 golden ale. This was supposed to be pretty much the same as the one above, but I think there was a mix up with the grain. It turned out weak and I added "adjunct" to strengthen it
36 Merry Measure brown ale. I like it, it's a lighter take on a brown. It wasn't hugely popular at the CF tasting, some thought it sat between styles.
So 83 serves of beer in glass. Plus the PET makes 132 serves (plus the few bottles in the fridge, which I didn't count)

13  of the 2015 apricot cider- likely the most popular thing I've made yet.
55 or so of 2016 apricot cider not yet bottled.
36 mulberry cider. Really too dry to be pleasant to drink. It might develop. Works fine in cooking.
56 a full batch of the new ciderry
Which makes160 serves of cider.

Or 292 serves of booze, not counting the various macerated spirituous things in the pantry, or the bits and pieces of mead and fruit wine.

Writing this confirms that what I am short on is pale ale. So the next brew will be a pale, hopped with Citra, which I haven't used yet but comes recommended by Rurik. I'll see how that tastes, but I have only a precious couple bottles of my favourite- a Nelson Sauvin hopped beer (this one is a lager, but I prefer it done as a pale ale). So I'll probably make one of those too.

I'd like to redo the brown ale that tasted AMAZING at 18mths old, and lay it down for... in 18mths time. This started out quite hoppy and sweet. The last bottle I drank had developed raisin flavours and was really smooth. Yum, I want more of that if I can manage it.

I'd also like to try something like the amber lager as an ale. I think that would land somewhere near a Little Creatures pale.

Well, that's four brews planned, that'll do for now.

montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2016 07:48 pm)
I suppose I started sewing at about 4 or 5 years old? Pattern darning on hessian to start with, guided by my Mother and Grandmother. Several of those pieces still exist in my Mother's collection. My Mother sewed most of our clothes when my brother and I were small. Initially, much of the fabric came from her old full skirted 50's and 60's frocks. My Grandmother, dear Nana, wanted to be a tailor, but her family could not afford the apprenticeship fees so she had to go to work in a pickle onion factory instead (one of the saddest stories I know). She did manage to study at nightschool however, and had considerable skill. Nan made lots of Mum's clothes of course. Nan (and Gramps) lived with us from when I was about 10, so I grew up with two fairly accomplished dressmakers. Now I have Nan's last sewing machine, sniff.

So large scale embroidery was my start. Then making dolls clothes, both by hand and later machine. Practicing on sewing machines by making "stamps" and spirals etc with old needles on paper. Also making dolls. Pipecleaner dolls and dressing them, often in different country's traditional dress. I was impatient with school sewing lessons because they didn't do things the way my family had already taught me. by late high school I was starting to make clothes for myself, partly because I had access to fabric, but very little money. I kept making clothes all through Uni days, and in the latter part of that, discovered the SCA. Costume became part of the sewing mix, but without much historical accuracy at the beginning.

So many weekends and holidays were all about the gift of time in which to sew. I remember one set of Easter holidays when I was so excited because I had time to make a coat. That coat got made and worn lots. I was so happy both making it, and having made it. For years, I'd spend weekends sewing in the family dining room while listening to one of two sets of albums- Eurythmics or Steeleye Span. I'm astonished in retrospect that my poor family were so tolerant of this.  Yeh I should get out more, or have got out more, but I'd not be as good a seamstress if I had.

I have kept making clothes for myself ever since. Some of the impetus is that I don't have a figure that matches the shapes that retail clothes are made to fit. I look way better in well fitted custom made clothes. I can't buy trousers that fit for any money, or shirts, or anything much except knits and shoes, and even the knits I fairly often end up altering (actually, I've altered a bunch of shoes too). I also love fabric, really love fabric. Well, I really love high quality fabric, especially when I find it for cheap.

I continued my dressmaking education by reading lots of "Threads" magazines, books, and learning things from my sewing friends. Later I found my costume experience informing my general dressmaking. I haven't used a commercial pattern in years. Commercial patterns don't fit any better than retail clothing. I did however learn a lot about garment construction from the instructions in the commercial patterns I worked with for years.

You know that advice for writers? "just write, lots, keep doing it, write, really". Well for me it was sewing. I could simply not count how many garments I have made, or altered, or remodelled. So many. Mumblety years worth. I'm pleased with what I can do, but I suppose I feel I ought to be able to do more. This was not though my paid career. So it's just a well developed hobby, but if I'm away from needle and thread for too long, I crave it.
montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 9th, 2016 10:58 am)

Yet another thing with apricots. This was a kilo frozen, halved, overripe apricots found in my freezer on defrosting the other day. Defrosting this gives lots of liquid and sludgy apricots, not neat halves that one could dry. So my latest experiment was to try for dried apricot leather.

Boil down the apricot goop as far as you can. I got it to a thickish paste. The dehydrator I have on loan didn't come with supports for fruit leather, so what to use? I went with flattened patty cake cups. They sort of worked but were not the best thing. I took the rounds to dry enough to sit on the drying racks without sticking or falling through. By that stage, the fruit had glued itself to the papers. I got the rounds off with a flat knife but it was hard work. Then I further dried the rounds to a successful result.

I'd say the technique works, but I need better substrates for the initial drying phase. Silicon baking sheet?

The finished dried rounds:

more pics )
montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 9th, 2016 10:21 am)
Allium free tomato ketchup take 2. Identical to the first try but with double the spices and no celery (because I didn't have any). The first one was good enough for me to eat it all in about 6mths.
Website of inspiration: allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-ketchup/

1 jar tomato passata (~700ml)
2/3 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar from Weaver)
slosh water
generous half cup of brown sugar
3/4t salt
1/2t mustard powder
1/2t freshly ground black pepper
2 clove
2 allspice berry

Passata to saucepan. Rinse with vinegar. Rinse again with small amount water. All into saucepan.
Add all other ingredients
bring gently to boil. Stir lots or it will spit.
Simmer further until the consistency looks like tomato sauce.
Remove whole spices
Bottle in sterilised vessel.
montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 8th, 2016 08:43 pm)
2.5 litres apricot juice/pulp (yield from 4kg after freezing, defrosting and squishing through a brew bag, last year yield was 3L)*
(no campden or pectinase, first time without, lets see if we get haze problems?)
18 litres clear apple juice (Aldi)
4g wine yeast nutrient
champagne yeast

starting density 1.045, yeast pitched today.
27th April, 1.004.

*so in 2015 I think I managed two rounds of freeze and defrost. I also simmered the apricots a bit to help release the juice, but panicked that it would ruin the flavour or cause haze. Neither of these feared problems eventuated, I got an extra half litre of apricot juice and one of my best drinks ever. Lesson in that for 2017. 2016 fruit only had one extended freeze.
Based on my favourite Apricot Rhubarb chutney but twisted towards orange, inspired by recipes on the net (by Delia and Antony Worrall Thompson)


Apricot Orange Chutney:

2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
zest  and chopped flesh of one orange
1/2c sultanas
500ml (2 cups) cider vinegar
1 c (210g) light muscavado sugar
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated (well out of a jar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½ t cloves (lifted out towards the end of cooking)
1/4 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1t tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander seed}
2 t mustard seeds}
½ t cardamom seeds}- dry fried, then partially ground in the mortar
plus the cassia sticks from the sauce below

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved, then boil gently until thickened. Remove cloves and cassia towards end of cooking. Bottle.


This year's apricot sauce:
2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
1kg white sugar
finely grated rind and juice of a lemon
2 cassia sticks

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved.
Ignore with lid on while finishing some other stuff for maybe half to an hour. This allows the cassia to infuse. Remove cassia, blitz apricots, replace cassia, simmer for 10min, remove cassia, bottle.
Some time ago, I aquired a refractometer in order to be able to measure brew densities more quickly and using less volume than the hydrometer needs. I was warned that refractometers only work for "density" (really a conversion of sugar concentration in water) when alcohol is not present. I was inspired to run a little test on the last three beers I made. The starting density measurements matched really well between the two methods, but further on in the process, not so much. My very limited test suggests that the two methods differ increasingly with increasing alcohol content results below. So I'll use the refractometer for OGs, but not use it at all after the ferment starts.

montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 4th, 2016 01:29 pm)
I got sick of cleaning things, so I've broken that up with setting up my next brew. This is that 20L of apple and pear juice that I scored for $1/L. It's 37.5% pear juice 'cause I cleared the shelves of the 50:50 mix and had to buy some plain apple to make up 20L. It's Berri brand clear juice.

The yeast is Vintner's Harvest SN9 which several people on Lochac brewers recommended as good for cider, leaving a fuller mouthfeel. So I'm doing a very simple ferment to test it.  vintnersharvest.com/products/vintners-harvest-wine-yeast-sn9. My brew stash doesn't have any simple cider left so this is needed anyway. I do still have a few last bottles of strong home pressed "harvest" cider, about half a case of apricot cider and quite a lot of the very dry mulberry cider. The latter I'm thinking of as primarily cooking booze.

OG 1.043
April 12th, no gloop, 1.004, some spritzig
April 21st, still no gloop, spritzig faded, 1.005, 5.0% abv, bottled.

June 8th
Reporting in on how this went. I call it a success. Nice soft mouthfeel, definitely less dry than with champagne yeast. Fairly light flavour, but it is only cheap commercial juice. I under dosed the carbonation sugar so it's low fizz. Must remember that my ciders don't have the same late ferment issue that many of my beers suffer.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2016 10:37 am)


-Made a mouse guard pouch, four gold tassels for Miriam and fourteen red wool buttons for William.
-thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with my people, but left craving more. I really must do that drive to Siddly and CF next year is feeling more likely.
-loved the good news of dear friends being recognised for their awesomeness.
-did my duty in getting to the LPT (which I love anyway), the Laurel meeting, the Rose tea (which was more fun and inclusive than I feared) and did two gate shifts (which involved hanging out with mostly people I like, with the bonus of meeting a nice dude too)
-sang in Greg's LPT entry, which was one of the most solidly successful SCA singing performance I've been involved with. Hurrah. A skillful team and enough rehearsals for the win. The Exultate we did for midwinter a few years back might equal it?
-was far too grumpy at the beginning. I blame the quartet of my inner control freak, neat freak, anxiety monkey and hormones. I must remember this is likely to happen every time and cope with it better, or not go.
-Cooked some good stuff including the two curries I made for pre game- best I've ever done. The bresaola came out better than ever too, such that one lady said she now wants to marry me :-)



These biscotti are a new experiment.  I wanted something both more authentic and gluten free to do with the egg yolks leftover from the macaroons below. I've made an HA recipe for "bisket" a few times before, which is nice, but is too brittle to transport successfully. www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec47.html

(Ooo, or there is this one that I just found  www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/bisket-cakes.htm)

The biscotti recipe I used is a "traditional" italian one*, and not far distant from the medjeeval one, but less fatty, no cream or butter and with the sugar in the mix rather than used as a dredge.  www.cooks.com/recipe/o23qs8us/italian-biscotti.html

My changes:
used GF flour
leave out the vanilla
used 4 yolks and 3 whole eggs
divide the mix in two (actually I made it up as two separate mixes)

One half add:
1/2t aniseed, crushed and mixed with the dry ingredients
1/2 cup unblanched almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted in the oven

Other half :
half this sugar was light muscavado.
finely grated rind of one orange mixed into the egg
~80g pistachios
(I don't have any historical basis for the orange and pistachio. I wanted some alternate flavour for those who don't like aniseed and R had already planned a sweet with rose water)

I think I left them in the oven a bit too long in the drying stage. They are still tasty though, just a bit more toasty than is perhaps ideal.

Gotta say, GF flour sure is different than wheat flour to work with! First time I've used it.

The macaroons below are the same as I did last year montjoye.dreamwidth.org/422789.html.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2016 08:43 am)
2kg beef/pork mince browned in olive oil
two sticks celery chopped
3 small carrots grated
1 200g turnip grated
4 leaves savoy cabbage shredded
two parsley blocks
1T sweet paprika (would use more but ran out)
2t smoked paprika
1 375g jar tom paste
1 stubbie mild ale
water to not quite cover.
Bring all to boil, then down to a slow simmer for a couple of hours.

This is the tasty stew I made last night, and then binned this morning- because the bottle from the beer I put in it, had glass missing around the rim, which I couldn't find. Far better to bin it than risk feeding glass to my mates. So I need to do all this again, maybe tomorrow. At least I have buckets of paprika available this time. Jotting down what I did while I can remember, because it smelled amazing and I don't seem to have recorded my previous paprika stew experiments.

replacement  effort used 5T sweet paprika

11th May version is half size but with 4 heaped dessert spoons sweet paprika and no tomato paste, <1/4 small cabbage. Let's see how that goes.
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 12th, 2016 11:13 am)
Another piece of lovely linen has been made into a thing. I think I bought this piece from tangent woman? It was too small for most things I could think of, but was enough for an apron. I deemed the fabric so nice that it deserved a fancy hem. I've been working on it as my medjeeval project when I didn't have a more urgent one since festival before last. In the last little while I decided that 2 years was quite long enough to work on an apron though, so I decided to get it finished for this festival. Done.


montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 7th, 2016 02:17 pm)
With my hips sore after a 2hr walking/shopping trip, I was motivated to get to the mattress enhancement project on my festival list. I have a rope bed, with a half thickness cotton futon and a feather topper. All home made, which is nice and all but this rig leaves me tossing and turning with sore hips after a night or so.

those two lumps of foam are latex mattress offcuts I got at Reverse Garbage a couple of years ago. Dr Nik helped me lug them and compress them so I could get them home in my suitcase. I had visions of making a mattress topper with the thick piece, but of course there is less of it than I had imagined. I could possibly achieve this anyway if I could manage to cut it in three pieces horizontally. Rather a job. Apparently electric carving knives are the best way to cut this stuff, and I don't have one. So... in the short term, I decided to make a small pad for the hip zone out of the thin topping strip.


I cut that in three and encased it in some left over cotton canvas, which some might recognise from an ill conceived attempt to cover the BBQ shelters at Tara.


I quilted it very coarsely by hand to prevent the pieces shifting, and sewed down the edges of the canvas on the machine. Voila! I hope this is a bit more comfy. I will find out rather soon. It could hardly be worse.


And yeeess. This is a single mattress. It fits better in my tent than a wide bed dammit.
This was an opshop find that I pounced on to replace my old favourite gardening jumper*. Same colour, a little larger, far fewer moth holes, but with a stiff scratchy zip. I cut the zip out, stitched up the resulting two layer edge and put two buttons with loops as the new closure. I'm so pleased with the transformation. From a harsh, cold, modern look to a soft, warm, old fashioned one. Much more appealing to me anyway.

The end result:

reconstructed "before shot with the zip just placed in position.

*a lovely soft Burberry one found in a charity shop in Edinburgh, dahlink.
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 2nd, 2016 12:55 pm)


All put into cure two weeks ago, or 5 weeks before game on

800g eye fillet

100g salt
100g sugar
5g Prague power #2
5g peppercorns}
large sprig fresh rosemary-leaves stripped}
4g juniper berries} ground in coffee grinder with a little of the salt

Reserve half the mix
Rub other half into meat
Seal in bag- fridge for a week, turn daily
Dry off meat, rub in other half of cure, repeat the week of fridge+turning.
Quick water rinse, dry. Vinegar rinse, dry off again, weigh and record.
Tie, wrap and hang as per link until 30% weight lost.
Slice thinly and eat- with olive oil and lemon juice is recommended.


Salt pork
~1kg pork belly, preferrably with skin removed by a good butcher. (turn that into crackling and try not to eat all at once)
pack pork in salt (in ziplock bag is easiest). Fridge for a week, turn daily
Drain off liquid, add more salt. Fridge for a week, turn daily
Quick water rinse, dry. Vinegar rinse, dry off again, weigh and record.
Rub a mix of ground pepper, cinnamon and cloves in the surface
wrap, tie and hang.

This year the pork is in three pieces because the butcher was crap. Not using these people again for meat to be preserved. Fingers crossed the smaller pieces still work.

Weights- I forgot again and these are with cloth, ties and clips
Bresaola- 610g
Pork - 500g, 375g, 125g.



montjoye: (Default)


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