Sunday, May 31, 2009

16th century corset making & cheese toasties

M and I are working on her Florentine outfit based loosely around Vincenzo Catena's Portrait of the Unknown Lady.

We were inspired by La Signora Onorata Katerin da Brescia's post on making a similar outfit. We aren't going to follow the painting's gown exactly, rather we'll use it as a model for the style as this outfit isn't for the SCA or other re-creation event, so we're happy to create a generic gown of the time, using the painting as a style guideline.

So far we have made her camica using Festive Attyre's excellent instructions. This happened last year, but in-between work, a long trip to France, summer holidays and then work once again intervened and so we have just commenced on her corset.

We used the online corset generator on Elizabethan Costume to draft our pattern, another fabulous resource for costume and recreation dress makers. To bone the corset we are going back to Festive Attyre to use the Boning with hemp cord instructions. I have already made myself a camica and corset using the above methods, so it was all pretty smooth sailing the second time through and I have a photo of them as my Twitter background.

So here it is ready to be threaded with twine, can't get hemp rope so we are using a natural twine, its a tad hairy but it worked fine in mine. . We have used four layers, two inner layers of moleskin for stability and the outer layers are a lovely golden tapestry and a black moleskin so it can be reversible. When she's finished threading it, I'll put a piccie up.

To see the rest of the gown's development visit this blog entry for the next installment.

We finished our winter avo of sewing with cheese toasties, no-one probably needs a recipe for these, but just in case, here's our vegetarian version:

To make one cheese toastie:

2 slices organic bread, we used sourdough spelt and rye
Thin slices of a good tasty cheese, enough to fill your sandwich
Thin slices of organic red onion, as above
Thin slices of organic tomatoes (straight from your garden is the best)

I don't use butter, the cheese has enough fat, but use if you like it. Make the sandwich, put into your sandwich grill and cook until cheese is melted and bread is toasted brown. Serve hot, we serve it with home made dill pickles and fefferoni. Scrumptious!

We ate them so quickly, I didn't get a chance to take a photo, corset making is exhausting work !

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not buying it birthday presents

It was my birthday over the weekend and I was really pleased that my friends worked in the spirit of our not buying it year with their presents.

K & S gave me the most wonderful green silk scarf from their own stash of scarves, D & S a present of 12 bottles of home made cider, which is as good as the organic home brewed cider we had in Brittany last year, their kids made me fabulous birthday cards with stickers and glitter, and my friend in Germany made me a recipe book that she entitled German Cooking.

In her card she says 'Since you are "not buying it" this year I would like to present you with a home made gift. I collected ten German recipes that are very cheap to make ... they derive from times when Germans had to make ends meet and use whatever they had including yesterday's leftovers. I hope they will add a new flavour to your cooking".

The book is full of fabulous recipes such as Elderberry Soup, Nudelauflauf, Poor Knights, et al and over this year I shall make each and everyone and blog about them. For those of you that have been reading Edna's Recipes, my blog about my mother's cooking, you'll know my heritage is German.

I am extremely pleased to have been given such creative, thoughtful, hand made and recycled presents.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Live local challenge

Blue Mountain Bliss is dedicated to the Think Global Act Local philosophy and the newly launched live local challenge, is a fabulous local initiative running in Sydney this week.

The challenge has been created to highlight the importance of living locally to ensure a sustainable Sydney into the future and to challenge us all to reduce, reuse and recycle, grow our own food and make our local community a part of our lives, rather than be separate from it.

The challenge was launched last night at Table 20 in Surry Hills and you can read about the fabulous locally sourced food and drink that was enjoyed on the blog.

The first two participants, Rebecca Varidel (yes, the Rebecca of the ANZAC biscuits post) and Kate Carruthers, are challenged to:
  • meet their neighbours and the people who work in their community
  • eat delicious food grown as close to where they live as possible
  • minimise the use of fossil fuels, especially for transport*

* This will be the hardest one for a lot of people. Walking, bicycles and public transit are good ways to reduce (and to keep you closer to your own neighbourhood!). But this challenge is about experimenting and being creative, not about absolutes. ( Live Local blog).

Both will Twitter @frombecca and @kcarruthers and blog their experiences during the seven days of the challenge, Rebecca at and Kate at .

Each of them will tackle it in their own way and I recommend you follow them on Twitter, read their blog posts and give them heaps of encouragement and pointers to useful resources if you can.

You can join the challenge this week as well, just send an email to info AT livelocal DOT org DOT au and tell them when you're starting or post a comment on their blog.

The Live Local challenge has similarities to Get Up's Climate Action Now initiative that we participated in back in 2007.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Edna's recipes

Its turning into a beautiful autumn in the Blue Mountains, the European trees are changing to their brilliant autumnal browns, yellows and oranges, fragrant wood smoke from slow combustion stoves scents the air and the mists are filling the valleys. I love the seasonal nature of where I live.

I have been away from Blue Mountain Bliss blog for a week as I've been busy with study, work, and house hunting, all time consuming occupations taking me away from the blog sphere and my kitchen and studio.

However, I haven't stopped writing and I have been creating another blog, a blog in remembrance of my mother and her cooking, I've called it Edna's Recipes as its a cyber record of my mother's hand written recipes between the 1930's to the 1970's. So why not go and visit it and read about the 'make do and mend' generation and how her cooking reflected her love for me, my father and my siblings. Happy mother's day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Celebrating the Celtic New Year with apples and pumpkin

Last night we celebrated the Celtic new year, Samhain, with mulled wine, good food and great friends. The 'wife' carved out a pumpkin lantern for our entry hall and we surrounded it with locally grown apples, nuts and pomegranates, all the bounty of the autumn harvest.

The 'wife' also made a delicious mulled red wine, based on Ypocras , a middle ages recipe, where red wine is simmered with fruit, honey and spices. Her version was cinnamon, Whisk and Pin dried fruit compote (made in the Blue Mountains), allspice powder, fresh ginger, fresh orange slices, brown sugar, sherry, and a little bit of rose, it was rich and aromatic, perfect to toast in the new year.

We set the table with golden colours and candles and had red and yellow candles lit throughout the sitting room.

Our feast started with nuts, pecamole made by me, cheeses brought by K & S and champagne by J1 & J2.

Our dinner was a Moroccan styled apple and pumpkin dish that I sourced on the inter web and I won't re-post. I made two versions, one with chicken and one with white beans for our vegetarian, both worked with the spices, apple and pumpkin. It was a very old world dish with no potatoes or tomatoes, but the new world was represented by paprika, and I added a fresh red chili and a large glug of Riesling. It was served with cous cous mixed with mint, green peas and pomegranate seeds and a green salad. I didn't take a photo of either sadly, but the cous cous looked bejeweled, I should have used some edible gold leaf as well.

Desert was up-side-down ginger and pear cake, I did take a belated picture after we had eaten half of it!

Now the making if this cake has a tale. Earlier in the day we went to Two Front Doors for breakfast, they make the best coffee and food in the mid-mountains. Dave Clarke, the chef and owner, has recipe books to flip through, I found this recipe and copied it out and tucked it in my pocket, but later when I went to find it, I'd lost it! I was saved, of course, by the inter-web, and found a good recipe on . The original, but lost, recipe suggests serving it with creme fraiche and this was an excellent foil to the very sweet but flavoursome, pudding like cake.

Happy New Year all, may the new year bring you joy, delight and happiness - merry met all!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Baked veggie soup for Samhain

Its Samhain, all hallows eve, or halloween, in the southern hemisphere tonight, a time to reflect and to remember our ancestors.

Its also cold, I have a cold and I want soup and soup is a perfect autumn meal for tonight.

Commercial ventures have us celebrating halloween at the same time as the northern hemisphere, but the 31st October is Beltane in the southern hemisphere, a time for lovers and weddings, not a time for remembering our ancestors.

We're having our celebratory Samhain feast tomorrow night with friends, so tonight's soup is a bowl of soul food to warm us on this night of remembrance. Traditional foods for Samhain include beetroot, turnips, squash, apples, corn, nuts, gingerbread, cider, pomegranates, mulled wines and pumpkin dishes.

I have a dish of left-over baked veg begging to be used and good, home made chicken stock in the freezer. These veggies are a combination of onions, carrots, potatoes and pumpkin, perfect for tonight. It helps me remember my parents, Edna and Don, who came from the 'make do and mend' generation.

To make 'left-over' soup, I don't use a recipe, but there is a basic method to it, if you want something more precise, my friend Cath's recipe on The Canberra Cook for her Leftover Roast Something Soup will hold you in good stead.

For tonight's soup I used half a litre of my home made chicken stock and combined it with the baked veggies in a saucepan.

Depending on the number of leftover veggies, you may need to use more stock, it also depends how thick, or thin, you like your soup.

I then added half a glass of white wine. I didn't season until the end as the veg were baked in organic olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper, rosemary from the garden and lemon juice. You can add extra herbs, more garlic and onion (chopped finely and gently sauteed first), some ginger is nice or chili.

I brought the stock and veg to the boil, dropped to a slow simmer, cooked gently for about 30 minutes, or until the flavours combine.

I let it cool, checked for seasoning and then whizzed the whole thing in the blender, when ready to serve, I gently reheat.

You can add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream to each soup bowl and serve with organic sourdough toast smothered in organic butter - perfect.

Every time I make this soup its slightly different, it depends on the veggies used and the colour will vary. Tonight's a beautiful orange colour and very flavourful, perfect for Samhain.

Merry met all!