Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tour de Couture

While many of my fibre friends start the Tour de Fleece today, I have too much sewing to do.

Welcome to the Tour de Couture.

Since 2007, spinners have been participating in the Tour de Fleece.

The brainchild of blogger Katherine Matthews, the tour is immensely popular with spinners and knitters (hand –cyclists) alike.  The organisation is now in a Ravelry group .

I have been intending to participate for years but there is always something to prevent me.  This year it is wedding preparations.  I have WAAAAY too much sewing to do to indulge in spinning.

So I am the sole entrant in the Tour de Couture.

Every day of the Tour de France I will sew or engage in sewing preparation.  A majority of this sewing will be related to our wedding which is 5 months away.

Today I cut out more bunting.

Our decorating colours for the wedding reception are purple, green and white.  I have been gathering old textiles in those colours.  Many donations have come from friends, but most have come from the free clothing bins at our tip shop.  I am choosing mostly cottons in all shades of purple green and white, laundering the (mostly) garments and sheets and cutting out bunts.

When all the bunts are cut which will be when all the fabric runs out, I will sew the bunts onto strips of old white sheeting.

The larger scraps left from cutting the bunts are becoming other wedding decorations but they will wait for later posts.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Vic's singlet - further adventures in knitting in public

Yesterday I met Vic.

Vic was the best kind of taxi driver. Chatty, interesting and interested who didn't feel the need to lecture me or patronise me or tell me his political opinions.

We discussed lots of things. Smoking and giving it up. Drinking - he doesn't doesn't drink, just a glass or two of red wine with dinner. Football - he barracks for my AFL team's traditional rival. We were in Melbourne so football is the easiest topic of conversation unless you encounter a Collingwood supporter. We don't talk to Collingwood supporters. On this, Vic and I agreed.

Anyway, after we had exhausted the topics of smoking, drinking, veggie gardens and footy, Vic noticed my knitting.

What was I knitting? A sock for my husband.

"Oh!", he said, "just like my Mamma."

Vic is 67 years old and was born just outside Rome. He emigrated from Italy 40 years ago and is the youngest of six boys and the only one of his mother's sons still living. He owns his own taxi and now works only 4 days a week.  His brother-in-law does the other three days.

He told me his mamma knitted socks for all her boys and her husband and also jumpers and undershirts. "Dio", he said, "how itchy those undershirts were the first time you wore them! But mamma said wear them or freeze, so we wear them."

I am so grateful to have the privilege of hearing Vic's story and tonight he is going home to his family and will tell them of his Mamma and her handknitted singlets. He has never told them before.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I like it long and slow

TOF and I have been experimenting.  We are making it long and slow.  And it's delicious.

The newest addition to our toy cupboard is a slow cooker.

Mum had a crock pot in the 70s and I remember fatty and flavourless stews.  But the slow cooker has made a comeback in recent years and there have been definite improvements to the technology.  Ours was $52 from Target and has three settings - warm, slow and fast.  I chose it because you can set the timer and when it's done automatically changes to warm.

We are time poor people with food issues.  Drive through and take away is not an option for us. Well, there arechips at the Maccas - freshly cooked in vegetable oil, gluten free - they suit both of us, except that they aren't particularly healthy and are delicious sometimes foods.  But I digress.

When you have Food Issues or Dietary Requirements, forward planning is essential. We like meals that are full of fibre and flavour, but which are not dependent on fat and salt for the flavour content.  So that combined with our other Dietary Requirements - home made suits us best.  The slow cooker means on the days when we are home for 45 minutes between work and community involvement stuff, a healthy and satisfying meal is available and we still have time to walk the dogs.

Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

(Heavily adapted by a recipe of the same name by Sally Wise (St Sally in our household) published in her book Slow Cooker : Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons.  ABC Books, 2009.)

Serves 4

  • 750g diced lean lamb
  • garlic oil
  • 1 large carrot chopped into rounds
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin (optional - tends to disintegrate and add sweetness, fibre and thickness to the sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder (we like it hot - reduce by half for a moderate heat)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 700ml  (veggie, chicken - whatever you have)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 preserved lemon finely chopped (or 1/4 cup olives)
  • 4 spring onion tops - the green bits only - finely chopped (or half spring onion tops, half garlic chives)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 cup natural goat, sheep or buffalo yoghurt (you can use whatever yoghurt tolerable to you - optional)
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped mint

  • Brown the lamb in batches in the garlic oil.
  • Place all ingredients except the cornflour, yoghurt and mint into the slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Take a little of the sauce and make a slurry with the cornflour.
  • Return to pot for a little longer to thicken sauce.
  • Just before serving stir through yoghurt if preferred and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint.
Serve over rice or mashed sweet potato with steamed veggies or a salad.

Sally Wise also has a set of gluten free recipes on her site.  Most of them are adaptable to be low-FODMAP as well.  Hmm, I feel a challenge coming one.  She is also blogging recipes for those with food intolerances and allergies on Health For Life Kitchen.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Teryaki Chicken Meatballs - low FODMAP style

This recipe is lifted in the main from Kate Scarlata's website.  Kaye is a dietician specialising in IBS and FODMAPs and her site is worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing.

I found it when we had to deal with a bulk buy of chicken breast mince.  What can I say, breast of chicken is high protein, low fat and one of the few meats my delicate digestion can cope with.  When it's 70% off at the supermarket, of course I'm bringing it home. 

I made it as described the first time but the sauce was too sweet and didn't have the balance of flavours we expect from Asian-style dishes.  The meatballs themselves, though, are delicious and quite versatile.  I make them small for better portion control and quicker cooking.

Great tossed through a tomato/marinara sauce and served over gluten free pasta, or served on rice with steamed veg and a little gluten free sauce.  Also good with salad ingredients in a corn tortilla.

Goes well on a toothpick with a dipping sauce for parties.

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs 

serves 4-6


  • 500g chicken breast mince
  • 1/4 cup rice crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ajvar or sample ole
  • 2 spring onion tops (the green bit), very finely chopped (or a mix of spring onion tops and garlic chives)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or garlic oil
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Line an oven tray with baking paper, a silicone baking sheet, or spray with vegetable oil.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  I use my hand to get a good distribution of ingredients.
  • Using a teaspoon of the mixture at a time, roll meatballs.  I get 40-45.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tonnato Spread - naturally low FODMAP

I'm always looking for sandwich style fillings which are protein rich and fit my low FODMAP diet.  They also have to be tasty or I'd really rather not.

I saw this one demonstrated at a local food show recently by a previous Masterchef contestant, Courtney Roulston.  OK, she demonstrated it as a traditional Italian sauce usually served with poached veal (Vitello Tonnato), but take out the oil and presto-change-o, a spread.

I serve this in sandwiches or spread on cruskit type biscuits for lunch with slices of fresh tomato and cracked black pepper.  If I am keeping the carbs low, I dollop into iceberg lettuce leaves with grated carrot, seeded and chopped tomato, some chopped parsley and more black pepper.

It could also go into vol-au-vent cases for a retro party nibble.



  • 185g tin tuna in olive oil (I use Sirena brand.  I also use the chilli flavoured one because the chilli works well for us but it's not traditional)
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 teaspoons baby capers (rinsed*)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice (or to taste.  About 2 tbsns juice and 2 tspns zest to start)  OR  1 tbspn lemon juice and 1 preserved lemon rind (rinsed*)
  • 1 tbspn chopped chives or garlic chives


  • Bung the lot in a blender, including the oil from the tinned tuna.  Blend to a smoothish paste.  I prefer it just shy of utterly smooth.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings.  I tend to add more lemon juice but remember the flavours develop over time.
  • This will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

*It is important to rinse the capers and the preserved lemon rind as the salt can be overpowering

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Turkey Sausage Rolls - low FODMAP version

I've been pretty ill for a few years.  Diagnosis was a 15 months ago and it's taken all that time to find an effective treatment that didn't try to kill me.

I have Crohn's Disease, which is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Neither is curable and one does not cause the other. Strictly speaking they are not all that related.

The treatment for Crohn's is heavy duty chemotherapy drugs, rest, removing stress from my life and being as healthy as possible in all other ways.  

The treatment for IBS is identifying food triggers and removing them from the diet while have a balanced diet, getting enough rest, exercise etc..

So far the best way of controlling the IBS has been following a low FODmap diet.  Now that the Crohn's is stable, my dietician (whom I adore, and that's a statement I never thought I'd make!) has me challenging the different types of FODMAP.  I'm failing most challenges.  It's REALLY complicated.

There is a shitload (that's a Crohn's pun - we find it hilarious) of stuff I can't eat, or can't eat a lot of, or can't have in combination.  Then we combine that with the restrictions placed on my diet by the immuno-suppressant drugs (pregnancy restrictions) and TOF'S Non-Coeliac Gluten Intolerance and my inability to process beef or cow's milk products, we end up making most of our own food.  I leave for work most days with more food than Hannibal did for his Alps crossing.  

So I'll be putting some of the recipes that TOF and I develop on the blog.  I use Pinterest for keeping track of recipes etc, but it doesn't really accommodate the modifications I make.


Adapted from's Turkey Sausage Rolls

Serves 4 if you add a salad or veggies, but let's face it - they will only last the two of us one footy match.

  • 1 cup rice crumbs or other gf breadcrumbs
  • 4-6 spring onion tops (the green bits) very finely sliced
  • 500g turkey mince (or chicken or pork works well, too.  A mix is nice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 small zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ajvar or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chilli or 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli*
  • splash of garlic oil*
  • 1 box Simply Wize Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds*
  1. Preheat oven to 220C or 200C in a fan-forced oven.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or spray with vegetable oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix rice crumbs, spring onion, mince, thyme, carrot, zucchini, tomato paste and seasonings to combine.  I find it most effective to use my hands.
  4. Taking one sheet of pastry at a time, roll out on a floured surface.  Don't try and roll too thinly or it will stick like you know what to a blanket and be about as useable.
  5. Make a sausage of a fifth of the mince mixture the length of your pastry and about 1/3 the width.
  6. Place along one edge of the pastry sheet.  Brush opposite edge with egg.  Roll pastry to enclose filling. cut the roll into two or three even pieces at this stage depending on preferred serving size
  7. Repeat for all remaining sheets of pastry.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.  I find GF pastry requires a little longer to cook than standard pastry.
The sausage rolls are great straight away, or we like them warmed, wrapped in foil and transported to the Bruce Stadium to eat at half-time when the Brumbies or the Raiders are playing at home.

Sometimes I have mince mixture left over.  I take teaspoons full, roll into balls and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.  They are great lunch box treats in a corn tortilla with salad or served with steamed veg and rice.

*optional depending on tolerance and preference

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Strays - an opinion

The StraysThe Strays by Emily Bitto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher's blurb:
On her first day at a new school, Lily meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.

Looking back on those years later in life, Lily realises that this utopian circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

This is more a response than a review.  I'm very tired this week and have not the patience or energy for a better structured or thought out review.

Emily Bitto's first novel is a well written  exploration of intense female childhood and adolescent friendship. A bit long through the middle; some editorial pruning would have helped.

This passage, for example, while it spoke to me and I was delighted to find it, was not really necessary for Lily's mother's character development.

For the information of knitters reading this - the following passge is the only reference to knitting.

p. 117

My mother began to knit again, a pale yellow jumper she was making for me.  We had picked out the pattern together; it was to have a pearl button at the neck and slightly puffed sleeves.  Over the following days my mother knitted almost without stopping: while she ate; while she talked to the nurses; while she sate by my father's bed.  She fell asleep knitting in the chair beside him, woke up, continued to knit.  She was like one of the fates, sullenly, determinedly knitting out the griefs of the world. Somehow my mother's anxiety, and my own, became entangled in the wool of that jumper, caught up in the purl of its weave so that it would always be tainted for me, as if it had absorbed the medicinal stink of the hospital, the image of my father, ashen, with his eyes closed, the thick sheets drawn up under his arms, the knobbly cotton blanket tight across his chest and over the bulky casts encasing both his legs, his toes protruding from the bedclothes so that their colour could be monitored - my mother and I had to fight the urge constantly to pull the blank over them to keep them warm.  I would never wear that cumper.

In the end I didn't really care about any of them. Particularly the cruelly manipulative Trenthams but not even very much about Lily.

Was going for 3 stars - really it's 3.5.

My 7th book for the Australian Women Writers' Challenge 2015.

Source: Libraries ACT

View all my reviews