Knitting for Little Creatures

So it seems that there’s a baby cluster happening in my little world. My boy’s awesome cello teacher and his wife just had a daughter, my girl J.’s due date is on Halloween (seeing very cool birthday parties in this kid’s future), my lovely tattoo artist E. is due on Christmas Eve, and then end of February, my sweet friend M. is having her third girl in a row, much sooner than anticipated.

As you can probably imagine, my crafts brain (right next to the lizard brain, it’s there, I’m sure of it!) has been busily thinking about baby stuff, and I’ve been playing with yarn more than I have done for months. It helps that the pup has settled down some, also I’m getting into the groove of the fall season. This year, it began with my knitting a dog sweater. IMG_1370Charlie has this very fine, silky coat, which we all love petting so much. Unlike most other breeds‘, his unfortunately doesn’t come with an undercoat. If I ever made fun of people who put coats on their dogs in the winter in the past, I’m eating my words with a big spoon right now, regretting every pun I ever made, because, lovely people, dog clothing is a thing. I don’t see us not taking walks in the winter because we’re too cold, right? We just wrap up in warm coats, and off we go. Why would I not give my dog that option, seeing that he needs to be outside even more than I do?

On the first day temperatures dropped to around 15 °C, I started looking online, and wasn’t really loving any of the sweaters I found, simply because they’re all made of acrylic yarn. As you know, I’m more into the natural fabrics. So I had a basic idea of the sweater’s construction, more like a vest, really. A long tube with holes for the front legs. I knew it needed to be longer in the back than in the front, given the anatomy of male dogs. You don’t want dog pee on fabric of any kind, hence the front needs to be a crop.

So I started thinking about it, made a little drawing, and went through my yarn stash. Fellow crafters know how it is – there’s always yarn that hasn’t found its true purpose yet. I unearthed this reddish-brown pure new organic wool that matches Charlie’s coat to a t. I immediately knew I wanted to do something with a textured pattern. Then, believe it or not, I actually got out the tape measure. It was my first project like this, and I found I had no idea how long my dog really is, or how wide his shoulders are and stuff. So I measured him, I swatched, and I cast on a test piece – which turned out to be the right size, awesome.

About halfway in I realized I didn’t have enough of the reddish brown yarn, so I went through the options in my stash again, deciding with my friend M. of the impeccable taste’s help that navy would go with it best. So, the finished sweater now has a navy neck and navy details I added later on. It was a three staged process, and now I feel it looks just the way it needs to look, it’s long enough in the back and it seems to be comfortable enough ;-).

As for human baby things to knit, I just mailed these IMG_1479.JPGto the string musicians‘ baby (mom’s a violinist, dad’s the aforementioned cellist), and may her teeny little feetz be warmed as well as look pretty.

Since our future nephew has a mom who also likes to knit, I’m not even going to bother making him socks. Instead, I just bought a lovely handcrafted baby wrap in the most gorgeous shade of coral – in a way, somebody else did the crafting for me :-). I fondly remember using my own baby wrap on a daily basis after my daughter was born – there’s really nothing like having the little ones close to your body the first months. Magic times :-). If you’re wondering, this is the one. Beautiful color, right?

The other two ladies with the bumps are a different matter. One’s my tattoo artist friend E. who is amazing at her craft but doesn’t really do yarn and fabric, no doubt because she’s too busy with managing her thriving business, 2 kids and a cute, energetic Boxer dog dude. E. will hopefully be happy to wrap her baby in what is going to be a multi-color stripy knit blanket, the beginning of which you can see here.

Again, I made a swatch (see bottom left) – and wouldn’t you know, the real piece turned out to be too wide the first time around anyway … still, I’m happy to have seen the way the colors are going to blend into each other. For the correct color sequence, I enlisted my daughter’s help. She knows these things way better than I do, much in the way I just instinctively know what a sauce needs to become its most delicious self. She just throws colors together, and it would take me hours to achieve what she can do in a matter of minutes. Amazing! As a beneficial side-effect, this project will be diminishing my yarn stash very nicely, thank you.

For my friend M. who’s having the February baby, I’m not sure what to make, yet. I did order some gorgeous pastel colored merino yarn that made me think of her, but for now, I’m busy enjoying the stripy project. It’s a very uncomplicated pattern – just knit, knit, knit and knit some more… easy while I’m binging my way through Queer Eye, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I was going to. My sweet niece M. who is also my media guru said it was worth watching, and so I gave it a shot. In the beginning I was watching mostly for Tan the fashion expert (this guy)’s sake, but in the meantime, all five of them have grown on me. And yes, I have shed a tear or two, just like everybody else.

Have a lovely time with this early fall weather. Isn’t it great? Scarves, and hats, and long sleeved clothes, and all the bright autumn-y colors to look forward to. img_7150.jpg

Werbeanzeigen

Slow Day, Slow Food

IMG_E1306I really thought I knew all the important stuff about home-made focaccia: make a fluffy yeast dough, add tons of olive oil, bake, the end – this is what I would do whenever there was an urgent demand for it. Filling a focaccia had never occurred to me before I recently learned about Gorgonzola-filled focaccia (basically you roll out two layers of dough, smear the Gorgonzola in between, seal the edges and bake, much as you would a calzone). This apparently kicked open some doors in my creative mind, and since I’m kind of smitten with baking stuff in the shape you see in the picture, this is what happened in my kitchen yesterday.

Fabulous Focaccia Buns

I was working, as I often am, with leftovers: there was some lemon-and-basil pesto I had made the week before, I had sun-dried tomatoes and some parmigiano already grated.

So basically I rolled out the dough, spread the pesto on it really thinly, strewed the cut up tomatoes and the grated cheese on top, and cut it in three about 12 cm wide, long strips. These I rolled up lengthwise into three ’sausages‘, then cut them in 3 cm long sections, which I set in a round baking dish lined with baking paper. After generously sloshing on some more olive oil, I put it in the preheated oven at 160 °C.

Btw, to make the dough, I used fresh yeast (1/2 cube), approximately 500 g spelt flour, as well as 1 cup of warm water, 2/3 cup of olive oil, 1 1/2 TBSP sea salt and 1 TBSP sugar.

The lemony pesto was made with very little garlic (no more than 1/2 clove), three 3 cm long pieces of lemon peel, as well as the usual mix of basil, parmigiano, pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil. I think I also added a bit of arugula and fresh parsley, a handful of each. It was a nice pesto :-).

The little morsels you see up there went away like the proverbial hotcakes at my Fair Planning Committee meeting yesterday night. There were three pregnant ladies present, who happily munched on the small buns ;-). They made for an excellent snack, and I will experiment with other fillings in the future.

We’re on the (hopefully) last leg of the current heatwave (temperature’s supposed to even out into a reasonable 20 odd °C next week), and I’m waiting for response on a test translation I submitted this week. I’m probably not the cheapest option they have (rarely am, with my not exactly exotic language pair that is offered by many, many colleagues around the world, some of whom live in countries where they can survive on a fraction of what you need in Western Europe), but I’d be really thrilled if they decided to work with me, as it would allow me to go (if only vicariously) on two really epic hikes in the Himalaya. Fingers crossed!

As for now, I’m stuck with this:IMG_1299and of course this little dude:IMG_1298who loves the lake-shore but not the water ;-). And yes, life could be way, way worse.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody.

Next Project, Please

Phew. Weeks of translating Italian cuisine have come to an end, with my submission of the final chapter this morning. The book itself wasn’t particularly challenging – in fact, most recipes were very conventional. There were few dishes I’ve never had before, and most of those were foods I don’t care about, offal and venison and pork – not my bag, any of those.

Introductions to individual recipes are usually the most charming part of any cookbook. The little chatty paragraphs that explain a special ingredient, or the author’s history with a recipe, a little back story of sorts. In this case, there was not a lot to work with in terms of those – this particular author seems to be more of a chef than a writer, so it’s all quite to the point, go hit the chopping board, pots & pans.

So, all in all, a lovely, not very difficult book to translate. This was a stroke of luck, because I was struggling with my time management a bit. Working part-time, being a new Dog Mom, not to mention a Mom Who Does School Things… I managed not to drop any balls, but my attention span left a lot to be desired! Don’t know how it would have been with a manuscript of lengthy chapters and/or complex content. All you people with brainy jobs who are also responsible pet owners, I tip my hat to you. How TF do you manage, and not lose your minds?!

But now this job is done, my brain is deep-fried, and my body has responded to the stress by giving me a mean bitch of a migraine. I’m so glad nobody is expecting great things of me today. All I need to do is go see the dentist and cook my children dinner. I’ll walk the dog, and I’ll do laundry. And I’ll write a rambling post for my stitch friends :-), while I’m still too zonked to talk to potential clients about my next assignments. Tomorrow, maybe.

So I was going to share with you guys two recipes. The first is a perfectly seasonal celebration of three yummy late summer ingredients:

Chanterelle Mushrooms, Green Beans and Arugula (on Pasta)

Seems random, you say? Well, that’s because it literally was the contents of my veggie drawer on a day I needed to whip up a quick meal for kids & friends. You may be familiar with this situation. The combined flavors of the aromatic chanterelle mushrooms, the scent of the rosemary, the fresh, creamy green beans and the peppery arugula were surprisingly good! It had never occurred to me before to put beans and chanterelles in one dish, and now I have, and my son has asked me to make it again, so praise from high places. Maybe I can take a picture next time I make this and add it later on – because today, there’s no valid photo of the dish. It was late, we were starving and we finished eating before I even thought of photographing. I have two other pics that are vaguely similar. Maybe you can kind of merge them in your mind’s eye :-).

Just picture the above mixed with a nice bowl of fusilli pasta, tossed with a couple handfuls arugula, a splash of olive oil and a dusting of black pepper, topped with coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.

In my large frying pan, I sauteed 1 chopped shallot and 1 clove garlic, about 500 g chanterelle mushrooms and 500 g green beans, all at the same time, with a twig of rosemary and sea salt. Meanwhile I boiled the pasta, grated the cheese and washed the arugula.

Drained the pasta, mixed it with the vegetables in a large salad bowl, let sit for a bit, then tossed in the arugula. Put pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste on top. And sat everyone down for an impromptu and very satisfying meal.

The second recipe is also experimental, for me anyway. When it comes to sweets, my taste-buds seem really conservative compared to my friends‘ – no orange and basil ice-cream for me, and I don’t go in for the whole marzipan and goat cheese flavored chocolate (I just invented this, no idea if there is such a thing, the combo sounds gross to me), thank you very much … However, last week I had a wonderful organic iced tea with peaches and rosemary flavor, and no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It was absolutely delicious. I had wanted to make peach jam anyway, and that iced tea made me want to try to give my peach jam this precise, subtle rosemary zing. So I did :-).

White Peach Jam with a Twist

2 kg white nectarines or peaches (skin the peaches if you want – same procedure as when blanching tomatoes)

Appropriate amount of gelling sugar (there are different types, check the fruit/sugar ratio before cooking)

1 lemon, squeezed

1 twig fresh rosemary

Proceed as described on your gelling sugar package – in my case, this was: wash, pit and cut up the fruit. Puree with a stick blender, then mix with gelling sugar. Bring to the boil and cook 4 minutes on high heat, stirring all the while. During these minutes, put in the whole rosemary twig so that your jam can absorb the flavor. Here’s the tricky part – too long, and the rosemary may become too dominant. Too briefly, and the flavor may be too subtle. You want to test frequently until the flavor is to your liking. Do not double dip – use as many spoons as it takes if you don’t want germs, and I’m not kidding. At this point, bear in mind that the concoction may seem overly sweet now but will seem less so once cooled. I guess you knew this, now I feel stupid reminding you of these basics. But for those of you who are new to jam making, it may still be valuable content, so.

Remove the rosemary immediately and discard. Stir in the lemon juice and let boil one more minute. Test the jam’s consistency by putting a little spoonful on a plate. If it sets as it cools, your jam is done. Put in sterile jars, stand those upside down for a minute to seal, then put them right side up and let cool.

This jam has been tried and approved by a prestigious jury with: toast, bread, crispbread, buttermilk pancakes, crepes, and on one of the rare occasions I was craving something really sweet, I ate it plain with a spoon. Je ne regrette rien :-).

Finally, crafts. As I pointed out in the beginning, I was kind of too busy to even think about stuff like that. Okay, I did make a granny square on Granny Square Day over lunch, here, feeling all the autumn-y color feels:img_1202.jpg
But over the past weekend there were car rides, and since I wasn’t driving, I got to finish one sock and the first half of the second for my sweet little friend A. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:IMG_1290.JPGAny day now. My daughter has dubbed these the ‚Night Socks‘ – she has a point, doesn’t that yarn look exactly like a starry night…? My little poet.

May you all have a lovely, late-summery week.

Time Is Fleeting

An old friend posted a video of clouds passing overhead on his IG yesterday, asking ‚when was the last time you just watched clouds passing by?‘ in the hashtag. Funnily enough, this was precisely what I had been doing myself before I took my phone to check my IG. He lives on the East Coast in the States, I’m in Europe – and there we were, doing the exact same thing, and even the skies looked similar – partly cloudy ;-).IMG_E6670Not having enough time for xyz is a common pet peeve. We all complain about not getting around to accomplishing this or that, or about days being too short, or about having too little quality time with our loved ones. Our days are organized in ways that leave little room for improvisation – work, school, afternoon activities, exercise, chores, appointments … all these Regular Must Dos sometimes make it hard to find room for just about anything that doesn’t have a timeline.

As a person who works from home, my life is blessed in terms of my not having to run somewhere everyday for work. I love that, even if it sometimes means I have to hop when a client says frog, no matter if I’m on vacation or not. It just sort of fell into place this way over the years, and it works out well for everyone – even though my teenager would appreciate more alone time sometimes. On the other hand, he also appreciates me proofing his school assignments, a handy thing if you’re as dyslexic as he is.

And now I have, like, a dog, to quote Detective Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn 99. Regular bathroom breaks, even if they’re not scheduled, do need to happen, and one long walk per day is a must to keep him (and myself) happy and balanced. What this inevitably cuts into is my crafts time. My husband who is both a smart dude and a planner pointed this out in advance, not that I was paying a lot of attention. Before Charlie moved in, I was concerned with things like ‚will he even be happy with us‘, ‚will he be able to cope with city life‘, and ‚how the heck will he and our old kitty get along‘.

Having a cat as a pet, you can pretty much pick up your crafts project whenever you’re done with work and have no other, child-related obligations. With a dog, this is obviously not the case. Walking the pup takes up 2 hours, every day. I do try to get my friends to go with me, so I get to see them even if I don’t go out at night much, and Charlie thankfully doesn’t mind my chatting to someone while he’s off the leash doing his thing. But time for crafts has become scarce, and this is why I only have a measly half of a sock to show – which I made when watching movies at night when the dog was tired enough to simply sleep, without needing me to play, or cuddle.img_1174.jpgThis was yesterday morning when I thought it would be a good time to continue knitting sweet A.’s pair of birthday socks. It wasn’t really happening until later at night when watching a few episodes of Elementary. This is how far I’ve gotten over 1 week:img_1182.jpgSo not a lot of crafts, more walking, less watching the clouds – but all in all, life isn’t so bad.

And since dog or not, we do need to eat, here’s my version of hummus. It’s a mix of my lovely princess N.’s tahini recipe and the hummus tahini I got to know and love in Greece, in another lifetime.

Hummus My Way

1 can chickpeas

2–3 TBSP tahin paste

1/2 clove garlic

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp cumin

Generous squeeze of lemon

6 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP water

Yogurt to taste

Puree the chickpeas with the garlic and the olive oil to a consistency of your liking – mine turned out a bit on the chunkier side, because ancient stick blender, sigh. Add tahin, salt, lemon juice and cumin to taste. Stir thoroughly to make a smooth paste. If you’d like the mixture to be creamier, add a bit of water and/or yogurt. You could put some chili or pepper, but I actually prefer hummus to have its natural, nutty flavor rather than being spicy.

Enjoy with bread, veggie sticks, crackers or on a sandwich.

Thank you for reading, and have a productive day :-).

Ten Foods for Growing-ups at Our House

img_3438.jpgMy children are – among other things – the light of my life, the apple of my eye, my heart of hearts … and I know few things better than seeing them tuck into something I made, and knowing they think I’m a master chef or at the very least the best cook they know. As sweet as that is, it’s of course not true. But I try, and I’d say I am a decent cook, and I also know that I can whip up meals for children in my sleep, no problem.

When I first began to cook, I learned from my dad, and after I lost him way too early at 15, I taught myself. I ate my way through many European countries, North America,  Egypt, Brazil and Thailand (don’t even want to do the math of how much money I spent in restaurants in my life). I read cookbooks, studied them, really, and I have absorbed information on technique, methods, food stuffs and recipes for 4 decades, putting theory into practice every day since I moved out at 17.

It has been a gradual process for me that got me to the point of refusing to put up with bad food. It’s such an unnecessary waste of calories, and seeing how most of us could stand to lose a few, shouldn’t eating actually be pleasurable, and healthy too? I’m not even talking about (very occasional) cravings for a Big Mac, or a Falafel sandwich, or a Terrible Taco. It’s the convenience junk many people eat at their house when they think they’re cooking I’m more concerned about. You may believe you’re preparing a meal when instead all you do is re-heat the flavor-enhancer-laden gunk Monsanto or Kraft Foods want consumers to believe is actually nutritious. It’s bad, it makes us fat and it doesn’t even keep us happy.

Forgive my rant, this is actually not what I wanted to write about  :-). Got sidetracked. What I did want to do is enumerate a few recipes I love but my brood do not. Yes, there most certainly are foods like that. And on occasion, I cook them, too. Let me show you.

First and foremost: polenta! I grew up on it in the Balkans, and I’ve never stopped loving it. In this picture, I topped it with baby artichokes dressed with a bit of garlic, lemon and arugula. IMG_1630Second of all: Risotto! For whatever reason the kids don’t like it (probably good for husband’s and my waistline), because we both do, a lot. Below, as you can see, it’s topped with green asparagus.IMG_3546Third, oddly, ratatouille. They will eat tomato sauce, they will eat peppers (zucchini not so much), but for some reason they will not touch this wonderful celebration of summery vegetables.IMG_2411Fourth, sadly, they won’t have anything to do with pumpkins. This was a dish I threw together for my son’s veggie ex girlfriend – a ginger and rosemary flavored cream sauce with cubed hokkaido and its summery cousin, courgettes. S. loved it, as did I, but my kids did not :-/.IMG_0265The next one, fifth, is a fifty-fifty miss. Son detests it, daughter enjoys it – lemon and garlic chicken thighs and vegetables baked in the oven. IMG_0508.JPGThe sixth again unites the disdain of the youngsters: Leeks Quiche – husband and I think it’s wonderful, kids won’t even look at it. Leeks, ew! Quiche, how could you!IMG_1838The seventh is for me only, because there’s no love from the others at our house for the Tortilla Española.IMG_1481Eighth, Arabic fish in cumin flavored tomato sauce, with a handful of capers and bay leaf. It’s heavy on the garlic and absolutely yummy – thank you, habibati N., for sharing.

Okay, ninth is a broccoli or cauliflower casserole, gratinéed with a Bèchamel sauce and strong cheese. Lovely, but hated with a passion by the next generation.IMG_9368Tenth, astonishingly enough, is home made apple sauce. It’s what I have when the kiddos eat rice pudding ;-). The plate you see below contains both, but that’s just for show.IMG_0724.JPGTastes change over the years – this is a status quo of a 17 year old’s and a ten years old’s least favorites. It may not be valid in the future.

Should anybody be interested in recipes for any of the above, please ask. This week is a good one for writing just for fun, so best take advantage of that.

And enjoy your food, whatever it is you will be cooking today. Of course, I’m also interested to know what that is. Let me know!

 

Is Being Right Stupid?

Hi stitch readers, this is your wayward host who, unlike last year, had a Very Busy Summer. There were things I wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t find the time. My days were tightly packed, what with caring and catering for the vacationing brood, my City Dog who had great difficulties finding his footing out in the country, and managing a substantial workload. It was what it was, and I’m happy I was asked to translate this book. The timeframe could have used some work, but translators can’t be choosers, I guess. Anyway, a busy few weeks, with way too brief daily windows by the lakeshore (still, better than just a park in the city, no contest).IMG_0541So, I may have written about this network I’ve been a member of for more than a decade before. It’s a women only organization, and the members are professional writers, journalists, copywriters, authors, translators, proofreaders or editors. I joined when I was still in advertising, and it’s been an off and on relationship for me. Most of my jobs don’t come from there, but I appreciate being a member nonetheless. If nothing else, I’m learning things I would never have known otherwise, my professional life being sort of narrow. I’ve come to like a number of the ladies, even though I can count the ones I’ve actually met in RL on one hand. There are regular meet-ups and workshop weekends. I usually don’t go, but many of the ladies do, and some have been friends for years. That said, this is not true for all of them. It stands to reason, the network having about 600 members.

Just a few weeks ago, there was an incident I’ve been wanting to write about. One of the authors, who evidently used to suffer from a severe, chronic intestinal condition, posted a recommendation for a person offering alternative medicine who was able to help her with her ailment. So far, so good. Next thing that happened, another author heavily criticized the alternative medicine offering doctor for using medically unsound practices. An astonishingly violent kerfuffle ensued, the ladies had WORDS, and what could have been amicably discussed with a final „agree to disagree“ ended with personal insults, fat-shaming and the original poster leaving the network in a huff, after having been called out by a few members for unacceptable netiquette. She did not apologize.

My personal opinion on alternative medicine notwithstanding, I could see where both parties were coming from. One gleefully sang the praises of what, to her, must have felt like a miracle healing. The other was pointing out the dangers of these types of non-scientifically evidenced methods, having been subjected to terrible and irresponsible treatment for autism as a child. Both posters‘ educational backgrounds are in science.

Both insisted on being right, and since the first poster came from an emotional rather than science-based point of view, her arguments were not factual from the get-go. She was the one who dropped the slurs. The other poster, an expert on suspicious treatment methods, has been on the warpath against quacks who promise healing anything from cancer through autism to homosexuality (yes, this is still considered a treatable condition in some places!) for years. Her personal experience has been a bad one, unlike the first poster’s, who by all appearances, actually got better after getting the treatment.

Forgive this lengthy introduction. I need to give a bit of context, even though it has nothing to do with what actually gave me pause about this. This network is remarkable for the professionalism, the diversity (even if there are no men), and most of all, the overall kind tone of voice. There’s a serious zero bitching policy, and that makes it quite unique, in my opinion, for this is not true for a lot of other platforms! As my new favorite TV character, David Rose from Schitt’s Creek, so eloquently put it „The Internet is a breeding ground for freaks!“

So, long story short, both these ladies were so intent on being right that what could have been an interesting debate resulted in a heap of broken glass. It was the one who resorted to personal insult who chose to leave, btw. She was not even shown the door, that’s how kind this network is.

The question I’ve been asking myself is: What the hell is it that makes being right so important in the first place? Why do people risk friendships, or jobs, or even their lives for being right? Greater minds than mine have probably written Very Smart Things about this, I haven’t done any research. I know people have died for their convictions, Jesus Christ, Galileo Galilei, tons of political activists whose names are long forgotten … this is not the same, though, right. It’s just a simple difference of opinion, for f…’s sake, and frankly, the whole thing left me bewildered.

I’m no stranger to disagreement in my own relationship, Lord knows. But ultimately, there always comes a point where I say: You know what? We’ll just remember it your way, or, let’s just leave it at that, or, let’s agree to disagree. Why some people would rather be alone in their knowledge of being right than co-exist with others who see things differently, is beyond me. Is it really so hard to tolerate a view other than our own?

If you have any insight, I’d appreciate your explanation/s. And thank you for reading this far, if you did :-).

What else is there to tell? I stumbled upon a few days off the very last week of the summer break, as my client whom I’m translating the cookbook for up and went on vacation. He would have saved me some anxiety had he mentioned this before, and if I ever get hired by this publishing house again, I’ll be sure to discuss both the time-frame and the actual amount of work up front. As it was, I was simply happy to not touch the computer for a few days, and hang out with my husband and kids instead.IMG_1083

IMG_0679

IMG_1071IMG_1079 My birthday came and went, and there were no guests other than my sweet niece M. and her boyfriend – which was actually a good thing because I was forced to put up my feet, as I’d pulled a muscle in my calf a few days before and could neither walk nor drive or even stand for longer than a few minutes. F—ing painful, these injuries. IMG_0956.JPGMy gift this year (received a few weeks early) was the pup, and I’m so happy with him being in our lives that it makes him the Best Birthday Gift Ever, hands down.

I had absolutely zero time for crafts this time around, and all I did was whip up a tiny sock, as a voucher for my daughter’s friend’s birthday gift in the car back home.

I took the last pic the night before we came home – and to me it’s the most perfect memory of all the six weeks past. May you have a peaceful start into the new school year, and those of you lucky enough to still have vacations to look forward to, have a beautiful late summer.IMG_1081

Food for Very Hot Days

Hi stitch readers, nice of you to drop in despite the infrequent installments over the last few weeks. Sorry but sometimes RL gets in the way of the online business, I’m sure you can relate. I was busy with work, the typical last weeks of school madness and the slings and arrows of getting into the groove of life with a dog (who is adored by everyone except our old lady cat :-(().IMG_0465.jpg

IMG_5985All in all, taking care of the pup has been much less of an adjustment than I would have thought, and I’ve adapted to my new routine with ease. Walking a dog is as good a purpose for leaving the house as I can think of, and probably really healthy for me to boot, because we all know how most types of exercise bore me. I’ve found out that both pup and I prefer walking in the forest rather than at the park, so most mornings that’s where we go after the kids leave the house at 8.IMG_6629So, summer break. Some years this means nothing to do for a couple weeks other than catering to the youngsters and driving them to this beach or that. Other years it simply means working in a different place (as of last week, the country cottage). This year being one of the latter, I never really stop working unless it’s the weekend, and sometimes not even then. But what with the heatwave we’re experiencing, it sure is pleasant to be out here, with the lake a mere 5 minutes away.IMG_0547Eating when it’s well in the 30s (Celsius) is a challenge because unlike some, I’m unable to survive on ice-cream alone. You can’t really not eat, because despite the heat you get hungry. And even though for some odd reason watermelon makes me really full, that is also not exactly satisfying when what your body really wants is something savory.

So today, my son requested a chilled tomato soup. That was, as it turns out, a genius idea, for this awesomeness is how it turned out:IMG_E0692It would probably have benefited from a handful of croutons, but really who can be bothered when it’s 37 °C?! Not me. You want to make this? Here’s how.

Tremendous Tomato and Basil Soup, Chilled

1 shallot

1 green onion, the white bulb portion

1 fat clove of garlic

1 handful of parsley

2 handfuls of basil

5 sprigs of thyme

1 vegetable broth cube

2 cans tomatoes

1/2 l tomato juice

1 large carrot, sliced

4 TBSP olive oil

1 slice of lemon

salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1/2 tsp chili flakes

1 bay leaf

1 small jar capers in brine

Peel and chop the vegetables and herbs, stalks and all. Heat the olive oil and sauté your chopped vegetables and herbs. Pour in some water and add the broth. Add sugar, salt and pepper, as well as the slice of lemon. Bring to a boil. Add the canned tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes with a closed lid so the flavors can combine.

Take off the heat and remove the bay leaf and the lemon slice. Puree with a stick blender. Then (sorry, but you’ll have to, or it won’t have the elegant, silky quality we’re aiming for) pass through a sieve. You may have to do this in batches. Discard the coarse stuff. Add to the strained soup the tomato juice, chili flakes and capers, along with their brine – it adds to the tartness of the soup. Check your seasoning.

Chill the soup thoroughly. If you’re impatient and/or very hungry like we were today, you might as well freeze it – the flavor won’t suffer, I promise.

Garnish with a basil leaf or two. Add to your heart’s desire: mozzarella, Parmesan shavings, feta cheese, goat cream cheese, a dollop of crème fraîche, or croutons. And enjoy :-).

After taking an evening walk with the pup, we were all sweaty and exhausted (it was still 36 °C), and after a shower, I had both a craving and an idea. Peach milkshakes, I thought. We did have a bunch of fresh peaches, and an orange, as well as some frozen pieces of mango, and some vanilla ice cream. The stick blender did its job. It was really, really yummy, and just what I needed after the insane heat of the day.img_0696.jpgThis is how we made our concoction:

Peachy Milkshakes

4 peaches or nectarines (or more to taste)

1 orange, squeezed

4 TBSP frozen mango

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 cup milk

Puree all ingredients with a blender, add some water if the shake is too thick for your taste, and drink up!

And finally, since it was the weekend, and my wayward son came back after 2 days of partying in the city, I also made these, feeling way more like a stay-at-home-mom than I would like:IMG_0679I’m well aware I’ve written up cinnamon buns before, but it’s only recently that I thought of making them look like a bunch of roses from the top – all you really need to do it set them in a round baking dish, next to each other, and voilà, you have this very pretty piece of baking on your hands. The recipe is the same as here. Only they look a lot prettier like this, aaand they don’t dry out as they might do if baked as individual rolls. If they even last long enough to, teehee. This batch was gone after a day :-), and there was only three of us!

So, have a most excellent summer, everyone. I may or may not be back soon with more food stuff. Translating really good recipes is always an inspiration ;-).IMG_0550