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Sunday, 22 April 2012

More recreating favourites

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Yes, another cooking post about recreating favourites. I can't help it. This one has come about at need, so I figured I would blog about my adventures making it. Yes, I am sure we all know by now that I am pregnant. And what comes with pregnancy? Food cravings. Yay! And what do I want? Thai food. Or more specifically the lovely sticky coconut rice that Thai takeaways and restaurants have on the menu. But guess what, our local Thai delivery takeaway has gone out of business, no others in the city deliver to our area, and I am not going to hack off my darling husband by sending him miles out of the way for one portion of rice! So, time to experiment and see if I can learn how to make it.

I am very lucky to have an Asian supermarket in walking distance, so if I manage to figure this out, they can expect some repeated custom from me that's for sure. So I have been scouring the internet trying to find out what I need, looking at rice cooking methods (because oddly enough, to do it right, its not as simple as bung it in a pan of boiling water and drain when its soft), and comparing notes between recipes and methods, trying to distill them down into something basic that really can be done with a pan, a stove, and ingredients I can get hold of easily.

The hardest thing to find, is the Thai jasmine rice. And to do it right, apparently it needs to be jasmine rice. Though when I say hard to find, it seems that even my local supermarkets carry it! Bonus. So the hard part isn't all that hard. Secondly coconut milk. That I can get anywhere. Thirdly stock, chicken or vegetable, pick your poison. Today I am starting with some home made chicken and vegetable stock I finished in the stock pot yesterday while the AA were replacing my car battery.... its a long story and not relevant here. But cooking stock kept me from cursing and swearing about the car.... And lastly, salt. As far as I can see, these are all I need.

Most recipes work on amounts that boggle my mind, that would feed the five thousand it seems to me. Here's me with issues eating anything much bigger than an apple because I have a tenant squishing my internal organs, and I cannot fathom cooking that much rice. Not to mention this is my first trial run. I only want to cook enough to test if it works, and be able to reasonably eat in a short space of time. So after running through tonnes of conversion charts (cups, what a silly unit to measure things in as the volume varies based on whether you have a solid or a liquid, what size is a standard size cup? Do I own the right size cup? etc etc) and I have come up with this. Probably enough going on the rice packet instructions to allow for one large portion, or for pregnant me, two small ones that are just right.

100g of Thai Jasmine Rice
3 fluid ounces of stock of your choice
4 fluid ounces of coconut milk (not the light stuff, the good thick stuff)
a big pinch of salt.
  • So here we go. Apparently you put everything apart from the salt into your saucepan, give it a stir, and now leave it to soak, no heat for 20 minutes. I think I can handle that. 
  • Now add the salt, place over the heat and bring to the point of simmering. Gotcha.
  • As soon as it simmers turn the heat down to its absolute lowest, put on a good fitting lid or tightly cover with foil, set a timer for 15 minutes, and DO NOT TOUCH THAT LID. Seriously, everything I have read stresses this point. 
  • Your timer goes off, take it off the heat WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID and leave for another 10 minutes.
  • You may finally remove the lid, fluff the grains with a tool of choice and serve.

Of course you can garnish. Toasted sesame seeds are the Thai restaurant's garnish of choice, I have seen coconut shavings too, and the internet suggests fresh coriander. Go mad, do what you feel. Maybe all three?

So the verdict? Is it any good?

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First off, the amounts of liquid to dry rice work out perfectly, the texture is spot on to the restaurant stuff, as evidenced by my ability to do the fancy dome of rice thing, as its sticky enough to do it with, but light enough to eat without being a solid blob. Flavour is a little less coconut in your face than the restaurant stuff, however, it is right, aromatic on the nose, and very enjoyable. As a recreation in the home, I am giving it two big thumbs up. 

I did get some of the slight browning issues on the bottom of the pan I read about, but so very slight as I cannot taste it, and it hasn't scorched. The amount given in my recipe above gives two domes of the size in my picture, so enough for two nice light meals. I am really very pleased with myself and enjoyed my stir fry with Thai coconut rice very much!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Lazy is the word alright...

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I have been terribly remiss. I meant to do this blog post earlier this week, but I have just been tired and drained. Ah that's all part of being pregnant for you. And I have had a sick husband and even our son has had it. I avoided it thankfully. Or had it first and didn't have it badly. And I have been a touch distracted too I can confess. the small one starts preschool next week so its been a flurry of filling in the paperwork, marking all his clothes and sorting him out a little school bag. Monday will be visit day, then he starts on Wednesday, his third birthday! He's going to love the big football cake his dad got him!

Craft wise I have finished another shawl. This time the Lazy Katy pattern on Ravelry. As you might be able to tell from the top picture, this is another knit made from my handspun. It started life as this lovely braid of English breed wool from Yummy Yarns UK:

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Yes, yes, my Yummy Yarns UK addiction is showing once again. I can't help it, honest. The colours are wonderful, and this braid was called Lake Sunset. Very  appropriate I think. I got brave, and tried out chain/navajo plying for this one, and was really pleased to come out with a lovely fingering weight 3 ply yarn:

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And preserving the colours was so very worth it. The choice of pattern was rather easy, as I had spotted the patten before, but hadn't got a yarn I wanted to knit it in, till I made this. But the kicker was the crochet cast off. When I planned this knit, I couldn't crochet at all. But recent successes had made me bold, so I went for it. Thing was, I had far more yarn than the pattern called for, and wanted to use it. So I got to trying to make it bigger. It went well in the main, but when it came to the set up for the lace edging a couple of increases were fudged in there to make the stitch count work out. But that's just between you and me. I can't tell where I did them anyway. Though blocking it was quite an adventure, trying to get its curves preserved and the lace pinned out nicely. But I think I did well enough.

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Yes the only way to get a good picture in daylight was to drag the blocking mats out into the garden  so I had a sort of flat surface to lay it on, but I am very pleased with it. The crochet cast off was confusing from the chart, but once you figure it out, its incredibly easy. It just took forever because there were so many stitches. But I am very pleased, and will most likely be wearing it when we go to visit preschool on Monday. Now if only this rain would stop so hubby can finally plant the potatoes out...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

You spin me right round....

SAM_0397 Yay for a cheesy blog post title ;)

Anyway, I think its obvious the topic of this post is spinning. I am of course knitting, but spinning seems to have grabbed me a bit this week so I have actually been making some progress there and my knitting has been crawling a little. But to be expected. Its helping me stay away from the baby knitting till after the scan. Which is even harder to do now I have a baby bump!

So, spinning. Of course the silk brick is a looooong, slooooooow project, but I actually did spin some this week.

The big mover has been the fact I finished a yarn! Woohoo! Been a while since I did that ;) Some of your will remember from my January 'what's on the spindles' post that I was spinning some BFL/silk that I won as a prize in the Tour de Fleece last year.You can see some of the fibre above. I did split the roving down the length and spin into two singles with the hope of aligning the colour but... yeah, the best laid plans of mice and men. One ply was thinner than the other and the colours did not line up the way I had planned. However, I do still think its a beautiful yarn:

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Its 122g, 650m of 2 ply light fingering weight yarn, actually a really nice yardage. Not sure what I will do with it yet, but some ideas are floating round my head. The way it plied the reds dominate the yarn with some colour variations as you can see, but very pretty.

So I have cracked on with another project.  This one is about intentional spinning for me. Basically I have been spinning a tonne of lace recently, and even the previous yarn was on the lighter side of where I planned it. So, trying for a thicker single, looking for definitely fingering weight or heavier when the yarn is self plied. What is the fibre? This giant batt from KnittyAndColor. (The brit in me rebels at not putting a u in colour but that is correct).

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This is 4.3 oz of pure sparkly fun in one giant batt. The colour is off by the way, the green is a lime neon, but my camera washed it out. Made from BFL, Falkland, Merino, Firestar, and Angelina I am not spinning with any intent, merely tearing off random handfuls and focussing on the thickness of the singles, and sitting back and enjoying the hell out of it. I'm using my TexasJeans spindle for this one as its one of my heavier spindles and is very content not spinning superfine singles. Here's a small cop, but I have already spun a fair bit more than that. Winding off into a centre pull ball for easy self plying.

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In other spinning news, I have had a couple of new spindles join the family this year. Firstly a 35g ThreadsThruTime medium Turkish spindle in cobalt blue.This one I acquired through a destash from the US, mainly because I wanted to try another type of spindle out, as thus far I am a top whorl drop spindle spinner. I have given it a try, and its not the neatest winding, but I am getting the hang of it:

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I do find it significantly slower than my top whorl spindles though, so I think I shall remain favouring the top whorl for some time to come yet.

And the most recent addition to my collection came just this very morning. Already been out for a spin, this one is a top whorl in the mushroom style - a new one for me, from Katherine Kowalski, or daystar07 on Etsy. 22g, made from dyed hardwood with a holly shaft:

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Utterly beautiful wood turning in the most amazing dyed woods for striking whorls on her spindles. I can be honest and confess I have been bowled over by her designs before, but managed to hold firm. Till she listed a few with holly shafts. For some reason I have a weakness for that pale, pale wood. Its a beautiful little thing, and after test driving it earlier with some merino/silk I had lying around... the other half of the tuft you can see spun on the turkish in fact, its a superb little spinner, spins with ease, fast spinner and I am a very happy customer. Now to keep myself from buying a matching distaff and nostepine...

So that is where I am at, playing with pretty spinny tools and shiny fibre and having a good time ;)

What are you all creating at the moment?