Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And they're off!

On your marks...

Get set...


These big boys love their baby girl cousins. We had time for a last bit of fun on the weekend before they jetted off for four months in the US. Bon voyage, guys! We'll miss you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Downward Puppy

I wish my downward dog had been this perfect back in my yoga days. Kid didn't inherit her mama's hamstring issues.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spring top

The yarn sat in my stash for over a year. I finally cast on four months ago. I was 99.9% finished weeks ago when I ran out of wool with just the tiny neck band to go. The place I bought it had sold out but, amazingly, I found someone in Sydney via Ravelry with a single ball of the exact wool in the same dye lot, and she was willing to sell. It arrived in the mail last week. I finished the neck band two nights ago. I sewed in the ends last night. I washed and blocked today and it dried quickly in the glorious sunshine. And now, with five days till summer, my spring top is finally finished. Something tells me it will have its day come autumn.

It's the Sage Remedy Top knit in Eki Riva Casual alpaca and took just over 8 skeins (I added about 4cm to the length which may explain the shortfall).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bird and Clouds

Today, a spot of appliqueing. A little bird flying on a shirt for L (design filched unabashedly from here). And another cloudy romper for a friend's new baby boy. I think I need to work on my machine stitching skills...definitely looking handmade!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coffee and squares

Two nights ago I got eight blissful, uninterrupted hours of sleep. Last night it was back to the bad old days, with about half a dozen or so middle-of-the-night wake-ups from the whiney-pants twins, then a bright and cheery good morning from their big sister at about 6am. I needed coffee. My morning cup of tea has been spoiled by a recent attempt at going dairy free (don't ask - we're trying to get to the bottom of some digestive and other issues with one of the breastfeeders). Black tea's not my thing, but I can handle black coffee if it's made well. Alas, my first attempt at a pot of plunger coffee went terribly wrong - too strong and beyond repair with no recourse to extra milk. No mind, the babes were having a nap so L and I left them with the Garbageman and scootered up to the local cafe. The first sip of my soy latte was heaven. Unfortunately, an absent-minded swipe of my arm saw the rest of it sprayed all over the floor. Deep breath. 

Back home after a stop at the park, I popped the kettle on to attempt plunger number two. Dum-de-dum, chores to be done, things to tidy, washing to hang, pour the water over the coffee, walk away, pick something up, put something away, return to the pot...something's wrong. Kettle hadn't boiled, the water I'd poured over the coffee had been cold. Sigh.

I did eventually get a cup of coffee. I'm still tired, though. The good news is this week's mighty achievement of finally, finally, finally learning how to make a granny square. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

9 months old

A bunch of gratuitous cutie-pie shots to celebrate my babes being out as long as they were in (give or take a week or so). Happy 9 months, my little ones. xxx

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The recipes

Following yesterday's mammoth post, here are the recipes. Beth has kindly pointed out that "1/4 butter" could be 1/4 pound butter, ie, half a 250g block, which makes perfect sense and also brings the butter contents of both slices into line. She also pointed out that 10 oz is 300g - which would be a ludicrous amount to add to the caramel layer. On closer inspection of the recipe, it actually says 1 oz. Phew!

Granny's Slice - A

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 butter or marg {let's assume it's 125g}
1 cup SR flour
1 cup coconut

Sift brown sugar {sift sugar, Granny??}, cinnamon and flour. Add coconut. Melt shortening, add to dry ingredients. Press into greased 11x9 tin. Bake 12 min in moderate oven {that's 180 Celsius}.

1 tin condensed milk
1 oz butter
2 tab. golden syrup

Melt butter and condensed milk and syrup. Combine well, spread evenly over base. Replace in oven until it changes colour - about 20min. Cool. {Granny underlined that so it must be important.}

3 oz copha
3 level tab. cocoa
Few drops vanilla (I use lemon juice sometimes) {quoted from book, not me...}
3 level tab. icing sugar

Melt copha (slowly). Remove from heat. Add to sifted icing sugar and cocoa. Add vanilla/lemon juice. Pour over caramel. Leave to set.

Granny's Slice - B

1 cup SR flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup firmly packed br. sugar
125g butter, melted

Grease 20cm x 30cm lamington pan. Combine sifted flour, coconut and sugar in a bowl. Add butter, stir until combined. Press mixture over base of prep. pan. Bake in mod oven 15 min or until browned lightly. Pour hot caramel filling over hot base, return to oven about 8min, cool. Spread warm choc topping over caramel filling. Stand at room temp until set.

Caramel filling
400g can sweetened condensed milk
30g butter
2 tab. golden syrup

Combine all ingred. in pan, stir over low heat until just combined.

Chocolate topping
125g dark chocolate, chopped
30g butter

Combine choc and butter in pan. Stir over low heat until smooth. (Not suitable to freeze)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The vote, the verdict...

With practically all of Granny's living descendants in the one place for 'Christmas' last weekend, it seemed an ideal opportunity to test out the two versions of her famous slice that appear on the pages of her recently rediscovered recipe book. My idea was to present both slices to the family in a blind tasting and have them vote on which one they  believed was the one Granny had brought along each year at Christmas. I was pretty sure which one it would be - obviously the one she'd marked "My Choice" in the book. Would I be surprised? Would the proof be in the tasting? Would we finally have the answer, and the recipe, for the true, original Granny's Slice? 

The recipes are actually quite different. Let's call the left-hand slice A and the right-hand one B. Here we have the base layer and, as you can see, A is much paler than B, and also a lot drier. Recipe A calls for half the butter of B, but it is written in imperial measurements and simply says "1/4 butter" - which I interpreted as a quarter of a 250g pack. This turned out to be not nearly enough to hold the dry ingredients together, so I added a little more. I suspect that "1/4 butter" is a different quantity altogether. The other main difference is that A has a teaspoon of cinnamon in the base, which affected the finished flavour dramatically and made the comparison between the two stark.

I should also point out here that these two recipes use self-raising flour in the base, whereas Bill Granger's recipe, which I have cooked several times in recent years when trying to emulate the Granny's Slice of the past, uses plain flour and baking powder. Could this make much of a difference? Hmm...

Here we see the two slices with their second layer - the caramel filling. Slice A is much darker, which is partly because I got distracted and let it burn slightly in the pot, but mostly because the recipe says to bake it for 20 minutes, as opposed to Recipe B's 8 minutes. That aside, the actual ingredients are almost identical (well, they are if 10 ounces of butter is the same as 30 grams) and, upon tasting, I found there was little to no difference in the flavours of these two caramel layers.

Forgive the dreadful night-time photo, but here we see the third and final layer - the chocolate topping. Dramatic differences come into play here - dare I say illustrative of different times in Granny's life. Slice A's topping is pulled together with copha and cocoa, while B's is a much more modern melted chocolate and butter. So that's the forensic breakdown complete. Now the voting...

I should point out that during the tasting/voting process, there was some confusion as to what we were actually voting for, and the whole thing was made trickier by the fact that some of the tasters are recent additions to the family - hubbies, lady friends - who couldn't bring to the table any true taste memory of the original slice. So some people voted for their favourite of the two and others were dead-set certain that either A or B was the real McCoy and voted accordingly, putting preferences aside. So ultimately, despite a landslide win to Slice B (eight votes to A's two), the answer is still as unclear as it ever was. My big sis, who has a pretty savvy palate, was one of the two, and that plus Granny's own hand indicating "My Choice" in the book leads me to believe Slice A is the original. However, I much preferred Slice B and was torn between wanting to know which was the real thing and wanting the real thing to be the one I loved the most. Because I suspect that, even if A is the original, I'm going to turn to Recipe B when I feel like some of Granny's Slice. And it doesn't seem right if it's not.

But perhaps we'll just go along with Big Sis's theory - A was Granny's choice, yes, and the slice we enjoyed for many a Christmas with its rich dark caramel, its cinnamon-scented biscuit base and its...chocolate-less chocolate topping...that is until Granny chanced upon Recipe B one day, tried it out, preferred it over the original (just like her favourite granddaughter all these years later) and did the switcheroo without saying a word to anyone.

So the verdict? They're both Granny's Slice. Now you bake them both and see which one you prefer.

(Recipes to follow...it's late...must sleep...)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas comes but...twice a year

My sister and her family seem to have a thing for white Christmases - each year around December they head over to the US to enjoy the skiing and celebrate the festive season Northern Hemisphere style. Which means that if we're going to have any sort of Christmas celebration together, we need to do it before they go. On Saturday we pulled out all the stops, putting on a yuletide knees-up like November has never seen. There were presents, pre-lunch swims, post-lunch swims, a front yard cricket match, carols around the piano, a three-course meal fit for the pages of a glossy food mag, bubbles and wine and caprioskas and more. It really felt like the real thing.

{Tommy Claus}

{Henry and Lola under the Christmas tree}

{Half of the Melbourne contingent}

 {Harry in the trampoline stands watching his dad on the cricket pitch}

{Tasting plate of smoked salmon, seared teriyaki tuna and kingfish sashimi with ponzu dressing}

 (Rare roast scotch fillet with crispy garlic and rosemary potatoes and greens}

{Brown sugar pav with berries and cream}

There were nine children in total - ages 10, 8, 6, 3, 3, 2, 9 months, 9 months and 3 months. Six of them slept overnight in the one room. Then the next morning we got up, had an early morning swim, enjoyed a traditional boxing day breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, packed up the various cars and headed off in several directions to sleep off the frivolities. Joyeaux Noel xx

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Containing

Busy life getting you down? Not enough hours in the day? No time to shower or eat, let alone baby-proof your house to cope with two increasingly mobile babies? Never fear - I've found a cheap and effective solution for keeping them in one place and out of harm's way.

{Would you check out those eyelashes?}

Oh, and because I feel like there might be an attempt to learn to patchwork in my future, I'm entering this giveaway at Retromummy's blog - she has twins too!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Few Things...

..giving me no end of pleasure on an otherwise humdrum day:

:: A completed, hand-made floor cushion for the book nook.

:: Beautiful, brand-new couch FINALLY chosen and ordered (less pleasing is that it won't be delivered till January).

:: Lovely new striped maxi dress from a well-known chain store that is surprisingly flattering on my how-do-you-say "slightly frumpy" post-twin-pregnancy frame. I might just get out of jeans a few times this summer.

:: One little peanut delighting in sitting independently, which has meant less of the whingeys and more happy upright playtimes. And I reckon her sister is only a few days away from doing the same. (Check out Esme doing downward dog on the rug. I didn't notice that till just now...)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've joined in my first ever KAL (that's knit-along) and, for added spice, this one's a mystery KAL. That means the pattern is fed to us in small stages, and we don't know what it is we're making, except that it's a garment for a child (I've chosen the girl pattern, for obvious reasons). To start with, I battled with the long-tail cast-on method. Think: me sitting in front of computer with hands and needles and wool everywhere trying to follow online tutorial, swearing and sighing all the way. The first time I tried this I failed. This time I cracked it and now I actually get what the point is - it's a very loose, elastic cast-on for what I suspect is the neck.

It's all been put together by Tikki, who is an Australian children's knitwear designer. I'm just a bit excited. We'll see how it goes. The Ravelry page for it is here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Might be time to babyproof.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Vest

The thing I'm finding about blogland is that you're constantly adding things to your list of things-to-do, inspired by something someone else has made somewhere out there. I saw this gorgeous little baby vest some time ago at the beautiful blog of a very talented patchworker, and found myself clicking along to Etsy and purchasing the vintage pattern for myself. And when I got my hands on some lovely organic cotton recently with the uplifting name of 'Sombre' (from Spotlight of all places), I decided to put it into action straightaway. 

It's taken a few weeks, a few rows here and there, but here's the finished product. That picot edging around the neck and arms is three hours of my life I'll never get back. And I'm not convinced cotton is right for this pattern - it looks like it might stretch and lose shape quickly. The entire thing took exactly one ball of yarn. Literally. Not even a metre to spare. I haven't had a chance to try it on one of my babes yet, but I suspect it might be a bit big. I'll add it to the pile of "to grow into" clothes.

Lots of almost finished projects in the pipeline - hopefully I'll be able to report back with some soon.


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