Musings of a Lady

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baking - Tea Loaf

One other interest of mine is to learn more cooking techniques that are period to the 18th century but also the 19th century on up.  I like to cook but have not been able to manage a lot of extra curricular cooking since I moved two years ago.  Now that I am getting more involved in historical type events I am relearning how to cook from period recipes.

Now the one I tried yesterday isn't a period recipe but one that crosses probably eras in some form or fashion.  The Tea Loaf.  Made with actual brewed tea.  I got the recipe from one of my cook books I have collected over the years:  The Book of National Trust Recipes, by Sarah Edington published in 1988.  It is from the treasury of British heritage of cookery.  The recipe comes from  the Attingham Park of Shropshire built by the Lord Berwick in the late 18th century.  Anyway, I am not sure I can post the recipe since it is copy write.  Essentially it is brewed tea in which you soak raisins and dried fruit and sugar (brown) then add that to self rising flour and eggs - bake it and there you are.

The results came out pretty good - a little dry and dense but the flavor is good - I used Tetley's tea.

 I didn't have any raisins so I used cranberries and cut up dried Turkish apricots. 

I love to bake - I tend to have mixed results but I keep trying.  Using European recipes is tricky - making the conversions from metrics to English Standards of measure should hit the mark but I don't find it to be spot on sometime.  Nonetheless, cooking is about experimenting and I never really follow any recipe totally by the line.  I just can't - it is that creative bend in my mental sinews.
Suffice it to say, Bon appetite!

Knitting the Mitts - Phew! Got it started.

Well, after literally 20 tries to get this project going, I got this far:
Really, it did take 20 tries to load the first stitches and figure out 1). Getting the right number of stitches on each needle. There are 4.  2). Get the first few rows done and connect the two ends to make a round. (I had to watch 3 tutorials online to figure that one out). And 3). Figuring out the 'false' seam. 

Anyway,  I would get so far and suddenly figure out I did something wrong and have to unravel the knitting and start again.  :(   Never quite got to the point where I had to use 'wall therapy' and toss the entire thing at the wall but I came darn near close.  I am not a great or practiced knitter and so this whole project was meant to be a 'challenge' but also to make something I would like and could use. I am done with the wrap-around scarves and the ski hats.

Working with 5 needles is like working with an 10 pointed (2 points for each needle) octopus.  Three are left on their own to get hung up on each other as you work with two.  Closing the gap between the sections is important - I am doing pretty good with that.  I dropped a couple of stitches at some point but luckily these were on the row I was working on so I could use the crochet hook to fix it.  No trauma or drama there. Phew!

Once you get several inches along and get into the rhythm it actually is kind of fun to see the shape form.  With that said, I am on row 39 and I have to get to row 75 to start decreasing and getting the shape ready to do the part that actually goes around your hand and thumb.  Oh, boy!  Here is another look:
As you can see the 'false seam' isn't perfect - in fact I have no idea if that is the way it is suppose to look.  No, don't tell me...leave me in ignorant bliss of having gotten this far.  :)  I am not going to unravel it again.

I am not expecting perfect - it is my first try at this kind of detailed knitting, so far so good.  Probably should have started out with something a bit chunkier in yarn weight to make it easier but oh, no, I wanted the baby weight... a much more refined look and feel. 

So, that is it for now.  I am embarking on my evening gown for the ADSC Preservation Ball coming up in two weeks.  I had planned on deep blue silk crepe (@$28.00/yd) but I waited too long to go back to the store and poof!  Gone!  So, now I picked up a cerise red crepe silk (@$40.00/yd OUCH!) and will trim in blue (?).  I am going to use that 1946 pattern I talked about a few entries ago that is actually a day dress but I am going to lengthen it for the ball.  I like my gowns simple and elegant.

Have a great day.  I will keep you posted.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A 1948 Sewing Video

A friend posted this on FaceBook.  All you sewing folk who love vintage wear you have got to see this.  It is 18 mins long and wonderful.  Check it out!

18th Century touches to a modern life

Per the challenge from Fuschia's 18th Century Dress blog, I have been seeking ways to incorporate 18th century style to my modern life, so one simple accessory is the fichu or neckerchief.  I have a pretty 1940's silk scarf a friend gave me this year for my birthday and so draped it in to my sweater neckline - which has a self knit ruffle around the neck.  There you go - a bit of 18th century in your life.

Monday, April 5, 2010

18th century knitted mitts project - phase 1

Okay, I am all fired up!  With the help of a good friend, Shelley - (a sister in all but blood) - I have gotten my project to knit a pair of 18th century mitts started.  No deadlines.  Just an on-going project to keep my hands busy when at stitching gatherings, etc.  The mitts are for a middle class woman of the time, so the yarn isn't supposed to be a fine or lace thread.  I chose not to use the sport weight recommended by the pattern, but something a little finer. As I will not be using the pattern's recommended yarn, I made a gauge sample to start with.  The yarn is a pretty hand-died silk-wool so they will appear vintage - not a solid flat modern color.  There were so many pretty colors to choose from but I didn't want to go with a safe "white".  The peach I picked is pretty earthy and neutral.  Here are some pics:

The pattern is from Mara Riley - see link in previous blog.  The trick will be learning to knit with 4 double-end needles.  Yikes!!  I only have ever knitted scarves and hats with regular needles or circular needles.  So, this will be a challenge in many ways but I am up for it.  Will keep you posted.  Cheers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter all!

I want to wish you all a happy Easter and for those of you who celebrate Passover, cheers as well!  My spring break is coming to an end, sigh but I am finishing it with a little dinner for my parents.  Maria at Fuschia's 18th Century dress blog challenged many of us to incorporate 18th century style in our modern dress, well I have taken it a bit further and have begun to add it to my lifestyle - little things here and there.  I love to cook, so I made rolled biscuits, baked a cake and cooked up some southern favorites liberally based on some plantation recipes for black eyed peas and greens.  Mother is bringing a family chicken dish.  Holidays give me an excuse to decorate the table a bit, so here are some shots.  I found the cutest, tiniest pineapple - the favorite symbol of hospitality from the 18th century southern and island cultures.  Here ya, go...
The green and pink grassy bits I found at Target and it is edible 'grass' from Germany.  It was a great find. 

Before I sign off, I want to thank those of you who have joined in to follow my blog.  You don't know how appreciative I am that you are interested in following along.  I have many projects coming up so I hope to be blogging a little more frequently over the next few months, so stay tuned.  Cheers.