Synaptic Boogie

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What is a Synaptic Boogie you may ask, and what or who is dancing it? Well, let me tell you, those are neurons on the t-shirt dancing this boogie. Eh? I guess this is what happens when a bunch of neuroscientists sit together for several weeks – their mind just goes all boogie…..

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Anyhow, this is t-shirt no. 2 from my husband’s beloved t-shirt collection. Since t-shirt no. 1 was refashioned for our little one, t-shirt no. 2 was destined to be transformed for my older boy. I cut for him a t-shirt and to make it a bit more interesting, I used contrasting colored thread and blue cuff fabric for neckline and sleeves. This was only the second pieces I made following a design by Ottobre and I was utterly confused about where to add seam allowance and where not. As a a result I did not add seam allowance to the neckline and now it is a bit too wide. I should have at least added a wider cuff…. But my boy loves to be able to wear papa’s t-shirt, although it is still a bit too wide. I hope this thing will last long enough for my boy to properly grow into it. And he wears his t-shirt with short I showed here!

Pattern: Ottobre 3/2013 No. 11 “Birthday Fish” t-shirt, without applications.

Fabric: old t-shirt, cuff fabric from local fabric store.

Will I sew it again? Yes, I like the pattern. And hopefully next time I will be better about the neckline….

This blogpost  is my contribution to Made4BOYS! and my kid wears!

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Reine Claudes

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My mom has in her garden a large tree of  reine-claudes (English: greengage; German: Reneklode), named after Claude (1499–1524), the Duchess of Brittany. Every other year its brunches break (literally) under the heavy weight of its fruits. They are ripe now while we are here on vacation, and we are busy with cooking jam, making compote, canning and freezing the delicious fruits. And of course we are eating them en masse straight from the tree.

The reine-clade is a wonderful rather old fashioned fruit. It has soft and juicy flesh and a delicate skin. I guess because it cannot be transported so easily, and has only a short self-life it lost its attraction to the food industry and thus is barely known anymore (even though it was cultivated in the gardens of Washington and Jefferson!). My mom knew it from her childhood and she planted this tree in her garden a few years ago. We love its fruits very much and we bake a delicious sheet cake almost every day, while the fruits last. By now I made this cake often enough to finally actually measure the ingredients and write it down (I am very much a rule-of-thumb kind of gal when it comes to cooking and baking….).

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Reine-Claude Cake:

For a baking sheet of ca. 30x40cm.

Yeast Dough:

  • 500g flour (I prefer spelt flour)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful sugar
  • 1 pack of dry yeast
  • 250-300ml hand warm milk
  • 1 egg

For the topping:

  • 1-1.5kg reine-claudes
  • 200g sour cream
  • 150g heavy cream
  • sugar and cinnamon (I prefer brown sugar)
  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the dry yeast in one cup of hand warm milk (the milk must not bee too hot!) and add it together with the beaten egg and the rest of the milk to the flour. Mix everything well. The dough should be still a bit sticky. It depends a lot on the type of flour how much liquid it can absorb. I always prefer the dough to be rather a tick too soft than too firm, for this cake I prefer the dough to be rather soft and sticky.
  3. Let the dough sit for an hour or so in a warm place until it at least doubled in volume. Then beat it down.
  4. Preheat oven at 180 C.
  5. Butter a baking sheet and spread the dough onto the baking sheet. Since the dough is still quite sticky, this is best done with wet or floured hands.
  6. Cut the reine-claudes in half, take out the pits and cut the halfs once more half way through as if to quarter them, such that you get a pair of “ears”, and lay them flat inside-up on the dough.
  7. Mix sour cream and heavy cream and poor over the reine-claudes.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the sugar-cinnamon mix.
  9. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for ca. 45 min or until the dough starts to brown.

I love it best fresh, as soon as it is cool enough to bite into it. But it is also delicious when sneaking it from the pantry in the middle of the night or to have it for breakfast the next morning. When lunch time comes around it is typically time to prepare for the next batch…. Btw, this cake is also great with any other type of juicy fruit like mirabelles , plums or berries.

Bon appétit !

Amish Puzzle Ball

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When I saw this ball on aenni’s wonderful blog recently, I immediately new I had to try to make one. Especially since I am a mathematically trained person with a love for all things geometrical I had to have one of those little geometrical wonders in my own hands. And so I decided to make one for my cousin’s new baby girl using a soft cotton from my stash. I followed aenie’s link to a very good video tutorial of this crochet pattern by Dedri Uys (oh, and you should see Dedri’s amanis!). Originally, this ball is made by the Amish using scraps of fabric. But I really like the crochet version because it is so nice to grab – perfect for little hands. I did not use different colors for the different parts as suggested by the pattern, partly because my stash is very limited on soft cotton yarn (and I wanted to start immediately!), and mainly because I really like the combination of purple and orange shades of this ball of cotton I had. I think the changing colors of the yarn did produce some soft defining lines after all and I really like how it all came together in the end.

I sent the ball to my cousin wrapped into packaging paper which I found in my mom’s basement and which we decorated using our favorite printing technique. This made it a hand-made, stash-busting, up-cycled gift from heart.

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Pattern: Amish puzzle ball, following this video tutorial.

Yarn: 100% cotton from my stash, bought a few years ago at a nice yarn store in Montclaire, NJ.

Needles: crochet hook 3.5 mm

Filling: 100% wool (healing wool)

Would I do it again? Oh yes! The only downside of the pattern is that one has to constantly attentively count…  Next time I will not turn the little hats inside out.

This is my contribution to Creadienstag!

This blog-post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

Summer vacation

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This year I did only a little planting on the balcony. I mainly planted herbs, lettuce and flowers. My most favorite this year is the Blaue Winde (morning glory). It has this lush green leaves and greets us every morning with several of those very beautiful flowers.  It gives me such a joy.

We are off now for our summer vacation – finally holidays started here in the south of Germany, too. We will visit my mom who has a nice big garden, great for the kids, and I hope we will have plenty of time for crafting and sewing. I will be back in about three weeks.

Hedgehog

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I needed a pincushion. When I am sewing I always fiddle around with the pins in this tiny little box they came in, and this is not very handy. My idea was to have a little hedgehog to hold my pins and I was considering to just try to crochet something “free hand” which at best would have probably resembled a very oddly shaped little hedgehog…. But then The Purl Bee by Purl Soho came to my rescue when they recently published a knitting pattern and I had a go at it.

I like how my little hedgehog turned out, however it does a bit resemble a piggy in a coat, doesn’t it…? I stuffed it with the insides of an old discarded stuffed animal which is a bit too fluffy and it doesn’t give any resistance to the pins (I am always afraid that the hedgehog might swallow the pins). The original pattern recommends bamboo fiber fill – I have no idea how that feels. The hedgehog is quite large (ca. 15 cm long), which makes it a bit too big as a permanent pin holder, so I only use it while working with pins. But in any case it works, the hedgehog does its job very well of carrying the pins and it is a very friendly companion while I am sewing!

Knitting pattern: Knit Hedgehog (Whit’s Knits) by The Purl Bee by Purl Soho

Yarn: Siena Big 100% merino extrafine superwash from Wollrödel, in three colors (brown 14259, light brown 14252, black 14290)

Needles: The face I knitted with 2.75mm and the body with 3.5mm.

Stuffing: Filling of an old stuffed animal

Will I knit it again? Probably not. I just don’t need a whole family of hedgehogs.

This is my contribution to Creadienstag!

Play Suit

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I was sorting through my husband’s t-shirts yesterday. Yes, I wanted to get some order into his things, that too, but I admit that the real reason was that I wanted to find some old t-shirts for a project I had in mind.  The old t-shirts I found were some much loved graphical shirts from long ago summer schools he had been to, but they were not suitable for my project. So, I reconsidered and converted one of the t-shirts into a play suit for our younger son (which made it much easier for my husband to say good-bye to them…).

Luckily I still had enough cuff fabric and matching thread in a nice contrasting red. The pattern was quickly found and traced and the pieces cut, maneuvering around the existing holes. Since I don’t have an overlocker I closed all seams using my normal sewing machine and a simple zig-zag stitching. I first closed the seam using a very narrow zig-zag and then secured the seam allowance with a large zig-zag top stitching. I had a bit of trouble with those buttons – it was the first time I was using them and it took me quite a few trials until they where acceptable.

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Overall I am quite happy with the outcome. The fit is not as perfect as I would have liked (too large arm holes, too long legs), but other than that I like how the two colors came together and the pictures became part to the design.

Pattern: Ottobre 3/2013 Nr. 2 with modifications: no pockets.

Fabric: Old t-shirt, cuff fabric from my stash.

Will I sew it again? Yes, but with some fitting modifications: smaller arm wholes, shorter legs.

This blogpost  is my contribution to Made4BOYS!

Update: because he is wearing this suit for the first time today (Monday, August 5), I will also show it at my kid wears!

Aubergine mousse

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When my husband came home with a bag full of eggplants the other day, I suddenly remembered Christiane’s delicious aubergine mousse and the nice time I had at her house. When I was a student I would sometimes take care of her cute little dog when she had to travel. Christiane managed an art gallery and whenever there was a reception at the gallery she would serve a simple but delicious buffet of wine and bread. For this she usually made a big bowl of this delicious aubergine mousse which one could spread onto fresh crunchy rye bread. Although it is not really a mousse, rather a spread or mush, it is utterly delicious especially on hot summer days.

  • 4 eggplants (ca. 1 kg)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 spring onions, or 1 small onion, or 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 100g sour cream
  • parsley
  1. Bake whole eggplants at 180 C for about one hour until they are very soft and slightly burned on the outside. Remove the skin and  chop the eggplants finely with a knife. Don’t use a blender, this will just turn it into a mush – I like it when you still have some texture.
  2. Mix a mayonnaise by combining the egg yolk and the mustard and slowly add the oil in a drizzle, continuously steering the mixture. This should yield a nice thick mayonnaise.
  3. Add lemon juice, finely chopped onion or squeezed garlic, sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Adjust taste by adding some more salt, pepper or lemon juice.
  5. Combine eggplant with mayonnaise/sour cream mix and add finely chopped parsley (I forgot to buy parsley and just took a few leaves from my balcony plant, therefore my version on the photo looks a bit pale…).
  6. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour –  or eat immediately if you can’t wait.
  7. If you are like me and use olive oil, and your aubergine mousse happens to have a slightly bitter taste, than it helps to add just a pinch of sugar……

I love it most with fresh rye bread (the German kind with the crunchy crust) or baguette.

Guten Appetit!

This is my contribution to Veggie-Thursday, and siebenhundertsachen‘s collection.

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Und nun noch fix auf deutsch:

  • 4 Aubergine (ca. 1 kg)
  • 1 Eigelb
  • 1/2 Teelöffel Senf
  • 1/2  Tasse Öl
  • Salz, Pfeffer zum abschmecken
  • Saft einer 1/2 Zitrone
  • 2 Frühlingszwiebeln oder kleine Zwiebel oder 1-2 Zehen Knoblauch
  • 100g Saure Sahne
  • Petersilie
  1. Backe die ganzen Aubergine im Ofen bei etwa 180 C für etwa eine Stunde bis sie weich und außen dunkel  gebacken sind. Dann trenne das Fleisch von der Schale und schneide das Fleisch mit dem Messer ganz fein – nicht mit der Küchenmaschine, ich finde das macht es zu musig.
  2. Rühre eine Mayonnaise an, indem Du zunächst das Eigelb mit dem Senf verrührst, und dann langsam unter rühren das Öl hinzu gibst. Das sollte eine schöne dicke Mayonnaise ergeben.
  3. Nun füge noch Zitronensaft, fein gehackte Zwiebeln oder Knoblauch, saure sahne und Salz und Pfeffer hinzu.
  4. Schmecke mit extra Salz, Pfeffer oder Zirtonensaft ab.
  5. Mische die Mayonnaise/Saure Sahne Mischung jetzt mit den Aubergine und rühre noch fein gehackte Petersilie unter.
  6. Lass es im Kühlschrank für mindestens eine Stunde durchziehen – oder hau gleich rein, wenn Du es nicht erwarten kannst….

Ich esse das Aubergine Mousse am liebsten auf frischem knusprigem Roggenbrot oder Baguette.

Guten Appetit!