Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pavlova for Australia Day

Inspired by Rob Kabboord's foolproof pavlova recipe, I made a pav to celebrate Australia Day. I haven't made one for years because of the cream, so I thought a passionfruit custard sounded like a good substitute until I noted it consists of sugar, egg yolks and butter, so I'm not sure which is the lesser evil. I went with tradition, as passionfruit custard sounded too sophisticated to me, like activated almonds.

Kabboord's instructions are rather specific, such as having the beater make three rotations after adding the vinegar, and folding the sifted corn flour six times - the reason behind this is not explained so I don't know whether it makes a big difference (I think I folded the mixture seven times - I'm such a rebel!). I was over zealous with beating the egg whites, and my mixture was well beyond ribbon stage. My pavlova had a thin crisp crust that did not crumble when I loaded the cream and fruit on top, had a satisfying amount of meringnue and was delicious as we all had two slices each. I topped the pavlova with half a carton of whipped cream, two kiwi fruits, a punnet of strawberries and tinned passion fruit because the "fresh" ones I could find resembled prunes.

A summary of the recipe:

4 egg whites (best at room temperature but ours were refrigerated)
250g castor sugar (Kabboord suggested sifted pure icing sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of vinegar
1 tablespoon sifted corn flour

1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Place baking paper on a tray.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Kabboord said to add the sugar all at once, but I prefer to add one tablespoon at a time (...I like to take my time, what's the rush?).

3. Add the vinegar. Fold in sifted corn flour.

4. Spoon the mixture onto the tray.

5. Turn the oven temperature down to 120*C, and place the tray into the middle rack and don't use the fan. Cook for 80-90 minutes. I left my pavlova in the oven to cool with the door ajar.

6. Top the pavlova with whipped cream and fruit, and eat at least two slices!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Origami Cranes Tree

Mum and I bought a new Christmas tree from Bed, Bath and Table's The Works in Burwood Road, Hawthorn last year, which we have decided should be a year long decorative feature. I plan to have a Chinese New Year tree which I already have the decorations for, and since the Year of the Snake starts on the 10th of February (check out this fantastic YouTube video), I needed an in between (Christmas and Chinese New Year) set of decorations.

I have a glass vase filled with origami paper cranes which I folded a few years ago, so I looped gold thread into the cranes and now have18 cranes hanging from the tree. Instructions can be found at Origami Club which is filled with free patterns. According to Chinese (and Japanese) folklore, cranes symbolise longevity as they are believed to live a thousand years. It also represents happiness, good luck and peace.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Alpaca Crocheted Blanket

I bought two lots of 200g balls of 8 ply fawn alpaca yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills many years ago without a project in mind. My shopping credo is to buy now and think about projects later (sometimes years later) when inspiration hits.This usually means I buy too much or too little, but I suppose there are worse worries in life. I bought two balls of natural cream yarn towards the end of 2011 during the sale to add to my alpaca stash (because we all need an alpaca yarn collection).  Inspiration finally decided to make an appearance so I bought two lots of fawn twist (which came in 50g balls) in August 2012 to make a blanket for my Dad. See, I end up using my supplies eventually…I just needed to buy more!

I asked BWM whether they would be expanding their alpaca collection as I noted their offering had reduced, and they replied saying they were discontinuing their alpaca (oh no!). BWM will now stock their Alpaca Rich range comprising 60% alpaca and 40% wool.

The alpaca is lovely to work with because it is soooo soft that I want to cuddle an alpaca ~ but I’ll refrain from doing so because they spit and kick. I used a 5mm hook crocheting nine rounds of treble stitch (50g plus 1 metre extra yarn makes 2 squares). I edged each square with one round of natural cream yarn resulting in a square that measures approximately 19.5cm. I crocheted the squares together, and continued to use the natural cream yarn and crocheted 5 rounds to make a boarder. The completed blanket comprise 30 squares, measures approximately 119cm x 98cm. The pattern is from Meet Me at Mike's granny square tutorial

Even though this is 8 ply yarn, the blanket is smaller than the blanket I made following the same pattern using acrylic yarn (see blog entry) which shows that differences in yarn texture does impact the resulting size.