Sunday, August 31, 2008

Roasted delight

I just had to post about this - I made up a recipe last night, and we both think it's yummy! We've just had the leftovers for lunch, and the yumm-ing noises were too much for the poor dog, who put his head under his paws and closed his eyes in pain.

But he got the leftovers, so all was not lost.

Here it is!

Rolled Stuffed Turkey Breast

1 turkey breast fillet, something in the order of 800g or so
1/2 brown onion
1 apple
finger-long chunk of Polish wedding sausage (very lean cooked pork and garlic sausage)
1/3-1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes
small handful leftover steamed green beans
dried basil
dried thyme
dried oregano
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and oil a small roasting pan.

Finely chop the onions, slice and chop the sausage into small cubes, and peel and chop the apple. Chop up the green beans into small pieces.

Heat a small drop of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and sausage together until the onion starts to cook, 2-3 mins. When the onions are cooking, dollop in the cold potato and stir it around until it heats up and starts to stick together in a large lump (your potato is your glue to stick this stuffing together!)

Take it off the heat and put it all in a medium bowl. Add the peeled, chopped apple, the green beans, and about 1/4 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon oregano. Stir everything together briefly.

Lay your turkey breast out flat on a cutting board, as flat as it will go. Slice into the bulgy part to enable you to open it out further (creating a large flat piece that you can roll closed over the stuffing).
Cut a long piece of butchers' string (mine was about 3 feet or roughly 90cm) and slide one end under the end of the turkey.

Dollop the stuffing down the middle of the turkey breast, making sure it's well packed down the middle. (I used about 2 1/2 cups of stuffing for a 800g turkey breast, and the leftovers went in a little ramekin to get cooked separately.) I put two tiny pats of butter in the middle in amongst the stuffing.

Start tying up the turkey. If you know how to do this, skip this bit! If you don't, what I do is to work slowly to create a long tied-up rolled turkey, by tying the string around one end. Then gently lift that end and slide the string underneath, trying not to tip out all the stuffing. Loop the end through the string and pull tight, rolling everything neatly and poking bits in as you go. Continue in a long line of pulled-through loops until you reach the other end. You may need to use a knife or a wooden spatula to gently lift the already-tied part as you go, allowing you to slide the string underneath as you go.
Carefully pop the whole bundle into a roasting tin and season lightly. Any leftover stuffing can go in a ramekin in the pan, too.
Cook at 380 for about 40 minutes, rolled seam upwards, to allow the drippy juices to go into the meat. Test it to see if it's almost done (cut into one end and look for pink juices), and then I flipped it over carefully, turned the oven up to 400 and roasted it for a further 10 minutes to cook the skin on the underside (there was just a little bit of skin on mine: most of it was skinless).

We ate this with a large salad, and today we had thick slices in delicious cold roast turkey sandwiches!

It was a great way to stuff the turkey without using lots of bread, and the potato worked well as the 'binding' agent to help it all stay in. The apple was sweet and the green beans added poisture to the meat, too. Very yummy!


Knit girl, woolen purls

Knitting Girl

Originally uploaded by woolpets

I've never been tempted to take up needle-felting before now. But then I saw this.

Woolpets could tempt me away from stitching... almost.

I had to laugh when I saw this wild and wooly pair, with her happy Miss Piggy face and that rambling hair (if it can be called that).

And then I came across this piratical sheep!

A'haRR ye maties!

Pirate Sheep
Originally uploaded by woolpets

For some reason the tags drop off the above photos when I post this, but these photos are originally uploaded by Woolpets.

You can visit Woolpets' website, or see many more wonderful felted creatures on their Flickr list.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Death to Exotics

On one of our Toby-walking routes is a small area of 'bush wilderness' in a triangle area inside a now unused railway junction. Ironically, this area of random-looking native plants and grasses is of course entirely artificial, put in as part of a local landscaping effort no doubt. It even contains a dry creek bed with a wooden bridge, well above any watershed, where water has never run...

And every month or so there is a rash of blue-green splotches (visible at the bottom, in the picture above). This is the poison put down by the local council to nail all the non-native (exotic) grass that refuses to take a hint and works hard on moving in and re-colonising the area.

It's rather ironic that the most heavily maintained part of the local landscape is the bit that's meant to look like the local untamed, untouched wilderness.


Treviso I

We had a great time in Treviso, basing ourselves there for access to Venice and the surrounding area. We'd happily recommend it. It has most of the good things of Venice, without the fuss and tourists. Being a walled city, it also reminded me of Lucca, as well.

Ross kindly sent us a CD of his photos, and we thought it would be fun to show you Treviso through Ross' camera. So without further ado:

A typical view in Treviso. The large network of canals and streams harkens back to Venice, but the quickly flowing fresh water is significantly nicer (to look at, anyway). Also, unlike Venice, it's clear real people live there (not just tourist-fleecers) including at the University, so it has a lot more life about it than Venice, and is a lot less precious.

It's not all cleanly presented facades, though. This one looks ready as a set for some Verdi opera. La Donna vado Splash perhaps.

While I wonder if the people who live in the house (above) are tall and thin too?

You'd never know it, but behind one of these pillars is a quilt shop...

...although I don't think that's where she's going.

Ah, amore.

..which is usually disturbed by the giovanotti on their Vespas.

Treviso is also rightly famous for its frescoes.

But not it's widget shops, although they seem to halt me. Quick and good sharpening - but they were closed.

Our villa was just outside the walls, and was, frankly, wonderful. It lurked behind these gates...
...up this driveway...
...past the potted plants...
...and we had our own entrance and the entire first floor was ours!

The following is a non-Treviso gratuitous lunch shot. Toothsome, eh?

Hope you enjoyed that.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How we did it...

Several people have asked us how we managed to keep up with the blogs as we travelled. This is how:

The toolkit contained a MacBook, power-adapters, three cameras, batteries and recharger, and generally, wireless access to the interweb thing in hotels and our host's houses. Not so obvious was burning CDs and DVDs as we went and sending those back home to back up the photographs we'd taken. Very obvious were cables. Lots of cables. I'm sick of winding and packing cables.

Other items like Bev's iPod added sanity points. And matt black is a stupid finish for a computer, taking any fingerprints like a moustache on the Mona Lisa. While Mac retain brownie points for usability, their design fetish and some stunningly silly decisions for looks over utility have been backward steps. On the other hand, the Gecko hard case we bought for the computer gave us real peace of mind for its protection.

It was interesting in that we were clearly travelling during a time of technical development. When we were travelling before, only six years ago, wireless was rare - both domestically and in hotels. Currently there is remarkable variation in the pricing structures and access, but wireless is much wider spread now. It's clear that in a few years those pricing variations will have levelled out, and there will be online access even more widely than it is now.

It is, as they say, an interesting world.


Munich's windows

We've unjustly neglected Munich, one of the trip's many highlights. I'd never been to Germany before, and Bev hadn't been to Southern Germany before, so it was to some degree new territory for both of us. A later post will cover some other aspects, but this is all about the shop windows - why? Why not.

Having been involved in window display professionally for many years, I do like to see an effective effort - this was simple, but worked well.
The sculpture is just drawn onto the white paper-covered boxes by marker pen.

Then there's the antique shop windows. A selection of odd items:

"You aren't leaving the mousehole dressed like that are you?" said mummy mouse. "Those are your auntie's pearls!"

Going by the expression, that's a pot smoking pot...

German paper aeroplanes. Blitzschnelle Papierflieger sounds so much more powerful than "Lightning quick paper 'planes". You want big Origami? Try Das große Origamibuch. Große Goot! Then there's the Eurogami. Uses for unwanted Euro notes... Funny, I find I use most paper money.

Black pasta. The greatest thing since pre-sliced bread. Sort of.

We are a felt shop. We can make any quilter or fabric enthusiast stop and look in this window...

...and then move them on with the Technische Filze window. Rather like steak and offal. In a way.

Then there was the button and bead shop with the washing line display. The display wasn't much, but I had to get Bev out of the shop with a crowbar.

And lastly, there was the whole thing with ~um~ large German wenches clutching beer steins and thrusting up against clean-cut lucky young men was the poster theme of Munich. This was one of the milder versions! As ever there seemed to be an inverse ratio between the pneumatic element and the mass production or drinkability of the beer advertised.

For those not staring at the young lady, you may guess where we went shortly after taking the photo.

Hope you enjoyed that.


Thursday, August 21, 2008


One of the things that everyone has asked us since we got back from the trip is: "What was your favourite bit?" It seems that we all want to know what the best was - the best location, or, as someone put it very well: "What stood out? Which bit surprised you?"

This thing is, the whole trip was a surprise. And that was the delight. A trip like this is an eclectic collection of events and experiences. Not all of them can be anticipated. Many of the most delightful moments are discovering the little things - the amusing things - the quirky, half-understood, and never before known.

Like this Danish promotional card. I bought a train ticket (one of many) in Denmark, and the very polite Danish train employee handed me my ticket in this little wallet. Wunderbar! He must have been a bit bemused (but always polite) about the shout of laughter I gave when I saw it.

No, I can't read Danish. But do I need to?

And then in a different light, there was the Basilica di San Marco, in Venice. Arguably one of the honeypots of world tourism, not to mention also being an amazing building, a symbol of the heights of culture and of wealth, Mediterranean looting and control of the sea. (Oh, and religion - that goes without saying such that I almost didn't say it).

But when we walked up, there wasn't a queue, there weren't whirlpools of tourists, just minor eddies, and after a walk through the dim and half-glimpsed glimmering interior, I bought a postcard from the stall, just inside the portico.

Not bad for a postcard bought for pennies, and pretty amazing as just one tiny fragment of a building that's overwhelming in its decoration.

Just two of the many 'bests'.


Conrad's quote of the day

As many will know, Conrad Black is spending some time in prison while he reflects on the concept that the rules do apply to him, after all.

The Daily Mail article, quoting an anonymous source from inside the prison, reported Lord Black has been astonished by the lack of education among his fellow prisoners.

"Conrad remains very snobbish, despite having the same daily routine as all the other prisoners," the source told the Daily Mail. "He said he was shocked by how uneducated most of his fellow inmates were."

There's perhaps a reason why fewer people with a good education are in prison, Conrad. We'll let you decide whether it's because they're educated not to break the law, or because they're better at not getting caught. Maybe this is a whole new bit of education for him?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Vikings returned

They made it.

The Sea Stallion is back in Denmark. Link here.

Pictures from the Sea Stallion website.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back in from the cold

I've just come in from a run around the neighbourhood with Toby in the cold wind and slanting rain. We neither of us enjoyed it much, but honour has been satisfied. (Maybe I should make him a coat? - Just kidding!) I am now baking bread, and he is all curled up in a nest of blankets beside me, making little snorty-grunting noises. So it's warm and very cosy-wintery in here.

I've been letting James do most of the talking on the blog over the last little while. That's because I was enjoying what he's been writing so much that I wanted to step back a bit. And I was hibernating - enjoying being at home, and not doing a lot, and adjusting my season-o-meter to the fact that it is winter. As I've mentioned. I think the denial-induced ravings are starting to subside.

Hey, the interesting thing that has been keeping me out of your hair is a new project I'm setting up with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, in the States. Jennifer runs a popular podcast (online radio show, if podcasts are not in your realm), called Craft Sanity, and most of our family and friends have probably heard about how we hooked up earlier this year and started to chat and to collaborate. Together, we've been working really hard on setting up a new website and blog, which will be coming to this online space soon. Really. Really. Soon. So soon that I wish I could say it was today, but it's not. Soon. Watch this space for an announcement when it's live.

So for now, the public rest of the crafty excitement is still ongoing over at Taccolina, as I stitch up my latest monthly art challenge, draw a load of dreadful portraits of Toby and James, and try to craft my way out of winter in style.

Things I am amused by (isn't this a little childish?)
Well kids, my new copy of Mixetape Magazine just hit the mailbox. The bread's out of the oven, the coffee's on and the dog is comatose. Time to read a little. Hope you didn't miss me.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Market Mayhem

There's been a poor showing on the food front recently, so here's a roundup - I've chosen a selection of photos taken at various markets on the trip, and it's ALL food - other fun stuff may appear in the next post.

So make sure dinner's on the way, you've got your appetite and cookbooks to hand, and lust on...


A Rome street market. Bev 'casing the joint'.

Apples and a three wheeled Ape.

Zucchini with flowers. 'Please do not touch, stupid English speaker...'



The indoor market. It was impressive. The bright, bright vegetables. Some are hot too.

Stuff. Rack it out, sell it.

Ham and cheese. The staples of life...

Pig products! We discovered a new salami here, which always makes it a red-letter day.

Hmmm. Tripe. Maybe tomorrow.

Baggage limitations are a swine, aren't they?

Dried fruit. Some people like it. I find chocolate fulls the niche.

Technically not a market, but a wild pig producteria, with other 'accessories'...

This in an enlargement of a happy face reflected in the glass...
It's understandable to just stand and stare, really. Cinghiale. I'm with Obelix here. Mmmmm.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

There's a selection of shots from Rue Mouffetard already posted, here. In the meantime, here's a couple more.

And... this one goes out to Jacqui, Lourdes, Jim and the Laings.

Denmark - Aarhus
The Danish equivalent of M&S foodhall (or Myer, or...) I was struck by the carefully delineated map... The food was great, but the prices hurt.

Halifax, W. Yourkshire

And this one's for Tam. Mushy peas are a northern English delicacy, not a soft southern one.

I think they're English, don't you?

It was raining, but it was another market, in another unique venue.

Granville Island, Vancouver
And our exit-ing market from our three month trip was the excellent, fun, Granville Island.

It's the soft fruit season!

And there's nothing to beat good Canadian salmon. (Bev: Er, James, the sign says it from Alaska. That's still in the US, you know.)

Hope you have good food to hand, now because, if you aren't hungry by now, there's no hope.

And there's more below:-