Sunday, February 27, 2011

A short note about measurements

My Mum says that you must write tblsp for tablespoon and tsp for teaspoon.  I find this really confusing, because to my mind, they look almost exactly the same.  So instead, I put an upper case T for tablespoon, and a lowercase t for teaspoon and that way I never get confused.  So if you've read any of these recipes and become confused, sorry about that, but now you know!

Also, I am aware that cups in New Zealand are a different size to cups in America (or wherever uses American cups).  Here a cup holds 250mls of water.  I've only just got a set of scales that (may or may not) work with any kind of accuracy, so usually I use the conversion tables at the beginning of the Edmonds' Cookbook to convert from grams into cups or spoons.

When it comes to baking in general (not bread baking which is quite different) measurements are only a guide.  I try to stick to them as closely as possible, especially the first time I make something, but sometimes you just need to go with the flow.  An example of this is the treacle scones I made for breakfast.  The recipe I had written down (which may have been poorly transcribed, but originated in Ladies, A Plate, a book I will probably talk about soon) asked for 225g flour, 50g butter, and 150g of milk (with treacle and spices as well), and the mixture ended up looking like a cake batter.  I panicked a little, but started adding handfuls (and I literally mean handfuls, not spoonfuls) to try to get the familiar texture of scones, and now have no idea how much flour I should use.  This has also happened when trying out recipes from the internet that are American or English, and having to add more flour because the mixture is too wet (perhaps because they use American cups?).  So just use your judgment!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

*The Graphics Fairy*

I have decided that (eventually, after all of my other projects are finished) I am going to redecorate my bedroom.  I have started to some extent - I have dug out a lot of my pretty things to set on top of my manrobe, and framed an Emily the Strange oversized postcard that has been simply bluetacked onto my wardrobe since I got back from Canberra.

I found this site about a week ago, and for some reason, tonight I just can't get away from it.  It is awesome.  It may be because I found this at another site yesterday.  We have heaps of old wooden pegs that I hate to use on washing because they sometimes leave brown marks.  I want to copy the idea in the last two pictures on this page - a project that involves pegs, paint, ribbon, card and pretty printed vintage images is right up my alley.  I will post again when I've done the first picture, as I can see this being an ongoing project!

Here's an example of the awesome free vintage images *The Graphics Fairy* has:

What is equally awesome as the sheer variety and number of images the site has, is the beautiful work The Graphics Fairy (aka Karen) does in restoring and altering the images.  The above image originally had yellow flowers, but seeing both together, I prefer the pink.  She also removes the text in some pictures so that you can add your own.  For example:



Fabulous, right?  It looks as if the 'after' is the 'before' and she's just chosen an appropriate font for the message.

There are many, many, many, more and I want to print at least every second one and put them on my wall...  so I have to practice restraint.  A great deal of restraint.

PS:  She also does backgrounds here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Christchurch has been hit by another earthquake.  This one was:
  • 10km from the central city
  • 5km deep
  • a 6.3 on the Richter scale
I am watching the news, TV3 is talking to people on the street and their stories and pictures from around the city (including the huge amount of destruction the Cathedral has suffered) is heart-breaking.  There are 'confirmed reports' of casualties, but they can't say how many.  The phrase 'looks like a warzone' is totally appropriate.  I just hope that as many people as possible are okay, and that those who are trapped or injured will be rescued soon, and that those who have lost their lives rest in peace.

Christchurch, it goes without saying, does not need this.  I hope they can recover because Christchurch is a lovely place.

Blueberry Icing

There are so many ways to top cakes, cupcakes, and biscuits - there's ganache, cream cheese frosting, glacĂ© icing, royal icing, fondant, marzipan, buttercream,...  the list goes on and is exponentially increased by the addition of colour and flavour options.  Chocolate buttercream, crimson marzipan, lemon icing; I feel the urge to get out my cookie press/piping gun to play just thinking up examples.

It's not often that I make up new recipes from scratch because I feel like I haven't cooked up enough of the ones that already exist to really start making my own.  Instead, I tweak existing recipes, and success is based on pure luck.  I made a banana cake last week, and decided that a very plain cake needed something a bit interesting to top it off.  I thought of putting fresh blueberries on top sunken into plain vanilla icing, but, as there are only two of us and a cake SHOULD last a few days, decided not to - I didn't want to put the cake in the fridge just to keep the berries fresh.  But then I found a jar with about a tablespoon full of blueberry jam, and had an idea.

Blueberry Icing
Blueberry jam
Icing sugar
Butter, softened
Boiling water (if needed)

Simply beat the butter, add the jam, then the icing sugar little by little aiming for a texture similar to regular icing (except with bits of fruit in it).  If you don't have much jam, and so don't have enough icing when you get to the right texture, simply top up with some hot water and then add more icing sugar to get back to the spreading texture.  It's that easy, and it's really yummy.  Here's a picture of the cake:

Again, sorry about the quality of the picture - I'm well aware that I am a terrible photographer and that taking photos on my phone shouldn't count.  But notice the lovely bits of blueberry, and the pretty colour.  I put a tiny bit of coconut on top, not for flavour but just to add another texture and colour to the look.  Because jam contains natural or artificial preservatives, there should be no need to refridgerate, any more than you do a cake with glacĂ© icing.

(Oh yeah, also, that's what our table looks like right now.  Kind of ugly right?  That's why I'm going to get the other table out and fix it up!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recipe for Coke?

Apparently the following is a recipe for the original coca-cola.  I found it through a message on twitter (who's I can't remember now) and have had it open in my browser for days just so I could remember to talk about it here.

From Time's News Feed:

The recipe:
Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
Citric acid: 3 oz
Caffeine: 1 oz
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gal
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color
The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol:  8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops

There are a few real shockers in there for me - Coriander?  Neroli?  Isn't neroli an essence used in perfume?  According to the article, people have tried this formula but it hasn't come out quite right.  I guess the one thing they're missing is the tears of the elven workers the corporation forces into slave labour to produce the stuff (have I mentioned I have a small grr against huge multi-national food producers who aggressively market hugely unhealthy foods....?  Don't get me wrong, I'll have a coke or a coca-cola branded soft drink now and then, but I still hate the company).

I strongly suggest reading the whole article that outlines where this recipe popped up.  It's a cute story, and also a cautionary tale for those people who want to become squillionaires when they invent a neat recipe - DON'T SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Kitchen Table

Just before Christmas I decided to renovate our 'dining room' in the only way a renter can - by moving furniture.  We have two bookcases in our lounge/dining area and I moved one over behind the kitchen table so that all of our cookbooks and magazines have a home.  That meant moving the table too.  To cut a long day of moving furniture around on my own (freaking out because I didn't think I'd get it done before Mum got home from work) short, we ended up with more space and better organisation.

BUT I wasn't satisfied with that.  Oh no, I had to go one step further and decided that I should paint the chairs at the table because they looked a bit old and beaten.  Because this blog wasn't originally going to have craft projects, I didn't take a before photo of our kitchen table.  Sorry!  But because my camera (read 'my mobile') is a bit less than great, I don't think it makes all that much difference.  They were painted a kind of shiny, easy-clean, white that was fine when they were first done (Mum did a great job).  We decided on a sunny buttery lemon colour, and ended up getting Hagley Park from Dulux (for some reason on the website, this looks kind of peach...  but it's not).  It took me two weeks to finish them because each needed two coats, I didn't have a bench to put them on and so had to use my lap to prop them up, and because we had issues with paint brushes.  But now they look lovely!  They just need new cushion covers; this is this weekend's task.

BUT (again), I'm not satisfied with it.  I want to do the table now.  We were in Albany a few weekends ago to get the material for the cushions and I spotted this in Early Settler:

I love this.  I don't know if you can see just how cool this is, but it's stripped back and stained or painted a kind of rustic cool gray.  They then used a big and a few small silver shiny pots, terracotta pots painted distressed gray, and leafy green plants with white flowers.  They had these ugly wicker chairs spoiling the loveliness, so I tried to chop them out of the picture.  This is now my aim.  We have two tables and Mum insists that the one in the garage would be easier to strip than the one we have at the table now, but I've just put all this effort into organising the place around it.  We shall see how it goes....

Friday, February 18, 2011


Welcome to The New Old-Fashioned Girl

I have finally decided on a name for this blog!  I've also decided to extend the theme from simply food to food and crafts.  I have been inspired lately after re-finding a beautiful cross stitch pattern that I bought about five years ago and all of the threads and the fabric are sitting in a little bag next to it, waiting to be done.  I also found my Emily the Strange scarf that's over 3/4 finished.  Even more inspiring has been the posts/links on the website GeekCrafts.  It is awesome!  Although I'm not into every type of geekdom (I'm not such a fan of Dr Who or Star Wars, while I love Firefly, and Star Trek is quite the obsession), I appreciate the work and innovation that goes into every piece.  Crafts will, of course, be a lot slower in appearing on here, because they take more time and generally cost more (the nearest fabric/craft shop is a $10 return bus ride away from here for a start).

Please update any feeds or bookmarks you might have for the old site to this address, and look forward to a recipe for coconut cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and my first experiments with piping, a tasty idea for icing, fried potato bread, and my first fully successful basic sourdough.  As well as these, I'll be posting a few pictures I really want to make into cross stitch (using a handy dandy pattern-making program we found one day in EB for $10), and a bit of a jabber about my kitchen table project.


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