June 28, 2019

Westfield Bake Oven Day

Last Saturday we had a cooking day at Westfield, where we worked with the cookstove in the Blacksmith house and the Bake Oven.  We had a variety of recipes which were chosen from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management and Mrs. Bradley's Housekeeper's Guide.   All the recipes had a bit of prep work which required the cookstove, and then two or three, which turned into four recipes, were baked in the bake oven.

From Mrs. Beeton's, we used the recipes for Beef Cake, Lemon Cheesecakes and Sausage rolls.   Mrs. Bradley's supplied the recipes for Cream Tea Cakes and Strawberry Jam.  As a last minute addition, Lisa whipped up a batch of soda bread.

Most of the recipes looked pretty straight forward, however the Beef Cake recipe, used pre-cooked meat and only egg as a binder.   We had to fudge around with the number of eggs, since the Westfield chickens are still giving tiny pullet eggs.  It didn't really hold together as nicely as it could have or would have with something else added to help it bind.  It was however delicious.

The Lemon Cheesecakes was actually one of the no cheese, cheesecakes, using lemon curd as a filling.  The lemon curd was quite delicious, but I didn't get more than a small taste as it was contaminated with wheat before I could get my spoon into it.  The Cheese cakes baked up perfectly though.

The sausage rolls worked out perfectly.   I didn't get to taste the sausage, but I'm told by reliable sources that it was absolutely delicious.

We baked one pan of cheese cakes in the cookstove oven and the rest in the bake oven.  The bake oven was hotter, so the puff pastry puffed up better, but they were all nicely cooked.

It was in all, a successful and very delicious morning at Westfield Heritage Village.

June 24, 2019

The Never Ending Warp

When the guild had to move from our old guild room 2 years ago, we were putting all of our equipment and supplies in storage.  That meant we did a ruthless clean out of stuff that we thought could be easily replaced, or that we'd had in the room for ages upon ages.  We'd offered these items up to members and amongst the offerings were several warps which were chained and forgotten, or not used.    This was one of those misfit warps.  It was wound of 2/8 cotton, 143 threads and get this, 12 yards long!   Those 143 threads would work out to about almost 6 inches wide.  That means that this was a 12 yarn long mug rug warp at the very best, or perhaps someone wound a warp too wide and this was stripped off.   Regardless, it's a bizarre size.   If it was meant to be 6 inches wide, that would make a an awful lot of mug rugs or skinny scarves.

It looked to be in decent shape, for threads of an undetermined age.  It's two colours, rust and beige.  I find that combo rather uninspiring and a bit dull.  However, I found some khaki and turquoise in my stash that add a bit of interest to the original colours.  With those, I figured I could do something useful with the warp.

I've been trying to work something out with this for a while but it's too long to deal with inside the house. There is also the kitty factor, because trying to do anything to a 12 yard warp with 4 cats would be slightly insane.   I don't think they'd sleep through that effort.  Well maybe the old guy, but he's 16 and doesn't wake up for much if it doesn't include food and pets.

I took the warp outside, hooked one end on the garden gate post, stretched it out and walked it back to hook the other end on the same post, effectively doubling the warp.  Now it was 286 threads - getting better.

There was only a cross at one end, but the choke ties were done in slip knots, so I slipped my fingers in between the one part of the cross, thinking that half a cross was better than no cross.   I walked backward, and undid each choke tie as I got to it, separated the warp, retied the choke tie and moved on to the next one.  When I got to the turning point, I added a tie to denote the centre point, and moved back to the beginning.  It wasn't perfect, but at least it's something.

 This is the folded area.  I put extra choke ties in to try to help the threads from not getting tangled up and more difficult to deal with than necessary.   Luckily it's a simple colour arrangement, looking like a smaller rust strip beside the beige.

At this point, I reached in my back pocket, took out the scissors and snipped the warp in half.   There was no way I was going to weave off 12 yards of anything 6 inches wide.  Now I have almost a foot wide and I only need to wind off another 4-8 inches of threads to make the warp wide enough for something useful, like napkins or tea towels. 

As well, it's only 6 yards long, which is a less daunting size to deal with.   I'm thinking a tabby weave.  While I prefer twills, I'm not sure I want to risk that much more thread on this.  While I snapped the threads in a few places to test for strength and it seemed fine, there is still the risk that the cotton has weak spots, which would make for some miserable weaving.

June 19, 2019

Garden update, and New Chooks!

My two new girls are Leghorns - white chooks that lay white eggs.  They just started laying a couple of days ago and right now they are laying the tiniest little pullet eggs I've ever seen.  Their eggs will get larger as they mature.

When you move a grown hen to a new location, you need to keep them locked in the coop for about a week so they learn that this is their new home.   After that, you can let them out and ostensibly, they will come home each night and lay their eggs in the nesting boxes.

For days after I'd opened the coop door to the outside, they didn't venture outside anymore than to peek out the door and run back inside.  Finally though, they came outside.  They don't go all over the place yet, but stick close to the barn.   They haven't yet melded as a flock with the other chooks, so they keep to themselves.

One of the grey girls who lays the green eggs has decided to lay them outside.   I hear her egg call when she lays, but I've not yet found her nest.  That is where the ostensibly part comes in.  Sometimes a chook or 3 get it in their minds to lay outside.  Then it's like an egg hunt to find their hidden nests.

This is a photo taken though the screen door.  There were three little cardinals who had just fledged and were practicing their flying.  They went from the tomato cage to the deck railing, to the top of the gazebo and back.   The cats spent many hours watching them excitedly.   This was the best photo I could get of them.  They were very timid and if I was outside, they would squawk and chitter and fly away before I could get a photo.  After about 3 or 4 days of this practice flying, off they went to do whatever young Cardinals do this time of year.

I finished planting the potatoes.   I put in about 22 lbs of Yukon Gold seed potatoes.  For the second time, when chatting with people about our gardens, I've had a person ask me why?  The first was an old gal who was disdainful about her friends garden and her efforts to plant potatoes and who kept saying horrible things about why would anyone even bother.   After several attempts at explaining, I ignored her dribble until someone walked by and interrupted her diatribe with "oh, growing potatoes is such fun".   I wish I'd thought of that one.

  This time it was a bizarre question as to why I would plant so many?  I mean, what does it matter how many I plant?  I have the space and we like eating fresh potatoes for as long as possible.  Does it really matter that I planted more than a couple?   Sheesh - it does get odd when I end up spiraling into weird conversations like that.  Really, I'm interested in what you plant and if you have an enormous garden, that's way cool and if you have a single planter box, then that is pretty awesome too.   That we have a common interest is a nice starting point for a conversation and I don't want to pass judgement on what or how much you're growing.  I just like it that you are growing stuff.

June 10, 2019

Garden update and knitting

In the garden centre this year, there were some decorative  pots of everbearing strawberry plants.   They were large plants, with 5 or 6 in a pot, and many of the plants had runners, with smaller plants already growing.  They were just a couple of dollars more than buying  a single, small, barely started strawberry plant and the same price as bare root stock (when you took the runners into account), that I hadn't decided to order in time for this year.  I purchased 2 pots, and between all the plants, I have a 4 x 6 foot bed of strawberries planted.  There will be a small harvest this year because of the mature plants.  This was my first strawberry and ohhhh, it was so delicious.  It was soft and sweet, not like the imported berries at all.

 On the long weekend, the gals I was camping with had all brought their knitting.  I was inspired when I got home, so I quickly knit up this little winter toque.  I had started it using handspun, but when I dropped a stitch in one of the cables, I ripped it out and began again.  It was easier than trying to figure out where that lost stitch was.  As well, I'd made a mistake on the second cable, which was irking me to no end, so I accomplished fixing that by ripping it out as well.  It's cute, soft and was surprisingly easy to knit as the pattern was super easy to remember.

The currant and gooseberry bushes have liked this spring weather.   They are all bearing decent amounts of fruit.   Since the white and black currant bushes were only planted 2 years ago, I'm pretty happy about that.  The red gooseberries are the same age, and they have berries as well.   My haskap berries were planted at the same time.  One has grown quite large and flowered a ton this year.  The second one is still small and only had a few flowers.   I haven't checked to see what amount of fruit has set on those bushes though.
 The Alliums are flowering.  They are so pretty with their deep pinky/purple globes shooting up from the ground.  There will be a gap in flowers as I don't have a lot between the Allium and the Rudbekia and Echinecea.

 The Woad is flowering though so yay for fresh seed.  I got enough plants from my 10 year old seed to have in my garden as well as pass some on to a friend.  I love the funky sign that I got from Erhardt.  I realize it's autumnal, but it looks cute along with the little whirly gigs and other bits of spinning things which not only decorate my garden, but keep the birds from eating the seedlings.  Before I put out all the tacky decor in the garden, the grackles and robins kept nipping off the tops of the green beans just as they sprouted, pecked away at the young lettuce plants and ate virtually all the strawberries, the first time I tried planting them.