Walnut Windfall

The things we find during a lockdown cupboard clean…in this case a big bag of walnuts gifted by our neighbours last autumn. Determined to put them to good use here are some of the recipes I found on walnuts.org (California walnuts promo site)

Walnut pesto (replace pine nuts in the classic recipe)

Walnut and Parmesan ‘cream’ a veggie pâté alternative

Walnut ‘meatballs’ where mushrooms are used

Walnut honey butter, a sweet chunky ‘peanut butter’

Smoked spicy walnuts to nibble on with aperitifs

(Re) Waxed food wraps

These waxed wraps really come into their own when you are cutting down on cling film and foil.

Today I ‘re-waxed’ some of my older fabric squares to renovate and extend their life. It is more efficient than starting from scratch, even after months of use the fabrics still hold quite a lot of the original wax.

I sprinkle a teaspoon of wax pellets over the cotton square then sandwich it between parchment paper (baking or waxed paper will do) and run a hot -no steam- iron over it until the wax has melted in. I turn the fabric over and iron again so that excess left on the paper can be absorbed by both sides.

Subsequent sheets to be ironed need less wax (you can shave a beeswax candle if you don’t have any other wax) because you will have some residue left on your parchment paper.

These wraps fold nicely over bowls, around cheese or seal opened packets in the fridge. The warmth of your hands helps shape them enough to fit and they just wipe down between uses. You can see I store mine on the side of the fridge with magnets so I have them to hand.

Scattered words

I love it that people pick up the painted pebbles I put out from time to time. Last week I saw a family photograph one – much joy to me the anonymous ‘artist’.

Some are glittered, others have greetings and the latest batch have cuttings from a dictionary of proverbs mod podged in place. I used outdoor mod podge so they can stay outdoors awhile.

Silver lining, cooking discoveries

New menus and cooking methods have flooded into our kitchen recently. Many discovered when browsing digital magazines courtesy of our library card. So here are the tastiest (we think) so far …

1.Savoury bread and butter pudding: basically fried leeks instead of jam on the bread and cheese in the ‘custard’ rather than sugar

2. broccoli pasta – cooking broccoli in with the pasta for the last 3 minutes makes it a lighter, tastier dish, even for the broccoli hater in the household. Top with your usual pasta sauce

3. Frozen bananas found lurking at the back of the freezer work brilliantly in banana bread. Made more mix than fits your loaf tin? Dig out the mince pie tray to make Muffins

4. Ingredients intended for stuffing that never made it to the Christmas table combine to make great meatball replacements. Why these hid behind the frozen bananas is a mystery.

5. Jamie Oliver is an inspiration. His no frills gnocchi (mashed potato leftovers with just enough flour mixed in) are lighter and lovelier than bought

6. Dredging steaming hot, par-boiled parsnips in flavoured flour means the flour sticks without need for egg wash. You can roast them immediately or freeze them ready floured so they can be roasted at a later date

Lockdown drawing distraction

Thank you Barbara Gray, ClarityStamp

A new routine in lockdown life is trying my hand at doodling and drawing. I am following the weekday uploads by claritystamp on you tube (rather than the 10am lives, I catch up in the afternoon.

This doodling, drawing stuff is outside my confirm zone but hugely enjoyable. Pick up your pens and have a go.

Fly paper prettified

I love the daily ‘one good thing by Jillee’ blog post. Lots of practical tips to make daily life a little better. Her recent post for diy fly paper got me thinking.

We usually buy plastic window stick ons in France to deter kitchen invaders but as that isn’t feasible at present wanted to make a pretty version of Jillee’s paper strips. So I die cut pieces from brown paper before dipping them in a sugar/honey syrup and hanging the dried sticky piece near the fruit bowl ready for open window weather.

Tip: thread string through the paper before dipping, it is messy to do it afterwards.

Dressing up for video calls – Badge and brooch bonanza

I wear a different brooch each day – I have a collection – but wanted some extras right for the times, so made some quick pin ons for all those upcoming virtual get-togethers.

These involve clippings from salvaged thesauruses (thesauri?), quotations and discarded dictionaries that have been glued (mod podge) onto card and then stuck (glue dots) on to pins.

Sellotape and safety pins will also work as these badges will have a short, indoor life. I might also embellish with buttons or sequins at some point. Depends how much time I can find in my busy schedule!

Cotton face mask, I know there are issues

Just in case you want to break a face touching habit or deal with a short trip out… adult size requires two pieces 9” x 6” fabric and two 7” pieces of skinny elastic

Update June 2020: I now interface one of the pieces of fabric to provide three layers and give a bit more structure …

To make: put the fabric pretty sides facing and sandwich the elastics inside with the ends poking out from the corners . Leave a 3” gap and stitch around the rest of the edge with a straight stitch. You don’t have to be too precise about seams as long as you sew over the ends of the elastic and keep the rest of the elastic well tucked inside.

Turn right sides out and then pin tucks roughly equal on each side. Three each side should do it.

Finally top stitch all the the way around to close the turn8ng gap and fix the tucks. You are done!

DIY perfume project

My current use it or lose it challenge is to wear perfume every day and finish some of the less loved scents . But now I reckon I only have enough to last me until October!!! So a little scented craftiness is today’s project.

I will be refilling some of the tiny bottles I have recently emptied with essential oil blends using a recipe ‘collaged’ from various sites

  • Base Essential Oils:Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood 20 drops or 20% of the essential oil mix
  • 50 drops of middle tone oils like Rose, Lavender, Chamomile or Geranium ie 50% of the ess oil mix
  • 30 drops of top note oils like Bergamot, Wild Orange or lemon ie 30% of the ess oil mix
  • 3 parts of alcohol (unscented vodka) either on its own or with one part of carrier oil such as almond oil or coconut

Apparently it takes a few weeks for the blend to meld so I will report back later.