Cooking · Gardening · Knitting

This week..

Starting off this week with this picture of one of my favourite plants..

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This is a Wisteria that I planted some years ago.  It was just a stick 12″ (30cm) tall when I bought it.  OH and his friend sat in the garden and laughed when I told them that they typically grow as high as 65 ft (or 20 m) and can spread out as much as 32 ft (10 m).

‘What, from that – you’ve been conned’ they both said.  Well, they’re not laughing now.

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This picture shows it growing over an arch above my head – which isn’t difficult I admit as I am barely 5ft tall – but I assure you the arch is well above my head.  I am cheating a little as this picture is from a week or so back, the flowers have just about faded this week and the leaves are taking over.  It flowered for a good three weeks or so this year; it was beautiful and the scent just filled the garden.  Last year with all the rain and cold weather we had, a good deal of the buds just rotted and dropped off.  I thought it may happen again this year with it being so cold this spring but ‘the stick’ (as it has become known in our house even though it is much more than that now) made it through.

Wisteria can take many, many years to flower and I didn’t expect to see too much from this one for a few years but it showed a couple of flowers in just the second year. I now know that if the plant has been grafted it flowers much sooner that ones grown from seed, which I am glad about.  I also read that in some parts of the US it is considered invasive, I guess that the climate here stops them escaping into the wild and becoming a problem.

Also this week, finally I have some of these..

First lettuce of the year.

Very late for a first lettuce I know.  I was rather slow in getting these started this year, partly because the weather here was so damn cold – I just didn’t think they would grow before the slugs got to them – so I left it later than I have before.  They soon catch up though.  We should be eating these in a week or two’s time.

On the cooking front, I’ve been trying a new recipe for these..

Mmmm.. biscotti

These little gems are gluten free chocolate chip biscotti (without the chocolate chips!) from http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/. Jeanne’s recipes are truly wonderful. She is a genius as far as I am concerned.  I have her book and each time I try one of her recipes I am more in awe.  They work and are good to eat. So good to eat, even my youngest, who is always suspicious of anything in the kitchen nowadays (because things in my kitchen aren’t always what they seem) will eat them.  In fact, everyone in our house eats Jeanne’s recipes, allergies or not. So much so that they never hang around long and I quite often end up cooking more just so I can get a look in. The recipe for the biscotti along with a myriad of others all as equally delicious are on Jeanne’s site.

The only down side that I could say about Jeanne’s recipes is that a lot of them use eggs.  In my opinion, you do need eggs in a lot of things, especially gluten free, to make them work.  Eggs make baked goods bind as well as rise and do good things for the texture.   Now, this can be a bit of an issue for me. I can and do eat eggs.  I am not allergic to them, just mildly intolerant. I used to have more of a problem than I do, now, on the whole, eggs just make my eyes a bit puffy and baggy. I know, at my age how can I tell! Let’s just say they look worse than usual then shall we? And although I know a time will come when I’ll probably look like that all the time, I would like that time to be as far away as possible. There is another issue to be considered and that is one of irritation and inflammation.  For those of you who know anything about food intolerances caused by leaky gut (which is what I have developed) it is not good to cause your body any more problems than is necessary in an attempt to let it heal. So, although I do eat eggs occasionally, I try to limit them to main meals on the odd occasion when the meal just wouldn’t be the same without.

In that vein, I have tried Jeanne’s recipe without eggs.  I replaced the eggs with flax eggs.  Flax eggs are used in allergy and vegan recipes to replace eggs, mostly with great success. You simply mix one tablespoon of ground flax seed with three of water for each egg you wish to replace.  The picture below is the same recipe but with flax eggs and chopped walnuts.

Gluten Free, Egg Free Biscotti

The result… OK, but not nearly as good as the egg-ed version.  As you can see the biscotti are more dense than the ones with eggs.  They are also less crunchy than the original version and look slightly undercooked.  Also, somewhere along the line they have developed a slightly odd taste that is a little like artificial sweetener.  I can only assume this is from the flax, although I haven’t experienced it before.    They are edible though and won’t be wasted.  Next time I think I’ll try a powdered egg replacer and see how that turns out.  If not I’ll just make them with eggs as they are too good not to have in your biscuit tin!

Knitting then..

As I said last week, I have been working on a couple of new patterns.

This is my current design project and one that is giving me a few problems.  I am getting there though and hope that by the end of today to know whether the whole thing is going to work out.  That’s the problem when you have a vision in your head as to how you want something to look. You can sketch and swatch as much as you like but until it’s knitted up, you just can’t tell if it’s worked or not. Well, I can’t anyway. It takes time.  Sometimes when you embark on a new project and are only a little way in it all looks a bit unlikely, then further on it starts to come together and somehow transforms into something much better.  It is easy to give up too early on a knitting project thinking that you don’t really like it when actually, once the piece gets to a better size, it improves hugely.  This can happen the other way round though, where you can be in love with something right up until the end when somehow you suddenly can’t see what attracted you to it in the first place.  A bit like some people really!  I think this scenario happens with some patterns when the item is cleverly marketed on an attractive model in a beautiful setting. You fall in love with the feel of the garment rather than the garment itself.  Once knitted, it looses its’ appeal.

By next time I hope have a picture of the completed item – unless I fall out of love of course!

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