Monday, 28 December 2015

Mushrooms, stitching and growing them

This autumn my husband discovered that you can get kits for growing your own mushrooms and he expressed an interest in trying that.

I checked up on it and decided I would give him this for Christmas. Two kits, I bought, one with brown mushrooms and one with oyster mushrooms. As we were travelling to the UK for Christmas, however, I couldn't take them with me.

I needed a placeholder to put under the tree.

This is precisely the sort of occasion on which I tend to get ambitious, so I decided I would make him a card with a mushroom on the front and an explanation inside.

Luckily there are places on the internet where you can get small cross-stitch designs that don't cost anything and are just the right size for a card. I found this one at

I could then buy the floss I needed and some blank cards and stitch my mushroom in deepest secrecy. Mornings, after he had gone to work, and on Wednesdays, which is not a work day for me.

There isn't much in the way of nice 'finish' on the card, but I did at least manage to finish the mushroom design. Just! It was quite last minute, as it took longer to stitch than I had thought it would. I didn't even get a photo until after we had returned from the UK.

My husband was pleased with his gift, although I was slightly put out that he had worked out I was stitching on something secret. I thought I had been so careful, but I suppose the lack of progress on my other project may have been clued him in. I just honestly didn't think he paid that much attention to that.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Flade Kager by Ilse König and Inge Prader

I bought this recipe book some time ago now. It was heavily marked down, so cost next to nothing. The title, Flade Kager, translates to 'flat cakes', as in cakes that just aren't meant to be very tall. It's translated from German as I believe it's originally an Austrian book.

As the title suggests, the book concentrates on flat cakes, tarts and the like. Many of them are cakes made with some sort of fruit, and with some fruits there are several different recipes to choose from. Many of them are fruits I've never seen in a cake before, such as for example a grapefruit tart. There are a couple with chestnuts as well, which I'm very curious to try if not for the fact that chestnut mousse is rather expensive to buy in this country.

The recipes also generally use very little in the way of leavening agents, simply relying on eggs to give them a bit of body. I expect this is where the concept of 'flat cakes' comes into play. All of the recipes that I've tried so far have used a lot of egg, so it's not a very good book if you're allergic to that. Several, however, use little or no flour, so if you can't have flour there should be plenty of cakes to choose from. In those that do use a little flour, I imagine it could easily be substituted for some kind of glutenfree alternative, although admittedly I haven't actually tried to do this myself.

I've had the book for some time now and I've tried several of the recipes. So far all of the cakes I've tried have turned out really well, but the quality of the book itself seems to be rather a rush job.

I don't know if it's the book itself or if it's due to the translation, but several of the recipes have involved a bit of guesswork. In one, a cake with plums, the ingredients list doesn't list any plums at all, in another a baking time is missing and in a third it's a step in mixing the batter. None of these things have been worse than I could make an educated guess at what to do, but obviously ideally a recipe should have all the necessary steps and list all the required ingredients.

All in all, I've generally very pleased with this book. The somewhat unpredictable nature of the actual recipes require that one reads it extra-carefully before beginning, but honestly that's something I can live with, because all the things I've tried from it have turned out so well. My favourite that I've made so far was a walnut cake which wasn't actually all that flat at all, and which I'm thinking could probably be turned into some sort of rather smashing gateau-like creation with a little imagination.