Folksy is organising an 'Upcycle Christmas Competition' this year to raise money for the Sue Ryder Care charity, and I'll be taking part in it. The deal is this - you enter, print up a ticket and go to a participating Sue Ryder store to pick up 5 items to upcycle, which you then auction on Folksy, with the proceeds going to Sue Ryder Care. I thought this was an awesome idea, since I get a large portion of my materials from op-shops anyway, and it fits it almost perfectly with the cut-and-paste way I usually work.
So last Saturday, I printed up my ticket and went to the Sue Ryder store in Camden to pick up 5 items to tear apart for charity. It turned out to be slim pickings, as I only had 2 bags of stuff to choose from, but I did manage to dig through and get my mitts on 5 items in the end.
I found this brand new, fairly see-through (though it doesn't appear so in the photo) white cotton mesh tank top and gross, shiny lavender brocade blazer jacket after sifting through some of the other items in the bag. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with them yet, but rest assured that I'll be ripping that disgusting jacket apart. And as you can see from the photos, I graduated with honours from the Kate Bush School of Dance.
More digging, and I was rewarded with this white, knitted, batwinged top with lacey panels. Not completely hideous, now that I look at it again, but I think I'll be unraveling it so I can use the yarn to make up something - maybe a cape? And yes, I am wearing trackies in this photo - please don't judge me, it was before breakfast.
And lastly, I picked up this gigantic stripey men's pyjama set to complete my 5 items. The Mancreature is convinced some old guy died in this. Urgghh! I picked it mainly because it was so large, which meant that I would have loads of material to sew things from.
You can't really see it, but the trousers were ENORMOUS, which resulted in a lot of awkward tucking and folding after I put them on.
I can't wait to start cutting these things up and making pretty little things out of them. (After all, there's been some shocking atrocities committed in the name of charity recently, and it's about time to put things right.) If you're interested in bidding on items in the auction, or you want to take part in the competition, then get thee over to the Folksy site. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Folksy, it's pretty much like Etsy, but with a focus on UK sellers. I'll be posting updates as I finish making stuff.
Last Sunday, the Mancreature and I decided to emerge from our lair and visit one of our favourite eating places - Silk Road Restaurant. While it's only about 15 minutes down the road in Camberwell Green, the distance can seem a lot longer on days when the sun sets at about 4pm and it's so cold that I want to shower with all my clothes on.
But I'm glad I persuaded the Mancreature to trek down the hill with me (threatening to punch him in the tender bits may have helped). Unlike most 'Chinese' restaurants around, Silk Road serves food from Xinjiang - that large area on the Northwestern side of China that largely consists of deserts and mountains. Most people may have heard about Xinjiang because of the riots in Urumqi a few months back, but there's much more to the region than ethnic unrest. Think awesome hats, large, sprawling markets, and crazy spicy food that makes your heart race like you've been running for the bus (that's about as much exercise as I get). And cold weather + spicy food = happy me!
The restaurant itself has had a bit of a makeover since we first starting going there. The walls are now lavender, and the lighting seems to have improved, even if the garish woven wallhangings and blaring techno-pop are still going strong (although, the last time we went, they were playing an awesome selection of 70's and 80's punk - I think it must have been the boss' day off).
Although the menu is only about 4 pages long, the Mancreature and I took about 10 minutes before we decided on our orders - not because there's nothing interesting in it, but because we wanted to order pretty much everything, and it's impossible to ingest so much with only 2 stomaches. So we settled on only 4 dishes. We had a plate of spicy kelp as a starter - long, noodly strands of slightly chilled, slimy, green seaweed doused in loads of spicy chilli and garlic sauce. It's probably my favourite thing on their menu, and I think I could eat a whole plate of it myself, even though the crazy hot sauce makes my brain sweat.
And then we went slightly crazy and ordered two plates of dumplings, and a plate of noodles. It doesn't sound like much, but there are 10 dumplings in each serving. 20 little nuggets of dough stuffed with stuff!
This little nuggets of joy were the egg, leek and shrimp dumplings, which - while not very shrimpy - are bursting with bright green vegetal matter and little gobbins of egg. The dumpling dough is probably a little firmer and thicker than the ones you get in other Chinese restaurants, but it serves a purpose by holding all the juices inside the dumpling. Dip them into the hot chilli oil and black vinegar provided on the side, and you could find yourself gobbling up a whole plate in mere minutes.
These are the beef and onion dumplings - pretty much like the other ones, but brown and with beef, instead of green. While I like these too, I think I much prefer the veggies ones as they're much easier to chow down. I find that the density of the skin, coupled with the meat, tends to make this a much 'heavier' dumpling, and I find myself struggling after two or three of them. I don't want to struggle, I want to mindlessly shove food down my maw!
And then there's this - a large (GIANT, bigger than my freaking head!) plate of handpulled noodles, served with generous slices of lamb, assorted vegetable stuff, and of course, doused in loads of spicy sauce. I've had plenty of 'authentic' versions of this dish, mostly cooked by stoic Uighur men in all-night bus stations circling the Taklamakan, and this one from the Silk Road beats many of those hands downs. Afterall, 'authentic' doesn't necessarily equate to 'tasty' (a full English from the local greasy spoon may be authentic, but is it always tasty?). For one, this version is a lot less 'drenched in pools of grease', which means you're not wading through spicy oil to get to the flavour. And the strips of lamb aren't covered in inches of cumin, they're just good, fresh strips of lamb.
The handpulled noodles, too, are cooked so the texture is just-right - you don't spend ages chewing on them, and they pick up lots of flavour from the slightly tomatoey sauce. Shit, I've written a lot of words for only four dishes, when all I really wanted to say was - Silk Road Restaurant, tasty!
I think I mentioned that it's been pretty chilly over here lately, and our heating's been broken, so all I've wanted to do every morning after waking up, is to eat warm stuff. But I hate porridge (it looks like spew and it reminds me of primary school), and I'm too lazy to cook up bacon and eggs every morning. Instead, I've been cutting up apples (and peaches, when I can find some) and cooking them for about 10 mins, in a saucepan with cinnamon and sugar, before pouring them over vanilla yoghurt and throwing a handful of flaked almonds on top. So tasty, and so easy, and it's done by the time my coffee is ready.
Silk Road Restaurant
49 Camberwell Church Street
If you're looking for lovely little trinkets or accessories, then take a look at The Unlimited Dream Company. It's a collaborative blogshop run by my younger sister and I (click on that link to check out her photography site).
There's only about four items in the shop right now, but we'll be adding more as soon as we get our hands on more pretty pieces.
Click on the image above to be taken to the shop. Most of the items in there right now are secondhand and less than £10. Follow us so you can be updated about the newest items in stock. Have fun shopping!
My housemates' wedding on Wednesday provided me with an excuse to get all dressed up in the middle of the week. Sure, I was probably overdressed for a registry wedding in Brixton, but who cares, when dressing up is so much fun? The wedding, not so much, but that's a whole other story.
Gah! Why do I always look so nervous when being photographed? Anyway, here are the details, Wardrobe Remix style.
Now that I see it written down, I probably should be embarrassed by the fact that half my outfit came from MVE. But I'm not - after all, I did work there for a month, and the Mancreature for nearly three years, and so I guess it's inevitable that we managed to get our grubby little hands on a whole bunch of stuff.
Oh and to answer my sister's question - yes, Sainsbury's do sell shoes!
We'll be selling pretty little trinkets, secondhand clothes and awesome accessories. There's nothing in the shop right now as we're busy photographing everything and writing descriptions, but I'll let everyone know when it's open for business.
Nigella struck again on the weekend, and my tastebuds gladly gave in to temptation. This time, the weapon of choice this time was a hefty dose of her Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe, broken down into dainty little cupcake portions.
The recipe calls for lots of butter, Guinness and cream, and makes for an intensely dense, dark cake.
The cream cheese icing on top imitates the froth on the top of a well-poured pint of the dark stuff, and saves the whole thing from being too sweet and brick-like.
Now, before you accuse me of being a Nigella fangirl, let me at least try to defend myself. The reason I've been turning to her recipes so often lately is because they're great for lazy people like me. She usually only requires you to stir everything together before sticking it into an oven, and that's great for someone like me, who's only really an amateur in the kitchen.
And, she never shys away from using cream and butter, which always makes everything taste so much better.
A little collage/ drawing that I've just finished, utilising two of my current obsessions - gridded graph paper, and security patterns. It'll probably be going into the next issue of The Great Unwashed.
**Some of you may have noticed that I've changed the name at the top to 'Woolly Two Shoes'. No big reason for that really, I just thought it would be less confusing to have the same name and URL, is all.
I've been achin' to do some bakin' the last couple of weeks, and finally got down to it on Saturday night, churning out a batch of Russian tea cakes. They're also known as Mexican wedding cookies, but I think I much prefer the other name, as I'm not much a fan of weddings.
Anyway, these shortbread-like biscuits are so simple to make, and so simple to scoff down too! They're pleasantly crumbly (or 'friable', if you prefer wanky foodblog terminology), and are a heartstoppingly delightful combination of butter and sugar. I looked around for a few recipes, but as usual, just decided to go by instinct, and do it my own way. It takes hardly any time to mix together, and you'll have a satisfying large batch of them in about an hour or less.
250 gm butter
100 gm white sugar
10 ml vanilla/almond extract (optional)
10 ml water
250 gm plain flour
100gm ground almonds/ pecans
icing sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cream the butter and sugar together till smooth. I found it easier just to rub the butter and sugar together with my hands, but you can use whichever method suits you best.
Mix in the vanilla or almond extract - I left this out as both the supermarkets near me had completely sold out of vanilla extract and I didn't want to use almond extract as it might've got too 'almondy'. All I can say is, someone somewhere better be making the world's largest vanilla sponge cake, with all that vanilla!
Add flour, and water, then rub the mixture together till they look like giant crumbs. Add ground almonds, and work everything together till the dough is just smooth. There's no need to work it too much.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Pinch off bite-sized pieces (about 1 inch wide) and roll them into balls, then, just before you put them on the baking tray, flatten them slightly with your thumb. If you're using cutters, make sure your shapes aren't too thin, as they tend to burn at the edges.
Pop them into the oven for 10 - 12 mins, they're done when they're slightly browned on the edges and pale gold on top.
The biscuits can be eaten like that, or you can dust them with icing sugar for more sweetness. They'll make great bites for a Christmas party - you can simply cut them out with tree-shaped cutters, and dust some sugar on top to look like snow!
I'd love to hear from you if you make these biscuits.
My back hurts like a kicked testicle today (damned mattress!). So much so that I couldn't even do any stretches this morning, and had to perform some 'interesting' acrobatics to get my shorts on. So I made myself a pink salad for lunch to cheer myself up.
Rice vermicelli, cubed beetroot, cubed fishsticks, seasoned with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil, with a small handful of sesame seeds.
The beetroot turned the white rice vermicelli a pale shade of pink.