Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fly Front!

Here's a sneak peek at a new project. What's so special about it? It's my first ever fly front zipper! I've been thinking about learning how to insert a fly front zipper for ages, and kept putting it off because it all looked impossibly complicated and potentially heartbreaking. Thank goodness for 50p pillowcases from the op-shop eh? 

I finally took the plunge last week, after several hours of Googling and Youtubing, and you know what? It definitely wasn't as complicated as it looked! Now all I want to do is make up shorts and trousers so I can keep inserting fancy fly front zippers in them. For those of you who are thinking of doing the same, I highly recommend this video on Threads. You'll be a fly fronting pro in no time, I promise! 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Eating Europe Part 2

After you disembark from the ferry at the Hoek van Holland, make your way through customs and head for the Hoekse Vishandel, a little shack that sells the day's freshest catch.
Go up to the nice men behind the counter, and ask for their special dish - raw, skinned herring, served with diced raw onions. 
If raw herring served on a paper plate doesn't sound too enticing, you can also ask for you raw herring to be served in a soft bun, hotdog-style. 
Simply can't abide raw fish? You can always ask for a bowl of kibling, deepfried to order and served with a tart, garlicky mayonnaise on the side.
Some other treats in Amsterdam include - a feta cheese-filled Turkish pancake for breakfast...
a naughty bacon-enriched hotdog for 'lunch'...
with an assortment of sauces...
and a selection cheeses and meats in a traditional Dutch brown cafe
For breakfast on our last day, in a Mexican-themed cafe, we started with coffee and a huge cup of hot chocolate (with plenty of whipped cream, of course)...
and moved on to a pancake overloaded with tinned fruit...
as well as huge mushroom omelette with plenty of chips on the side, to see us off on our way to Germany. 

It's essential to fill up your tummy before a long train journey, it makes crossing borders much easier. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Eating Europe

More food-based shenanigans to come soon.

Fish Stew

Fish stew might be a bit of a misnomer, as this dish doesn't require the hours of cooking and er...stewing, that a traditional stew needs. It's more of a fish soup, prepared in little under an hour. The soup is enriched with some harissa paste and topped off with grated Parmesan for a spicy, thick texture. Sometimes you just crave a good helping of those piscine pals. 

Fish Stew (serves 4, or 2 very hungry people)

1 fennel
1 onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 tin of tomatoes (about 400gm)
6 cloves of garlic (more or less if preferred)
2 leeks
About 500gm of fish* (I used swordfish, tilapia, and cod)
half a bottle white wine
2 teaspoons chilli/ harissa paste
2 or 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (or similar cheese)
parsley and basil, to garnish

- Cut your fish up into cubes and season them with salt and pepper. Set them aside for later. 

- Add some butter and olive oil to a pot on medium heat. Dice up your onion and garlic, and cook until soft and translucent. Slice up your fennel and leeks, and add that to the pot.

- Pour your white wine** into the pot - you can add more or less, depending on preferences. Dice and add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, then put a lid over the pot and let it stew about about half an hour. You can also add some fish sauce or salt to taste. 

- Check on your mixture about about 20-30 minutes. You should have a thick, red stew bubbling away now. Stir in your chilli/ harissa paste, place the fish on the top and cover it up with a lid. 

- Remove the lid after 10 minutes. The fish should be cooked through by now. Take the stew off the heat and ladle into bowls. Top with some grated Parmesan and garnish with basil and parsley. Serve with good, crusty bread!

* Shellfish such as prawns, and mussels, and even squid or octopus would work wonderfully in this dish.

**You can also use stock or even water in place of white wine.

You may have noticed some mushrooms in the photos here - I did use them last night because we had some we needed to finish up, but I wouldn't generally recommend them when making this soup as I don't think they add anything to it. 

Friday, 12 August 2011


Been catsitting this little one for the last two weeks while her parents have been away. We've just returned her on Wednesday, and now I'm thinking about getting my own cat. The Mancreature's not so sure though, after all, she did scratch him (several times), sit on his face, and jump on his neck while he was asleep. Bad cat!