My latest beer has just gone into bottles. Hurrah. The fermenter and other kit is clean and now I’m thinking about the next one.

I took up brewing 6 years ago and have been enjoying slowly learning a new craft. I like all sorts of things about it. I love knowing how things are made from scratch. In the case of food, from actual plant/animal ingredients, not pre prepared industrial food-like products. Even better if I can make from scratch myself in a way that fits in my lifestyle. The beer making is fun and has almost infinite combinations of recipe and method options to experiment with. It also reminds me of laboratory work, the good side of that, all the measuring and being careful with temperature, cleanliness, process, record keeping. Extra bonus points for being a money saver too. I make beer for around a third to a fifth the cost of commercial beer. Plus a bunch of my time of course. I only buy beer these days either in a pub where I can’t byo, or to taste test, the latter is often while considering recipe options.




Strawberry Meringues

Success! Strawberry meringues. A version of my magic meringue recipe served to use up the sugar left over from the Strawberry Syrup of a few days ago. The sugar didn’t all dissolve but the resulting treats were definitely worth the effort. They have a delicate pale pink chewy center and do in fact taste of strawberry. Sweet! both literally and figuratively. I’ve already eaten three :-).


200ml white sugar wetted with strawberry juice- take 2T of this and heat in the microwave to hot but not stupid*
1 egg white
2t cornflour
1t white wine vinegar

beat for ~15min, spoon to baking paper**, bake 150C fan forced for 50min

(bah, how do I reduce line spacings? answer: pressing shift+enter gives single line spacing, yay)



*original recipe calls for 2T of boiling water
**or reusable alternative as I prefer

Labour intensive but satisfying

Yesterday I combined the luxury of time with a recent quality stash gift to set up a new project. A few weeks ago I was the delighted recipient of a big bag of sock wool leftovers. Two of them looked like Schoppel Wolle Zauberball. Now I love knitting their crazy zauberball wool, so I am keen to have a go at knitting this. Between them there was about enough for a pair of socks but the colours didn’t quite go. The darker ball was even more purple than this, my camera doesn’t deal well with blue tones.


This post is picture heavy and long so I’m experimenting with a cut. Hopefully clicking “more” below will deliver the rest of the post? Argh no! it’s eaten the rest! Now reconstructed, L plates still on here.

So I skeined off the dark wool

and put it through a yellow dyebath


I left it a bit long, but I think the new colours still work better with the bright yarn. I’ve rewound both colourways into half weight balls to help decide when to stop the first sock. The bright turns out to deliver a rainbow per half! I did have to do a second rewind of one half to get the colours running the same way.

Here is the tiny collection of project materials for one sock


Which rolls up to about the volume of a glasses case. I knit so many socks because they make wonderful portable projects, which I need to keep me happy and sane in trains, planes and waiting situation various.



One chicken: ~14 serves

Posting this in case some find it useful. Also because I’m delighted to have come up with another useful variation.

I will only buy free range chicken, and buying it in pieces is expensive. So every so often, I buy a whole free range chook, from which I get at least a dozen meals, sometimes more.

The legs and wings make two meals. I usually make a ginger/soy/honey marinaded slow cooked thing with noodles and veg. Tonight I did a baked thing with cream/zucchini/mushrooms/rice instead.

The thighs make two meals. My standard is a cacciatore variant

The breasts make about 4 serves. I usually do satay or curry but random pasta sauces are also good.

Then the new thought was- instead of just making stock from the resulting carcass, steam the meaty carcass for half a hour. I put thyme and bay in the steaming water. Let this cool, strip the carcass and one gets about a cup of cooked chicken, useful for sandwiches, pasta, pizza etc. Say another two meals. If you have inexpensive white wine, use that for all or half of the steaming water. Either way, the resulting water is a rich stock.

The steaming water counts as stock, then one can boil the bones(including the any of the other bones you haven’t already boiled) for more stock. Say ~1L stock that will make 4 serves of soup.