11 March, 2014

Street Art of Newtown

Last weekend I visited my old home of Newtown, Sydney. Spent a nostalgic few hours wandering around the streets, looking at old and new street art. I did go looking for the Banksy work on the side of the Alfalfa House food co-op in Enmore Road, but it was nowhere to be seen. Found a good Vietnamese street food place next door though.

Spent some time looking on my phone for the whereabouts of the White Rabbit gallery. Only to look at my photos later and discover this...

06 March, 2014

The Life Changing Raw Brownie

I think I may have stumbled across the best chocolatey dessert/snack ever. It's from the same lady as the Life Changing Loaf of Bread, and I think this might just be in that same category. It's the Raw Brownie from Sarah Britton of My New Roots. I've been trying to minimise refined sugar for a while now, so I'm always excited to add to my repertoire of sweet things that are made of good, healthy ingredients. I guess the goal is to cut down on desserts overall, but making sweet treats out of real food ingredients rather than fake, manufactured crap is a good transition step. And more realistic for someone like me with a pretty good sweet tooth.

These brownies are a delight. They only have five ingredients: walnuts, almonds, cacao powder, sea salt and dates. Six if you sub with a few prunes like I did. They're pretty hard on the blender. I overheated my Vitamix twice and it stopped working for a bit, which was a bit of a worry, but eventually I realised it hadn't completely died, and it was just a failsafe mechanism in action. Phew. So basically, you just whiz all the ingredients together until they form a fudge-like consistency, aside from the almonds, which you just roughly chop. Mix it all up together and press into a baking tray and freeze to set. Then just cut into small cubes and try not to eat too many at once.

And judging by the hundreds of comments, they're obviously a hit with others as well. And if you want to feel even better about it, read Sarah's description of all of the health benefits of the ingredients. I had a laugh about how she cannot accept any marriage proposals (as thanks for this life changing recipe) because she's already taken.

Apparently Sarah Britton has a cookbook in production, which I'm pretty excited about. The photos on her blog make you want to crack out the kale and green peas, so I'm sure the cookbook will be something to behold. I just noticed a recipe there for raw chocolate too, that's going to be next off the block!

05 March, 2014

Happy dance china

I've gone a bit op-shop crazy of late. I can't seem to walk past a secondhand shop without going in. But I've had some pretty good finds recently, so I'm making a concerted effort not to feel guilty about it. This dinner set was a little pricy for an op-shop find, but I do a little internal happy dance every time I use one of the plates, so I figure that makes it worth it.

The markings on the bottom indicate that it was made by Wedgwood & Co Ltd (with a little unicorn), which indicates that it was made by Enoch Wedgwood, a distant cousin of the more famous Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. Enoch Wedgwood (1813-1879) was an English potter, founder of the pottery firm Wedgwood & Co of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. Wedgwood & Co was renamed Enoch Wedgwood (Tunstall) Ltd in 1965 and in 1980 it was taken over by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, who renamed it Unicorn Pottery. I'd love to find out more about the vintage of this particular set. And I'd love to know how it came to be in that shop on that particular day I walked past.

04 March, 2014

The Great British Sewing Bee - series 2

I'm totally loving that The Great British Sewing Bee, series 2 is screening again in the UK, on BBC Two. If you haven't seen season one, it's a British reality show, devoted to finding Britain's best home sewer. (If you haven't, go and find it. Really!) It's not being broadcasted here in NZ, so I'm having to wait patiently for each episode to be posted on You Tube. Last time I didn't find out about it until the whole season had aired, so I binged on the whole series in one night. Only four episodes though! Great background watching with a project in hand. This time the series will be twice as long.

I'm so in love with this show... it could almost be my new favourite. It's my kind of reality TV. The contestants seem to be a supportive bunch, giving each other little high fives along the way, kind of quirky and quaint, with none of the bitchiness of other reality shows like Project Runway. I love that it's actually about sewing, rather than about personalities! And that the person with the best overall skills wins.

As much as I love Project Runway, and the drama of it, I wish they would cut out some of the back stabbing and petty disagreements and show more of the detail about how they actually construct a garment. The Great British Sewing Bee gets down to the nuts and bolts level. In series one, the projects ranged from some pretty straightforward stuff like making an a-line skirt to some more difficult things like constructing a jacket to fit a live model. Of course there are the some of the usual reality TV scenarios like having tight time constraints to make something. I admire the contestant's ability to perform under that kind of pressure. When I get stuck, I often just leave it a week (or longer) or start something new.

I enjoyed getting to know the judges in season one, the lovely Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant has the swoon factor and sewing teacher May Martin, from the Women's Institute, is so knowledgable and they both have such a wealth of experience. It was interesting to hear their take on all of those little details that are so important in getting a home sewn garment just right.

My least favourite part of the first series were the tutorials, which were a bit rushed and not all that practical. This time they seem to be adding in little clips on the history of fashion and tailoring in Britain in its place, which I find a bit more interesting.

I'm not the only one going on about it either! Gertie is also a fan.

I've heard that they are casting for series 3 already too, so that's something to look forward to. Apparently a similar show is in the works in the US too. Ring a ding DING!