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A Pandemic Mask

8 Apr

Mask

So after several days of cutting cloth, cutting blocks, printing and sewing here’s my first pandemic mask. I carved the word “isolate” into a little lino block as the basis for the work. I hope it will be the first of many.

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I learnt as I went along. My sewing skills are rusty – so are some of my pins! I didn’t allow enough time for the ink to dry – it’s much quicker on paper.

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I used my lovely hand cranked Edwardian Singer sewing machine, now an antique – it was made in 1904. It has this beautiful sphynx-like decoration. Gorgeous.

 

 

My Mojo Is Back

6 Apr

isolate 1

Today I started what I hope will be one of many small linocuts inspired, if that’s the right word, by the Covid19 pandemic and the extraordinary times we are living through.

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I’m using the hard brown lino with a hessian backing. It’s very, very hard and I should have popped it into the oven to soften it first, but I was too impatient to crack on. It was okay, just a bit tough on my fingers.

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Week one of lockdown put me into survivalist mode; cooking, preserving, shopping for relatives, getting the allotment into shape, DIY around the place, but no creative impetus at all. Week 2 and I slumped, hard to motivate myself to do anything. Now at the beginning of week 3, my arty mojo seems to be back! Tomorrow I print.

 

 

Ideas And Fish Pie

5 Apr

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I’ve been thinking a lot since the lockdown started about doing some artwork based around the Covid19 virus and the way our lives have changed. But I’m not someone who can force it and it’s had to mull around inside for a while and now the ideas are creeping out from wherever they come from.

masks 1

I had a spare cotton sheet hanging around, I bought the wrong size and I’ve been wondering what to do with it since. It’s a fitted sheet so I cut off the elasticated bits – they’re useful – and then cut a number of rectangles, 15 x 22 cms. The next stage is to carve a small lino block …… tomorrow probably …..

fish pie

And I made a classic fish pie for tea. Proper comfort food. Suits the times we’re living in. There’s enough left over for tomorrow too. I love eating leftovers – waste not, want not as my Nana used to say xxx

 

 

 

The Edwardian Singer

3 Apr

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So I’m finally getting some creative ideas from the pandemic lockdown and I’m getting my kit together to make a start this weekend. I’ll be starting with some sewing, using my lovely Edwardian Singer machine. I love it and use it a lot, it’s better than the electric machines I’ve had over the years. Singers have a metal plate with a serial number and you can look it up online to find the date. This one is from 1904, in the middle of the reign of Edward 7th.

Cheesey Baconey Comfort Food

29 Mar

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More pandemic cooking today – comfort food to the max! Here’s a yeast free Cheese and Bacon Bread recipe by Gwynn Galvin on the Swirls of Flavor website  that my mate June sent me on Facebook. It’s an American recipe which gave me a chance to use my fancy schmancy set of Joseph Joseph measuring cups.

First, preheat your oven to 180C, 350F or gas mark 4 and grease 1 large or two smaller loaf tins with vegetable oil. Snip the rind off three rashers of streaky bacon and cut them into small strips. Fry them until crispy. Put 2.5 cups of plain flour into a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Add 4 teaspoons of baking powder and a cup of grated strong cheddar. Meanwhile melt 4 tablespoons of butter.

It’s wild garlic season and although the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of garlic granules, I substituted this with half a cup of snipped wild garlic leaves and added these to the dry ingredients and mixed them in with my hands. Beat one large egg and measure out a cup of milk.

Pour all the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl – that’s the melted butter, milk and beaten egg and mix them in gently with a large metal spoon. Don’t overmix as this will make the bread denser. Put the mix into the loaf tin/s and sprinkle some more grated cheese on top. Bake for about 45 minutes for a large loaf or 35-ish for the two smaller ones. They should be golden brown and if you stick a metal skewer into the centre it should come out clean. Leave them in the tins for about 5 minutes then remove them and cool them on a metal rack – the one from your grill pan will do.

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I served the bread still warm in thick slices with home-made root vegetable soup. It is LUSH!

You can find the original recipe here

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food

28 Mar

nutmeg

Comfort food tonight. Rice pudding, made with coconut milk and agave syrup rather than the traditional cow juice and sugar, but nutmeg is a must. I grate it fresh and stir it through the pudding before I cook it. I microwaved it for 30 minutes, which is a lot quicker than in an oven, but it doesn’t seem to get a skin this way. Lot’s of people don’t like rice pudding skin but I love it.

On the left, the ingredients mixed and ready to go into the microwave at full power for half an hour. Then served up hot and creamy with a dollop of home-made jostaberry jam.  It was lush!

 

 

 

Survival Kicking In

27 Mar

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I seem to have gone into some weird default setting, a deep seated survival instinct. I’ve been wondering why I’m finding it so hard to do any art at the moment – surely the greatest crisis within living memory would kickstart some creative ideas? But no. Instead I’m digging my allotment, planting seeds, picking crops, cooking, preserving, using up leftovers, recycling, storing.

Art is a higher function. Food is a basic need. Something deep seated has been triggered and the energy I would normally be putting into my studio is now going into my kitchen and allotment. Today I bottled some rhubarb and made rhubarb cordial. We’ve got a glut of rhubarb this year. Normally I’d be making crumble and upside down cake with it but Husb has decided to give up sweet things for a while because he thinks he’s putting on weight and I can’t take cakes around to friends and relatives because we’re on lockdown. There’s loads more in the ground ….. tomorrow I’m going to make rhubarb gin.

Cooking Game Of Thrones Style

25 Mar

squash 2

Day two of lockdown and I turned into a psycho cook, channelling Game of Thrones with a butternut squash …….

Hack a squash in half with a big dagger. Lay them side by side on a metal tray and roast them in a furnace until you can squeeze their flesh easily.

Flay and dismember two onions and cast them into a cauldron of hot oil and saute them until they are soft.

Scoop out the fleshy innards from the squash and cast it into the cauldron with the onion. Scald it with boiling water.

Add vegetable stock. Okay, I know vegan stock isn’t very Game of Thrones, but hey, I’M NOT JOFFREY!!!! Pulverise it with a masher, blender or liquidiser and smash it into small pieces. Boil it in the cauldron a bit more until it’s thickened.

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Serve it up at the Red Wedding. Or for your supper. Whatever.

 

Rhubarb And Beansprouts

24 Mar

Today started weirdly. I’ve been pretty gung-ho about the coronavirus so far but when I got up this morning (I didn’t want to get up) I stayed in my pyjamas for ages and comfort ate from a huge bag of salt and vinegar crisps. But then I pulled myself out of it and got stuck into sorting out the garden – it needed a good clear up after the winter. I picked a tidy crop of rhubarb as well – haven’t decided what to do with it yet – crumble, chutney, bottled and gin are the options.

rhubarb

I also started off some beansprouts. I had a box in the pantry that I’d forgotten about. They’re a quick crop, 3 – 5 days and there should be a decent amount and they’re really nutritious. I’m still finding it hard to get motivated to make art, but there’s plenty to do in the house and garden which seems more appropriate for the times really.

 

The Digital Cat

23 Mar

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I’ve been using a free Markers app on my Galaxy Samsung tablet (note 8) for a few years now but there was one drawing tool I had not used so I’ve been having a go with it this evening, using Sparta Puss as a model. She looks impressed, not!

 

 

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