Sunday, 20 May 2012

The way to one's heart is via crafts and food


Hello chickies!
If you'res till reading this then good for you and thank you for sticking with it! 
If you recall from the last update, I showed a small preview of a gift I was currently making fo a friend who's birthday it was. My dear friend A was one of the first few people I made friends with when I moved to Plymouth here in the UK. She like myself, is deaf except she underwent a different life journey and experiences than myself and for the ride she had and all the things she endured that life had thrown at her, I truely admire her strength. She's one of a small handful of people who are strong and possess such a character and personality that is well loved and recieved by all. Even though I'm a little older than her, she truly suppasses me in the knowledge and wisdom she processes that she herself gained from life. She truely been through so much and deserves every inch of happiness that comes her way. I thought she would appreciate the below handmade gift, a large mama owl made up of original 70's fabric holding her little baby.
The mama owl is about the size of a large cushion and is hand stuffed by myself as well as both machine and hand stitched. all the fabrics used to make her is all salvaged and second hand which demonstrates an excellent example of up-cycling. Mama owl's wings are made to be able to hold her baby tight to her and the fabrics was taken from an old sample book that use to come in to the scrap store where I did voluntary work teaching adults and children various crafts. I loved that job and how I was left to be in charge of teaching to others the skills I have gained in life. Many disabled adults and children passed through my lessons loving every minute of it and I'm glad I got to make them smile!





The Teenie baby owl is made up from a small part of a fat quater. I deliberately chosen more muted, "nursery" colours to reflect the delicate, cuteness of the baby. I even hand-stitched the baby's tummy on and then with a needle, frayed the edges of the material for a little "fluffiness". I love, love, love how the eyes turned out so well, made up of two buttons sitting inside of one another.


 My friend loved it. Her birthday meal was a real nice, imtimate affair and we all had a brilliant time. She recieved beautiful gifts and I was thrilled to watch her open mine! It took her some attempts to believe I made her gift but she finally believed me! I recieve the above picture from her showing Mama and Baby at home on her sofa with another new family friend. What is so brilliant is the owl cushion on the right was the inspiration I've seen out and about in shops, going at prices around £25 which I love but wanted to make my own and a little better. The end result? Mama and Baby on the left, a hand made gift for a precious friend. 

I'm liking this end result and the great thing is I've now got a pattern on hand used for this project. I think I might vary the wings a bit for next time for an easier sewing result. I'm also thinking of making Mama's eyes different with a large fabric circle for the eye and then having the button for the pupil. Baby is pretty much bang on and wouldnt change a lot apart from adding a little applique heart on his chest in future for added love!


For those who know me and know me well, would know I'm a massive food lover. I love food...something my body and weight can attest for but in my opinion, a true food lover is one who not only eats good food out and about but also strives to take elements of dishes and produce and recreates it at home. You need to cook food as well as to eat it to understand how a dish works and why it works on each and every level it is created. I love complex dishes and often I will try to order things of this nature when I'm out, but it's the simplier element that is the hardest to achieve. 
Food with many ingredients can hide many sins and errors and sometimes you're not sure if you're actually tasting the dish you're suppose to be tasting. Strip a dish back to its basics, you have nowhere to hide and you have a smaller margin for error. I think this is why many chefs shudder at simple dishes....any mistakes will be spotted!

There has always been one produce I've always wanted to get my hands on to try.
Samphire.
Samphire is a coastal plant with a long history. Samphire is also known as sea asparagus or sea pickle and has been used in history as part of making soap and even glass hence its olde name of glasswort. 
It is also long been eaten in England and research shows there's even reference to it been mentioned in King Lear.

 Half-way down Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade! (Act IV, Scene VI)

Samphire is found on cliffs and coastal regions near seas, esturies and rivers and is often eaten in salads or pickled. But where the magic happens is when it is simply sauteed or steamed and paired with fish. 

Samphire and I have a long history. As a child I dreamt of being cast away on distant islands and living off the land, foraging for food with a knowledge gained from books and national geographic magazines given to me from mainly my grandad. 

We humans have lost the skills and knowledge to live off the land and remain in time with the seasons. Should we even need to live hand to mouth like our forfathers had done in the past, I dont think we would fare well. Samphire was something chefs on television would talk with great enthusiasm, both they and survival experts would trek to world's end where cliffs met the white, wild foamy seas and glorify the plant that gave a unique taste of the sea to any dish.

I even had a fail quest in search for Samphire myself. One training exercise with the army in Cornwall, we were being taught basic survival skills by a harden bunch of royal marines on the cornish coast. We spent hours searching through all the plants growing around us, pulling them up and cooking them in various means and we thought we had Samphire until the Marines admitted they pulled up the wrong plant and they havent themselves come across Samphire in a long time!
...and we were about to consume a weed....yeah...some survival experts they were...!
 So Samphire remained ever elsuive until this week. My local Morrisons underwent a new facelift and I'm loving the new store layout and the fresh produce counter is out of this world! Fresh fruits and veg from the world over is laid out on ice beds, labelled with their names and how to cook them. You can see all these people picking up all these beauties, no longer scared now that they know what the produce is called and how it is eaten and I am now getting my hands on some great things I've always wanted to cook. I got an artichoke in the fridge I'm going to cook up soon with fresh hollandaise sauce which i dreamt of one day trying.

And i finally got my hand on Samphire! There it was, siting in its own little tray on an ice bed in the fresh herb section!


I simply sauteed it in butter and a little lemon juice and poured it over a freshly cooked piece of salmon. The end result?




Samphire tasted beautiful with the clean taste of salmon. It popped in your mouth with every bite, unleashing a deep tang of the sea, a saltiness that is intense yet developed with a nutty musky tang and had an almost roast chicken aftertaste. It really does lift the taste of the fish to another level and I recommend you give it a try!

Don't be scared of trying something that looks strange and wonderful on shop counters, buy something that scares you, take it home and experiment. Keep the flavours simple and see how you can adapt it to suit your tastes.  I'm finally glad I tracked down and tasted Samphire, the long fabled and elusive plant is now something I've ticked off my list and is something I would put onto my table and share with friends the next time they come over.

Its these small challenges and goals one needs in life that makes living with depression that much easier. Its that small sense of accomplishment that keeps me going to the next one and it's something I hope to share on this blog so I can see my progress.

One must try to live through life with their eyes open, taking in each moment and recognising a moment for what it is. I went for a walk one evening this weel, so angry and upset after a session at Karate. Although the session was a great one, I laughed and got a good lesson from it, I was so upset and so distraught for personal reasons that I just walked blindly until I stopped at a near-by spot and stared out across the water.  I had a long weekend go by, where I truely felt my world was ending. My parents looked after me, trying to make sure I ate and slept and watched their daughter shuffle around the house in a zombiefied state. My dad said I looked like how a war driven soldier would look after many nights on sentry watch like when he was a young marine, deep bruised, raw circles under my eyes from nights of no sleep and the eternal rollings of my mind. I explained to him how I hated sleeping and eventually it developed into a phobia, where I absolutely freak out at the idea of going to bed, striving to stay awake until my body just shut itself down out of complete exhaustion. This happened night after night for months until it was too much. The weekend was a dark one, really dark. I wont go into it too much, it's too personal and raw to share here. 
But here i was, standing at the water edge, mind and soul screaming internally in pain, I felt like my heart was ripped out for a long time and lost, emotions doing their own thing with no control and I just looked at the view for what it was. 
Sunset. The ending of one day and the begining of another. There is always another day to come, another day where things might just get better and damn, wasnt the view just beautiful?


 

Birdie love to you. xxx

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