Friday 24 January 2014

Pumpkin love story


It has been a pumpkin-y weeks: Two pumpkin soups in seven days... Two different ones that is.

I am a huge pumpkin fan! It's like food for the soul. Growing up I never had pumpkin because my mum wasn't too fond of it (she is now that she had my yummy pumpkin soup. Hurray). I had my first pumpkin soup in a little restaurant / café in Katoomba. Katoomba is a city in the Blue Mountains and my good friend Anne and her daughter Jen took me there one day. The restaurant was cute, homely and had brilliant food. My pumpkin soup was served in a bowl out of bread. Oh my god - it was love at first sight. I ate every little bit of it! If you ever make it to Katoomba make sure to check out the café. It's called Yellow Deli. They might not have pumpkin soup every day but their other food is pretty good, too! So is the hot chocolate by the way...

After I returned to Germany I kept on dreaming of pumpkin soup but never dared to make it myself (that or I was too lazy). Michelle can tell you that I never was very good at cooking nor was I really into it. This changed when the boyfriend and I moved in together. Now it wasn't just cooking for one person but cooking for two. The boyfriend is still a far better cook than I am but some dishes I can make rather well. Pumpkin soup is among them. It all started in 2011 when I bought a 12 kilo pumpkin at a farmers market. It took me a half a day to slice, weigh and freeze in portions but it was worth it. I made my first pumpkin soup that day. I used a recipe from Sarah Wiener and it turned out quite well! Well, everything except the portions. It said to feed four and it did, but barely. So it won't work if you want to have soup as a decent main dish instead of a starters. Since then I change the recipe a bit every time I made a soup. Now 40 kilos of pumpkin later the recipe looks like this:

Anne's pumpkin soup for the soul

This will feed around 6-8 people (I freeze the rest if it's just the boyfriend and me).


1 kg pumpkin
600 g sweet potato
2 red onions
A large piece of ginger (thumb sized)
4 garlic gloves
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons of curry powder

1 l veggie stock
1 l milk


Optional to top the soup with:
Creme Fraiche
Pumpkin oil

This is how you do it:

Chop the onions, the garlic and the ginger. Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Let them fry for some time until you can properly smell all the flavours.

Chop the pumpkin and the sweet potatoes and add to the pot. Let them fry for some time.

Add the curry powder and stir well.

Add the stock and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add milk and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Purée the whole lot with a hand blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Give it a try! It is so yummy! As I said it freezes well and tends to taste best on the second day! Yum! Now have a look at my pumpkin love story ... :P

Hm, I think I should have some pumpkin now... :P

More crochet soon! I jumped on the corner to corner wagon and boy, I LOVE it...

Take care,

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Creative Cooking Planning

As you have probably picked up by now, I really like cooking.  I also like to think that I am not too bad at it! I love to cook for family, for friends, and to think of how every recipe can be improved and tweaked. I also don't mind cooking for people with food restrictions (vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerance etc), as it just adds to the challenge! 

At the moment however, the chronic fatigue really makes a mess of my cooking plans. I am trying to practise activity pacing, which is cutting down on the length of time spent on any activity (physical or cognitive) to a level that I can do it without a significant increase in fatigue.  At the moment, my kitchen/housework activity period is 8 minutes! That doesn't give me a lot of time for creative cooking!

Leading into the Christmas break last year, this problem reared its ugly head.  Usually I either do or oversee all of the cooking for our lake holiday, but that was going to be impractical.  Everyone also still wanted to eat good food!

So, my sister and I came up with an idea: we would put together a meal plan and cookbook for the holiday break so that everything could be done without me having to be involved and no single person had to take on a greater burden of meal preparation/cleanup. 

I researched and typed out all the recipes and sorted the meal plan, and Kathryn then used her amazing graphic design skills to create The Book.  For each recipe, there were slots for people to "sign up" for different tasks associated with the meal, from chopping to cooking to table setting to washing up. She also put times in when tasks had to be completed in advance, and wrote the wonderful poem on page 1!

We had a few copies - two A4 and two A3 - so there was a (very dirty) copy next to the stove, a copy on the bench and one that we took apart and stickytaped to the windows to make it easier for people to sign up, as well as a complete A3 copy available for perusal at any time :)

The Spaghetti Bolognese recipe is pretty straightforward:

Tandoori Chicken with Saffron Rice and Naan was a bit more confusing as there were three separate components that needed preparation and cooking! Kathryn had a very clever idea for this - she gave each component a different colour so that it was clear which steps and which ingredients belonged to which component. 

Overall, The Book worked really well and I think we'll be doing it again next year!  Particularly, having the signup slots and timings helped everyone to break down the larger job into manageable tasks and read through the whole recipe way in advance of when it was required.

Thanks to Kathryn for letting me share her artwork on this blog :)

Friday 10 January 2014

Giraffes, giraffes, giraffes!

Happy new year, everyone! 

We are just back from our annual Christmas holiday to Lake Macquarie.  I had the best crochet spot in the world :D 

It seems that 2014 will be the year of the giraffe for me - that design is so popular at the moment! 

Here are four little troublemakers I finished for a client as Christmas presents for her grandchildren:

You might recall I asked for your opinion on colour combinations for another order for a child whose favourite colour is orange! The votes came in, and this is the outcome.  The client originally wanted a hippo, but discovered that the little boy's favourite animal is the giraffe, and it was fortunately easy to slightly alter the number of pieces to make the different animal.

I had some mighty trouble tracking down 4 ply orange acrylic yarn in Australia, and eventually had to give in and visit the Deramores UK website.  I now need to forget I ever saw it - the yarn is so cheap and the shipping is so reasonable! 

Fortunately I managed to get enough yarn to make the matching blanket to go with this little giraffe.  It's a corner to corner blanket, with the pattern adapted from this one. I love the texture of the corner to corner blankets, but the middle rows (all the way along the longest diagonal) feel endless, and it's easy to get disenchanted with it. I'm glad I perservered though, the outcome is totally worth it.

Of course, if you want to order an animal or a blanket or talk about designs or colour combinations, just drop me an email at wrappedwithlovebymichelle at gmail dot com !

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Goodbye 2013! Welcome 2014

Happy New Year!!
Somehow I can't believe it's 2014 already. On the other hand, lots of things went on in 2013. I finished my teacher traineeship from hell, we move to Dortmund and I found a lovely new job. Also, I really got into crocheting and started to do more things than blankets! In 2013 I realize that crochet is my kind of yoga... And intent to keep it up in 2014 and get even busier!
I realized that I had far too much stuff lying around in the bathroom – so I threw some out and others got a new home. How convieniend to have a crochet hook and some zpagetti yarn lying around… I whipped up this darling in less then 30 minutes. The pattern is fairly easy:


Easy Zpagetti-Basket
Use any color of Zapgetti Yarn and a 12 hook.
Start with a magic circle and chain two (Counting as one DC*).
Rd 1: 11 DC in the circle. Close with a slip stich in chain 2. ( 12 Stiches).  
Rd 2: Chain two and make one more DC in the same stich. 2 DC in each stich around.  Close with a slip stich in chain 2. (24 Stiches)
Rd 3: 2. Rd 2: Chain two and make one more DC in the same stich. 2 DC in each stich around.  Close with a slip stich in chain 2. (48 Stiches).
RD 4: Chain 2. DC in the back loop of each stich around. Close with a slip stich in chain 2.
RD 5-8: Chain 2. DC in each stich around. Close with a slip stich in chain. Fasten off.
* I always use two chains instead of three for a DC-subsitute. I like it better this way. With three chains, the „hole“ looks too big for my eyes…
I made several of these baskets for christmas – they are lovely gift bowls. For some I changes the color for the last row (no photo unfortunatly) and I weaves some zpagetti straw through the top loops and finished with a bow. The possibilites are endless!
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Apropo christmas: I am a very lucky girl and got a lot of presents! A new camera for example – don’t the pictures look far more awesome now?! My parents gave me a yarn color set among other things. The one Lucy from Attic24 used. Unfortunatly the yarn hasn’t arrived yet. Sigh. Hopefully soon! We also have a new housemate:

We moved to middle Germany from the nothern part last year and we miss the seagurls. So my parents gave us a wooden one. I love it!
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New Years Eve came fast! On Monday I realized that there were only two days of 2013 left… Woah! Still, we managed to whip up a wonderful new years eve dinner. We had raclette and of course there was too much food… We will be able to live of it for several more days!


We had a quite night in with lots of good food and wine. Yummy! Of course we also had to watch „Dinner for one“ which is a German tradition (even though the short movie is in English). Wouldn’t be New Years Eve without it…


At midnight we just had to step on the balcony to see lots of wonderful fireworks. Man – there where tons of it at the sky! People must have spent a fortune on all this firework. We on the other hand didn’t buy anything. Didn’t need to after all…
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2014 greeted us with brilliant weather! Lots of sun, little clouds and nice temperature (6 ° C). How lucky are we?!
We took a talk around our part of Dortmund. Lots of people think Dortmund is a dirty, industrial town with little green. They are very wrong! And I have to confess – I was one of these people when we moved here but I really start to love the city!


Some relics from 2013.
The river is getting recultivate at the moment. It already starts to bloom!
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The first projects for 2014 are already set:
We will join the gym tomorrow for one. Phew, it’s about time.
Also, we bought these lovely chairs via Ebay small advertisements yesterday. 5 chairs for 25 € total! We plan to sand them down and put press oil and wax on them. Perhaps paint them too. We’re not sure about that yet
Other than that my plans for 2014 are:
Be happy,
Enjoy life.
Take it slower.
Sounds doable, doesn’t it? :-)
I reckon this yummy cake is a good start…. Mmmhhh. Smells and tastes so good! I used this recipe.