Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooking marathon

Some things never change. Staying with my mum over the weekend always, absolutely always means I'll lug home at least two large bags of produce, fresh organic eggs procured at the neighbour's, fruit from the local farm....

I cringe at the idea of having to waste food, however eating all of the food my mum has prepared would require a family the size of The Brady Bunch. So I start preparing my cooking plan just as soon as the car engine starts. My method is always the same: plan lots of meals with hearty salads to use the vegetables, fruit and fruit salads for snacks the rest is either refrigerated, frozen, cooked or baked.
Easy start: simple hummus spread with fresh parsley and thyme
 The cooking/baking session lasts about four hours.  It's a tightly run military operation :-)
Project lasagna
Specially if lasagna is on the list. You can't make a proper lasagna without making a huge mess in the process. It requires three separate pots, one for pasta, one for tomato sauce and one for white sauce. And if you have to grind your own beef, things get massively more complicated. But it's worth it in the end.
* And a tiny little trick I use when cooking pasta is to add a few drops of olive oil into the water. This prevents the pasta from sticking together.
Tomato sauce

Next up: using all of the yummy tomatoes and making and easy tomato sauce. I love to use white onions or shallots and slowly fry them in olive oil and then pour a small amount of red balsamic vinegar and let it all slowly simmer until the acid has dissipated entirely and you're left with a thick fragrant onion sauce. And then it's just the matter of adding tomatoes, spices and letting the sauce slowly simmer for an hour.
Peach jam
Making jam is just as easy and gratifying as making tomato sauce. I decided to try a recipe that partially substituted sugar with honey. It's definitely better than standard sugary jam but in retrospect I think I'd be better off using a mildly fragrant honey. I only ever use chestnut honey which proved to be too heavy for the delicate peaches. Ah well, lesson learned for next time.
Pound cake with homemade nutella
And finally I made a pound cake for dessert because I've had two opened jars of homemade nutella that I needed to use up. If anyone is interested click here to see the original recipe for this cake. The only thing I did differently was to use both white and black nutella.
If I had any energy left I would have made some homemade crackers to go with hummus but I settled for store bought ones.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mr. C's new shirt

Setting up the pattern with my trusty assistant and project supervisor

Over the past 4 weeks I've been secretly working on an exciting sewing project: a classic men's shirt. The lovely Susan and Martin from Partlan Pattern Designs contacted me if I wanted to be a pattern tester for their Shannon shirt. I've never done a classic double yoke shirt with French cuffs and I was so excited to put my sewing skills to the test. And I certainly did. Like Peter Lappin from Male pattern boldness said in one of his posts: Shirt making isn't for sissies and he was right. It takes a lot of time, patience and precision to construct a men's shirt. But the result is a stunning item of clothing that really surpasses all of those of the peg T-shirts and raggedy looking jerseys and such.

it's all in the details: perfect collar points and sleeve placket

In my fashion oriented posts I've often wrote about the poor quality of fabrics and poor fit as well as lack of ingenuity in mainstream fashion and how this influenced me to develop my sewing skills. When we look at men's fashion it's even worse: limited choices, shoddy construction and for lack of better words no wow effect. I've also written about my passion (or better obsession) with Poirot movies. The costumes in these movies are amazing. I love the watch them over and over again and get lost in the world of eloquent, well mannered people who dress with such elegance. The Shannon shirt project was therefor heavily influenced by the aesthetic of my beloved Poirot movies, the world of impeccable bespoke tailoring with a hint of flamboyance in choosing a floral patterned print cotton.

The pattern Martin and Susan sent was a bespoke pattern designed according to Mr. C's measurements. And what a difference that made! As is customary, the pattern pieces are first basted together to check for general fit and to mark the adjustments. Having a made-to-measure pattern made it the world's fastest fitting ever. The shirt fit like a glove and Mr. C's words was far more comfortable than any of his bought shirts. The real difference however was the fit in particularly the fit across the shoulders. It's difficult to descibe or even convince someone of the benefits of custom fit garments until they've had the luxury of trying them on. Much like the difference between cheap whisky and an aged single malt Scotch. It's a tangible experince and an unforgettable at that.

It took me about 10 days of relaxed, easy paced sewing from start to finish. Susan and Martin were marvelous throughout the entire process. They've set up posts with instructions on their blog detailing various steps of the process. And  during this time we've chatted about buttons and collar shapes and yokes and a ton of other small details that only a true sewing enthusiast can appreciate.

As an hommage to Martin's love for hats, Mr. C insisted to model the shirt wearing his fedora. Go check Martin wearing his gorgeous peacock print shirt wearing his :-)

The photos were taken on a hot summer's eve near the source of river Ljubljanica, one of our favourite hiking spots.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Feminism in the 21st century

I found this photo some time ago on the Internet and it really made me think about prejudices, stereotypes and shaming mechanism in our society. Despite the proclaimed liberties women enjoy today and an ever more equal treatment of the fair sex in the public and the private sphere the prejudices and narrow minded views still linger.
Like the chart on the young lady's leg in the above photo. How many times have you caught yourself thinking that a woman you saw was dressed inappropriately and you immediately jumped to labelling that person "easy", slutty, etc. We still frown upon women who are open and comfortable about being seductive, sexy and even sexually assertive.
How about adultery? Do we judge women who commit adultery harsher than the men? Imagine you had two friends, a male and a female who were both adulterers. How would your relationship with them change? Would you feel that the action of one of them is more heinous though technically they're both guilty of the same thing.
No matter how liberal our society may be, I think it's still imprinted on our mind that somehow, for some reason the female adulterer has committed a graver offence.

And of course women are stereotypically labelled as disastrous drivers though time after time this was proven wrong by numerous statistical data and analysis.
What do you think? Has the equality of genders improved in the 21st century or are there still some lingering prejudices from the dark ages?