Sunday, July 5, 2015

Outdoors kitchen DONE (aka best husband ever)

This will be a picture heavy post, because I am just so ridiculously happy and proud over our lovely outdoors kitchen and need to show it off. To be perfectly honest it is not entirely done, there still is some sort of proper hatch to be created for the oven, and some kind of stone/brick floor needs to be put down, but... look at this! Marcus really did an amazing job with it. And oh yes, a couple of steps will also be built to connect things. It's almost done, alright!

So how was this done? First, a trench was dug into the ground/slope. A base of compacted gravel was then then added to the bottom of the trench, and on top of that a reinforced frame was constructed out of leca blocks, rebars and concrete. On top of that the counter was constructed using even more leca blocks.

The grill is a commercial pre-case concrete thing, assembled on top of the counter (we just left the bottom half out, not needing it).

The oven was built using fireproof bricks (I think it's just a work of art personally, I love that oven!) as was the thing there to the right of the oven that we call the hearth.

 Everything was covered in... Ah. The dictionary says plaster, but I don't think that's an entirely correct translation. Cement based... puts. Hnngh. Ah well! Hopefully you understand what I mean!

The surface was then painted white, and slabs of slate put in place. For a long time we thought of alternatives there, we were at first thinking of using the same tiles we have in the kitchen for example, but then in the end we decided that clean slate would be best.

The grill is seeing a lot of use already. This picture here to the left you see it being used to make burgers, for example! The "hearth" we have still only used twice but it works wonderfully as well. The oven I am still working on getting the hang of, it's not as easy as one would think! I have managed to bake some simple flatbread in there and next step is to try making pizza (of course).

There you have it, our outdoors kitchen!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Outdoors kitchen WIP and look who is back!

Yes! We are still alive out here, and I have finally decided to pick up this blog again so hopefully you will be seeing more from me again now!

Let me restart by showing you what Marcus has been working on lately...

Our outdoors kitchen is growing and while I wish I could take cred for this, it is all Marcus' spectacular work. Look at dat oven! It's still not entirely done of course, we are considering adding a second layer of bricks around the main dome to help it keep the heat in better, and like the rest will be whitewashed in the end. Will need to post again when there is more progress to report!

Now to wrap up with a cat picture, because... Well because I want to. Until next time!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kitchen craft: mead and mulled wine

On December 23 me and my husband finally got around to bottling this year's mead and glögg. Or as perhaps I should say, mulled wine. Finally! We carefully cleaned lots and lots of bottles, thinking that NO WAY we would need all of them. Hah!

The mulled wine (which I will continue to call glögg, as it is called in Swedish, since I really don't care for the english term. After all, there is no actual wine in our glögg!) was made after the same recipe as always, which you can find right hereThe result: marvellous glögg, strong and flavourful. Not sweet as the store bought glögg people are used to, but something entirely different and much much better. Here served with almonds and raisins, as is traditional.
Moving on to the mead! This time we had three batches of mead to bottle, one large batch with the "regular" honey-and-water mead and two experimental batches. The regular mead, light yellow and gorgeous in every way, you can see in the pic below. The taste is by far superior to our earlier batches, and as always it is devastatingly high on alcohol.
The two experimental batches were the real surprise of the day. The one you can see below, red and gorgeous, is heavily flavoured with wild raspberries that I picked this summer. The second batch, which unfortunately I forgot to photograph, is flavoured with blueberries and a pinch of vanilla. 
The two experimental batches turned out very different. The blueberry mead is just awsome, with a mild blueberry taste and a pinkish colour. The raspberry mead is something else entirely. It's much more acidic, and when mixed with a bit of extra honey (which in this case is preferable) it tastes almost like a candy liqueur. 

I'd like to end this blog post with some other pics from our home this winter. The snow just keeps coming! Though it's not as cold as some other parts of Sweden (they had -40 degrees C up in the north just the other day...) it stays below zero and thus the snow remains. Yippie! Oh how I wish it will stay like this until spring. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blogsphere frustration!!!

Waargghhh! What's up with all of these (mostly american) blogs that claim to be about crafts and homesteading but that in reality seem to be all about religion?!

Yeah, so I'm a bit irritated. I've been surfing around the blogosphere looking for interesting craftsy homesteading blogs, and there sure are a lot out there. However, time and time again blogs with potential (as I see it) fall flat because the writers feel the need to include God and Christianity in every other sentence. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with religious people in general. In fact I am rather spiritual myself, but since this is a blog about HANDICRAFT I have no desire to rub my personal faith in your face. (For that I could write another blog, where people who are interested in my faith are welcome to read all about it but where they don't need to suffer through recipes and pictures of crafty stuff.) But apparently the (mostly american) blogging community that is devoted to crafts/homesteading issues can't help themselves, they just gotta show in each and every blog post that they are good Christians and just how much they love Jesus. Seriously dudes, everything doesn't have to be about religion. I understand how important your church is to you, but wraaararrrhhh!

So now you might just be thinking "well, nobody is forcing you to read those blogs so stop complaining!" and yea sure, you've got a point. The thing is there is so much great and wonderful stuff out there in those blogs, so many ideas and recipes and designs and plans and and and... I want to read those blogs because yeah, they're packed full of stuff I'd be interested in. I just don't wanna also get hit over the head with a religious stick in 99% of the times, it's horribly distracting. If I wanna read about religion I'll go to a blog about religion. If I go to a blog about arts and crafts I'm in it for the - wait for it... - for the arts and crafts! It's like borrowing a romance novel from the library but being told that you must also read this or that sci-fi novel, otherwise you won't be allowed to read the book you really came for. A tad bit annoying. 

Aaaand breeeaathe...

Do any of you get what I'm talking about or am I just rambling? Any suggestions on good homesteading blogs that are NOT so extremely focused on religion? 

And finally, I'd just like to say to anyone who might feel like this is aimed towards them. I'm sorry if I'm upsetting you, but this whole problem revolves around the fact that I LIKE (most parts of) your blogs and I want to read them! Just preferably without the preachings, please!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homemade yoghurt!

As I grew up I knew that yoghurt somehow came from milk. Still, I had gotten the impression that one couldn't make yoghurt at home, because... well... just because! This notion stayed with me until just a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade yoghurt. At first I thought "wow, this must be for those people who raise cows!" but looking closer I finally understood that no, this was something ordinary people could do in an ordinary kitchen using ordinary milk.

Huh, interesting!

I just had to try. So tonight I am proud to announce that my very first homemade yoghurt is done!

Here's how I did it...

0,5 liters of milk (I used low fat milk since that was what we had at home)
2 tblsp of yoghurt

I heated the milk until it was almost boiling but not quite, and then let it sit for a while as the temperature dropped to about 40 degrees C. Then I added the two tablespoons of yoghurt (also just what I happened to have in the fridge!) and stirred. After that I put a lid on it and placed the whole thing in the oven. The oven had just been heated to 40 degrees C. After just a couple of minutes I turned the oven off completely but left the hatch closed so that the warmth would not escape too quickly.

After 6 hours I opened the oven and checked the result. Oh yes, yoghurt! The bacteria in the small amount of yoghurt I added to the milk had reproduced and completely taken over, 'magically' turning the milk into mild and creamy yoghurt! Actually I found it a little too mild so I put it back in the oven to sit for another hour, then I'll put it in the fridge. It really is that simple!

Have you ever made yoghurt? How did you do it?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beautiful winter days and brick stitch embroidery

 Good evening dear friends! I hope you are all enjoying December as much as I am. Since a few days ago our part of the world has been completely covered in snow, and I absolutely love it. And since this is our first winter in this house it's particularly exciting to see what winter is like here.

So far I can say it's breathtakingly beautiful. Incredibly bright during the day, pitch black during the night (no streetlights!). The picture above is from two days ago, now there is even more snow. I've been shoveling quite a lot and as strange as it sounds, I love that part of it too. Sore muscles, frost in my hair and crunchy snow beneath my boots... *humming*

Last but not least, I'd like to show you some craftiness. Not my own this time, but that of my friend Katriina. She and her family came over for dinner this Sunday, and afterwards I got to see what she's working on right now. Have a look at this embroidery, isn't it gorgeous? Makes me wanna start a new embroidery project, but I really should finish my ongoing projects first.

As for me I've been playing around with the dress form, learning how to use it not just for fitting clothes but for creating new patterns from scratch. Pattern making has always been my weak side, but now it feels like I'm finally learning. The dress I'm making right now is not historical, it's meant to be used in everyday life, but it is still inspired by certain historical elements. You'll see it when it's done, I promise.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making perfume

Winter is coming! This morning the landscape outside my window had turned crispy white, beautiful... Moving on. It's perfume making time!

I am out of perfume. Empty bottle, nothing left. And at the moment I can't really go spend lots of money on new perfume (it's disgustingly expensive, isn't it?!). But though I've moved out from the city and turned into a lantis (the swedish equivalent of a 'hillbilly') I'm trying not to become a complete slob, and thus I still wanted new perfume.
Add to that my constant need to expand my knowledge base and crafting skills, a few very instructive sites on the basics of perfume making, and what do you get? But of course, perfume experiments on the way!

Measuring cups, essential oils (I just bought four little bottles to try... if this experiment is a success I'll buy more, I'm sure.), vodka, glass jars, and a notebook for keeping an exact record over the ingredients.
This is just plain vodka. In the first jar I used 1 dl, in the second only 1/2 dl (it dawned on me how much 1dl of perfume really is, I needn't make much while I'm just experimenting!)
Here I've mixed in the essential oils (the recipe I will keep secret...), stirred the mixture and closed the lid (the plastic is just to make it air tight).
As I said, I made two different versions. As you can see the oil floats at the surface, not mixing with the alcohol. The alcohol will however pick up the scent. Now it just needs to rest in a dark place for a couple of days, then I'll add a little water and a little glycering (which apparently should make the fragrance more durable).

I'll return to you with an update on the result once the ageing is done!