About mrspao

Knitting, cats, and a pao.

Stir up Sunday +7

I’m slightly late to the Stir up Sunday tradition this year. I decided on a flour free cake and used this recipe for Healthy Christmas Cake. For the observant amongst you, you will see a nutty fruity topping on the cake. This is due to me using part of a fruit cake kit with presoaked fruit that I had lurking in the cupboard. It was in the box and I thought it would look pretty 🙂

Katerina is testing out her new gift. I hosted a little Syjunta gathering yesterday and one of my guests donated a tassel to her.

Mrspao’s Butternut squash lasagne

Here’s another low carb recipe I put together. I’ve been wanting to try butternut squash lasagne for a while now. I spotted a pack and a plan came together. My neighbour had given me some fancy-looking goat’s cheese and since pao hates all cheese, I figured this would be a good way of using it. I used: 1 pack of butternut lasagne sheets 1 roll of goat’s cheese 1 pack of sausage meat (around 250g) – my sausage meat came with seasoning all included so I chose sausage with apricot and garlic in it as I thought the sweetness would counteract the sharpness of the goat’s cheese. (Note: I did also have a pot of butternut squash and sage sauce which I left somewhere so I had to make do without it) I used two smaller Le Creuset dishes as they are perfectly sized for two portions each. I often make lasagne in these because they aren’t so heavy 🙂 I buttered my dish to prevent sticking and laid my butternut at the bottom then followed it with meat then butternut then cheese layers. I was a bit flummoxed by my top layer as I had planned to use the missing sauce with goats cheese on top so had to come up with a plan B. I did put the goats cheese on the top but dotted butter around it just so it didn’t get too crisp. I may not do this step in future but it was nice anyway. This is how it turned out and it tasted great, too! I think I’d like to try butternut lasagne sheets again. No one seems to have come up with a short name for those? Buttsagne? Lasnut? My comfort chillax with my lasagne as Olivia brought me a shrew! It took 45 minutes to capture it and release it back into the night. She wasn’t impressed when I shut her out of the room whilst I was catching it!

The holidays are coming!

The Schlossmachers are here! This always marks the start of Christmas for me.

I ended up meeting them in London instead of our original plan and it did mean that we could visit the Good Yarn Stall at Spitalfields Market.

So much beautifulness.

We saw llamas

And mini woolly Katerinas.

I accidentally discovered a feature of my new phone

And we had a brilliant Sunday dinner. See you next year! Sad times for Tamyra, Claude and Katerina who have missed out but next time.

The summer of finishing off – Part 2

When I was in the USA with Jeanne last year, I was furiously knitting away at my Swoon shawl-cardigan in hopes of getting it finished by the end of my holiday. I was, however, distracted by a beautiful shawl and mini-skeins acquired as a birthday gift in Duluth so laid it aside as I didn’t think lace was very portable on a road trip. So I had been working away on this Swoon in Madeline Tosh yarn and enjoyed many happy hours sitting in Jeanne’s then Eileen’s working on this and thinking it wouldn’t be too long to get it finished and wearable when I got home again. WRONG! These small creatures entered my life and wrecked my knitting. So this summer with the prospect of quiet houses and less excited feline company meant I got to finish it off. I had just one piece of lace to knit and then attached it all to the main part of the shawdigan, I had no help. It was great. And I was able to block it in peace. And dry it without it being attacked or dragged off by a growling grey kitten. I think it turned out rather beautiful. I love it. Hugo was such a champ. Not at all interested. A perfect knitting cat friend.

Caturday #catwash

Tamyra is not known as a hive of activity in the washing and action front so we have had to have her groomed over the summer. She was getting a bit whiffy so we booked her for a deluxe wash and blow dry. Readying her for Bob! She looks stunning. Ready for loving!

Cauliflower pizza (low carb)

I’ve been working on lowering my carb intake lately so I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower and courgettes instead of rice and pasta. I was missing a bit of Friday night pizza so thought I’d give this pizza idea a go but adapted it for what I had in the fridge. The original recipe mixes the base with goats cheese but I wanted my cheesy hit on top. For the base: 250g cauliflower rice (you can make this yourself by pulsing raw cauliflower to a rice like texture) 2 medium eggs Pinch of salt Cook your cauliflower rice for approx 4-5 minutes. Pour into a fine mesh colander and use the back of a spoon to squash out the excess liquid. Mix in 2 eggs to form a loose dough. Spread this onto a baking parchment. I made a slight lip on the edge of the pizza base to contain the toppings. Bake at 220C until golden and firmed up. You could even grate a little parmesan into you base if you wish before baking it for a more cheesy hit. You then just need to go wild with your toppings and cook those for another 8-9 minutes. I used some leftover cumin gouda, asparagus tips and a few spoons of passata. Bonus Cat pic 🙂 Katerina is getting her winter coat through.

The summer of finishing off – Part 1

It is ridiculously difficult to knit with Claude and Katerina around. Whenever, I get knitting out, a weird crazed expression comes over their faces and they cannot leave me alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. So knitting has been difficult and blocking more so.

I’ve had to resort to saving my knitting activities for a cat sitting stint. Ironic? Yes, I know.

I started this Textured shawl in 2013 and I loved the spinning of the yarn, the plying and the knitting. I had one bobbin of yarn left and worried a little about if it would be big enough or there would be yarn enough. Of course, the bobbin and yarn were like crack to those kittens. It was the worst sort of yarn as the kittens are quite keen on the natural fibres.

I got to a stage where I was finished as far as I was concerned as I didn’t want to spin any more yarn as that would be a whole new adventure for Claude and Katerina.

I have been looking forward to seeing what the blocked version was like. If you’ve been on Instagram, you would have had a peek at this detail.

It was great to have the space and absence of pesky kittens to get this blocked properly.

The yarn really opened up and despite the little curls, I thought the shawl looked pretty wonderful.

I managed to get a little photo shoot in my friend’s garden

And my friend’s cat Hugo came for a look at what I was doing but not a paw touched the shawl. I was impressed.

Caturday Katerina

Out of the two kittens, Katerina is probably the most yarn loving. She growls when she steals and won’t let go of any purloined yarn.

She is very good at looking sweet and innocent.

We know otherwise, don’t we?

Pillow Talk

I got with modern times last week and got a cheap Singer sewing machine which was considerably reduced and had great reviews. As much as I wanted a Janome or Bernina or other delightful powerhouse, my budget wasn’t going to stretch that far right now and I wanted to celebrate a little since I’ve got another part-time contract – this time for 11 months but I get all my worker’s rights to go with it rather than the temp contract I’m on now.

Louise very wisely brought me a pattern for pillowcases when I was learning with pao’s grandmother’s handcrank Singer and I figured that it was the best way to try out the new machine. I loved these pillow cases I’d made before.

I confess my heart had gone out of the idea of sewing after this little guy died as I knew how much he’d enjoyed himself and entertained me.

So on Sunday, I had an unexpected afternoon of leisure, I thought I’d see if Claude would step into Sirius’ pawprints as Most Helpful Cat Ever (Not with scissors).

He was fairly interested but the noise was a reasonable device to keep him from straying too near.

He liked to sit on the table with the fabric etc but wasn’t too bothered about cutting (phew). He is better as a paws off supervisor.

I’d had these three fabrics in my little stash for a while but no motivation to make something so they jumped out at me. I had been saving that little waving cat for a special project.

And here it is! I am very happy with the machine and how smoothly it runs. Time to put the sleeves on my dress now! (Yes, I know 2.5 years is a long time to procrastinate about sleeves but 2017 seems to be about finishing)

Savoury bread pudding

I had quite a collection of odds and ends of bread cluttering my freezer and I wanted a nice way to try and use them up. I like bread pudding and wanted to make something savoury this time. I found this recipe for a savoury sausage and cheddar bread pudding and wanted to make something similar. It makes a lovely brunch dish and I served it with a pepper sauce. You can make this the night before, then you can pop it in a cold oven and after an hour lazing in bed with your Sara Paretsky and a cuppa, you’ll have a great brunch ready.

1 small loaf stale bread or around 500g of bread odds and ends (I used a wholemeal seeded loaf)
1 medium onion
3-4 rashers of bacon, chopped
1 medium courgette, chopped
1 package of sausage meat (around 300-400g) – you can cut off the skins of sausages if you don’t have sausagemeat
Sprigs of rosemary
2 large handfuls of cheddar cheese
12 or so cherry tomatoes
2 cups milk
6 eggs
Butter for greasing casserole dish.
Salt and pepper (but if you decide to use some peppercorn sauce then leave this out)

Soften your onion in a frying pan with a little oil or butter. Add bacon and fry until crisp. Add chopped courgette to soften.

Add the sausage meat to the saucepan and fry until browned, breaking up large pieces to a crumble texture.

Cut up your loaf into small squares. Grease your casserole dish and layer with bread, cheese, tomatoes, sausage mix and then finishing up with a layer of bread.

Mix eggs and milk together and pour over the bread mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and put in the fridge for a few hours (overnight if you wish).

Put dish into a cold oven and set to 180C. It will be cooked after about an hour.

I serve it with a peppercorn sauce from a packet mix. It is reminiscent of the breakfasts I’ve had in the USA of sausage and biscuits so the pepper sauce is pretty nice.

Here is the lesser spotted photo of all three cats in the same room. We are making progress!