All posts filed under: featured

Coq au vin and stock from rooster feet

When you raise hens in your garden, you are bound to end up with more than a rooster or two. We opt to let ours enjoy life with the girls, happily free-ranging until the day comes, when it is time to become part of our food cycle. We have learned quite a bit about how to take care of them in a humane and careful manner. I will not go into the details in this post, but will try and write about it sometime in the future. But for the time being, what do you do with a rooster? I have always been a fan of coq au vin, many people make it with chickens, because roosters (unless you raise your own) can be very hard to come by. You will find a variety of recipes online, each with their own nuance. Some call for armagnac vs. cognac, pearl onions vs. shallots, I say go with what you have and feel free to experiment. But one of the key ingredients is a good quality chicken stock. …

Expanding the flock with a broody hen

Our chicken adventure began a few years ago when we joined a local CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture), we wanted our children to get a better understanding of where their food came from and enjoy the experience of being with the animals that provide for us. It was not long until we were so enamoured with the lifestyle, that we decided that we would have both chickens and bees at home. True to my nature, I read up on everything I could to figure out what would suit our family and property best. It was quite clear that having a rooster was not going to sit well with our neighbours, many of which have hens as well and also conceded to ‘no roosters’, so we needed a plan on how to expand the flock when that time came. When we chose our girls, we purposely selected heritage breeds and wanted one of those breeds to have a strong instinct to go broody.(see Broody Hen Notes at the end of this post). For that reason we chose two Icelandic hens, and …

Know where your food comes from – it’s ‘egg’cellent!

Eggs, have you ever tasted a really good egg? Chances are you haven’t. I am writing this post while visiting my mother in Florida for Easter, so eggs are on my mind (and yes, I am very fortunate to be able to combine family reunions and beach life.. I know!) Earlier this week, we went out with old friends for breakfast at a typical diner and ordered the standard bacon and eggs. My son looked at his food with a special look on his face and said ‘what is wrong with my egg?’ as he dipped his toast into a pale yellow yolk. We are used to deep orange yolks, full of flavour and nutrients, and we eat them with good conscience because we have our own chickens. They quite honestly won the chicken lottery getting a spot in our hen house after having lived their lives indoors before they came here. Now they eat our kitchen scraps and garden slugs and free range in the sun. And in return, we get eggs, garden fertiliser and entertainment – they are great company! After having been …

Upcycled and put to new use

  Every year for my daughters birthday, we try and include an activity as part of her birthday celebration. The girls are getting older, and it is a delight to see them work together. Last year, as part of the UN declaring 2015 the year of the Soil, we planted tomatoes (see our blog post here), I have heard some managed to even keep the plants going all season and enjoyed the ‘fruits of their labour’. This year, we decided to do upcycle old clothes and silk test samples from the studio into hair accessories, they were all very pleased with the results, so am I. To learn how to make fabric covered button parts, you can read my post from 2009 here. The details about adding pony tails is also included. My daughter who is now 10, is in full production mode to make a series that she can give as gifts, and maybe even sell 😉  

Bagels – Montreal Style!

Anyone who has ever been to Montreal for more than an airport layover knows about our bagels. No, even if you have eaten bagels in Boston, New York, Toronto or anywhere else, you still have not tried the good ones. It is a simple matter of fact.. and no.. I am not in the least bit biased 😉 Montreal bagels are the perfect combination of sweet, savoury, crunch and chewiness! They are anything but a bun with a hole in it. Sunday morning bagel runs, 3AM post party bagel line ups at Fairmont or St Viateur, waiting your turn at the bagel factory watching them come straight out of the wood fired oven is a Montreal ritual, you do not even need to put any toppings on them. But if you do, you know that nothing beats ‘bagels and lox’! It was only when I moved to Norway that I learned that salmon is called ‘laks’ in norwegian, I loved that, having calling smoked salmon ‘lox’ since my childhood. Every time I visit my gang back …

Calendula salves and ‘tub tea’

Calendula.. ahh.. such an amazing plant! This week for the farmers market at Hellviktangen, I am putting together more of my salves and ‘tub teas’. Throughout the summer I collected calendula from Ekebo, our collective farm. The more you pick, the more buds appear, it is amazing what mother nature can do. Once home, I laid them out on trays to set in the dehydrator. I prefer to keep the temperature down and wait longer than to rush the process and risk overheating the flowers. Once they are bone dry, I remove the petal from their stems and store them in a clean airtight jar to be used in a myriad of ways. In order to make an infused oil from them, fill a clean jar halfway with petals and then top up with the carrier oil of your choice. Many use olive or coconut oil, but I prefer almond oil for skin products. Vitamin E can also be added to help prevent your oil from going rancid. Let the oil sit in a warm spot …

Granbakken at the Local Farmers Market

This weekend Hellviktangen Kulturhus is hosting a mini farmers market. It was a very last minute invite for those who grow and/or create things with local produce, and while looking in my pantry after a season of ‘making’ I thought why not! Every year throughout the late summer and autumn, I put together a good sized batch of homemade goodness, most of which is given out to friends, family and neighbours. This year, I have more than enough! Why ‘Granbakken’? Granbakken (which translates to Spruce Hill) is the name our our property. Our home is an old timber summer house from 1921, and whenever I label something from my kitchen, it has had the Granbakken name on it. I find it very appealing to keep the history of our home alive. So I have been in the studio designing, printing and plotting labels for jams, jellies, salves, tub tea and more! I love being able to combine studio life with kitchen creations 🙂 My children have also been asking when we will be using the fruit press and crusher, and as our usual fall …

Bees are buzzing!

Always keen on trying out new pursuits in life, it was just a matter of time until apiculture was on the agenda. Many who know me are surprised, given my distaste (for lack of a better word) of bugs, but these little girls (and their drones) are just lovely! With hopes of harvesting honey, all the while helping the environment, the adventure begins! So along with my cohorts at Ekebo we have set up our hives and are learning all about what we can do for the bees, as well as what they can do for us. Enlightening is the word I would use to describe apiculture. There is simply so much to learn about how bees do what they do. A little overwhelming at first when you are reading about it, but once you have your own bee colony to follow and learn with, you simply go day by day. The bee gang at Ekebo consists of new beginners, a few who have taken beekeeping courses, and some who have some solid experience to help us all out. I can …

New tool in the studio

Over the holidays, the studio welcomed its newest tool, a plotter (cutter). There are many on the market, each having their own pros and cons, but after having done some research, I found the one for me. I have always had a love for words.. quotes and sayings… and being a font addict with a reasonable handle on graphic design and a love for Adobe Illustrator, the possibilities with this machine are endless! It cuts so much more than vinyl… cardstock, fabric, stencils for glass etching and fabric stenciling, heat transfer for clothing.. and I have even sourced reflective heat transfer for clothing. That may sound crazy to most of the world, but living in Norway, the dark season makes wearing reflects mandatory. My son has decided he wants to start a business selling his own reflects designs.. and he is only 8! Time to make space in the studio. Yesterday I made my first wall piece from vinyl. Well beyond the standard size of the plotter (the wording is just over a meter high), …

Kiln fired enamel

Enamel – a fantastic way to bring some colour into what can often become a world of black and white when working with silver. This week, I have been testing a set of colours from Thompson Enamels – transparent/lead free for use on silver/copper/gold. Enamel is powdered glass which, when heated melts, flows and hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating on metal. Enameling can also be done on glass or porcelain, but requires enamels with a different COE (Coefficient Of Expansion) – expansion rates must be suited to the base surface material. Prior to using enamels, they need to be washed to remove the “fines” – (extra fine particles which can cause your enamel to be cloudy). This can either be done: wet: by rinsing in water multiple times until the water runs clear or dry: by using a series of sifting pans to separate the particle sizes (60, 80, 100 mesh etc.) Regardless of which technique you plan on using to apply the enamel, the silver must be properly prepared, polished and cleaned to …

my latest addition (obsession)

Sock knitting machines!.. ahh.. I know this may sound crazy, and quite honestly I was not sure as to whether this should go on my studio blog or not, as this is more of  a ‘me’ thing. so.. no.. I am not going into the sock making business.. (at least not as far as I know!) (…continues below photo) restored and purring like a kitten Since first learning of these machines over a year ago, I have patiently (well.. my husband might disagree with that statement) been waiting for the right one to find me, during that time, I have read so much about them, and the history behind them appeals to me in a significant way. In the late 1800’s and first half of the 1900’s, sock knitting machines were produced in many countries around the world. During war times, many wives/mothers were left at home, some struggling to make ends meet. the answer?.. the sock knitting machine. Women all over the world purchased these machines, and through the same company, purchased wool. After …

cochineal and shibori

but where does it come from? Bugs. Yes, little scaly bugs that live on prickly pear cacti in the desert. Once dried and ground up to a fine powder (I use an old coffee grinder). These little critters give off the most stunning colours from the palest, softest pinks to the deepest crimson. I ground my bugs a few days ago, and brought them to a near-boil then left to cool for 24 hours. During which time their colour releases to create a deep crimson liquid. I strained it through a silk lined sieve and saved the ‘pulp’ to try and use again. Cochineal will produce a variety of colours dependant on the mordant used. In this dye bath, I used Alum. I tossed in a few silk cocoons, as they make such a lovely colour reference, and will surely be used in a project one day. Once I had the colour I was looking for, I rinsed and centrifuged the silk and let is dry. After drying completely, I undid the resists and carefully …

the green turns blue before your eyes as it oxides

indigo and shibori

Summer.. mother nature at her best. Long sunny days, swimming in the cool sea, meals under the blue sky … It also brings along vacation for the little ones, mine included. These early summer days have spoiled us, we have had sun filled days at the beach and spend much of our time these days outside. It is the perfect opportunity for me to work on some projects that can be done outside. Projects that can be picked up (or put down) at a moments notice, allowing me to pay attention to the needs of my children. Long days in the studio where attention to timing (ie.. light sensitive material) will have to wait. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am a reader. No… not a fiction reader, but a reader of reference books, how-tos, I read everything I can get my hands on regarding Crafts – not craft as in ‘get a glue gun..’, but Craft as in time honoured traditional techniques, skills passed on through generations. It …