Monthly Archives: April 2014

Raw raspberry and chocolate truffles

I do not eat Easter eggs and so I am very happy to say we have none surplus. I like my chocolate dark and lightly sweetened with no added flavourings or bits that have numbers. I don’t like vanilla very much. I like some sour in the mix or chilli when the mood hits me.

Raw raspberry and chocolate truffles - Mrs Winter Creates

Raw raspberry and chocolate truffles – Mrs Winter Creates

These raw, raspberry and chocolate truffles are just so much more satisfying than cheap chocolate. I even let Miss K have a good go at these, which I understand plenty of people would frown at, but there you go… I’d rather these than Easter eggs, that’s all I have to say!

These will not disappoint, especially if you like your sweet and sour mixed. Super easy too, all you need is a blender and voila!

Ingredients:

one cup of walnuts
one cup of dates (pitted)
a handfull of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
two tablespoons of cocoa
* some apple juice concentrate, honey, agave (whatever floats your boat) to increase the stickiness and make easy to roll – you could also use coconut butter if you prefer

Put all the ingredients (except the * ingredients) into the blender and blend thoroughly. Add as much of the * ingredients as is needed to make the mixture a little sticky and easy to roll into balls.

Roll the mixture into balls and keep in the fridge for freshness.

Raw raspberry and chocolate truffle - Mrs Winter Creates

Raw raspberry and chocolate truffle – Mrs Winter Creates

It is possibly unfortunate that these should be eaten within a few days. I’ll have to make some more as we ran out in much less than that. Happy truffling!

Easter blessings and Polish Easter cake

Today was the day that I had been preparing for. After her nap, Miss K was extatic to find that Nan had come to join us for lunch. After performing her lunch to our guest, I dressed her for the Easter blessing.

Dressed for the Polish Easter blessing - Mrs Winter Creates

Dressed for the Polish Easter blessing – Mrs Winter Creates

My mother had bought Miss K that impressive head-piece to match the dress and necklace and it looked fantastic together. It is traditional Polish dress for girls to wear such flower wreaths in their hair.

Polish Easter costume - Mrs Winter Creates

Polish Easter costume – Mrs Winter Creates

We drove to the church and got there just in time for a very short blessing. If we had been but a few minutes later, we should have missed the whole thing!

After the blessing of the eggs at the Polish church - Mrs Winter Creates

After the blessing of the baskets at the Polish church – Mrs Winter Creates

With the sun beating brightly down, we decided the best place to go afterwards was to a near-by, shady playground, where we enjoyed pączki and bits and pieces from my Easter basket (a bit of a no-no as we should have been continuing our fast for Lent), including a piece of the Easter cake I made.

I didn’t make a plain pound cake, I wanted to add apple, pecans and spices to it for taste. Here is my recipe…

Ingredients:

200g self-raising flour
150g of soft butter
150g of sugar (I used coconut sugar)
3 eggs
2 apples
1tsp of cinnamon
1tsp of gingerbread spices
a handfull of pecan nuts
some water or rice milk to create the right consistency
butter

Polish Easter cake - Mrs Winter Creates

Polish Easter cake – Mrs Winter Creates

1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (392°f) 

2. In one bowl, mix together flour and spices. In a second bowl, cream sugar and butter and then add eggs; mix well.

3. Rub the dry ingredients thoroughly into the wet mixture.

4. Add the pecan nuts and mix through evenly. Vigorously mix in water or rice milk until the mixture is sticky, such that it droops on a spoon and falls back into the bowl.

5. Butter a bundt-cake tin and put the mixture in. Thinly slice the apples and press the slices into the top of the mixture.

6. Cook for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

 

Happy Easter!

Easter basket on retreat

Last weekend Miss K and I went on a weaving retreat South-West of Perth near a town called Dwellingup. The land there is thick with native forest and a river courses through it in a meandering fashion, splitting for a rocky island here or becoming the perfect wading pond there. The water is low after a hot summer and a continuously warm autumn. Our group of children under five and their respective parents found this to be perfect for water-play needs, especially at a spot called Nanga Mill – where the crystal-clear rivulet weaves in and out of rocks, on top of pebbles and lusciously squishy clay beds nestled with stunted tress and reeds that hang over and make it feel like a fairy glen. I did not have my camera so I guess, dear reader, that you will have to visit this wonder for yourself.

Needless to say that with all this natural beauty to explore, I did little weaving during the day. I did, however, get the chance to begin an Easter basket on night.

The beginnings of my Easter basket - Mrs Winter Creates

The beginnings of my Easter basket – Mrs Winter Creates

A few days now after our return I have finished the basket. I ran out of the dried Watsonia leaves I collected at Nanga Mill (it is a very persistent weed unfortunately, but wonderfully suited to weaving once soaked a little), so I had to finish with some dried leaves I found lying about the garden.

Self-made Easter basket - Mrs Winter Creates

Self-made Easter basket – Mrs Winter Creates

I wasn’t entirely sure about my embellishments. I used the dried parts of a King Protea (the one from the photos from this post)…

King Protea embellishments on the Easter basket - Mrs Winter Creates

King Protea embellishments on the Easter basket – Mrs Winter Creates

…and a cotton rope plaited as a handle.

Plaited rope basket handle - Mrs Winter Creates

Plaited rope basket handle – Mrs Winter Creates

I attached to handle to the side carefully, though only one side looks well. That is this one:

Grass and rope basket - Mrs Winter Creates

Grass and rope basket – Mrs Winter Creates

The dried parts of the Protea I also used as a dye-stuff for a silk scarf I thought might do as the basket liner, though it may prove too bulky.

Silk scarf dyed with King Protea parts - Mrs Winter Creates

Silk scarf dyed with King Protea parts – Mrs Winter Creates

The colour of the scarf includes lovely earthy pink tones to, though this isn’t so apparent in the photos.

I’m looking forward to having the basket full with all the necessary ingredients for the blessing on Saturday. I will write about what is included in a traditional Polish basket in a later post (I find myself writing this a lot lately).

If you would like to make your own Easter basket, it doesn’t take too long and you could use my tutorial here to get started.

 

Onion dying Easter eggs

The last week before Easter is upon us.

This weekend just gone we were on a weaving retreat in the beautiful bush and river-land South-East of Perth. Miss K seems to have blossomed from that short reverie; I look forward to sharing more about it very soon.

The day we left for the retreat, I was busily getting ready and dying Easter eggs. I had emptied the eggs and used some to make blueberry pancakes, a staple of our toddler’s diet. I arranged all of my ingredients outside to photograph. I went inside to clean up, I heard some strange sort of cracking sound like loud rain, Miss K squealed with delight. I hurried outside and found this:

Broken eggshells - Mrs Winter Creates

Broken eggshells – Mrs Winter Creates

A gust of wind had descended into the courtyard and blown the eggs from the table. Miss K was happy as she now had a new ingredient for her outside kitchen. Luckily, I had a few complete eggs left. I will use the more complete broken ones for something sweet. I’ll tell you more about that in another post soon as I want to just focus on how to dye eggs with brown onion skins today.

Cold dyed Easter egg with wax relief - Mrs Winter Creates

Cold dyed Easter egg with wax relief – Mrs Winter Creates

The colour you can get with onion skins is so deep and brilliant.

Scratched Easter egg - Mrs Winter Creates

Scratched Easter egg – Mrs Winter Creates

As a child I was captivated by how such a simple, usually unwanted casting of everyday cooking could do something so beautiful. I remember watching my mother fill a tall, wide pot with water and onion skins. The house smelt heavy as it boiled, but not unpleasant. We would do this the day before Easter Saturday and use whole, fresh eggs that would boil in the dye bath. We did not blow the eggs. After they were dyed their deep earthy red, we would take out sharp sewing needles and scratch pictures of flowers, leaves, hares and chickens onto their surface. These eggs would be eaten the next day after being blessed. One was chosen as the egg used to give blessing to all who sat around the feast table after the blessing. Every person who was at the luncheon would eat a small part of this one egg.

I will also be dyeing eggs the night before Easter Saturday, but I wanted many more as decoration that could last a lot longer, so my method is different. A full egg is also a lot easier to scratch than a blown egg, so you may also like to try with full eggs.

Scratched Easter egg - Mrs Winter Creates

Scratched Easter egg – Mrs Winter Creates

I also would like to give you some instructions on how to make wax relief designs on eggs in a cold dye bath. You can get highly contrasted images using this technique.

Cold dyed Easter egg with wax relief - Mrs Winter

Cold dyed Easter egg with wax relief – Mrs Winter

You will need:

A tall pot
12 blown eggs – You may like to use full eggs for the hot dye bath
3 or 4 handfulls of brown onion skins
One sharp sewing needle
One long sewing needle (such as a thin wool needle)
A wax candle and matches
String for presentation

It can also be useful to have one of those medicine syringes around to fill blown eggs with water.

Easter egg dying - Mrs Winter Creates

Easter egg dying – Mrs Winter Creates

Hot dye bath method:

1. Fill your tall pot with as much water as easily accommodates all of the onion peel. I usually fill it three quarters full.

2. Place half your eggs into the water carefully. If your eggs are blown, fill them with water. It can be helpful to use a syringe or make the holes on both sides a little larger and hold them under the water in the pot.

3. Bring this to the boil and let it simmer. Take your eggs out when you are happy with their colour. Do not discard the dye bath, let it cool and stand it aside for the cold dye bath which I will explain shortly.

4. Once your boiled eggs are cool you can scratch designs onto them using a sharp needle. The best way to do this is to make many lighter scratches. If you press too firmly you will break the egg. On this one I scratched blackberries:

Scratched Easter egg - Mrs Winter Creates

Scratched Easter egg – Mrs Winter Creates

Now for the wax relief and cold-dye bath…

5. Light your candle and let it burn until you have a little pool of wax and surrounding wax has softened. Using eye of the long, thin wool needle, pick up some of the softened wax and hold it momentarily in the flame of the candle until it has become very liquid. Use this immediately to make marks on your remaining, undyed eggs. It seems to be a matter of practise and there are a few different methods for making the marks.

6. Once your onion dye bath is cold (perhaps it is best to wait at least a few hours), fill your waxed eggs with water and place them gently into the dye bath.

7. Leave them there for a number of hours or over night. Take them out and let them dry. You can blow out any excess water.

8. Run boiling hot water over them and rub them with a clean, soft cloth to get the wax off and make them shiny.

Wax relief Easter egg - Mrs Winter Creates

Wax relief Easter egg – Mrs Winter Creates

Miss K loved the eggs.

Miss K with a dyed Easter egg - Mrs Winter Creates

Miss K with a dyed Easter egg – Mrs Winter Creates

She blew them many kisses and was so amorous that one caved to the violence of her affections.

Miss K showed her affection a bit too much for this one - Mrs Winter Creates

Miss K showed her affection a bit too much for this one – Mrs Winter Creates

Inside it was marbled and beautiful.

I hope you also have much luck with your Easter eggs. Please ask me any questions you have and share your work with us if you like!

Felt Easter hares, no bunny about it

Miss K and I have had a week of being spoilt by my mother who has come to visit. Raw food cafes, long walks in the park or to toddler-friendly playgrounds, shopping for craft materials or new dresses for Miss K; I am full of gratitude, thanks mum!

Unfortunately my mother won’t be here during Easter, but she has been helping me get ready for it. Yesterday she went to get some smoked Polish sausages for the Easter basket and I finished the little felt Easter hares.

Easter hares - felt

Easter hares – felt

A hare is a different creature to a rabbit, especially socially. As I understand, they are largely solitary animals, but will warn other hares of danger by hitting their foot to the ground. A female hare can conceive a second litter of babies, while pregnant with the first. They are rather extraordinary and fill me with a feeling of awe.

I got the pattern for the hare from the book The Nature Corner, by M. van Leewen and J. Moeskops (Floris books, 1990). In their book they write

“Traditionally hares belong to Easter because of their selfless way of life: it is said that when a hare is being hunted and grows tired, another hare will take over and run out in front of the hunters.” (p34)

So there seem to be many different stories of the hare at Easter, and although we have no hares in Australia and the bilby has become an Easter icon here as well as the more popular, American Easter bunny, hares have a place in my heart from the traditions of my childhood.

Easter hares - felt hares

Easter hares – felt hares

Even though spring is not the thing here, we have some amazing flowers in bloom at the moment as you can see from the pics. The darker one is called a Banksia and the lighter a King Protea. They are two of my favourites. They are so beautiful I thought I would include a few extra photos:

King Protea and Basnksia flower arrangement

King Protea and Basnksia flower arrangement

Banksia flower

Banksia flower

How are your Easter preparations going?