Wednesday, December 30

Preserved Lemons

Preserving lemons is absurdly easy. All you need is lemons, salt and a jam jar. My main difficulty with preserved lemons was that I never quite knew what to do with them. Who needs all that salty lemon? Fortunately it turns out that they last for ages (mine have gone a year in the fridge although the liquid they're in starts to look a bit scary), you only use the rind anyhow, and they make a delicious addition to cous cous. Anything which makes cous cous taste of something gets my vote (add some raisins while you're at it, and toasted pine nuts if you're in the mood for actual cooking). You can add them to rice or salad or even make a traditional tagine. To be honest I've never made a traditional tagine (one of these days...) but if I did I'm certain I'd need a preserved lemon.

Anyway, make them: it's fun. Quarter the lemons without cutting them all the way through, pack them with salt and stuff them into a clean jam jar. I've discovered that a tight squeeze works better, and there's always the comedy value of lemon juice squirting in your eye as you force them in. Stuff in a bit more salt, add a bay leaf and some coriander seed if you feel fancy, then screw on the lid and leave for about three days. The juice theoretically comes out of the lemons and fills up the jar, but when it doesn't you can top up the jar from the tap. Shove them in the back of the fridge and after a month you can have fun hoiking them out and slicing off bits. Cous cous that actually tastes of something. Who knew?

Tuesday, December 29

A hat for my Dad

I promise knitted items rashly. I've been meaning to knit a gardening hat for my Dad for at least a year, and may even have promised this one to him on Christmas Day 2008. Slightly more than a year later he's getting it for his birthday. In my head I have all kinds of grandiose plans for all sorts of knitted projects, but in reality it takes me ages to finish things. I'm not so much a slow knitter as an irregular one. I spend a lot more time thinking about knitting than actually doing it, and find that at the end of a day's work I often can't face doing anything which might actually involve thinking (which doesn't bode well for this blog). This means that the knitting of squares is a particular speciality.

This hat was a very pleasant knit mainly involving going round and around: something which I found extremely managable. I used it to get my head around the magic loop method and it was a useful tool for that. Unfortunately for Dad I didn't work out how to prevent the small ladders which appeared as I knitted until after I'd finished, which means that his present has plenty of the small imperfections which make it authentically made by me.

The pattern is here.