Chiara Vigo: The last woman who makes sea silk – BBC News

From the Beeb comes a lovely article about the last sea-silk weaver. Byssus is a fabric that historically was so prized that it was used for kings and emperors. The raw material is so scarce that it can take several hundred dives to harvest a few ounces of it. The weaving process is delicate and time-consuming. The skills needed are part of a family tradition dating back centuries.

As far as fabric goes, this is probably the most precious and unique thing I’ve come across in a very long time.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that it’s not for sale and not because it’s an exclusive, high-fashion item.

Go read this story. You’ll feel better about the world after doing so.

Silk is usually made from the cocoons spun by silkworms – but there is another, much rarer, cloth known as sea silk, or byssus, which comes from a clam.

Source: Chiara Vigo: The last woman who makes sea silk – BBC News

 

 

Welcome to Country – the App.

A great idea fusing the latest smartphone tech and cultures that date back tens of thousands of years. The “Welcome To Country” app checks your location via GPS on your phone, references it against a database of tribal boundaries and offers you a welcome from one of the traditional owners or and elder of that area along with information about their people, customs, protocol, culture and language.

I just love this idea. Great for long road trips and a perfect way of educating people about the history and diversity of the indigenous peoples. Go download it.

My only criticism is that it seems to be iDevice only at the moment. Hopefully there’ll be an Android version at some point as I’d really like to have a play with this.

Important Advice:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this app may contain images and voices of people who have died.

 

 

Dinosaur Head

Snapped in the city the other day. Dinosaur head, possibly in all senses of the term. Looks like it’s really enjoying something, anyway.

Dinosuar Head

Gin and Juice Marmalade

Blood oranges. Sharp, sweet and just bitter enough and go perfectly with a good gin. As breakfast gin is a sure way to get your day off to a flying stop, I’ve been working on a gin-inspired marmalade using the aromatics from gin and that sweet/sharp blood orange taste.

But first, this.

Yeah, Snoop’s was best. This version’s more me. Deal with it.

Anyway, recipe time.

Gin & Juice Marmalade

  • 4 large blood oranges
  • 5 cups water
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • about a dozen cardamom seeds
  • Splash of Angostura orange bitters
  • few tablespoons of St. Germain elderflower liqueur

Wash and scrub the oranges.  Slice the top and bottom off the oranges, keeping the cut off bits. Quarter oranges, removing any pips and  the core, reserving them for later.

Bust out your mandoline slicer, play a couple of verses from Led Zep’s “Gallows Pole” and thinly slice the oranges into a large bowl. Place the orange scraps into a cheesecloth bag or similar and put them into the bowl as well. I used filter bags for tea that I picked up at Daiso.

Cover with water (should take about 5 cups or near), add the juice of the lemon, cover the bowl and place into the fridge for 24 hours. This allows the pectin to extract. I’m leaving the pith and flesh in because I like my marmalade chunky and chewy.  Finicky types can find one of the other recipes for more refined marmalade.

Blood oranges

A couple of hours before you plan on making the marmalade, place a few small plates into the fridge. You’ll need them to test for setting and it’s way easier to have a few and keep swapping them around.

Lightly crush the spices and place into a filter bag/muslin or similar. We don’t want whole spices in the finished product. Place the orange mixture into a large stainless steel pan, discarding the bags of scraps. Add the spice bag and bring to a slow boil.

Add the bitters and elderflower and simmer for about an hour or so until the oranges are soft and translucent.  Then add the sugar and return to the boil, stirring to dissolve it. Boil for a few minutes more, then start testing for setting point.

Dribble a little mixture onto your chilled plate, wait for 30 seconds and push your finger through it. If the marmalade wrinkles, it’s done. And as I’ve said before, anywhere between pour and slice is set enough for me. You may want to add more sugar or simmer for longer if it’s too runny.

When done, pour into prepared jars and process to seal. Serve with tea, toast and a Mansion on The Hill.

Blood Orange Marmalade

Strawberry Season

One of the great things about living here is the variety and availability of fresh produce and we’re now right in the middle of strawberry season. Locally grown QLD strawbs are ridiculously cheap right now and a long, dry winter with cool nights and warm days means there’s plenty of them. In a moment of madness, I picked up a box of them at my local market at Rocklea, thinking it would be nice to make a couple jars of jam.

Strawberries

Just a shade under 10kg of strawberries for $12. That’s cheaper than spuds.  At this point I’m starting to think I may have got a little carried away here…

Even as a fan of strawberry jam, 30-odd jars of the same flavour might get a little boring, so it’s time to experiment. Using a standard recipe that’s worked well for me in the past, I decided to mix things up a little.


Basic Strawberry Jam

2kg hulled strawberries

2kg sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Pectin as required . With ripe fruit like this, you’ll need some.  A 50g packet of Jamsetta works well. I personally don’t get all hung up about about exactly the perfect jam consistency. Anything between “Pour” and “Slice” is good for me.

Smash the strawbs . A solid potato masher and some elbow grease will do the job nicely.

Smashy smashy

When smashed, put into a large stainless saucepan with the lemon juice, stir the pectin in and bring to a boil.

Add the sugar, stir in to mix and boil for a few minutes, skimming off foam as required.

Boiling strawbs

Then pour into your prepared jars and process or seal. I use Mason jars and a water-bath as they’re dead easy but use what you prefer.  And that’s it. Simple.


Along with the basic recipe, I tried a few variants. Use the same recipe as above, but make the following changes:

Strawberry and Vanilla Jam

Almost trifle in a jar this. (Memo to self – perhaps try some almond essence or Amaretto for a really trifley jam next time. This could work…)

Take a couple of vanilla beans, split them lengthways and add the seeds to the strawberries at the same time as you add the lemon juice.

 

Strawberry and Pepper Jam

Don’t overdo the pepper, but a tablespoon of freshly ground pepper ( I used one of those fancy mixed peppercorn blends) stirred through the jam just prior to putting in jars gives it a very subtle warmth and helps to accentuate the berry flavour.

 

Strawberry, Balsamic and Mint Jam

Replace half of the lemon juice with 3 tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar (Pro-tip – Balsamic and roast garlic salad dressing is NOT an option. Don’t ask.)  and add a couple of sprigs of finely chopped mint with it. Restraint is the key here. Subtle is what we’re aiming for.  The balsamic amplifies the bass notes of the strawberries and the mint gives it a lift at the end. Makes for a great teatime jam.


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Play It Again… Australian 1980s Gaming

Nostalgia’s really not what it used to be, but this collection of Australian made computer games from the 1980s took me right back. There some classics here as well as some obscure gems from well-known giants like Melbourne House to the Queensland Dept. of Education (Production & Services Branch).

Get your Hobbit on here.

Source: Play It Again | Popular Memory Archive

Deep Dreaming

Google’s new neural network algorithm is a thing of both beauty and terror. And for the time being, a little beyond my meager abilities to run on the cardboard-and-string contraption I laughingly refer to as “a computer”.

Thanks to http://psychic-vr-lab.com/deepdream/ for putting it out there, although I fear it may be some time before the pic I uploaded is processed.  I’ll check on this link later and see…
http://psychic-vr-lab.com/deepdream/pics/53402.html

Edit: And here’s the result:

giraffepuppyslug

 

Girl Scouts return $100,000 gift to anti-transgender donor

Via the all-kinds-of-awesome Clementine Ford comes this report about the Girl Scouts of the USA. Considering the homophobic stance of the Boy Scouts of America, it’s good to see an American youth organisation taking a principled stand for inclusiveness. Excellent stuff.

And, since taking the stand, they have received an incredible amount in new donations.

Source: Girl Scouts return $100,000 gift to anti-transgender donor

Yarn Attack!

Coming soon – Yarn Attack for all things fibrous.

Signs you live in a middle-class white neighbourhood – #37

Recharge your inner body shakra spirit energy.

…when you receive hand-written tips for recharging your shakras along with the junk-mail.

 

 

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