Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This is why we were doing this!

Well, we did it! I've had the books for over a week but have been travelling and Nirala hasn't even seen them yet as they are up in Perth and she's down South however, she should get them in the next few days and I'm sure will be adding a blog entry of her own.

These photos (and there are thirty two) give you some idea of what to expect inside the book.

Between Nirala and me we have nearly twenty years experience traveling and more than fifty years in various aspects of the food industry.
Together (think 'blood, sweat and tears!) we have produced this neat little book crammed with delicious recipes that combine fresh produce with the best of ‘instant’ foods.

There is a wealth of information contained within the cover including:

* Easy and delicious recipes from breakfasts to dinner
* Cooking with one or two pots only
* Tips for shopping and stocking the pantry
* How to cook in your doona
* Making yoghurt and growing sprouts
* Creating quick gourmet treats for the Happy Hour

Imagine how thrilled I was to read this unsolicited testimonial:

'Your book will be a hit! Why? because I have the E-book and my kids eat everyth
ing I have cooked out of it !!! Now that is truly an amazing thing! A lot of the time my kids don't eat what they are given; not out of your book though, eaten everything and even asked for seconds!

Delicious recipes and I don't need to use every single pot and pan in my house to cook one meal!

This will appeal to everyone, not just the traveller!

Lindsay Cheesewright


I think the book is looking good...it's printed on glossy white paper and perfect bound with a hardwearing glossy laminated cover making it robust enough for use in the kitchen!

At the moment we have it for sale for AUD 18.00 in my Etsy shop http://neryspurchon.etsy.com/ and our website http://www.potionstopesto.com/ and have decided to restrict it to Australian sales only as it's postage free to buyers in Oz.

Looking forward to hearing your comments!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good Gourd Again!

The only limits to what you can make with gourds are set by your imagination. Over the years I have made rain sticks, lamps and lampshades, dolls and dolls houses, boxes, bird houses, peg baskets, bowls, earrings, bracelets and even a suit of armour! Here are some practical things you need to know to get you started.

First you need to clean your gourds. Fill a large sink or bowl with hot soapy water and soak for twenty minutes or more. if you have time it makes the process easier. Using a large copper dish scourer, begin to rub the gourd. The outer layer of skin should begin to slough away. This is messy job but it is exciting to watch the patterns appear. If your gourd has no mould, the epidermis layer may become hard and waxy. If you are planning to paint your gourd later, you will need to scrape this off in the same way.

Draw your cutting lines on your gourd once you have decided what you are making – the gourds will usually tell you what they want to be! A slice cut from a gourd I was planning to make into a thumb piano looked like part of the famous Madonna bra and set me off on my female suit of armour – the half made thumb piano is still in the shed!

A vice or rubber mat to secure your piece while you cut can help prevent accidents. Cutting tools may include Stanley knives, hacksaws, a jigsaw, Dremel or even a band saw for larger gourds. Unless you are planning to rejoin the pieces afterwards, don’t worry if your cuts are a little rough as edges can be treated like timber and sanded smooth later.
It is recommended that you wear a dust mask while cutting, some people have an allergic reaction to gourd dust and everyone will notice it tastes bitter. You may also like to wear rubber gloves if you have very sensitive skin.

Now you have opened the gourd you will see the soft and spongy inner layer that holds the seeds. There is also sometimes a satiny coating on the inside of the shell you may choose to leave. Scrape the seeds and the lining away with a spoon or metal scraper until it is as clean as you would like. You can sand the inside for a finer finish.

I treat gourds as I would timber. After sketching designs on the gourd, I enhance them by burning the pattern into the gourd with a soldering iron. The soldering iron can also be used to burn small holes in the gourd. The designs are then filled using wood dyes which enhance reather than hide the natural patterns of the gourd. For small areas I use a paintbrush, larger ones a cloth dipped in dye to spread it easily and evenly. Acrylic and enamel paints both work well too, as do coloured inks. Remember that any stain used on the inside of the gourd will be brighter in colour. Thicker shelled gourds can also be carved like you would a lino cut, using the same tools.

Protect your surface with varnish a wax finish, furniture polish or varnish on the outside.

The bitter taste of the gourd can be removed by repeated filling and rinsing with water with a teaspoon of bicarb added to it until the taste has gone, if you wish to drink from it. Traditionally, the gourds used for water “sweated’ through the skin which kept the water cool for those cowboys in the desert. You may prefer seal with several coats of safflower oil, letting each coat harden between applications to prevent leakage.

Drill, cut, glue, hinge, lace, weave upon, bead, wire, cut and generally treat like a thin piece of wood.
Attach beads, driftwood, macramé, brass rings or gourd shapes for handles
To make the suit of armour I cut, shaped and decorated individual pieces of gourd then pierced them so I could thread cut “brass” curtain rings through the holes which I then soldered up to join the pieces together. You have to be rather insane to do this… it took me over a year.
If you use the round Cantina gourds for boxes the lid you cut will sit back onto the bottom if you cut carefully and don’t sand too much away.
Line gourds if you wish by gluing fabric, soft leather or fake fur inside.
Hinges can be made with soft leather or small jewelry box type hinges glued or tacked on.

If anyone has a picture of something insane they have made from gourds or a question about gourds, please post a comment and I will do my best to answer.
That would be totally gourdeuos!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Remind me, why are we doing this?

Two grown women sit transfixed in a caravan in a paddock, four hours drive from the remotest capital city in the world, watching a red line move angonisingly slowly from left to right on a computer screen.

The adventure had begun nine months ago in the same caravan hundreds of kilometres to the north. Nerys asked me if I would help her write a book of recipes and hints for travelers. On a sunny winter’s morning, it seemed like a nice little hobby activity.

The difficulties of living hundreds of kilometers apart became obvious in the size of our telephone bills and the number of emails that flew back and forth. I bought and learnt to use a new camera, updated my computer programs and ate many wonderful stone cold meals beautifully arranged for photographs. There was so much food being cooked, I had large dinner parties and sent out doggy bags to grateful friends.

Early in 2009, Easy! was launched as an E book. It wasn’t long after that Nerys decided that as not everyone traveling had access to a computer, we should look into self publishing a hard copy. Let the fun begin!

Gremlins in the system ate full stops from the ends of sentences, photographs that had been square now all needed to be redone in another format, spaces appeared where none had been before. The questions came faster than we could figure out the answers and there were more problems than there seemed to be solutions for every day. Many times we were heard to comment that we would rather burn the damn book rather than do another final final final proof read.

It's nine months since we had that original discussion and the red line was our baby winging her way through cyberspace to be printed. Our sanity was sorely tried but in our best professional manner, buoyed by endless cups of tea, liquorice allsorts, extreme silliness and Prakash's great lunches we persevered. Sanity and serenity had to take a back seat with everything and everyone else.

The message on the screen read “Your message has been sent.” One day soon the cartons will arrive and like all mother’s we’ll soon forget the labour pains.