Monday, 31 August 2015

hi how are you #3 - photo/art/zine

     hello hello!  i actually finished it a little while ago, but hi how are you? - #3 is done!

     what is it?  well!  it is a tiny little photo/artzine project made by me!  you can get one by asking nicely or sending me mail or, well, info is here.   they are all lovingly hand made/cut/stamped/etc... and there is a limited quantity.  hope to hear from you!

dystatic / po box 20083 / rpo beverly / edmonton, ab / canada / t5w 5e6

Friday, 28 August 2015

Ecodye (#3 & #4)

     so, i have been doing all sorts of natural dye stuff, and one of the things i have been attempting are ecodyes!  this involves rolling up plants tightly inside fabric, steaming it, leaving it for awhile and then opening it and hoping that you got something nifty!  there is a cold process that i tried, i had left the things rolled up for a month!  the results were unimpressive.  and the first 3 that i did i forced myself to leave for 2 weeks, i just recently unrolled them, after these ones and they were unimpressive too, it could be the plants, it could be the fabric.  it was cotton, but they were cheepo dish towels that i got and i dont think they uptook dye very well.  anyway...
     for these ones i used a piece of cloth i had got from the reuse centre, i assume it is cotton and a piece of some sort of polyester or poly-blend i got from my mom.  you are supposed to use only natural fibers for these things, but i wanted to see if it would work!  i believe i had mordanted them a few times by dipping them in a couple of layers of ash water and soy milk.

     i used the same plants on both of them, mountain ash leaves, oak leaves and creeping bell flower plants (leaves and flowers).  the top one i folded over too and then rolled them up tightly with the help of a stick and tied them up.  i do not have any sort of steamer so i had made a makeshift one using a bunch of sticks and a large old pot i had found at my grandma's place, hey, it works!

     i turned it on to boil and put the lid on and steamed it for at least an hour.  i think it was during this round that i was not paying attention and the pot boiled dry!  ack!  i started to smell this strange woody smell and thought, hmm... i probably should go check on those things!  but it all worked out.  by the end you cold already see the colour from the mountain ash leeching through!  (mountain ash leaves make a reddish dye)

     and then it is wait time.  i let them cool and then put them out on my deck under my bench to sit for awhile until i could open them up.
     so... first i opened up the polyester one, because i did not have much hope for it.  everything i had read had always said you have to use natural fibers.  here is what it looked like:

     and once unrolled, it did have a few faint prints.  there is an oak leaf there, can you see it, on the right?

     and a mountain ash print.

     but the spot where it was tied up is what looked the best.

     on to the next one!  this one had much better results.  when i unrolled it it had lots more colour!

     i attempted to make a little panorama for my scrapbook.

    you could see indications from all the plants in this one, especially the mountain ash!

     but also imprints of the oak leaves.

     and then of course the blue splotches from the creeping bell flowers!

     yay!  i have done some more little ones that i will post a little later.  and i have also done some colour tests that i will post about.  plus i have a couple that are sitting on my deck right now that i plan to open tomorrow and hopefully they turned out good too!  unfortunately my camera is broken right now, i had to ship it back to canon to have it fixed so it will be awhile before i can get any pictures of anything new.  poor camera.

Monday, 24 August 2015

     i live in alberta and our provincial flower is the wild rose.  you can find them growing all over the place!  in the river valley, on the sides of the road...  there are lots growing out at the farm and i had the brilliant idea to make rose petal jam this year!  however, it did not go quite as well as expected.  i had problems right from the start.  i wanted to pick roses out at the farm because even though you can find them at the sides of the road in the city, they have been exposed to a whole bunch of car exhaust and are not exactly the things you want to be ingesting.  so!  i went out the farm one weekend with my dad and was ready to pick petals, i walked all around the farm and... ugh.  there were barely and blossoms left!  i guess the rose season was pretty much over.  so disappointing!
     on the way back we stopped several times when we saw blossoms in the ditch and picked flowers, even though these were roadside, it was in the country and there much much less traffic and so i figured they would be alright!  i ended up getting a decent amount, so it seemed like project rose petal jam was going to go ahead after all!
     i had looked up many different recipes online and most were similar.  there were a few that did not include pectin but they all required WAY too much sugar for my liking.  i ended up deciding to more or less follow this recipe from feasting at home because it did not strain out the rose petals to make a jelly but just let them soften up and incorporate into the jam itself!  neat!
     however, the recipe calls for pomona's fruit pectin, which i did not have.  i have never used pectin before (well, except for the apple pectin i made myself and used in the pomegranate jam i made for christmas last year), and even though i was expecting to have to use pectin to firm up the rose petal jam and had bought some in anticipation, i was still pretty confused by thew whole subject.  i tried looking online to find a conversion of pomona's to regular commercial pectin with no luck.  i was also kinda confused because having picked the rose petals late i only had enough for a half batch anyway, and when reading about making jams with pectin they like to make things sound scary: make it EXACTLY like the recipe OR ELSE!!!!  screw that, i figured i would just wing it.
     then i had a brilliant idea!  AGAR!  so i looked it up online quickly and it has been done, people do use agar as a replacement for pectin, so i figured i might give that a go, couldn't hurt?  i had also read multiple times about people making little bags full of lemon peels/seeds and putting it in the jam as it is being prepared to help impart some of their pectin, so i figured i would give that a shot, it might help a little bit right?
     so here is how it went.  i did not have a lot of petals to begin with, about 1 cup lightly packed.

     i added them to the pot along with 0.75c of water and heated them up to a gentle simmer.  (meanwhile having a bit of a disaster with my canning pot.  i was not using a regular canning pot but just a large pot and the original pot i decided to use ended up being too small so i was running around trying to get a larger pot ready.. ahhh!!!!)

     next was time to add the sugar.  1c of that.  and then stirred it up to dissolve.

     then add the all important lemon juice!  1.5 Tbsp. of it.  this is when some super duper colour changing occurs!  the acidity of the lemon juice, i do not know why, makes the dulled up rose petals turn a nice bright colour again!  yay!  most of the recipes i read online mentioned that your liquid will turn brownish, it seemed that just after adding the sugar mine was still a nice pink colour?  but the lemon turned it a brighter reddish that it had never been before!

     next it needed to simmer a good 20min.  here is where i added in the lemon bag, which looked like this:

    it is simply a piece of cheesecloth containing the skins and the few seeds that were in the lemon that i used for the lemon juice.  i stuck it in the pot and let everything simmer for 20min or so.

    then i took out the lemon bag thingy.  took the jam (which perhaps i was not watching as well as i should have been) off the heat & did the spoon/plate test with some plates from the freezer.   and this jam was THICK!  super duper THICK!  it pretty much right away formed a solid glob.  so... forget about figuring out pectin conversions or trying out agar, i did not need a way to thicken this stuff up, this was a sticky mess!  ugh.  i guess that that lemon bag thingy had WAY more pectin power then i thought it would.  WAY MORE.

     i ended up adding 0.25c of water to the mix and that seemed to thin it out ok.  it was still pretty thick but not too bad.  at this point i was kinda in the ..i want to bottle this stuff and get it over with ..state.  and guess what?  i ended up getting 1 teeny tiny little bottle out of it!  & guess what else?  my bottle didn't seal!!!  ugh.


     this is a post i wrote awhile ago and did not actually post for some reason?  it was saved as a draft.  i guess i forgot to press publish?  oh well!  anyway.  i stuck the jam in the freezer, since i was not pleased with the experience, so whatever.  the bits eaten during clean up were yum though!  i thought about making rose HIP jam, but i dont think so.  i think i am going to make more nectarine jam like i did last year, that stuff turned out SUPER!  the best stuff EVER!  and i want to make plum jam!  yay!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Gardein - ~new~ sweet & sour porkless bites!~

     SO!  i went grocery shopping the other day, and i checked out the gardein section, i spotted their new mini crabless cakes which i had heard about but, to be honest, i am not that eager to try.  i never was much of a seafood person, so the thought of them dose not thrill me.  maybe if they are on sale one day i might give them a go, but eh.  BUT!~  then i spotted THES:

    WHAT!~  looks so good!  so in my basket they go! ... so what are they like?  they are pretty darn yum!  when you open the bag they look like this:

and they come with a funny little pack of sweet and sour sauce that looks like this (i like to take pictures):

and, because we all want to know, a whole bag of them looks like this:

the recommended cooking method for these guys is to fry them up, which i did!  & according to the package it takes 6-8min.  i dont know if that's how long it took, but it was pretty quick.

they have a sort of coating on them which makes them kind of crispy!  and they are kinda spicy and pretty darn tasty!  nutritional info: 1/3 of the pack or 70g = 110calories (without sauce), i made 6 and that was 48g (76ish calories).

i did not totally burn them!  i decided to give the sauce a try too!  i ate half with and half without.

the sauce is a sweet and sour sauce.  it is pretty tasty too but it has a spicy hot kick to it, though i am a total lightweight when it comes to hot stuff, so it is probably not that hot at all really.  i tried these again a few days later when i made a veggie stir fry with rice and mixed in the sauce with that and it was not that hot that way!
     super excited about these!  they are really tasty!  i will probably mostly eat them without the sauce, or with some other kinda sauce because my insides suck with anything hot, but i will definitely be getting these again!  yay gardein! i think they may possibly help fill the void that formed when they stopped selling the bbq wings anywhere in the whole darn city that i have seen!!!  alas.
    anyway, happy eating!

Monday, 17 August 2015

natural dying - shibori - black bean dye

shibori folding

#1. the cloth.  i got this cloth as a remnant at the eco centre, so i dont know exactly what it is.  i think that it is cotton, i hope that it is cotton, it seems like cotton.  it is a nice piece in that it is a long rectangle, i did not measure the length, but in folding it i found it was 15" wide.  i have mordanted it 4 times, the first time in tea, the second in soy, the thrid in ash water and the fourth in soy again.

#2. the folding.  i first folded it in thirds.

     i just used my hands to flatten and crease the edges.  i then started to fold the long tube into triangles.

     and was left with a thick triangular package in the end.

  i then secured this with popsicle sticks and elastic bands.  i just kinda made a pattern in a way that i felt would make the package secure.  the opposite side is the same as this one.

They Dye - Black Beans

     i decided to try black bean dying, it seemed like a pretty good place to start and from what i saw online you could get some nice bluish shades + you can eat the beans afterwards!  so i bought a bag of black turtle beans!

     i let the beans soak in water for 24 hours, stirring frequently.  (any longer than that and you should not really eat the beans, as they can go bad)  at first it had quite a purple tint to it, but by the time it went into the bin it had turned rather brown.  without disturbing the whole thing, i scooped the bean liquid from the top into my dye container, a plastic bin apparently you do not want to stir things up at this point as it will mix proteins into the dye or something along those lines.

     i then added my prewetted triangle.

     i let it soak for 3 days.  i was only going to do 2 but i got busy on that second day and did not have a chance to check on it till the third.  it smelled rather bad at this point, ick.  did not look that great either.

     i took it out and let it dry in the shade for a day or so before attempting to open it up.

     i opened it up and...

      this is my somewhat failed attempt at doing a panarama of it...

     i guess i do not know how to stay the same distance from the surface as i move while taking a picture, oh well.  the colour did get progressively lighter towards the center, the inside edge has pretty much no colour.  i realized after that this is because i folded it ALL WRONG!  ack!  i should have folded it accordion style, so that each edge would get access to the dye.  while i was folding it i was thinking that it was kinda strange and that the dye would have to soak right in to get to the center, but i guess i was not really thinking enough to actually stop and do it right.  oh well!  i can always over dye it and create a new pattern!
     i also saw a page somewhere where someone had done a bean dye experiment and had used a mordanted cloth and an unmordanted cloth and got the purple colour i was hoping for on the UNmordanted cloth and a more brown colour on the mordanted one.  so i am oing to have to do another bean trial with an unmordanted piece and hope for PURPLE!!!!  oh well, live and learn and all that stuff.  it was fun anyway and now i have a freezer full of beans!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

making instant puding with almond milk using agar - experiment 1

     did you know that you cant make instant pudding with almond milk? (or soy milk, or cashew milk, etc..)  i didnt.  i made some the other day and ended up with pudding soup, ugh.  why cant you?  it has to do with the way instant pudding works, the thickening process involves casein and that only exists in animal milks.  i did a bunch of looking up, but you can find a good explanation of this here.
     interestingly enough it seems that the ingredients in jello instant pudding bought in the usa and bought in canada have different ingredients, the canada pudding does not seem to contain the tetrasodium pyrophosphate explained in the link above but still does not work normally with almond milk.  (or maybe it's just listed differently?)

For reference:


     one of the benefits of using almond milk instead of cow milk is the lower calories.  1 cup of unsweetened almond milk has 40 calories as opposed to 1 cup of 1% milk, which has 110.  this experiment added agar, i used a ratio of about 1.75%, which = about 8g, which is about 24 calories.  plus it tastes kinda good.

on to it!
     for this experiment i only had original almond milk, which is sweetened a bit and contains 60calories a cup  + a box of chocolate instant pudding & some agar powder.
the instructions say to add 2 cups of milk to the powder, mix for a few min. and refrigerate.

step #1.  heat 3/4 cup of almond milk in the microwave for 2min.
step #2.  add 3tsp of agar powder, add a bit at a time and whisk in to make sure it is mixed in well!
     *i may have miscalculated, but i figured that a ratio of 1.75% would give a good thickness, that equaled about 8g, plus that is what i had left, so.. works.*
step #3.  agar needs to be heated and i wanted to make sure that it worked so i reheated the milk for another 30sec.  this resulted in a thick milk mixture!  i was pretty pleased at this point thinking things were going to work well!
step #4.  i beat the thickened milk mix a bit just to make sure it was evenly mixed before adding anything else
step #5.  add the powder & the rest of the milk (1 and 1/3 cup).  and proceed as instructed on the box.

     this is where i went wrong.
i had kept the rest of the almond milk in the fridge this whole time and adding the cold milk to the thickened heated agar milk mixture instantly gelled it!  so it got clumpy!  this is what i was trying hard to avoid in the first place, ugh!  i tried beating it at high for a longer time but it still was clumpy.  (the clumps taste more like clumps of agar than clumps of extra thick chocolatey stuff, so kinda not so great)  oh well.

    it definitely resulted in a thick instant pudding though!  i just have to tweak the process a bit.  some thoughts:
- add room temp milk to the mix
- add a bit less agar
- dont microwave it the second time after mixing in the agar
maybe all 3?

    i will try some of these another time, but i am puddinged out for now.  plus i need to get some unsweetened almond milk, the original made the pudding way too sweet for my liking, yikes!~  but look how nice and thick it turned out!

    (different lighting makes it look a much different colour, yikes!)

there are other ways of making instant pudding with almond milk that i came across:
-you can do it with corn starch apparently, which looks promising. and kinda more easy if it works, however i have found using corn starch in other things (like pie filling) that it leaves an after taste, so who know!  also, i thought you had to heat corn starch for it to work too?  i am not sure and i do not feel like looking it up right now.
-i have also read that it works if you use only 1 cup of almond milk to the box of powder.  this seems icky to me because it would be super concentrated and you would get less servings/box.  also, it would be higher in calories, even using the almond milk at 40 calories/cup, you double the calories of the dry mix (100 calories per normal serving would now = 200 calories/serving for the dry mix alone).
-and i read that you can use part almond milk and part yogurt.  i have seen posted 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup yogurt also 1 cup almond milk, 0.5 cup yogurt.  you can use fat free plain yogurt,or some sort of super creamy yummy yogurt maybe vanilla or coconut!  it sounds really good actually!  i might try substituting 100% yogurt!

    anyway, that was my almond milk - instant pudding - agar experiment that sort of worked.