Three cheering finds to ward off the winter blues today.
If you are a follower of things handmade you may well be aware of a beautiful the new quilting title, Quilt Love, by the talented Cassandra Ellis. She quilts in the way I would love to, had I the skill, steering the art away from that rather fussy look to something altogether more contemporary. And she sounds so nice:
Making makes me happy, whether it’s a quilt, a lovely meal or a getting my hands dirty in the garden. I love to be the catalyst for special projects for the community, based around helping people to live better
Fortunately, Cassandra takes commissions and offers workshops in South East London and at Charleston House, the East Sussex property once home to various members of the Bloomsbury group (see the interiors painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant).
Once you have commissioned Cassandra to make you a quilt, you may well consider including block-printed fabric from Kiran Ravilious, a Leicester designer and printmaker who draws inspiration from an upbringing in Singapore. Kiran is inspired mostly by plant forms and carves her designs onto Japanese lino before handprinting them onto a chosen fabric. Aren’t these, leafy, tropical motifs lovely?
Finally, a recipe from Nigel Slater for a warming Asian squid dish, taken from Tender Vol 1, p249. I would post the image of the whole squid – with eyes, eggs (?), beak and innards – that I prepared for this in a fit of enthusiasm, but it is not one of those beautifully moody shots in which even the most mundane things are somehow romaticised with a bit of soft focus and vignetting. No. In my snap, the eye stares out as if to question its fate: ‘Are you really going to do this to me?’
West Country squid, caught off the Cornish coast, is pretty sustainable and quick to cook – two very good things. Nigel, admittedly, suggests having a fish monger clean the squid for you.
Chinese greens – 2 large handfuls
large red chillies – 2
ginger – a thumb-sized piece
400g prepared squid – bodies and tentacles
nam pla – 2 tablespoons
soft brown sugar – 2 teaspoons
lime juice – 2 tablespoons
vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
basil leaves – large handful
Blanch the greens and drain. Open up the dried squid bodies, cut into pieces and score with the tip of a knife. Combine the lemon juice, nam pla and brown sugar. Set aside. Fry the squid for no longer than two minutes in the oil, with chopped garlic and sliced chilli (seeds removed). Pour in the fish sauce mixture when the quid is beginning to brown. Fry a little longer before adding the blanched greens. Toss in the basil, leave to wilt, then serve. (Summarised instructions – do see the book for more detail.)