A piece a week – Another cross back top with fabric from Sri Lanka and Indonesia

As I really liked the pattern from last week I wanted to try out another top as I find that I am happiest when making clothes! Maybe it is because that was what I first learned to do when I started sewing. I have such a stash of fabric that is calling to be used and I need tops for the summer, so why not! The fabric that came out of my stash this time is fabric my uncle bought me back from Sri Lanka – which I love and another fabric I found on free cycle – some batik fabric from Indonesia. When I pieced them together I thought what a wonderful idea of putting these islands together – one day I might feel like Sri Lanka and another day could be Indonesia. Both hot and tropical so that is something else I really enjoy – come to think of it I don’t know if I could handle the humid tropic heat anymore! Living in California has spoilt me big time with it’s wonderful weather ūüėÄ

Back to the fun of making this top again – I decided to redo the neckline and make it higher so it sits better on the shoulder and it sits very much like a trapeze top now which I like as it will be cool for the hotter weather. The fabrics go together very well and even though there is a lot of black that is fine as it will go with many different colored pants or skirts. Anyway enough of my wardrobe and updating – it is fun to do and maybe this well I will work on something new.

The back of the top with the Sri Lankan elephants

The front of the top with the Indonesian batik – the pattern is gorgeous

The side view with a bit of the Sri Lankan fabric peeking though

The Sri Lankan fabric in full view from the front. 

Last week flew by and I had a full weekend of camping and taking a walk about Sutro Baths in San Francisco starting at Lands End. It was just beautiful as you could hike up in between the Monterey Cypress and get the perfect shot of the Golden Gate bridge. The camping was pretty awesome at China Camp with a near full moon and being out in front of the fire. The smell of the campfire just takes me back to summer and the knowing that there is more to come makes me so happy. I love being outside and it is a small price to pay to be sleeping on the ground in a tiny tent with my whole family – it is such an amazing thing to do for your soul. We had a whirl wind journey as we had planned to go Friday but the traffic was a nightmare so we went first thing Saturday morning and the day was absolutely perfect with sunshine a a teeny bit of fog when we were walking around.

The afternoon at the campground we set up camp and had a couple of glasses of wine prepping a chili for dinner – super easy to throw a vegetarian chili on the open fire but be careful of the beans. The evening dessert was the hit of last summer – Campfire Cones. This time we threw in some Girl Scout Thin Mints and marshmallows and that was enjoyed by all even without the melty chocolate minty marshmallow combo. On the way back home Sunday, we stopped at China Camp – an old shrimp fishing village from the 1800s. There will be a next time – as the camping was super and I have a couple of good spots we would like to stay at next time we go there and definitely check out the hiking around the camp sites. One thing I remember was that I heard frogs singing away in the evening – what a perfect sound to sleep by!

Through a tunnel at Sutro Baths to see the rough surf
A stunning grove of Monterey Cypress tress
Action by the kiddos on the hike
A perfect day with the Golden Gate bridge
Our camp site and tent – fly less, what’s going on it isn’t even Summer!
The kids on the beach at China Camp
Sunday and the bridge is shrouded in fog – and we hear the fog horn

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Breudher

For some reason over the last couple of busy weeks in my schedule I have chosen to do somewhat complicated recipes. I have managed to fit in making a Breudher this week after a hectic week of preparing for the trunk show (see previous post). I loved the show and the time to get this done last week was slim. So yesterday I got a start on it in the afternoon after volunteering in the classroom and made the first step for this recipe is the bread dough. My house is way too cold for bread to rise so I left it out in the sunshine and it rose just perfectly doubling in size. So thank goodness for the warmth outside as it would take forever to get this done! This is a cake that is usually served at Christmas with Dutch Edam Cheese Рwe would have this for breakfast and what a treat it was! The Breuder was part of the Dutch influence in Sri Lanka Рactually my ancestors from way back are Dutch. Be sure to have a bit of time on hand and a warm area for the bread to rise before getting a start on this recipe. 
This has been adapted from a Anita Dickman and Charmaine Solomon recipe due to being confused about how to incorporate the ingredients. Prepare the dough first as it has to rise twice and then once Breudher ingredients are incorporated it has to rise again. Prepare a Bundt pan for this recipe as it looks wonderful – I just used my ring pan which does not have an elaborate pattern like the Bundt tin so it does not have the ‘hanger appeal’. ¬†
Basic Bread Dough
(White Bread)
500g (1.1lbs) plain flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
25g (1oz) of melted butter (optional)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1. Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, sprinkle yeast on top and leave aside for 10-15 minutes until it becomes frothy.
2. Sift flour in a bowl make a well in the centre of the flour, add yeast mixture, melted butter and the balance water.
3. Add the water gradually until you get a soft, sticky dough.
4. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 15 – 20 minutes or until bubbles start to breakthrough the surface, which indicates that the dough has started to rise.
5.  Punch the dough in the middle. Then turn the dough to a floured counter and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky. Dust occasionally with flour. 
6. Put back in a clean bowl and leave to rise for 1 – 11/2 hours or until double in bulk. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead lightly for a few seconds. Add the salt at this stage and place in a huge mixing bowl.
7. Follow the Breudher recipe from here. 

Breudher ready to go with some Australian Tasty Cheese
500g (1.1lbs) basic bread dough (see recipe above)
1/2 teaspoon salt

150g (6 ozs) sugar
6 egg yolks

75g (3 oz) butter

100g (4 oz) sultanas
1 tablespoon flour
1. Make dough and leave aside to rise. 
2. When it is well risen, punch dough, add salt and knead well.
3. Then weigh the dough to make sure it is 500g (1.1lbs).
4. Put it into an electric mixer and beat (with a dough hook) while adding the sugar slowly.  
5. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Add the butter a little at a time.
6. Dust the sultanas with 1 tablespoon flour and mix through the dough. 
7. Pour the breudher mix into a ring mould and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 Р40 minutes until it doubles in bulk (I used a preheated oven that was turned off as it keeps its warmth, as it was evening). 
8. Bake at 200 degrees C (or 400 degrees fahrenheit) for 10 mins and then at 180 degrees C (350 degrees fahrenheit) for a further 10-15 minutes. 
9. If the top starts to brown too soon, cover with foil and cook until a skewer comes out clean. 
10. Cool for 5 minutes in pan and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely. 
11. Serve with butter and Dutch Edam cheese.
Note: It is important that the ingredients are added gradually to keep the batter firm. 

A slice of Breudher and a cup of tea was always a pleasure at family gatherings

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Patties

I have been so busy preparing for a trunk show that is happening this weekend to coincide for Mothers Day that I haven’t had time to post this recipe let alone get to it. Basically I have been hanging out in my sewing room and trying to make all the stock for the show therefore it has been difficult to take on such a recipe as patties. I did the recipe in a couple of stages so I could break the times up a bit as it is very time consuming!

Anyway as it turns out the Sri Lankan recipes I had planned to do this week are really time suckers and with my schedule Рwhich is over tomorrow as I have the trunk show where I will be selling scarves like these I can start getting back on track again! So here is the recipe for Sri Lankan Patties which we had for dinner last night with a chick pea salad with a tahini mayo dressing Рyum, just perfect for a warm summer evening.

Sri Lankan Patties
(Makes 20 or so)

Tasty Pattie morsels with Thai sweet chilli saucer


450g (1lb) flour
100g (4ozs) margarine
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg beaten with a little water

1/2 lb potatoes boiled and skins removed
1 can salmon (substitute 1/2 lb leeks and/or carrots for vegetarian version)
1 onion chopped
1tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chillie powder
sprig of curry leaves (optional)
lemon zest

Make the Dough

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut in the margarine and rub in the dry ingredients. Add beaten egg and enough water to form a firm dough. Rest the pastry in the fridge for about half an hour before rolling out.

Make filling (vegetarian version)

1. Boil and mash the potatoes and allow to cool. Finely chop the leeks and carrots.
2. Stir fry the onion in a pan till soft, add the curry and chillie powder fry a minute or two then add the vegetables and stir fry for a few more minutes.
3. Add the mashed potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Make filling (for fish recipe) 

1. Boil and mash the potatoes and allow to cool. Flake the salmon.
2. Stir fry the onion in a pan till soft, add the curry and chillie powder fry a minute or two then add the fish and stir fry for a few more minutes.
3. Add the mashed potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the patties
Roll out pastry, cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or the tin of a condensed milk can. Place a teaspoon of patty curry in the centre. Brush with egg white around the edge. Fold in half and seal the edges with a fork. Deep fry in hot oil and drain on brown paper. 
* Note as a pastry maker I would rather use butter next time for a flakier pastry and in regard to deep frying them Рthat is great though I will try baking them next time by brushing them with oil and baking at 350 degrees to see what the difference is. This is a very time consuming recipe and to do it in stages was a good thing for me but it is important to set aside time to get it done in one. Still they were yummy and not too bad for my first attempt. 
Chick Pea Salad
1/2 cup Chick Peas 
1 Tomato
plus any other seasonal salad items that take your fancy
Canola Mayonaise
Olive Oil
Sale and Pepper to taste
1. Mix it all together in a big bowl and serve with the patties and a bit of sweet chilli sauce.

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Milk Toffee

This post is super late as the first time I tried this I burnt the sugar and I felt somewhat perturbed about trying it again! Today with a bit of time and confidence I felt let’s go and did it as the week is flying by – yet again! I have had this as a treat throughout my life as we used to buy it from friends who made it. It is quite time consuming and you have to definitely keep watch over it as the sugar will burn and then your pan will be a great mess. Oh and when you finish this recipe and all the sticky residue is left behind in the pan just boil some water in it to clean it out – good as new. Certainly other internet advice was to put bleach in the pan – I don’t think so!

So here is the recipe with a little help from my daughters teaches mum in Sri Lanka, an Australian website and some videos I finally got it to come together and it tastes delicious too – especially with a cup of tea.

Milk Toffee

Mellow out with some Milk Toffee in the afternoon

300g / 10 oz brown sugar (to give the rich colour)
300ml / 10 oz or a small tin of condensed milk
3 tablespoons water
30g / 1 oz chopped – not to fine as you want a bite – cashew nuts (mine went missing as someone ate them all so I substituted with Pecans)
1 teaspoon Vanilla


1. Combine the sugar with the water and place pan on medium heat until the sugar begins to dissolve. Do not stir once on the heat as the sugar will crystalise. Prepare a 20cm or smaller square baking tray with parchment paper and baking spray.

2. Once the sugar is melted, pour in the condensed milk and keep stirring till it becomes thick and gooey and takes on some colour. It takes usually around 20 minutes so set your timer once you start stirring. Let the mixture bubble away till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. I made sure that it did not burn by using my candy thermometer and making sure the temperature did not go over 118 degrees C or 245 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. About a minute before the mixture comes off the heat, add the chopped nuts and vanilla and mix well till combined.

4. Once the mixture is ready, pour into the baking tray and spread it so it is even, and set aside to cool for around 5 – 10 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to set completely as you will not be able to cut neat pieces of toffee. Slightly unset in the middle is a good indicator to start cutting the mixture.

In the baking tray with marks ready to cut

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Pol Sambol

Due to a cold I am posting this later than planned – Oh the chaos of life! I wanted to try Peter Kurivita’s Pol Sambol recipe and it turned out really fresh with the lime juice and this time I added the chilli as it was a small amount for just the adults! What better way to clear out your cold than to eat chilli. I decided to enjoy the Pol Sambol with a coconut roti made with added Habanero peppers to add a bit of colour and flavour to the roti. And it turned out better than expected as the pepper flavour throughout the roti added the right amount of texture.

Pol Sambol (for two)

Pol Sambol ready to serve with your favourite roti

1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 red onion, chopped finely
black pepper
dash of lime
salt to taste

1. Add the coconut to the bowl – mix in chilli, red onion, pepper, a dash of lime to make the sambol nice and wet but not sloppy. Add salt to taste.
2. Serve with coconut roti.

Coconut Roti

Rotis with a bit of green!

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup desiccated coconut1 onion sliced

1 habanero pepper or any other capsicum of choice
Salt to taste

Water (about 1 cup)

Canola oil for frying


1. Prep onion and pepper in food processor – pulse till they are small.
2. In a large bowl mix onion, pepper, flour, desiccated coconut, butter, salt and water.
3. Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough that can be formed into balls.
4. On a floured surface place balls and flatten -the kids can help with this.
5. Heat up a heavy based skillet and fry in oil until brown on both sides.
6. Drain oil on a paper towel and serve the Roti with your favourite curry or sambal.

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Potato Cutlets

My mum used to make these potato cutlets with tin tuna fish and fennel and they were so good! Though for this version I am trying a vegetarian alternative. The kids really loved them with a canola mayo and I had it with a mango pickle and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Delicious potato cutlets with avocado salad and mango chutney

Potato Cutlets

1 tsp sale
1 lb potatoes, boiled in microwave and then mashed.
Black Pepper
1 egg for cutlets

Breadcrumbs for coating

1 egg beaten


1 onion
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup coriander

Canola oil for frying

1. Prepare potato and cook in the microwave till the consistency is ready for mash.
2. Finely chop onion and put in a large bowl.
3. Cool mashed potato in fridge or on counter.
4. While potato is cooling prepare the filling – and add to the onion in the large bowl.
5. When potato is cool enough add to the large bowl with the filling ingredients.
6. Add an egg to the filling and potato mixture.
7. Work on consistency to get a ball that holds together in your hands.
8. Dip in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs and flatten.
9. Cook cutlets on moderate heat in the canola oil until brown on both sides.
10. Serve with mango chutney and salad or whatever you like really!

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Coconut Roti

As last weeks recipe was a bit of a fail I figured something easy would be a good choice this week. So I made Coconut Roti and Egg Curry. I was going to add a coconut sambal to the plate though the time did not allow it. The fun thing with make Rotis is that it is a kitchen job where the kids can get involved and help out with the moulding and flattening, just like play dough!

Delicious Egg Curry and Coconut Roti

Coconut Roti 

(Makes about 24)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 onion sliced

1 sprig of curry leaves sliced
Salt to taste (about ¬Ĺ tspn)

Water (about 1 cup)
Canola oil for frying
1. Slice onion and curry leaves.
2. In a large bowl mix onion, curry leaves, flour, desiccated coconut, salt and water. 
3. Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough that can be formed into balls.
4. On a floured surface place balls and flatten. 
5. Heat up a heavy based skillet and fry in oil until brown on both sides. 
6. Drain oil on a paper towel and serve the Roti with your favourite curry or sambal.
Egg Curry simmering away
Egg Curry
3 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
2 tsp black mustard seeds
sprig of curry leaves 
1 red onion – thinly sliced
1 small knob of ginger – finely grated
4 cloves garlic – crushed
1 tsp roasted cumin

1 tsp roasted coriander

1tsp turmeric

2 tsp tomato paste

1 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

1. Boil eggs until they are hard boiled (10 minutes) then put in cold water and peel. Set aside. 
2. In a heavy based skillet over medium heat Рadd the coconut oil and the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds pop, add the curry leaves and onions and saute until translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic. 
3. Stir and then add the spices and tomato paste. Continue to fry for about 2 minutes and pour in the coconut milk. 
4. Turn down the heat to simmer and add the eggs РSimmer the curry until the sauces thickens. 
5. Season to taste and enjoy with the Roti or your favourite rice. 

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Vegetable Biriyani

This week I made a vegetable biriyani which is a favourite meal of mine. It has varied over the years especially when we bought it from families who sold it as a special dish packaged in alfoil and frozen, to be eaten as a family treat. This recipe is from a cookbook called Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma Dasa who is one of the Hare Krishna movement’s most celebrated chefs. I love a lot of the recipes in this book but this Biriyani recipe takes me back to Melbourne when I first made it when I was a student and had to ration my funds. Going to the Indian grocer and buying spices was a bit out of my budget at the time – but I must have made quite a bit of Indian food after buying all the spices! This is an excellent meal for student living as you can eat it for days! It is also a perfect dish for guests as it does go a long way and can serve up to 6 people. We just ate it for dinner as is as there are nuts and beans for the protein with the rice and vegetables. The recipe calls for eggplant which is just divine but I cannot find any this time of year. I substituted zucchini which made their way from Mexico so if I looked harder maybe the eggplant was there too??

Biriyani served with fresh coriander

Vegetable Biriyani

 2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
2.5 teaspoons turmeric
4 tablespoons ghee or oil
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 zucchini
4 mushrooms
2 cups tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar\
1 cup cooked lima beans\
2/3 cup slivered raw almonds
2/3 cup broken or halved cashews
2/3 cup raisins
Fresh coriander

1. Wash, drain and dry the rice.

2. Boil the water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric in a 4 litre saucepan over moderate heat.

3. Heat half the ghee or oil in a skillet over moderately-low heat. Saute the cardamom seeds and the rice in the hot ghee for 2 minutes or until the grains turn whitish. Add the boiling water. Stir, raise the heat, and bring the water to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer without stirring, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allowing the grains to become firm.

4. Heat the remaining ghee or oil in a smaller skillet over moderately high heat. Saute the mustard seeds in the hot ghee and when they crackle, add the poppy seeds, the cayenne pepper, garam masala, coriander, zucchini and mushroom pieces, and half the butter. Stir fry the vegetables for about 3 minutes.

5. Add the tomato, remaining salt and sugar. Simmer the vegetables until just tender. Add the lima beans and remove from the heat.

6. Spoon half the rice into a large buttered 9×12″ casserole dish and spread evenly. Spread the vegetable mixture on top.

7. Heat the remaining butter in a small pan over moderate heat. Saute the nuts in the hot butter until they turn pale golden brown. Add the raisins and stir-fry until they swell and the nuts are golden brown.

8. Combine this mixture with the remaining rice and spread on top of the vegetable layer. Place a lid or alfoil on the casserole dish and bake in a preheated moderate over (180¬ļC/355¬ļF) for 30 minutes. Serve hot with fresh coriander.

Vege Biriyani straight from the oven

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Kiribath and Seitan Curry

This week was a fairly easy recipe though a rough week in trying to get the recipe posted. It has just been constant chaos though now I am finally finding time to sit and write this. I must say the Kiribath is something  I remember from when I was little for all the festive events. We had it for breakfast sprinkled with sugar Рwhat a treat for a kid first thing in the morning! Other times we had it with a coconut sambal and meat curry which is the inspiration for this meal. This is a vegetarian version which is just as good as the secret was to roast your own curry powder Рit really makes a difference in flavour. 
For the meat curry I found a wonderful recipe on taste.com.au and I roasted spices and ground them in the coffee grinder Рwhoever has the next cup of coffee will be enjoying a very aromatic cuppa! 
The seeds all dry roasting in a pan
Ground roasted curry powder in the coffee grinder 

Kiribath is milk rice and and literally in Sinhalese it means a milk bath. The rice is cooked in a coconut milk and then put in the fridge to set and then serve – that is how I have always had it anyway.

Kiribath and Seitan curry (yes seitan is a popular meat alternative in this household)

Following are the recipes for the Kiribath and the Seitan curry – do note this is a super easy and quick to prepare meal.


1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water

1 can coconut milk

salt to taste

1. Cook rice in rice cooker and when ready transfer to a saucepan and cover in coconut milk.

2. Add salt to taste and cook on low until the rice has absorbed all the coconut milk.

3. Transfer to a plate to cool and then place in fridge when the rice is at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge while warm).

4. Serve the rice cut into diamond shapes with a favourite curry or coconut sambal.

Seitan curry 

1 packet of seitan strips
Olive oil

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cardamom pods, cracked
2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small to large tin diced tomatoes (ideally fresh if they are in season)
1/2 to 1 cup water

Ceylon curry powder

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon quill crumbled
1. Prepare seitan for the curry by dredging it in the flour and paprika and sautéing it in olive oil. Then keep aside for later. 
2. Make the curry powder by roasting the spice ingredients on medium heat and when cool transfer to a coffee grinder. 
3. Pulse onion, ginger, garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. 
4. Heat ghee in a skilled add onion mixture and cook over medium heat until golden. Add curry powder, turmeric, cardamom pods, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook stirring for 3 minutes then stir in vinegar. 
5. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water initially and add the prepared seitan and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
6. Serve with the kiribath or any rice or noodle side dish with a salad. 
We have avocados and carrots in season at the moment so that is why they are there ūüôā Oh and feel free to add chillies to the onion, ginger and garlic. I omitted the chillies as I didn’t have any on hand and the kids would say it to too spicy and not even try it. They loved the rice and gave thumbs up for the curry so it was a winner.¬†
The plan is to grow some chillies over the summer and it is time for Project Garden next week when my son is on his 1 long vacay from school. His is on his way to earning yet another Pokemon book once he helps me with this project!