November 6, 2012

Steaming Away

I do use the steaming method in my house quite a lot. I use it for Eco dyeing of course and in cooking as well. The steaming method is a way of preserving all goodness and flavour in vegetables, fish and fruit. 

What have I been steaming lately? My steamer is always going for my Eco dyeing batches. I used to do that with my domestic cooker, but when I was in Bangkok I brought back a single gas burner and now I'm steaming out on the back deck. I do miss that eucalyptus smell from steaming. So what do I have to show you from my productive week today? 

When I was in Bangkok I picked up some tote bags, plain ones at that. It's getting harder and harder to find just plain of anything these days, so I was thrilled to find them in an Eco-Green shop. I dyed it with mulberries. Together with other mulberries dyed silk and vintage Japanese silk I applied some boro stitching  on the bag. I added a few buttons and this tote bag turned out gorgeous, I must say!

I used the same kind of tote bag as above, but this time I dyed it with eucalyptus leaves. I used boro patches with mixed dyed fabric and as you can see it's a very earthy and cool looking bag. I have used it once already when I went to the opening of Ziguzagu's exhibition a few weeks ago. 

You can't do steaming without a steamer. Up until now I have been using any old steamer, but my dyeing production is picking up so I need to be more efficient with the steaming. This is the same type of steamer that we used in my family home in Thailand. It's a double steamer with two layers of steamers and one base. I can boil the dye liquid in the base with bundles and at the same time I can have bundles steaming on top. How economic and environmentally friendly is that! 

This was the first time I used this new steamer. So out I went gathering those precious eucalyptus leaves again on my daily walk. There are couple of Eucalyptus Cinerea trees in my campus that I keep good eye on for falling leaves. These are sure to give me orange prints. I also found some Eucalyptus Silver Drop trees around my area that only had few leaves left from last year. I know they will dye because they give out strong scent.  

Plenty of leaves left over for the next batch. I have a feeling it will be soon. Oh I must tell you that I'm going to a workshop with Jacky and her friends a Naturally Dyed this Sunday. We went there this time last year and we thoroughly enjoyed it. 

These are the first three bundles to start the new steamer off. One bundle has vintage silk and mixed green and brown eucalyptus leaves. The second bundle has only old leaves I found on Monday morning when I got to work. I used  prunus leaves on cotton for the third bundle. I'm not sure about the cotton on this one, but we will see!

I have this lovely and soft piece of woollen fabric I found at an op-shop a while ago. It's a perfect backing of this Eco blanket I'm piecing. I would like to showcase the whole piece of the dyed cloths so this is a good way of showing them. So far I only pinned them down. Next I will go back and do invisible basting around the edges and then start stitching. Lots and lots of stitching will go into this one. I think it is a stitching project for next winter. 

Now for steaming of a different kind. Steam food parcels. Every Greek household has at least one grapevine growing. We have two, one vine for fruit and one ornamental vine. The ornamental vine hangs on the railing of the deck. At this time of year (Spring) the young leaves are a beautiful luscious green. For me it's the time to make dolmades (stuffed vine leaves). 

This is a wonderful recipe for meze or tapas. Easy to make and most of all I can use vine leaves from my very own grapevine. You can also buy vine leaves at a good delicatessen, either frozen or in the can. 

Here they are all wrapped up and ready for steaming. Here is a traditional Greek recipe from an old Greek cookery book that I have had for more than thirty years. Enjoy!

Stuffed Vine Leaves:

50 vine leaves, fresh or canned
 2 cups rice
 4 medium-sized chopped onions
1.5 cups olive oil
 1 lemon 
 1 cup chopped parsley, dill and mint leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
 4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry chopped onions in olive oil until golden brown. Add pine nuts, rice and other ingredients and a cup of water. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Allow mixture to cool.
In the meantime blanch vine leaves in boiling water for 1 minute, drain and cool under running water. 
Take each leaf with the shiny surface on the outside. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each leaf. Fold like an envelope and roll lightly to allow for the puffing of rice.
Place 3-4 fresh vine leaves at the bottom of heavy base saucepan. Arrange the leaf parcels on top, side by side and in layers. Add 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a little more salt and the juice of one lemon.
Place some fresh leaves on top, press with a plate and cover the saucepan. Let simmer for about 45 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Uncover and let cool. 
Remove carefully, one at the time, so that the leaf parcels do not unfold. Serve hot or cold. 

Until next time


Nedra said...

Your bags, dying and food look wonderful Nat! You have had a busy week.

deanna7trees said...

beautiful things as usual...i am taken by that steamer. i will have to search for one. and your recipe is what we called 'yaprakes'. my grandmother made it frequently when i was growing up and she purchased the grape leaves. anxious to see the results of your bundles. enjoy the workshop.

Needled Mom said...

Wow!!!! What amazing work, Nat! That tote is just spectacular. I love the colors and the stitching you did on it.

I also LOVE the earth tone fabrics. That steamer is going to come in so handy with all that you do. To be able to have two layers is going to be fabulous for greater production. How long do you have to steam the fabrics?

When I came to the end, I was wondering what the white stuff was that you were using until I read that it was a recipe!!!! Too funny. It sounds yummy though. Thank you.

Nancy said...

Your bag IS beautiful! And the leaves bring back good memories. An apartment building neighbor taught me how to make grape leaves when I was a kid. Haven't had them in years :)

homeschooled said...

You are just so cover and versatile! Do you use the same steamer for both?

Kim said...

when you stitch on your boro patches are the edges already turned under?

I just love all your pieces of dyed fabrics. Even the layout of the leaves before dying is lovely.

what time is dinner? Too bad it's so far to drop in on your for a taste of those grape leaves yum.

Happy sewing

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Wow Nat more beauty with your dyeing! Looks like nice recipe too...aren't old ones good ones!

Anonymous said...

GORGEOUS, indeed! so is the second one. I don't know which I find more delicious and tempting -- the table with the eco-dyes laid out or the grape leaves, rolled, and presumably ready for eating!

Terry said...

The bag is lovely and very you. The steamer is smart working lots cooking at once and doing it outside leaves the stove free for cooking up your great scones for afternoon tea. Could be very nice this time of year.

Terry said...

the bag is lovely. The steamer a great way to dye outside while cooking some wonderful afternoon tea. I must be hungry? or just thinking of afternoon tea at your space.

Peggy said...

Nat, thank you for the recipe, I'm going to print it out for next summer, nice to have an authentic recipe! This post is both interesting and beautiful! -- from your new steamer to the tote bags and the blanket. Are the tote bags cotton and did you mordant them beforehand? They are so cool, love them and love coming here! xo

Jeannie said...

Swoon! I was going to gush about the totes, fabric, and your beautiful steamer and then I saw the dolmades. Oh my goodness! I love them. I worked for a Greek man for over 15 years and would go to his church's festival every year for the baklava and dolmades. He would bring me feta and olives for my lunch frequently. For a Norse girl, I love the Greek food. Thanks for the recipe. I wonder if I can find a steamer like that here in the states? Wishing you a beautiful week.

Kathie said...

I love all the stitching on this tote bag.
oh my that long table runner with all the leaves placed on it is just beautiful the way it is
how did it come out after you dyed it?
did I miss the picture?

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