Posts Tagged ‘issue #5’

Curtain call: part one

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Homemade blanket curtains

This project by Christine Reitze was published last autumn in issue 5 of World Sweet World. Stay tuned for more curtain-related goodies next week – I’ve been sewing up a storm in preparation for the chilly months ahead. ~ Hannah

It’s always good to be prepared, so here’s an autumn project that will get you ready for winter. In the grand scheme of things, winters in New Zealand aren’t really that cold, but because of practically nonexistent insulation in many of our houses (especially flats), we tend to feel it more than chillier countries.

If you’re flatting in a cold house, chances are your landlord isn’t going to fork out to get the entire place re-insulated (although it’s worth speaking with them about the EECA energywise funding scheme), but there are things as tenants we can do to keep a bit warmer as winter approaches.

These warm woolly winter curtains are sewn with old blankets you can find easily in op-shops for cheap, or if you’re brave enough, you could pinch them from your granny or your dog. For even more warmth you can add thermal lining (you can use your old curtains for this), which is then hooked onto the main wool curtain.

  1. Measure the length of your curtain track and double it, adding an extra 12cm. This is how much of wide curtain tape you’ll need.
  2. If you decide to have the extra thermal insulation you will need to buy the same length of narrow curtain tape for it. Make sure that the wide tape of your woolly curtain can be used to hook the lining onto (they can tell you this in the shop).
  3. Decide how long you want your curtain to be, and add 5cm. I reckon down to the floor looks best, plus it provides far more insulation that way. If you want to hem your curtain you will need to add extra length, but wool blankets are usually nicely hemmed anyway.
  4. Make each of your two curtains the width of the curtain track. Depending on the size of your wool blankets, you might need to cut off or sew more blanket material on to get the right dimension for your window. You can get creative here and sew stripes, have a different coloured border or make a woollen patchwork. If you sew two different blankets together, make sure you pin them first (even if pinning isn’t usually your style). Different weights of blanket will stretch differently, and you’ll end up with one piece that looks flabby like the knees in a cheap pair of trackies. Not cool. How to sew the tape on
  5. Cut the curtain tape in half. Before you start sewing, unthread the three cords 3cm from one end of the tape. Tie the cords together, then smooth out the tape  FIG 1.
  6. Place the tape right side up on the panel, 2cm below the edge of the curtain. Fold in the excess tape 3cm from each end and pin the tape in place.
    Sew the top edge of the tape about ½ a cm from its edge onto the curtain and repeat the process with the bottom edge  FIG 2. Be careful not to sew over the string!
  7. Pull all strings at the unknotted end at the same time, gathering your curtain to the desired width  FIG 3. It should end up half the curtain track plus about 40cm. Knot the three strings together and cut the excess off.
  8. Insert hooks into the middle of every second or third loop of the tape.
  9. Repeat the same process with your second curtain panel, hang them up and feel the instant warmth! For extra thermal insulation
  10. To add extra warmth to your woolly drapes, you can make an ungathered thermal backing. For the width, measure the gathered width of your wool curtain and add an extra 20cm. The length will be the same as the wool curtains, minus 20cm.
  11. Fold the side edge of your lining over 5cm and iron, then fold it over another 5cm, iron and sew in place. Repeat the process with the other side.
    Pin the lining tape on, folding 3cm under at the edges, and sew in place, as you did in step 7.
  12. Insert hooks into every fourth loop and hook the lining onto the bottom row of loops on the curtain tape.

If you’ve taken old curtains down from your windows, these will work just as well for lining. All you have to do is move the hooks from the middle of the tape to the top, hook them onto your curtain, and you’re sorted!

Greens for all seasons

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This article is written by Johanna Knox (

While some useful and nutritious weeds wither or die back during autumn, others just keep on flourishing. Two that you’re likely to find growing all year round are chickweed and puha.

Puha: what’s all the hoo-ha?
Botanical name: Sonchus species. AKA: Puwha, Sow thistle

puhaPuha grows all over. There are several species in New Zealand, and even within species, individual plants can look quite different from each other.
Their appearance depends on age, growing conditions, and probably natural genetic variation. In moist, rich soil and some shade, puha can grow huge and lush. Puha plants forced to lead harder lives often have smaller, sparser leaves and a more purplish tinge to their stalks. The flowers of Puha look a bit like dandilions.

Puha as food
Puha is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants. Young puha leaves and stems are quite bitter. In bigger, older puha, the leaves seem to lose some of their bitterness and even become slightly sour and salty. However, the stems of older plants fill with a gooey white sap that’s extremely bitter.
Young leaves and stems and older leaves can all be used raw as salad greens. Every above-ground part of puha (even the buds and flowers) can be cooked.
If you’re using the stems of older plants in cooking, bruise or crush them when you rinse
them to let the bitter sap wash away. You can substitute puha for spinach in any recipe. Just as
with spinach, allow for it to lose volume when cooked.

Puha as medicine
Bitter-tasting plants like puha have long been known to have medicinal value, and I suspect
many of us 21st century urbanites would benefit from eating bitter greens more frequently.
It’s the actual bitter taste that is important. Bitter tastes trigger a set of responses in your body that stimulate and enhance digestive function, and help your body absorb nutrients. For the best effect you should probably eat your bitters about 15 minutes before the rest of your meal. (So have a puha salad as a starter!)
Avoid bitters if you have ulcers or a reflux condition though, or at least check with a medical
professional first.

Chickweed: star of the wild
Botanical name: Stellaria media. AKA: Starweed

chickweedFinding and harvesting
Chickweed likes to grow wild in gardens (often on a bed of soil you’ve just cleared), as well as in the unmowed areas of parks and reserves. It starts life as a mat of tangly, sprawling stems with small teardrop-shaped leaves. The leaves get bigger and the stems more upright as it grows.
Its tiny, white flowers look like they have ten petals, but if you peer closely you’ll see they’re five petals with splits down their middles.
It’s hard to pull a handful of chickweed up without bringing other bits of unwanted weed with it. The easiest way to harvest it is to find the tips, pull them upwards, and snip off the bestlooking bits.

Chickweed as food
Chickweed contains B vitamins, as well as vitamins C and D. It’s also a respectable source of iron, copper, calcium and sodium.
Raw chickweed snipped up into little pieces (1 or 2 cm long) is a healthy and yummy salad ingredient. It reminds me a bit of alfalfa sprouts. You can also cook it in a stirfry, a soup, a casserole or a sauce. Add it at the last minute, and preferably cut it up quite small so it doesn’t feel stringy when you eat it.
Cuisine-wise, chickweed really comes into its own in pesto. It’s one of a number of plants that contain saponins – compounds that lather up like soap. (Some plants that contain especially high levels of saponins are used as natural soap substitutes, but that’s another story.) The saponins in chickweed give your pesto an especially creamy quality.
You can also throw chickweed into a smoothie – it adds nutritional value and makes the smoothie extra frothy!

Chickweed as medicine
It’s partly the saponins that make chickweed valuable as a soothing and healing skin treatment. Chickweed poultices or compresses can be good for eczema, insect bites, and other itchy skin conditions.
To make a chickweed poultice pound a big handful of chickweed in a mortar and pestle, spread it over the area you want to treat, and bind it on with a strip of cotton or gladwrap, or a layer of each (cotton then gladwrap.)
To make a chickweed compress first make juice from a few handfuls of chickweed. You can do this in a juicer if you have one. Alternatively, whiz up the chickweed in a blender or food processor with a little water, then strain the mix through muslin.
If you prefer to take the unplugged route, pound the chickweed very well in a mortar and pestle, add a bit of water, and strain through muslin to obtain the juice.
Finally, lay a piece of clean cotton on a clean towel, and pour the chickweed juice over it. Place the juice-soaked cotton on the affected area of skin, or wrap it around it.


Scavenging for your supper
Wild foods can be fresh, yummy, healthy, and free. And foraging is an addictive pastime.

Tools of the foraging trade
What you need when foraging depends on what you’re planning to gather. But to be very well prepared, take scissors, gloves, several bags of different sizes, and even a small trowel, if you think you might dig anything up. Reusable shopping bags and vege bags are good. (Onya do a good line:

Just how safe is this foraging business?

  • RULE #1: If you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it
  • RULE #2: Get to know your local toxic plants. Try this Landcare Research resource:
  • RULE #3: avoid areas that get showered in car exhaust, could be polluted or may have been recently sprayed with herbicide (although harvesting new growth from areas that have been sprayed in the past should be okay)
  • RULE #4: Be sure to get permission before foraging on someone else’s property, including farmland.

Check out this lovely Chickweed recipe!

Creamy Chickweed Pesto

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This recipe is written by Johanna Knox (

Find out all about Chickweed (and Puha, aka Sow Thistle) here!


1 clove garlic
2 big pinches salt
2 cups chickweed snipped up and loosely packed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cashew nuts, soaked for 24 hours (Soaking the nuts adds to the
creaminess and also makes them easier to digest.)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

The pesto is pretty easy to make:

  1. Pound garlic and salt in a mortar.
  2. Gradually add chickweed, continuing to pound.
  3. Gradually add oil and nuts, until you have a smooth, thick paste. Alternatively, use a blender for all ingredients except the parmesan, and then stir in the parmesan at the end.

Makes over 1 cup of pesto. For a variation, substitute other greens or herbs for some of the chickweed. Yum!

Issue #5 reinstated

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Hello all,

fifthIssuein a lucky twist, we got hold of a number of #5 issues that we received back from our distributor. So here it is – for anyone who still wants to order this back issue #5.