Lunch at The Natural Dye Studio

Lunch at The Natural Dye Studio

Monday, 30 June 2014

Biscuit Challenge

It's been a while because we've been busy. Simple. 

However today, Homer (Mr Boss) forgot to bring in his sandwiches. Let me tell you a little about Homer before I continue with regaling you with our biscuit challenge.
Homer is food conscious. 
What I mean when I say that is, he doesn't wake up in the morning and come to work, he wakes up in the morning and makes lunch and then comes to work with the lunch. Unlike Queenie (Mrs Boss) and myself who wake up and then come to work and then consider the idea of eating the mouldy orange when we're hungry before shaking our heads and continuing with work. 

But today he forgot to make lunch and as a last minute think, they bought in a packet of dark chocolate digestive biscuits and a packet of Cheddar's. 
It came to crunch time when everyone's stomach began to rumble and we gathered around the packets of biscuits eagerly. 
Once opening them it didn't take long before we started to play a game. The biscuit challenge game. 
How many Cheddar's can you fit in your mouth and chew down? I managed 3, egged on Queenie to do the same, she rammed them into her gob before we remembered she has no back teeth (I hear this is blamed on sugar sandwiches at a young age). 
At this point we were both laughing hard and spitting Cheddar bits all over the studio. Queenie eventually managed to get them down by nibbling at them with her front teeth, however it did take a while. Now, in comes Homer, who, on hearing 3 was the record delves his hand into the packet and takes out 5... yes, 5 Cheddar's. He then opened up the cavernous hole he calls his mouth and in one swift motion slide them in, chewed for about a 30 seconds and they had gone. 
This action somewhat heated things up in the biscuit challenge as we pulled out the dark chocolate digestives and goaded each other on to how many we could fit in our gobs. 
This resulted in the game ending and pieces of masticated biscuit in the sink.
Queenie couldn't even fit one in her mouth, let alone chew it down. 
Homer and I, cocky and hungry, both put in 2 biscuits at the same time. 
He went red and I couldn't breathe so needed to spit some out. 
Not only is the digestive biscuit thicker than the Cheddar, but it is a damn sight bigger as well. Have a look.

Homer won both games.
Queenie and I managed to add a light sprinkling of biscuit crumbs to the floor where we had failed.

We briefly discussed how it was a possibility that Homer could unhinge his jaw like a snake, which made him the victor of the challenge, but in truth I think it's just because the man loves his food, or maybe he does secret jaw exercises so he can eat more. Who knows.

Congratulations, big gob.  

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


It's something we're told to be.
Be healthy.
Don't binge drink, don't take drugs, don't smoke, don't eat above 2000/2500 calories a day, don't forget your apple a day either, don't have too much meat, balance your diet, think of the different grains, not just rice, where did that potato come from? Is it organically fairly traded? How do you think it felt when being ripped from mother earth still spudding?

And exercise.
Exercise until every bone aches and every muscle is strained because if you don't feel like you're pushing yourself to the limit then you'll always be fat, just like every other normal person in this world. No one will fancy you because you have a stomach bulge or a protruding love handle and slightly slacker top arm waddle than Cameron Diaz ...

I understand that weight/image is something that women have always had a tremendous problem with (and quite a few men), the constant anxiety that we are not attractive enough. I, of course, have those niggling thoughts however I've never given two tosses to weight myself or obsess over the conventionally pretty airbrushed magazine girls and I've never stopped myself from either A) having one too many drinks B) sitting on my arse all day and creating something C) eating a huge bag of Doritos... by myself... in one sitting.

Queenie on the other hand has had more anxiety than I, but she has been living longer and had the three baby  body stretch and the husband who likes to feed her.
I'm young. I'm sure my anxieties will get worse with age.

At The Natural Dye Studio we do however make an effort to stretch ourselves taller by hanging the yarn off the metal ceiling rack and we do work our arms by lifting kilos of wet yarn in and out of dye baths. Some of the yarn can be very, very heavy and sometimes the lifting of wet yarn can even take ALL of our muscles... well, not all of them, but some of them... fine, not some of them just a couple of them... mainly the wrist muscles.
But it's working out. A strenuous and laborious task that keeps our wrists and biceps in peek condition.
As for the food aspect of being healthy we make a concerted effort to occasionally bring in some fruit which sits on top of the filing cabinet and sometimes gets eaten, but mostly rots.
Today, we found a particularly hard tangerine that had obviously gone past the stage of squidgy rot and into the stage of rock solid rot.

We decided that instead of attempting to open this sad specimen we'd just decorate and photograph it with the sweets we actually had for lunch and then return it to the shelf above the desks.
Long may the tangerine rot, as a beacon of health for us all!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Amanda's cake making talent through the ages.

I started making cakes when my children were very small, I can't remember the first one, but I'm sure it was glorious.

I have searched through all our old photo albums and found this selection of beauties

This first photo is of Fep's second birthday cake, I'm not sure if it was a shared cake, so I might not of even made it, but it does look like one of mine.
Fep shares a birthday with her friend Jow, in fact they were born on the same day at the same time but in 2 different parts of the country, so they are almost twins. As a 27 year old man I'm sure he will be delighted to discover he is on this blog.
Please note - Fep is wearing a lovely hand knitted (not by me) turquoise cardi and a chocolate face.
The second thing to note about this photo is Fep's newborn 5 week old baby sister, Daisy, was stashed under the table in a baby rocker at this point - my talent for childcare almost out shone my cake making skills.

My second cake is a Sunflower made for Daisy's 1st birthday, originally I assumed it was a sunflower but having looked at the date on the back I have decided it must be a Daisy.
Please note the use of smarties on the petals, have no idea what I was thinking...maybe greenfly??

Next is a Christmas cake in the shape of a Christmas tree, as you can see from the photo my babies loved it, although Daisy does look very bemused and Fred is obviously trying to climb onto the table with the cake.
Again there is a heavy use of smarties involved, maybe hiding the gaps in the icing where it had slide off the cake.

This one is of Fred's second birthday cake, only a couple of smarties this time, but lots of yummy bright red icing full of special hyperactive little boy inducing goodness.
This looks like a very flat cake,  maybe it was un-risen or burnt, but my artistic picture of Toma-da-Tom (Thomas the Tank Engine as pronounced by Fred) would of made up for the taste.

Next we have another one of Daisy's Birthday cake's, as you can see from the photo both my girlies were delighted, so delighted that Fep was obviously so moved that she burst into a spontaneous round of applause. 
However their little friends Jow and his sister Sophie don't look so impressed, can't imagine why.....

This photo is to prove I didn't just save my cake making skills for my babies, here is Carmen and her cake. I have no idea why I thought she deserved a brown heart, but she seems to like it.
Although my girls weren't too impressed, maybe they were jealous.

Another cake of Fred's, its got 5 candles so must be his 5th birthday.
It's not as flat as Thomas the Tank Engine, so maybe it wasn't as burnt and I have moved on from smarties to tiny little silver balls - much more sophisticated.
I suspect he wouldn't of been too excited about a dolphin, as ever since his Toma-da-Tom days he's been a geeky computer boy.....

And finally Daisy's wedding cake....
I carefully made 4 passion cakes and litre of cream cheese icing, put it all in the van and drove 5 hours to Liverpool, by the time the cakes needed to be iced the cream cheese was liquid.
Plus trying to arrange 4 cakes into a pleasant wedding shape was not do-able.
Luckily I have a very good friend (Jeni) who is very good at cooking and other related stuff who took over the decoration and made the best of a bad lot by running to Marks and Sparks to buy and arrange the flowers.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Daisy's Culinary Experiments

Before I tell you of my culinary experiment let's see what The Natural Dye Studio staff have had for lunch:

Glorious sustenance. 

Now, whilst having no interest in cooking, I love food but find eating at the bottom of my list of things to do when I wake up in the morning. I think more of what I will do at work or if a day off, what I will work on with my projects which involve writing, knitting or painting.
My boyfriend however loves food, buying, preparing, cooking and eating. He’s good at it too. So I’m always well fed.
I decided the best way to introduce myself on this blog is by documenting my most recent culinary idea. 

The Tuc biscuit test
Whilst I munch down on some weeks old soft celery I think of the Tuc biscuits Queenie came through the door with this morning. I wonder if they would be still tasty if you dunked them in a cup of tea? Tea is adaptable; all sorts of flavours are mixed with it. In Britain we link it mostly to sweet things. Mix it with sugar; infuse it with fruits or spices.
However, we can also infuse it with herbs like mint and lemongrass. I once had a very delicious tea made up of green tea mixed with rice… I know how it sounds, but it was really refreshing and clean.
So, why not try a Tuc cheese biscuit? For those of you who do not know the Tuc Biscuit on a personal level and have only heard of its delights through word of mouth, I’ll fill you in to what it is. It’s a savoury custard cream biscuit, except where you have custard in between the custard cream biscuits the Tuc biscuit has cheese and instead of the biscuits being covered with sugar, they are covered in salt.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – Salt? In a cup of tea?!
But it may not be too bad. It may actually be lovely. It may just be the next revolutionary idea that will eventually stop world hunger and cure world cancer… OR it may just be fucking horrid. Whichever way I’m woman enough to try it.
Stay tuned to find out how my Tuc biscuit dunked in tea turned out.

7 Minutes Later…
After climbing over Queenie, who is actually working sorting out the yarn from Wonderwool, I turned on the kettle and brewed a cuppa. The tea bag was strained, the milk was added and the Tuc Biscuit was freed from its packet. It was then dunked for a certain amount of time to let it soak up the tea and then I put it in my gob and chewed, not so much chewed as swallowed as it was very soggy.

It wasn’t disgusting or delightful and had no distinct or otherwise flavour than what I’d already tasted before it’d been dunked. The tea afterwards was a little salty but then that could have been from the hot salt on the biscuit lingering on my taste buds.

Queenie's analysis: tea rolls off biscuits as biscuit is made of plastic. 

Experiment: Failed. 

Wagonwheels: 5 
Tuc Biscuits: 8
Tuc Biscuits in tea: 2 
Two week old soft celery: In the bin. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Queenie's cooking history

I don't really like food.
But I'm fat, this is because I have a husband who loves to cook and has made feeding me his life's work.
He loves cooking and tries his hardest to come up with meals that I will eat and I like.
Its not easy for him, my favourites are Chinese, Thai and Indian food, basically rice and noodles and a bit of meat.
So when he optimistically asks "what do you want for tea?" he already knows the answer.
Maybe he hopes that one day I will give him a different answer, but after 29 years you would think he'd give up.

I don't cook as to me it's a waste of time, I'd rather be doing something far more interesting like crocheting.
I did cook for the first 18 years of my marriage and I managed to feed 3 hungry babies well enough for them to survive to adulthood.
But 9 times out of 10 I burnt rather than cooked, I am an expert at rescuing burnt food and saucepans.
As they grew up with crunchy brown foods they knew no better, maybe its why none of them really cook either.......
At some point in time my patient long suffering husband tried his hand at cooking and discovered he loved it and was far better than me, so ever since he has been the chef in the family.

I do have 2 or 3 specialities that I cook.....

1 - Chicken soup made in the pressure cooker by boiling up the chicken carcase for hours, I add pea's, chopped up sausages and a hand full of noodles before serving, the kids loved it and we have it every time we have roast chicken.
Boiling bones for hours can result in a very burnt pressure cooker if I get too distracted.
I don't have very good sense of smell, so if I forget that I'm making soup I have a lot of pan rescuing to do.
Phil recently thought he had to buy a new pressure cooker as I had managed to build up an inch of burnt bones in the bottom of the old one, but what he didn't realise was that I had rescued the old pan from a lot worse - needless to say we didn't eat chicken soup on those days.

2 - Passion cake
I have made him a passion cake on Valentines day every year since I've known him, except for last year when we had a old slightly broken cooker that didn't cook evenly, I didn't want to risk ruining one of the only things I'm good at.
One year we ate half the cake and forgot the other half as it was put in a cupboard we didn't use.
I have never let him forget the mouldy cake :-)

3 - Cheesy beans - I hate baked beans, but if you add grated cheese, worcester sauce, chopped onions and peanuts they become edible.
He likes to get me too make them for him as he likes to encourage me to cook.

My most memorable disaster was the day we moved to Lynton I decided to make a curry for 5 of us as we were all exhausted and I'd been left in the flat whilst everyone drove up the hill to unpack the van at the studio.
I did very well, no burning, it tasted okay and was ready to eat, I was very proud of myself.
Then I opened the cooker hood to put the fan on to clear the steam.
The glass fell out on top of the cooker, smashed and my curry ended up full of broken glass, I think we ended up eating frozen pizza.

Occasionally I am left alone to cook for myself, Phil is a member of the Blue Bull pool team, so I have to feed myself.
I have become a big fan of ready meals.
But on occasion I have frozen pizza, on my pizza nights I need to have a back-up pizza ready to be cooked just in case I burn the first one.
The dogs love my pizza nights as they normally end up with the first burnt one.
One memorable night there were no pizzas or ready meals, he suggested I cook sausages, I knew sausage cooking was going to end badly so I had a peanut butter sandwich for my tea, which after a dyeing day is not a good thing.

I have a lot of friends who love to cook and have consulted with some of them about writing this blog.
My dear friend Jeni is passionate about cooking and posts about her exploits all the time, she approved of my blog idea and thought it was funny, although when she realised that Dais and I were serious about either eating rubbish or nothing for lunch she was slightly shocked.

So Jen - this blog is dedicated to you :-)
And Sarah - thanks for backing up Jen with the permission to let us go for it!!

Let Us Introduce Ourselves

Whilst writing the introduction to this blog I'm shovelling down the green and purple wild berry skittles, let this be a sign of things to come for the future of ‘Lunch at The Natural Dye Studio’.

Hello, I'm Daisy aka Lone Knitter and Amanda aka Queenie. 

Too long have we endured other blogs, facebook messages, tweets and updates of what people are eating, when they are eating, who they are eating with, how they made it, where they got the recipe and all the other godforsaken information which (to us) we don’t give a damn about because it’s just bloody food.

To you food may be a passion, a pleasure, a privilege, a hindrance or something you put in your mouth to keep your body going. The later is how we feel about it. Although saying that, we both love particular foods, as long as we don’t have to talk about it at length, show other people it or cook it.

Queenie just came back from a show in Wales with a bright idea, to battle our aggravation of the internet food obsession we'll put our food exploits on the web too, get our stories out there of what, when, how, who, which food we are eating at work. As what we eat when we are working can rarely be called food. It's an impressive collection of, ‘we can’t be bothered’ or ‘we just need fuel’ food; and we’re going to share it with you. 

If we can't stop them we may as well join them.