Patchwork journals, and A Portrait of the Artist’s Dinner

Goal for the day.

Started the day with a small pile of text blocks (stitched, taped, glued yesterday) and 8 pieces of machine-stitched crazy patchwork. There’s a craft market on the grounds of the NT Museum and Crafts Council this Sunday, and I wanted to offer something new for the Dry Season.

Also, I finished Danielle’s barn owl journal. It needed something, so I painted some curly tendrils and leaves over the rainbow of owl silhouettes. What do you think? I hope D. likes it, anyway.

danielle's owl journal

stack of finished books by sundown

Towards lunchtime Kris went over to the mangroves and pulled up our crab trap (sometimes—not very often—we take the time to bait and set out a trap for the mudcrabs in this area). He came home with three monstrous crabs…all in our one trap! Yay! The timing was perfect, as Kris sets sail tomorrow morning for the Philippines, so we were going to have a memorable last dinner together (and for the four months that he’ll be gone there is no way that I am going crabbing myself!) They were big. And man, they were angry! Not that I blame them.

three massive (and angry) mud crabs!

We had two of them for dinner. Chilli crab! The third we just steamed, for ‘snacks’ tomorrow. One of tonight’s crabs was just stuffed to bursting with deep orange fat…Kris was going to throw it all overboard! I let out an alarmed scream: “Crazy white man! Throwing out the best part!” You can buy crab fat—just crab fat—in bottles back home. It’s expensive and precious and decadent, with a squeeze of lime, a dash of fish sauce, and some chopped chillies, on fresh hot steamed rice. (Instructions to Soul: Die. Go to Heaven.)

*shaking head* Honestly! Throwing away the crab’s rich fat…or removing the beautiful heads of large fish…or boiling wonderful big prawns in plain water, and then chilling them on ice, and eating them between slices of horrible white bread, with cold butter, and lettuce leaves. Blarggghhh! No wonder England has had to adopt vindaloo as its national dish.

Take an egg. So many wonderful things can be done with an egg. At the place where I work, the elderly unfailingly ask for one hard-boiled egg, sliced, in a sandwich of soft, white, chemical bread, with nothing else but lettuce and some butter. “Salt?” I ask…a desperate, pleading look in my eyes. “No, no salt. No pepper, either.” Ye gods. In the kitchen out back, we refer to this as “Fart Sandwich”. 😉


Chilli Crab

  • 1 Tbs ginger, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh red chillies
  • 8 Tbs sunflower oil
  • 4 fresh raw mud crabs, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • to garnish: coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Blend the first three ingredients in a  food processor (or with a mortar and pestle)  to make the spice paste. Add a little oil to make it smooth.

Mix the last four ingredients together (not counting the coriander garnish), to make the sauce.

Heat a wok in high heat until smoking hot. Add the oil. Stirfry the pieces of crab until the shells change color (2 minutes or so). Remove and set aside, turning the stove down to medium. Stirfry the blended spice paste for a minute or two. Add the sauce mixture to the wok and stir well. Put the crab pieces back in, and simmer for three minutes, adding a sprinkle of water now and then if the sauce gets too thick.

Finally, stir in the beaten eggs and cook until they set into strands dispersed throughout the gravy. Move to a large, wide dish or platter. Sprinkle coriander over the dish, and serve immediately (with steamed basmati rice.)

Hint: If you don’t want to cook a frozen or long-dead crab (inferior, even unacceptable, to Asian cooks…and don’t even think about those plastic trays of  white and orange ‘crab meat’! They’re made of fish.) put your live crabs on top of lots of ice in a cooler for at least an hour. They will turn catatonic and very placid, but won’t die. When you’re ready to cook them, you can pick them up easily, they won’t put up a fight. Take extreme care if you are going to pick up an angry, alert mud crab with your bare hands…they may look small, but those pincers will crush the bones in your hand. As I was moving these monsters into the cooler, I used a wooden spoon to push them out of their buckets. The smallest of the three grabbed my wooden spoon and cracked it.


7 thoughts on “Patchwork journals, and A Portrait of the Artist’s Dinner

  1. hahaha.. I HAVENT HAD A BIG CRAB IN A WHILE! the only crabs they have here are the teeny ones and they make a hell of a pasta sauce with (crablets + shell) but without the satisfaction of sucking into one of those big juicy pincers or much of the glowing yellow-orange fat. ahhh


  2. Oh! I agree with Anne – but I would prefer to have you in my house (with the chilli crab too)! the book covers are really amazing!


  3. What do I think? I think the journal looks INCREDIBLE!!! I love the painted details and how well they work with the fabric. That is just a beautiful piece of artwork and I wish I had one in my house. 😀 Thanks for sharing!


    1. Oh, thank you, Anne! I’m glad it works, then. It’s just pieces of felt on painted canvas…you could have on in your house, easy! 😀 Thank you for the two-thumbs-up comment!


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