Sunday, 30 September 2012

What a day

I love the weekend. It gives me the opportunity to just potter around, making things, catching up with friends and generally having fun. I made another batch of chocolate oat cookies on Saturday ready for the week ahead. They turned out well again so it's the third time of using the recipe, I thought it was time to share it with you.

Cream together:
110g butter or margarine (I always use Pure margarine)
110g caster sugar
85g light brown sugar
Then add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until combined well. Add 150g of plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and the same of bicarbonate of soda and mix. Finally add 180g of rolled oats and 100-200g of chocolate (depending on how chocolatey you want the biscuits to be). Roll into walnut size balls (it should make about 32) and place on two baking sheets. Bake in an oven at 190 degrees centigrade for 8 minutes. The biscuits will spread out as they cook. Once out of the oven, leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then place on a cooling tray (don't leave them any longer as they then become to brittle to get off the tray without breaking).

I also had a second go at a Nigella Lawson ice cream recipe. I like it because it has alcohol in it which means it doesn't need churning. Don't worry though you won't even get tipsy with this recipe. The recipe is from her new book - Nigelissima. Although it's a ridiculous title, the recipe does work well.

Whip 600ml of double cream until at the soft peak stage. Mix in 2tbsps of cointreau (Nigella suggests a coffee liquer but I hate coffee so I changed it). Add in 8 crumbled meringues and fold in. Nigella then says to add 30g chopped dark chocolate. I've tried it with the chocolate and it was quite nice but this time I added 3 chopped crunchies (yummy). Line two loaf tins with cling film, enough to fold over the top). Divide the mixture between the two tins, smooth out and cover with the cling film. Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. When you are ready to serve, make the chocolate sauce to go with it. Heat up 250ml of double cream with 125g of chopped dark or milk chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. We enjoyed this in front of the Bourne Identity.

I was going to spend the afternoon working with felt and making some more beach hut ornaments but I met a friend instead and we went to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant in Woking which I can highly recommend. It's called Jeitta. The food was great and the service was fabulous and friendly. I'll definitely be going back with the family. I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Friday, 28 September 2012

A little bit of what you fancy......

..... usually does you good. I got home tonight and really wanted some hummus. The home made kind rather than shop bought which is never as good. If you've got a food processor it is so easy to make. Here's the recipe:

1 tin of chick peas
2 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of 1 lemon
Clove of garlic (or more if you don't have to be near anyone for a while)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in the food processor and blend together. Drizzle enough olive oil in as the motor is on to make a smooth paste (or you can keep is slightly chunky depending on taste). Enjoy with something to dip in. I should of course have something healthy like cucumber or carrot sticks but I do enjoy it with crisps or fresh bread. I like it with some extra olive oil drizzled on the top too. I'm going to it my feet up and enjoy my snack. Have a lovely evening. 

Busy week

Apologies for not posting for a while. It's been a very busy week what with work and home commitments. I'm looking forward to the weekend when all I have to do is run the children round to all their different activities! I'm hoping that the weather will improve a bit so that we can go for a walk and maybe find some blackberries that are still edible.

I've still got jars of blackberry jam that I made last year so I might try something different this time. maybe some blackberry and apple muffins or blackberry compote (just wash the blackberries and save all the insects that decided to come home with you then add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to taste and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes. Great with granola and yoghurt for that healthy start to the day). Blackberry jam is really easy to make and you don't need andy specialist equipment although I must admit that I did buy myself a preserving pan a couple of years ago as I found I was making quite large amounts.

To make the jam, for every 500g of blackberries, add 500g of sugar (I use preserving sugar as it has extra pectin which helps the jam to set but ordinary sugar is fine). Bring this mixture to the boil and add the juice of 1 lemon. Carry on boiling the mixture and put a small plate in the freezer. Sounds weird I know. When the mixture has been boiling for a while (check every 10 minutes) take a teaspoon of it and out it on the plate that you had put in the freezer. Pull your finger through the mixture and if it wrinkles it's ready and it will set. You need to make sure that you put the jam in sterilised jars. All you need to do is add water to clean jam jars (save your old jars as they will be much more use to you than the recycling plant and much cheaper than the shop bought versions) about three quarters full and put them in the microwave for 5 minutes. I put up to 5 jars in the microwave at a time. Once the time is up, pour the water away (being careful to avoid the steam) and there you have your sterilised jars. Told you it was easy.

Pour the jam into the jars (I had a small funnel to avoid additional mess but you might have a really steady hand) and then put the clean lids on. You can sterilise these by boiling them in a pan of water but I just wash them and I've never had any trouble. Wait for the jam to cool and then put them in a cupboard and enjoy your homemade produce. You can use the same recipe for most types of fruit. Just remember to add equal amounts of sugar to the fruit and use 1 lemon for every 500g of fruit. I must admit that sometimes I had to add more lemon juice as the set doesn't work. This is usually because there is less pectin in the fruit. I've made quite a few different jams which have included strawberry (my family's favourite), blackberry and elderberry (there are still some elderberries around at the moment), plum, rhubarb, raspberry and forests fruits (when there is limited fresh fruit around, I buy the frozen packets from the supermarket and they work just as well and are often cheaper). Why don't you have a go and let me know how it went.
 I'm also thinking of having a go at sloe gin this year. I spotted some sloes when out for a walk a couple of weeks ago. I know that you're supposed to wait until the first frost but I'm not sure I've got the patience for that. I have managed to find some time to work on my new design this week for a hanging felt ornament which I'm quite pleased with. Have a look at the picture and let me know what you think. I love the button flower. I'm a sucker for lovely buttons and buy them whenever I see them much to the disappointment of my gorgeous husband. Hope you enjoy your evening.

Monday, 24 September 2012

New designs

I started the day today in a completely crazy way. Having made and proved the dough yesterday evening for the lunch rolls, I gave up on the cooking as I was too tired. So what did I do? The only sensible thing of course. I got up at 6.30am and put the rolls in the oven. Even though the house smelt gorgeous and we had fresh rolls for lunch I'm not sure if I'll be baking again in the morning as then it was a rush to get out of the house. I was planning to pick blackberries after work today but the weather conspired against me. By the time the weather brightens up, the blackberries will be past their best. ho hum.

I spent the evening cutting out shapes for making more hanging ornaments for Leah Makes (mainly different heart shapes) whilst watching yesterday's Dowton Abbey - I love that programme. I've also designed a new felt softie (keep checking back to see the finished article). Time now to get ready for work tomorrow and what promises to be a busy day. Remember to enjoy every moment with your family as time flies by so fast. See you soon.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Busy day

Bob the Dog
It's been a busy day in our household today and there is still so much to do. Spent the morning organising the packaging for some of my Leah Makes products whilst catching up with friends. This afternoon was spent seeing my parents, which was fun, and eating a Bob the Dog cake which I bought from Waitrose on Friday for 49p! I'm always on the hunt for a bargain but this was crazy reduced from £9.99 to 49p as the best before date was Friday. We've had some every day and it still tastes delicious. I always think that the cake part of a supermarket bought cake normally tastes like cardboard but Bob tastes delicious and the icing is especially yummy. Now off to make the dough for the bread rolls for tomorrow's lunch. Hopefully it will rise well but it might take a bit longer as the house is quite cold at the moment. We're currently sitting under blankets to keep warm. Hope you've all had a lovely day and spent time with those that you love.  

Saturday, 22 September 2012


I've now made the flapjack and chocolate chip cookies for the week. Both are full of oats so lots of slow release energy (and sugar too but you can't have everything). At least I don't have to worry now about hungry children during the week. Homemade pizza tonight - so much better than the shop bought stuff although it's always easier to make at the weekend so that the dough has time to rise (I always think it would be a good idea to make the dough before I go to work but I never get up in time).. Off to make the tomato sauce before it gets too dark (I need to go out into the garden to pick the herbs for the sauce and a bit of light always helps the process and means I don't end up cutting my hand rather than the herbs). Have a good evening everyone and enjoy Doctor Who and his crazy adventures.

Welcome to Leah Makes

Welcome to Leah Makes. I love to craft in my spare time (which isn't a lot of time). I've tried a lot of different things from simple bag making to jewellery making. My latest craze is making gorgeous things out of felt - pin cushions and various hanging decorations. I have a particular fondness for owls and hearts - have a look at the different varieties.  I think these would look great hanging on a tree - prefect for your Christmas tree or Chanukah bush!

I drive my family mad and my husband regularly asks my why I am making more things. I don't think he quite understands my need to create (or he's fed up with all the stuff that goes with it). I also love to bake much to the delight of my children. Keep popping back as I share my ideas and the things that I am making. I'm now off to bake the biscuits and flapjacks for my children's lunch boxes for the week. I hope you enjoy your weekend.