Sunday, 24 February 2013

Baking day

It's been a busy day today. Baking in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon. By 11am, I'd made the week's flapjack, made the dough for bread and rolls and made a birthday cake. I added chopped dried dates to a quarter of the flapjack rather than cooking the flapjack first. This is how it turned out

I've just cooked the bread and I'm happy with the way it looks

This should last us a couple of days. I made a birthday cake for my dd using the recipe from the River  Cottage baking book.

175g marg
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

Cream the margarine and add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add an egg at a time and beat with 1tbsp flour. Once all the eggs are beaten into the mixture, add the vanilla extract then all the remaining flour. Mix in some cold water so that the mixture is at dropping consistency. Spoon into two tins (greased and floured). Bake in a preheated oven of 180 degrees centigrade for 20-25 minutes.

I waited for the cakes to cool then sandwiched them together with Nutella (chosen by dd) and then iced with glacé icing and covered with grated chocolate.

It's now the end of half term so it's back to work tomorrow. No more time for sitting and crafting so it may be quiet on here for a while.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

New patterns

I've designed a new feltie - an ice cream keyring. I've made three so far...

and cut out enough to make five more

I've also been tidying up my pens and pencils and using up old tins - I love the golden syrup tin and the Christmas biscuit tin from M&S.

 and I've sorted out all the things I've been making into separate boxes. So, all in all, it's been a sorting day.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Cupcake keyring tutorial

I've been spending the past couple of days in between tidying and cooking making a set of cupcake keyrings. I thought I'd show you how to make them.

Start by cutting out the basic shapes

I always cut out more than one set. Make sure you use small scissors so you can get the shape right. Embroider one of the pink bases with backstitch and a contrasting thread (I used purple).

Add the purple topper and a contrasting button and sew into place.

Sew across the bottom of the topper with a running stitch.

Add the back and sew the three pieces together with a running stitch leaving one side of the base free so you can stuff it. Remember to add the piece of ribbon half way across the top.

Half stuff with stuffing then add some dried lavender and finish wi some stuffing.

Finish by sewing  the last section of the base.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Vegetarian Lasagne

After five days of illness in the family, I'm going to see if this vegetable lasagne will make any difference. This recipe has been tweaked over the years and it was originally based on a spaghetti bolognaise recipe that I got from my aunt. I replaced the mince with TVP and since Quorn has become so easily available I sometimes use it instead. I diced 1 large onion and fried this with two chopped cloves of garlic. Once softened, I added 3 chopped carrots and a chopped red pepper (as far as I'm concerned green peppers are the work of the devil). I then added 4 large chopped mushrooms and stirred, allowing them to soften. Add about 200g Quorn mince and cook through. This is what it looks like..

Add 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato purée, 1 tsp mustard (I used English mustard), 2 tsp sugar and stir well. Fill the tomato tin three quarters full with water and add to the mixture. At this point, I add about 1 tsp of mixed herbs but I've run out so I added some fresh thyme which has been growing on my window sill.

Leave to cook down for 10-15 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, I made the cheese sauce. Since I've discovered the microwave method, I'm making this more often as I don't have to worry about cleaning a pan that has cheese sauce stuck to the bottom and I don't have to stand over the stove for at least 30 minutes continually stirring. Melt 100g marg and stir in 100g plain flour. Mix in enough milk to make a thick mixture and cook for a couple of minutes on high. Stir in the rest of the two pints of milk - I use semi skimmed organic milk - making sure there are no lumps, and cook on high for 13 minutes. At this point, the sauce will have thickened so stir well and add the cheese. To make the lasagne, put a layer of sauce, lasagne sheets then cheese sauce. Repeat again topping off with the cheese sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the lasagne to make sure it doesn't burn.

I had enough cheese sauce to make a macaroni cheese as well with 250g of pasta. To be honest, there was enough cheese sauce left over for more pasta than this. Here are the lasagne and macaroni cheese before they went into the oven.

A day in

The last couple of days have been spent in the house as I have two poorly children to look after. As we couldn't go out, it's been the perfect opportunity for continual making. The currys I made were gorgeous, especially the paneer curry which I had on two consecutive nights. I highly recommend the Prashad cookbook and it's always lovely to have time to potter around the kitchen.

I've been catching up in my sleep over the past couple of days with lots of early nights so I've been getting up early and catching up on my sewing projects. Here are some of them....

I liked the pink and black version so much that I decided to make some more....

along with some more cupcake key rings. All of them are filled with stuffing and mum and dad grown lavender and smell lovely. I've thought about moving on to fabrics and getting the sewing machine out but I find it very therapeutic sitting on the sofa doing hand sewing,

Monday, 18 February 2013

A cooking day and a day out

My dd wanted to buy Anne Frank's diary so we had a look on the book people. Not only was it a really reasonable price but I found this book too

As it was reduced from £25 to £6.99 with an extra 10% off I thought I'd give it a go and I'm really glad I did. It's based on a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Bradford and it includes some lovely recipes. I've spent the day today cooking three of the main dishes - pea and cauliflower curry (wattana and flower), garlicky black chickpea and potato curry (desi chana) and sweet and spicy cheese and peas (mattar paneer). The plan is to serve them with rice and then watch Skyfall which came out today. Ds and I agree that this is the best Bond movie EVER. Dh and dd haven't seen it yet so I'm looking forward to sharing it with them. I love half term as it gives me time to spend some quality time with the family (and we can all unwind).

I also decided to try out a new cookie recipe yesterday after spending the day with ds in Portsmouth. We went to Gunwharf Quays and walked out to Southsea. As it was Chinese New Year we also watched the dragon dancing

and went out for lunch at Pizza Express. We don't go out to restaurants so it's lovely when we do. Here's a taste of our meal

and the view from our window table

The weather was beautiful and we even managed to have some time on the beach. When we got back, I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies as dd was poorly and needed a treat. I found this recipe on the Riverford website and they really hit the spot.

Cream together 125g marg, 75g caster sugar and 75g soft brown sugar until fluffy. Add half tsp vanilla extract and 50ml milk and mix well. Fold in 175g plain flour and half tsp bicarbonate of soda with 100g chopped chocolate. The recipe suggested 200g but I really don't think it needs it. Put in the fridge for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Take the mixture out of the fridge, roll the cookie dough into walnut sized balls. Cook for approx 12 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. We eat them when they were still warm and they tasted delicious. I hope they work for you.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Unfinished projects

The past two weeks have been spent working but it's now half term so I've had the opportunity to finish some of the things that have been lying round. Here is a box full of finished projects...

For some bizarre reason I was up at 6am this morning sewing (even though there was an opportunity for a lie in). I also made a Harry doll. My nephew Harry saw the two dolls I made for his sisters and ordered one himself.

I see this doll on a Caribbean beach with the waves lapping around his feet (or is that my daydream?).

Sunday, 3 February 2013


It was a busy day yesterday and I was at synagogue celebrating a bar mitzvah (and helping with the catering arrangements) so I didn't get home until 3pm. I had planned to make some owls which I had seen here. I thought they looked easy enough to make but how wrong could I be. Mine turned out looking more like an extra from the clangers. I know my attempt doesn't have the long nose but still...

I think I need to practice this as I haven't got it quite right yet. Instead of trying again yesterday I decided to tidy up my making room instead so it doesn't look quite as messy (I'm not sure my dh would see any difference!).

I was up early today and I've only just sat down. The mini pasta has been cooked for dd's pasta salad for her packed lunch. I say pasta salad but she only adds sweetcorn. At least it's filling and it doesn't cost much. The pizza dough is made for tonight so I only need to make the tomato sauce. I replenished the dukka as I'd run out (I'd eaten it all - it keeps for over a month and really enlivens hummus or any other dip or is just great with fresh bread and a good quality olive oil). The batter is ready for Yorkshire puddings for lunch and then I decided to make to extra things. Firstly, I managed to get 50g of basil leaves for 20p from Waitrose on Wednesday. I decided to make pesto with them.

I put 50g basil leaves in the food processor and added 25g cheese chopped up small (I used cheddar but the recipe says Parmesan). Add one peeled clove of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and then whizz up. As the food processor is on, drizzle in olive oil until you have a more liquid mixture. Here's the end result...

This will be perfect for a couple of portions of pasta and was really cheap to make.

I had been wanting to make some granola for quite a while and I found a recipe for it in my Leon cookbook (the original one). I adapted it a bit as I didn't have all the ingredients but it seems to still taste nice. I measured out 350g rolled oats and then mixed this with 150g mixture of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I then put 150g runny honey and 60ml vegetable oil in a saucepan and warmed through. Take the liquid off the heat and stir into the dry ingredients until fully coated. Spread out onto a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 20-25 minutes. You will need to stir it 3-4 times during the time it's in the oven and be careful it doesn't burn unlike mine which was a bit crispy around the edges.

Roast 100g hazelnuts in the oven until golden brown. This will take about 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, chop and then mix with chopped apricots and dates (or whatever dry fruit you have in,your cupboards). It should look something like this.

Once the oats mixture has cooled, mix with the fruit and nuts and then put in containers ready to eat with yoghurt and fruit. I'm really looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning.