Category Archives: baking

Oh no, it seems to be Autumn already


Well I don’t know what happened to Summer as I was all prepared for my two weeks off work, planning picnics and ice-cream, reading and crocheting in the sun but,,, instead we have a chill wind and rather too many showers for picnic comfort. Nevertheless we hit Dartmoor yesterday for some fresh air, exercise and a rather windy picnic.


We also have an abundance of blackberries in the hedgerow which are begging to be picked and taken home as well as a promising supply of sloes this year. Must remember to take a pot f0r picking every time I go out.

So, I have admitted defeat and embraced Autumn pursuits which has meant more baking, the first soup making of the season (lovely warning lentil) and even my first real foray into home wine-making. This a supposedly very easy Orange juice wine but I have plans for the blackberries. Will report back again on the wine front when things happen.



I have been testing recipes in my new cookbook (Sweetness and Light) but to be perfectly honest, the results have not been brilliant. I have few pictures as they were not photogenic and barely edible in many cases which is more than a little disappointing. The one which wasn’t too bad was Apricot and Ginger cake but it needed a lot more liquid added than the recipe asked for and still came out of the oven very dry.  This is a pic of the Banana bread which was a bit of a heavy brick.



To keep him indoors (who is not keen on my so-called healthy baking) happy, I made a quick Cherry Cake and I report that that went down well.



On the crafty front, I am getting socks finished slowly (not sure about the colours of this pair) and also working on some granny squares which I envisage making a throw with a cosmic theme.







That’s all for now folks.


Retro ‘colour hit’ throw and seasonal food …


I have finished my circles throw and I must admit I am quite pleased as I was getting a little tired of joining them together. I do love it now it is done and laying over the sofa arm all ready for winter snuggles.  It was a fun throw to make as the colours were pretty random and so did not require masses of thought. I did lay all the pieces out on the floor as it was getting near to the end to make sure I had a good balance of colour as I do have a tendency to keep reaching for same colour palette. It reminds me of Pop Art and Bullseye sweets.



I was really pleased with the way the border came out as I didn’t want a plain crocheted edge feeling that the circles needed something to set them off.  A quick Google search produced this pointed scallop border which adds interest to the  throw. If anybody wants further details on this throw, check out my Ravelry project page 🙂

circles to square1cicles to squares closeup




In the cooking department during this heatwave  there has not been much actual baking but I did make a lovely ‘bung it’ tart to have with salad (it involved mushrooms, spinach and blue cheese as well as eggs). Will get round to writing the recipe up soon. We had lots of home made pizza too. I just love the ripe seasonal fruit and veg especially vine tomatoes. I will look as these snaps in the Winter and pine for tomatoes which taste of Summer. I am optimistic that there may be tomatoes from my yard this year (I don’t have much luck with them normally as they seem to succumb to blight every August. The plants are massive this year – amazing what a bit of sunshine can do.


DSCF4112   DSCF4258 DSCF4117 DSCF4231 DSCF4230

I have been a bit quiet here lately but now I have a backlog of things to show you so will do more very soon. I also have a new cookbook for sweet but healthy treats and will report about that shortly. Enjoy the sun! Here is Ziggy’s tip for keeping your cool…


Posh salad, crochet circles and a Green Man for Spring


Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is?

Spring is springing all around but it is still pretty cold here. The woods are full of  wild flowers and absolutely glorious: fields full of bluebells and even white-bells  as well as oceans of wild garlic scenting the air. This Green Man was rather awe inspiring, presiding over the abundance of flora and fauna in evidence.



DSCF4188                                 DSCF4203


I have almost stopped making soups and began on the salad feasting of sunnier days. I love a fancy salad with lots of interesting bits not just lettuce, tomato and cucumber! Here we have spinach and basil leaves, sliced avocado and mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, beetroot and pepper with chilli mayo. Lovely.



Crochet circles


I have also, rather naughtily, started another crochet project as it called to me despite all the other UFOs in my baskets. I am not yet sure how large this one will be when complete or where it will end up living but I am enjoying combining the colours at present. I am not enjoying weaving all the ends in so much but it is a necessary evil for something so colourful.





Right must make more circles …. see you soon.



Spring walk in sunshine (whoop whoop) then cake and crochet


Sunny Sunday

One of my perfect types of day today: sun was a-shining and no work. Into the car with people, dog, food and flask and off to the Moors.  We were in the area known as Cadover Bridge which is only around 20 mins from Plymouth City centre. Oddly it wasn’t very busy today despite it being a dry Bank Holiday weekend. 

Here are some snaps to give you a flavour of just how beautiful it was:


cadover 2 May 14












… and then home mid afternoon for a bit of gardening in the yard (planted out tomatoes and sweet peas and some more seeds. Then apple cake and crochet while pizza dough rises for tea.

This is the Easter chicken I made for my lovely old school friend. It is an egg cosy pattern but makes a cute sitting chicken too. I have shown you a picture of the inside below as it has a lining in a contrasting colour which is rather lovely. The pattern is available on Ravelry if anybody wants to make their own chicken 🙂

Eggstremely Cosy Set


Sally's chickenDSCF4136

apple cake and cream
… and Apple cake




Catch up needed


I have been neglecting this blog. Life has just been getting in the way of blogging but I have still been busy making and baking.


In the last few months since Christmas I have :

  • finished the man socks which were dragging their heels a little (ha ha I will laugh at my own joke as I don’t expect you to)
  • started socks for Christmas presents but only done one of each so far as I am trying to avoid the boredom of the second sock seeping in
  • started a circles into squares crochet blanket
  • started another ripple
  • made an Easter chicken
  • baked various cakes: apple, carrot and lemon drizzle as well as flapjacks- nothing earth shattering but delicious all the same.
  • planted many seeds: sweet peas, nasturtiums, tomatoes, mange tout, cosmos, various beans and morning glory.
  • discovered Artisan Bread which has now become the OH’s speciality
  • made soups and pizzas – various flavours

Here a few snaps of the works in progress and/or finished and I will try to be a good little blogger and get on here at least once a month this year.


artichoke, leek, rosemary and stilton pizza (unbaked and baked)

DSCF4110  man socks complete 🙂







Artisan bread








Minestrone soup – lovely





Random half pairs of gift socks:

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I will post some pics of the crochet projects soon but they are still on the camera at present.

Festive greetings and all the trimmings


I like Christmas

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a happy and peaceful time. I am not religious in the slightest but I love the break from work at this time of year. The chance to decorate the house with fairy lights and all the little decorative bits and bobs I have accumulated over the past 30 or so years that I have had my own home. Many of these were made by the girls when children and they are my treasures. Some favourite decorations were made many years ago and others were purchased a few at a time when funds allowed. All have memories and are part of my Christmas (even the tea bag chimp in his festive jumper!). The little hanging in the fireplace is applique and embroidery and I made it many years ago to brighten the dark fireplace.



Festive baking

Something else I enjoy very much this time of year, again when there is time away from work, is the baking of different treats. last year I had a focus on biscotti but this year’s thing is Stollen which I have never before made. My first try is currently trying to rise… I say trying as it seems to be fighting a losing battle against the weight of the fruit and nuts in the dough.  I think I am going to have to be more patient as this dough is not in a hurry.  I used the Paul Hollywood recipe but added granulated sugar mixed with ground ginger to the crust when baked as I liked the sound of that. There seem to be gazillion different recipes for stollen out there in cyberspace and some don’t even include marzipan, now what s the point in that?



Festive craft

This year I have made some crochet snowflakes to add to the decorations. The biggest decision was to stiffen them in some way or not. I feel quite uneasy about dipping them entirely into PVA as I worry it may take away the yarny look and feel of the snowflakes. Other options seem to be sugar water or corn starch solutions – both of these worry me as I think they may either go mouldy or attract wildlife. Hmm what to do?  At present I am leaning towards just blocking with water as seeing how they behave. Then, at least, I can reblock with starch at a later time if necessary.

There s a good discussion of these options and methods here:

I think I will make chain between them so that I can hang them from the wall arch and they can become part of my collection of treasures. Here they are before and after blocking.



Winter is here – November ramblings


Ripple Blanket for Dad

I have been trying to get things finished in time for Christmas and am pretty much there now. I can’t post much yet in case the recipients see their gifts early but I can show you the blanket I have made for my lovely Dad as I know he will not see this blog.  It is  a single bed sized crochet ripple blanket which I have been working on, off and on, for the past six months.  I have told you before that I am not good at exercising restraint when it comes to colour:

For those who are interested, I used Stylecraft Special Double Knitting for this and a 4.5 mm hook.


Winter cooking

The colder weather has meant that we have been cooking and eating some pretty ribsticking food lately.  A gift of cooking apples has led to several lovely crumbles. I don’t really follow a recipe but usually chuck some mixed spice and sugar in with the apple and some oats into the crumble mixture. We like it with Birds Instant Custard – one of the few shortcuts I actually prefer to the real stuff.


As I took the above snap, I noticed a couple of other ingredients stood on my worktop: Marmite and Golden Syrup!  These two things are so iconic and irreplaceable in  my kitchen. I love the way they are packaged so much too and always hate having to throw the empties out; so much so, that I had a collection of syrup tins at one point until reason took over.


My newest toy is a pudding steamer which I will try in the next week or two. That is sure to aid the diet 🙂  I have fond memories of apple suet puds made by my Mum in the 70’s although I suspect that any I make now will not be as wondrous as the ones I remember.  Keep warm!

Summer?? My first crocheted shawl and some rather dodgy brownies!


Is this Summer?

This past few weeks, on my days off work,  I have been mainly in the back yard fiddling with my plants as the sun deigned to shine for a few days. I only have a back yard but I do pack a lot into it as you can see. When I ran out of pots to plant and things to deadhead, I sat outside with either my crochet or my sock loom or my kindle and just enjoyed the sun as we have seen so very little of it in the past year.


My first shawl

In the gaps when the rain returned I decided that it was time to make my very first shawl. I don’t know why I felt the need to do this as I have never worn one in my life, know nobody who wears them (in fact have never seen a real live person wearing one other than on TV). I just loved the look of some of the patterns I saw on the ‘net and so dived into my wool drawer to see what I had enough of. Anyway this is the result and I really like it. I may need to make more although I still don’t know if I will be seen out in one. Maybe it is time to embrace my inner crone….



If you are interested in the pattern, it is called Alpine Shawl by Christina Mershon and is available from Ravely. I only changed it a little by doing extra rows and changing the border suggestion.

… and dodgy brownies

I also made some brownies for my lovely elder girl’s 25th birthday (by request from a Sainsbury’s Magazine recipe) They were ok but there are most definitely better brownie recipes out there in the world so I won’t bother sharing the details but they were White Chocolate, raspberry and cream cheese brownies and did taste better than they looked:


I have another small quilt project on the go at the moment and will share that in a month or so. Enjoy whatever Summer you are getting 🙂

Marmalade Magic and Monster Cookies



marmalade makings

marmalade makings

I have some time off work this week so have had time to do lovely things like marmalade making. These ingredients became 4 1/2 jars of gorgeous mellow orange-whisky marmalade.


This should keep our toast covered for the rest of the year!

Monster Coookies

The trickiest part of this recipe was keeping people’s paws off of the M & Ms and salted peanuts whilst waiting for the peanut butter supplies to be replenished.Not for the faint-hearted, these beasties are fattening and sweet but pretty nice. The recipe came from the following website: having been recommended to me as a way of using up an overabundance of oat bran. It actually uses very little of the dratted stuff so any ideas would be appreciated. They are nicer than they look but all the nuts, choc and sweets seem to be hiding inside.

Bet you can't eat two!



…. and I think Spring is nearly here 🙂


Biscotti production


Well we are almost at the end of 2012. I feel rather uninspired at present and I don’t think the shocking weather is helping much as we are holed up indoors way too much to be good for us. Anyway I haven’t done a great deal on the cooking or crafting front this month but thought I would tell you about my home made biscotti which I gave as presents this year. I found so many recipes on the net it was hard to know which to pick so I mixed and matched a bit. My first batch came out a little too chunky as I used the wrong knife and couldn’t get them thin enough without crumbling. They were also too brown as I think the oven needed to be lower so I could dry them out more slowly. By the third batch (ginger biscotti) I had it sussed. I will be making these again throughout  the coming year. I haven’t given you a recipe as there are so many on the net. In the end I made double ginger biscotti, almond biscotti, date and walnut biscotti and apricot amaretto biscotti. They make nice gifts as they keep a few weeks unlike most Christmas gift bakes.