Category Archives: Cooking

Autumn Bounty continued

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Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather chestnuts

DSCF4418There has been a lot going on in the woods and hedgerows of my part of England this year owing to the beautiful Summer we enjoyed.   The latest  bounty for harvesting from the wild has been the sweet  chestnuts pictured here. Although a bit smaller then the ones on the supermarket, they are actually a size worth picking up this year – sorry squirrels but I think there were plenty left.

 

Equally beautiful but I assume not edible….

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Spotted in the woods this morning along with lots of not so pretty relatives. Unbelievably bright colours!

 

Green tomato chutney

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Looks pretty horrible but hopefully will taste good although it is not really for me as I am not a chutney fan.

 

What have I made this month?

 

I have been finishing things for Christmas presents this month including a double bed size ripple blanket which has been nice and snuggly to work under in t e evenings.

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I have also made a star ripple for the first (but not last) time. This was fun to make and grew quickly. I think it will be a cool baby blanket.

 

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Completed man socks. That makes four pairs made this year – one for me and three for presents. Wish I could make them a bit quicker 🙂

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I also returned to the sewing machine after a long break. I haven’t got much money at present but I do have a large stash of fabric so I made myself a cheerful crazy bag and even made the button from Fimo which is my newest hobby. I love it when I get a fusion of crafts such as beading with quilting, and polymer clay with sewing.

 

The pattern for the bag was one I found online here: http://mypatchwork.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/tote-bag-tutorial  – thank you for sharing it.

 

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I have realised that I have worked with a pretty limited colour palette for some years – nearly always drawn to pinks, purples, greys on the whole. My next project is one from Lucy at Attic24 and I am shamelessly going to use her colour choices for the Coastal Ripple blanket to force myself to use blues more. Check it out on her blog at Attic24. Here is a preview picture complete in its cute drawstring bag from Wool Warehouse. Admittedly I didn’t really need to buy the kit but is no dearer than buying the yarn separately and it is nice to have the pattern even though I know if off by heart now. I don’t think this one will take long to complete so watch this space.

 

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Well that’s all folks! Next post will see us deep into Winter and almost at Christmas so see you later x

 

Autumn bounty

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Well it is definitely Autumn although we have been blessed with a lot more sunshine than normal. This is reflected in the hedgerows with their wonderfully bounty this year. I wonder if the ‘Old Wives’ are right about it being a tough Winter if the berries are abundant in Autumn?

I have done a fair bit of foraging in the last few weeks and have brought home bags of blackberries, sloes, elderberries and even some damsons and what I think are cooking apples.

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I have already got two demijohns of blackberry and elderberry wine bubbling away and have high hopes for them

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I am also planning to make my sloe gin soon and no doubt a lot of crumbles/pies with the apples, Maybe I could try a wine made from damsons and apples (didn’t take a pic of the damsons before bunging them in the freezer.

It has been a much better gardening year than normal and for the first time in four years, my tomatoes did not get blight and I managed to grow outdoor cucumbers.

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 I also have a physalis (Inca Berry) plant in the mini greenhouse which has  produced some cute little lanterns with fruit inside. The basil plant which has been  my joy this Summer is still going strong but I suppose I will have to freeze the leaves  soon before they give up for Winter. 

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Ziggy dog and the family have enjoyed some lovely picnics and walks in our glorious Devon scenery this Summer and we hope for lots more if this beautiful ‘Indian Summer’ continues.  These snaps were taken around the Dewerstone – check it out here  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356404139583/

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That is all for now. Will be back to update on the progress of the home brew and what became of the apples and sloes.

Oh no, it seems to be Autumn already

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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That’s all for now folks.

Retro ‘colour hit’ throw and seasonal food …

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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…

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Posh salad, crochet circles and a Green Man for Spring

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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.

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Salads

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.

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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.

 

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Right must make more circles …. see you soon.

 

 

Catch up needed

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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.

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

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Artisan bread

 

 

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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

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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.

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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?

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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:

http://crochet.tangleweeds.com/stiffeners.html#starch

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.

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HAPPY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL

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

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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.

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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….

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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:

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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 🙂

Oooh Flapjacks… and soup

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What do you make when the cupboards are almost bare but your household needs a comforting sweet fix?

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My ‘go-to’ bake has to be flapjacks as I always have the ingredients to hand: golden syrup, butter or spread and of course oats. Extra bits are great too depending on what is available.  A nice combination recently was date, walnut and cinnamon. All I could find in my poverty-stricken larder today was a handful of raisins, a few walnuts and some stem ginger but what is not to like about that mixture?  I normally get sixteen squares from one cheap small packet of oats, third of a tin of syrup and around a third of an olive spread tub. Don’t you love my accurate measurements?  To be honest it is hard to go wrong but here are some basic instructions:

Basic Flapjacks

  1. Melt syrup and spread together gently in a large pan.
  2. When melted stir in oats and any other things like nuts, cherries, raisins etc gradually allowing them get moist, keep going until your oats will not mix into the liquid or you run out of oats.
  3. Tip into a shallow greased pan and push oats down firmly with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for around 10-12 mins in a medium hot oven (around 180-200).
  5. Let cool for a minute or two the slice into squares while still warm but do not remove from pan until cold.

These keep for a week if boxed up (and hidden from the family!)

… and soup

For this week’s work lunches it had to be carrot and coriander soup as it is so simple and cheap. One onion, bag of carrots, garlic, fresh and ground coriander, spoonful of stock powder and some black pepper. Cook and whizz. Sorted!

 

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Marmalade Magic and Monster Cookies

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Marmalade

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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.

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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:http://baking-joy.com/salted-peanut-white-chocolate-monster-cookies 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 🙂

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