Sewing, stitching, baking, cooking, gardening, shopping and general homemaking.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Personal Challenge

I've set myself a challenge to perfect my cupcakes.  This picture shows my latest effort so a lot of work is needed.  By Christmas I hope to have a box of perfect cupcakes to give to my daughter in law, who loves them.  The areas that need refining are, the batter, the paper cases and, most definitely, the decoration.  So really I could say my efforts to date are complete failures but I won't because even though they look c*** they do taste delicious.

First the batter - I tried to halve a recipe that used cups as the measure.  It didn't work because I'm sure that I used too much sugar.  The first time I used the recipe I did the whole amount and it made too many for my needs but was absolutely delicious so I did want to stick with this recipe.  Also the cakes tended to sink in the centre.  Another thing I did wrong was put too much of the mixture in the cases, this made them rise over the top.

The paper cases - this was the most annoying part, the cake stuck to the cases and half the sponge was left on them.  I did a search and found out that this is what happens with the paper cases and to use foil ones.

The topping - I made butter cream topping and tried piping it onto the cakes.  There are two reasons this failed, first the butter cream was too stiff and second I'm useless at piping.  This area will need a lot of research and practice.

I have found what looks like an excellent blog for baking, I'll be having a good read of this, already I found out about the foil v paper cases from here so it should be helpful in my challenge.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A Plan

When I woke up today I felt content, some days I wake up feeling anxious, I've no idea why so I just put up with it and I'm happy that some days have a good start.  So, enough rambling!!!!  Due to the successful completion of the quilt yesterday, I decided to start another one.  The checked fabric in the picture is one of those bargains I just can't resist.  It's a bit of a weird colour and it's flannel, as soon as I brought it home I washed it and it didn't shrink much at all.  I had a good rummage through my newly organized fabric stash and came up with enough coordinating pieces and a good backing piece.  The brown fabric in the picture isn't a true depiction of the colour, it's not so reddish looking in real life.  I've got to wash the two smaller pieces, give everything a good press and decide what patchwork pattern to use, the choosing usually takes the longest.  But before all of this I want to make cupcakes, we used to call these fairy cakes but apparently we don't anymore - I wonder why?

Friday, 18 September 2009


At last, I finished this quilt!!!  It didn't take me long to get the top cut and sewn together but the thoughts of the binding and quilting was putting me off finishing it.  After hanging over my banister for about fifteen months I finally got round to finishing it and I did it in less than two days.  I love the feeling I get when something like this is finished and ready to use - phew, what a relief!!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I've had a bit of success with my tomatoes this year.  I don't know why because I only bought the plant at the last minute after deciding I was useless at growing them.  This variety is Roma, a plum tomato.  I put it into a big pot and put it in the greenhouse.  I didn't stake it but I did make sure it was watered and fed properly.  After a slow start it has done brilliantly and we've had quite a good crop with plenty more to go.
Graham had the last piece of the marrow meringue pie after dinner today, I had to make do with banana, ice cream and cream!!!  I share a banana each evening with my dog, Doobry, he has his without the cream and ice cream, not through choice, you know what dogs are like!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Marrow Cream

I had a very good crop of courgettes again this year and I thought that a lot would get wasted as usual.  That is until I saw this marrow cream idea.  A couple of other bloggers have made this recipe and one of them, Peggy, has made a marrow meringue pie with it.  I love lemon meringue and the marrow cream is flavoured with lemon so it is a perfect filling for this pie.
Well, on taking it out of the oven it looked as tempting as a normal lemon meringue!
It looked like lemon filling too!!!  I was absolutely amazed that it tasted just like a conventional lemon meringue pie!  And it didn't ooze all over the plate either.  I did alter the recipe slightly, it called for 2 lb of sugar, but because I saw from the other bloggers that it was best made with less sugar I just used 1 lb and it was still fairly sweet and it set nicely.
I weighed the marrow before starting and it was 8 lb.  After removing the seeds and skin it ended up weighing about 2 3/4 lbs.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Shortcake and Compote

My craft room de-cluttering is coming on well, I got rid of more old, useless stuff yesterday but my room is still totally disorganised and no crafting has been done. So to satisfy my need to blog I'm showing the shortcake and greengage compote with cream that we've been enjoying this last couple of days. I got the idea for the shortcake from Melissa but altered the recipe slightly as it made too much for my needs. Here it is

1 cup of plain flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
good pinch of salt
2 oz of butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons of single cream
2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat oven to 200 C or gas 6. Put all the dry ingredients and the butter into a bowl or food processor and rub in or process until it resembles bread crumbs. I then tip this into a mixing bowl (because I use the processor) and add the egg, milk and cream. I pull it all together using a normal table knife because I hate using my hands for this bit. The mixture should be quite firm but not dry and not too sloppy. Then I put spoonfuls into muffin cases in a muffin tin, I find it makes six. Bake for 18 minutes. Cool slightly and serve but they are still nice cold.

For the compote I use a punnet of fruit, this time I used greengages but any fruit will do and six plums is what I use for the plum one, I just make it up as I go along but here's a general guide.

punnet of fruit
tablespoon of water or lemon juice
4 tablespoons of sugar

If using fruit with stones, remove the stones and cut the fruit into chunks. Place in a pan with the water or lemon juice and bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes or until soft. Then add the sugar, stir it well until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 20 minutes until it thickens slightly.

Really, the shortcake is a scone mix but I don't like scones and because there is no kneading or rolling out of this mixture the cakes are lighter but not too sweet. I probably use too much baking powder so it's up to you if you want to use less. You can butter them if you want to and serve like you would scones with jam and cream but I cut them, put them in a dish with a dollop of compote and pour on some of the single cream that is left over. I love the compote, it is not as sweet as jam and I just make as much as I need at the time. I have used frozen fruit and that works ok too. You might have noticed that I tend not to follow recipes too closely, this annoys Graham! He loves cooking and baking too and makes gorgeous fruit cakes. I also make a terrible mess in the kitchen when I'm cooking, every surface gets cluttered and spattered with ingredients but I enjoy it.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Runner Bean Soup

While I wait for this soup to cook I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about it. That sounds like a really weird thing to want to write about?!?!! Anyway, I love cooking as much as I love crafting but rarely blog about it because I always forget to take pictures of what I make. I often visit Peggy's blog and have got some really good ideas for cooking and baking from her. One of the links I followed led me to here then onto here. Every year I have a glut of runner beans, we eat a lot of them and I have tried freezing them but I don't have room to store many, so a lot get wasted. Hence this runner bean soup, all it is is the beans, carrots, swede, onion, parsley, white wine, stock cube and water and plenty of pepper. I didn't actually follow a recipe, I make a lot of soup so can just guess. If I remember I will take a picture of the finished soup and let you know how it tastes but I'm sure it'll be ok - soup is so easy.

The finished soup (not a very artistic presentation as usual). This is a very pleasant tasting soup, not too strong but enough flavour to make it worth making again. I usually put garlic in soups but I forgot this time. One thing that I always think improves the flavour of veg soup is the addition of either white or red wine, you don't have to use much, I put it in at the beginning and let it have a rapid boil before adding the stock, I don't add salt, then I simmer it for about 35 to 45 minutes (depends how I think it's looking). A quick whiz in the liquidizer and it's ready. Cheap and nourishing!!!

Monday, 7 September 2009


I'm in the process of getting rid of stuff in the craft room that I don't use. It's been a very difficult time! When I retired (I left work in 1999 but wasn't officially a pensioner until 2006) I wanted to 'do crafts'. So, I tried just about everything and bought tons of stuff. Now I realise that my favourites are hand embroidery, using my sewing machine and making cards. This means that I have to get rid of everything else. There are two reasons I want to get all the above mess sorted out, one is I will actually be able to use the room properly and the other is I really, really want to move house. I want a bungalow and I want to be nearer to my son and his wife. Graham being so ill this last two months has made me realise how alone we would be if anything happened to either of us. Yes, we have friends nearby but it would be unfair to expect them to do much for us when I have a perfectly good son and daughter in law!!! The picture above shows my craft room at it's worst, whenever I sort anything out it always gets worse before it gets better, I'm sure you find that too.