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

Monday, 1 October 2012

Baking Again

From the Afternoon Tea recipe book I made a cherry cake...
It had glace cherries and dried cherries in it.  The dried cherries has a bit of sourness which was very nice, but overall the cake could have done with a lot more cherries in it.
Today I made a coffee and walnut cake.  This is one of my favourite cakes, I just love the flavour of it...
I used the Delia Smith recipe but used instant coffee instead of the espresso, I have used the espresso but didn't think much of it.  Also, I made coffee butter cream icing from here instead of the icing Delia uses.  I like Delia's icing recipe but find the butter cream recipe quicker if I'm in a hurry.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

More Baking

Yesterday I went into Nottingham and visited the Lakeland shop.  I wanted to buy one of those new silicone tartlet pans that are perforated thus allowing pastry to cook evenly at the base.  Well, I am delighted with the results.  I made Bakewell tarts and individual quiche...
Here you can see the perforations and also notice that I was able to lift one quiche out easily.
The Bakewell tart was made with bought puff pastry and the quiche made with homemade shortcrust.  (They are both the same size, my terrible photography make them look distorted)
Another thing I learned recently was to roll my shortcrust pastry out between cling film, usually I make my pastry rather wet knowing that I will have to use flour to get it to roll out easily.  Using cling film I was able to roll it out at the proper consistency.  This was the best shortcrust pastry I'd ever made.  It just goes to show that even after over forty years of baking there is still something to learn and improve on.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Summer At My House

As everyone else is saying "I can't remember a worse summer than this one!".  It has been weird, rain, rain and more rain.  We have had spells of fairly decent weather so at least we have been able to get outside occasionally.  So far I've been on three holidays, Oban, Ilfracombe and Eastbourne.  We were fairly lucky with these and weren't stopped from getting out and about by the weather.
The garden has suffered, not much has got done at all.  Because of all the rain most things have grown extremely well, in fact our garden has been a bit of a jungle and we are now busy rooting a lot of plants and shrubs out so that we can redesign things.  What we want to do is make it low maintenance and have decided on hybrid tea roses.  The good thing about roses is that you can prune them back each year and start off the season with neat plants.  In between we'll probably plant annuals.  The veg plot is the same jungle and our strawberry bed was a failure.  The few strawberries that we got either rotted, went mouldy or were eaten by slugs.  Mind you, the plants have grown incredibly well, I'll have to dig a lot out before next year.  Even the plants in the polytunnel have suffered.  This was partly down to the slug invasion and partly to lack of sunshine.  A few things are growing so it won't be a total failure.
I haven't done one bit of embroidery for ages, my crafting time has been taken up with making dolls clothes.
One thing I've done quite a bit of is baking.  A friend gave me this book...
...and I made this cake... 
...a lovely sponge cake filled with crushed raspberries and confectioners custard - absolutely delicious!  It was supposed to be covered in whipped cream but that would have been just too much.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


I mentioned a while ago that there were brassicas in my polytunnel and I wasn't sure if they were cabbage or cauliflower.  This is the first year of overwintering veg and it is worth it.  Today I harvested this...
And in a few days I'll be harvesting broad beans!

The peas haven't done well and the beetroot grew very tall but with not much root.

It's a beautiful day here today, blue sky, sunshine and temperature 21C.  What a change from the past few weeks, I've hardly been out in the garden at all until today.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Fair Weather Gardener

This past few years that is what I have become - a fair weather gardener.  I did think that having my polytunnel would encourage me to get out there during the winter, but no, I only recently went and checked how things were doing up there.  Today was the first day I have actually done anything.  A bit of tidying up of the broad beans I sowed last autumn, with a bit of luck I'll have some pods developing soon as there are lots of flowers on them.  Removed the radishes that didn't develop well at all and are covered in aphids.  The peas look a bit rough but we'll see what happens with what has survived.  Amazingly the carrots have done brilliantly, for me anyway...
I did throw away this many again that were damaged by pests, slugs probably.  These are the biggest carrots I've ever grown, in fact these are the only successful carrots I've ever grown.  So, the polytunnel is excellent for growing carrots but not radish.  There are a few other veg growing happily in there.  The brassicas I put in are huge, trouble is I can't remember if they are cabbages or cauliflower!  My next problem will be how to get rid of the aphids that have also done well in there, well, they would wouldn't they, a lovely protected winter home for them - damn!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Organised At Last

My craft room used to look like this...

Now it looks like this....

A bit different don't you think!  The big cabinet is wonderful, full of fab storage boxes with lids, that is what has made all the difference.  The shelving units I had before were quite deep and I used cardboard boxes to keep most things in.  The plastic drawer units I had just looked a mess and took up a lot of room.

First we cleared the room out, everything was stored in my sitting room downstairs.  Then Graham spent two days assembling the cabinet (the two side shelf parts close and make doors to the cabinet, I forgot to take a picture).  Next was the really difficult part, what to keep and what to get rid of.  Altogether this rationalising took a week.  Now I have the most amazing craft room.  I am very happy.

Friday, 13 January 2012


I've been practising my knitting.  It's a really slow hobby for me, usually I like to make things that are quick but I am enjoying sitting and knitting just lately, must be an age thing!
Anyway, this is what I finished today.....
They are for a friend I go walking/bird watching with.  I was going to make her a pair like this...
I was pleased with how the fancy pattern turned out but didn't like how the glove fitted.  The pattern was from here.  So, I made up my own pattern for a more fitted glove with ribbed edges instead of garter stitch.  I was amazed at myself that I'd managed to follow that bobble pattern!  The only problem is I now have a left hand glove with no matching right hand, never mind, it was good practise.  This is the sort of thing I really, really enjoy knitting.

A bit of good news here is that my craft room will soon be smartened up and de-cluttered.  You know that I regularly whinge about the state of my craft room.  Everything is on open shelving and stacked up in boxes.  Well, I was telling Graham about a blog I'd seen and how the blogger had these fab cupboards to keep her stuff in.  We did a search to see if we could find these cupboards in England - and we did!!!  You can see here examples of the cupboards.  The one I am getting is the Midi and has fold out doors with storage bins and storage bins in the main section, not the one with the table.  What doesn't fit into this cupboard will go, after seeing this blog I just have to do something!  Later I might get another smaller unit to match but I hope that I can just manage with the one cupboard.

I decided to add the glove pattern here, after spending ages trying to work out how to get it here as a pdf - apparently you have to join other things on websites to be able to do this, just can't be bothered to do that just now.  So here's the pattern...

Fits an average sized hand 
The finished gloves weigh 20 grams but 25 grams will be enough to be sure (that’s about 1 ounce of yarn)
I used double knitting yarn 
Needle sizes 10 and 8 
Cast on 40 sts 
Knit 1 Purl 1 rib and stocking stitch used 
Rib 7 rows using the smaller needles 
St St 15 rows using bigger needles (to get a left and right glove start this section with a purl row for one glove then a knit row for the other glove) 
On row 16 carry on in st st to last 7 stitches and put these stitches on a holder. 
St st 2 rows 
On next row cast on 7 stitches at the beginning of the row 
St st 6 rows 
Rib 5 rows with smaller needles 
Cast off in rib 
For the thumb –  use bigger needles and with right side facing pick up 9 stitches plus the 7 on the holder (16 stitches in total)
Knit 5 rows st st 
Rib 4 rows with smaller needles 
Cast off in rib

Sew up the thumb section first then the main section