Sunday, 27 April 2008

What Does Nigella Really Eat?

Maybe I have too much time on my hands, and far too many cookbooks in my cupboard, but what do these cooks really cook at home?
Nigella's first book (a hefty magnum opus) How To Eat surely should have been her defining vision. But no, she has churned out 4 or 5 more books (which guiltily I own a further 2 of them). I am in the middle of making the Norwegian Buns from How to be a Domestic Goddess, which, actually, I do accept as a valuable addition to How to Eat. I mean, a girl has got to have some fabulous baking books to rely upon to please family and friends. I think there is a truth in cakes tend to put a big smile on people's faces. And I am astounded by how many people can't or won't bake, for fear of.........well I don't really know. Anyway, what does Nigella really eat, is it from her bible of everyday eating or one of her later books where she bought some of the recipes in from other people?

But worse than Nigella, watching her credibility go from Queen Bee down to bottom of the compost bin is Delia, HOW COULD SHE????? For 35+ years she has been extolling the virtues of fresh this, fresh that, do it bit by bit, along with her, to get a meal you can be proud of. Now, either because she sees more people than not buying tins, jars, frozen boxes of ready made concoctions, she has decided if you can't beat them, you might as well join them, as her evangelism clearly hasn't worked. Or she's old and wanted yet another series on the BBC, and this was the only pitch they agreed to. Her last series was called How to Cook, a step by step guide in home cooking for beginners, and now it's How to CHEAT. This is the polar opposite of all that she has been teaching for decades. And what an excruciating programme to boot, with her "banter" with her husband and trips to the church and outings with Sister Wendy. I don't want to see Delia on the town, she's a grandma! She is not Jamie or Nigella, and trying to be just ruins all that is marvellous about her. Why why why? If it's for the cash, well was it really worth it???

Anyway back to my buns, they should be ready soon.

The proved dough What it should look like!

Cinammon Mixture , combined together with a fork

To roll out the dough to 50cm x 25cm, I did it across 2 boards!!! Works very well!

Mixture spread on and rolling it up into a long sausage shape

Once it's a long sausgae cut into 20 pieces, c 2-3cm thick. Pop into the tin.

Cook for suggested time and temperature (230C and 20mins , and you get this, over cooked on outside, and not cooked enough in middle) So NEXT TIME I wll try it on 200C for 30mins.

Serve with regulation pot of fresh coffee (for husband) and tea for the lady! Milk for children!
(I did pop it back in the oven for an extra 15mins on lower temp, 180C, with foil on top, to cook the middle that was still a bit doughy)
Overall, not bad!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Knitting I've Done, and dream of doing....

This is where I'm up to with the front section of the pirate jumper. It's quite time consuming but I'm enjoying myself! I quite like following the grid, you know where you are with it, if you see what I mean!

........Back .................................. Front ..........
The back shows all the strands, and it was in quite a tangle, but I sorted that out and cut strands that were not needed any more, to make it less of a mess. But from the front you'd never know what was going on at the back. I'm not sure about weaving in, I may have to go and get some expert help on that.

All the projects are from Zoe Mellor books. I think the animals are gorgeous. But whether I get to make any is another thing altogether!!!

The mice are adorable and I love the owl. Very sweet. I think the colour choices make all these things extra special.

The dinosaur has been requested by my eldest son, so I might indulge him. Although I like the goldilocks and three bears finger puppets. They probably wouldn't take long to do either! A possible present for friends!

If I had a daughter I'd definitely make that hat! I think it's so sweet.

I love this orange blanket. I think I will make that. Just looks great.

The cable knit is beyond my knitting knowledge at the mo, so I might ask Great Grandma to make it for my youngest as his Xmas present. I will definitely learn cable knitting though at some point.

I love this blanket as well, but I think I'd do the orange one first!
The books are The Big Book of Kids Knits and Knitted Toys: 25 Fresh & Fabulous Designs . I've borrowed them from the library. The pictures in the books are beautiful and I can't help but feel they are selling a lifestyle that just doesn't exist! Not to me anyway. Still I can't help but be seduced!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Chicken Doorstep Update

Hi to anonymous who has put in a request. I wrote up about chicken doorsteps last August and I only ever made the one. I think, if I was to do it again, I would do a 5 sided pyramid. That is a square at the bottom and attached to it 4 equilateral triangles. eg if the square is 12cm, then all the triangle sides have to be 12cm. That way you can get the beak and the crest in the "correct" place. Plus I used velcro as a trial on it, and I wouldn't use that again, either a zip or sew it up. Also for strength sew each side 2 or 3 times.
Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!

Learning new things all the time

Yesterday I attended a knitting workshop at Purl. The workshop was all about finishing techniques, and was so helpful. I learned so much, and even the experienced knitters in the group also learned new skills, so I think it was great for everyone. Also Debbie, the shop owner kept us going in teas, coffees, cakes and biscuits, plus lunch. So everyone had the best time. It was 10-4pm and 6 bhours raced by. My head was a bit groggy towards the end of it (do I do a knit stitch, is it a purl?) but the lady next to me kept helping me, she was very kind.

I learned how to do a neckline, decrease (where to drop the stitches for a nice look) and how to pick up stitches to do the ribbed neckline. The rib at the bottom I totally mucked up, and I've got all sorts of things going on in there!!!

I also learned how to do a 3 needle bind off, which I'd never seen before, but it certainly gives a nice finish.

Plus the mattress stitch.

Now you see it:

Now you don't!

Plus how to do a cable cast on and make a buttonhole. Ta dah!:

The teacher works for Rowan, and she was great. Plus we got really clear handouts, so when I no doubt forget half of it I can read those and look at my samples that I made!

Now I have requests for jumpers from my husband and my sister, but they've got a long wait, as my skull and cross bones pattern is taking ages, although the intarsia is fun!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Peter and Jane

Many people learned to read from Ladybird books, following the Peter and Jane stories. It's nice to know they haven't bothered changing a thing, apart from the price, £0.40p in 1970s and £2.50 in 2008!

I bought the first 2 boxsets for my eldest, so we have a larger range of books he can read at home. He's doing really well, imo, hopefully he'll become a voracious reader!
My primary school teacher, when I was 4 didn't bother to teach the class to read, so my dad had to do it, my mum got busy finding me a better school to go to. So he used this series of books to get me there, apparently I loved getting to the next number.
Once I could read there was no stopping me. I read anywhere and everywhere, whilst walking, when I should have been sleeping, in the car, on the sofa, anywhere. When I was 6 (at a new school) I had an official reading age of a 12 year old. I was very very proud of myself. So thanks to my dad and ladybird I am literate!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Sew A Seed and See What It Does!

These are the seeds that I bought today in Woolworths (selling Laura Ashley, whatever next!) They were buy 1 get 1 free, except I didn't realise that till I checked my receipt after I left the shop. Hence 5 packets, otherwise I'd have got 6!! The aquilegas are plant this year, flower the next, but we'll be here next year I'm sure, so why not? I love the ornamental corn, top right, it looks gorgeous. I've grown cornflower before, probably the same variety, and I loved it. And the gazanias were my son's choice, hence it not going with my deep purple and acid green look!!!

I need to get some nicer pots, for these beautiful flowers, and also plant the aquilega seeds as well. I'm also growing tomato plants and lettuce and rocket. They were sown a few weeks ago and are doing well!

I've also got some geraniums (trailing and upright) in the window boxes that I wanted from Ikea. The husband has made me paranoid about them falling down and killing someone, so I have them facing in!

Monday, 14 April 2008

It's Not Quite Summer But I Couldn't Help It!

I felt like a fruit tart, so bought the strawberries, made some sweetcrust pastry and followed this recipe. Here's hoping it tastes nice!

Post Eating Analysis:
Tasted very nice, however, next time I'd bake the pastry blind and add an egg wash to it to seal the pastry, as there was lots of juice with the strawberries. Also I didn't make caramel, I didn't like the way that was going, so I just gently heated the strawberries with some caster sugar, before putting them in. I used 800g strawberries to fill the 12" pie, and if we hadn't of eaten and binned a few there would have been enough!!! It was still yummy though!
I got this from a Rachel Allen programme, roll pastry dough out between clingfilm. Doesn't stick to rolling pin, and you don't need extra flour.

I'm back!

Well I'm back from my trip up north (Yorkshire). I had lots of fun, saw family and friends, ate out lots and chilled out from work!

Special mentions for some places I found, Wild Ginger a vegan/ veggie cafe in Harrogate. I had a lovely lunch with my sister. And next door a cake decorating and supplies shop, called Special Occassions. The women in there were very helpful and nice. I've decided that could be my dream job! Clearly I had to buy a few bits and pieces!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Should have mentioned I'm away all week, be back at home by Sunday, hence no make and do, bake and do or anything else for that matter.

Although I did get the eldest the blingest trainers you can buy for a 5 yr old!

PS Saw 27 Dresses (Orange Wednesday) and it was definitely better than expected. Pretty funny. Saw a v funny trailor for a Cameron Diaz film, her getting hitched in Vegas to a stranger and winning $3m with him. Will definitely see that, and SATC yay, don't care if it gets rubbish reviews will still see it as I loved that series!

Bye for now!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Intarsia advice

I found this site, and it has certainly saved my bacon!! Thought I'd share it with everyone, if you are knitting with more than one colour and don't know what you're doing, like me!!! Intarsia video help. I have just started the intarsia bit of my pirate motif, and have guessed how to do it (incorrectly) and wondered why I was getting gaps in my knitting between 2 colours, now I know I have to twist the yarns to avoid the gaps!!! Marvellous!

I also found this site with more tips.

If anyone else has any Intarsia advice please please give it to me!!!!!! Thank you!

Cupcake Update

I got lots of nice comments on my cupcakes at school, and was invited to supply them for school film nights! They take a lot of time to make, so I'll have to think about it!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Confetti Cakes

I finally made something from the book I got a Xmas. I needed to build up my confidence!!! Or actually have a legitimate excuse. And it came in the form of a bun sale for a Tibetan Children Refugees at my son's school. So I made the chocolate cupcakes with the all purpose frosting and then decorated it with fondant and dots, as per the Confetti Cakes book.

My camera died after 2 photos, due to eldest son taking 80+ pics with it the other day!!! All marvellous of course! So my documentation is not great, and then they had to go to school!

My husband loved the chocolate cupcakes (plain) as there was coffee in the recipe, which for me ruined it! I'm not a fan of coffee and I felt it masked the chocolate flavour (and after using an entire can of Green & Black's Cocoa in the cake) I wasn't impressed. However if you do like coffee, you'll love the recipe!

I make the butter cream frosting, and the book says add milk, which I did, but I was paranoid about it going off. Because when you use fondant, you're not meant to put it in the fridge, as it goes funny. I did, however, put them in my fridge, as I don't want to poison anyone!

So I decorated it as instructed, and I was pretty pleased with my results, for a first attempt. Tip: when cutting out polka dots, use a large icing nozzle, and just keep pressing them out, one after another. After 10 or so turn the nozzle upside down and all the dots fall out. Quick and easy to do!

Great Things

Yesterday I discovered a new yarn shop, Purl, relatively near to me. I didn't even know it was there! Although, in my defence it's only opened in the last few months. The best thing about the shop is that they are running classes for both children and adults. As you may remember I'm making a jumper, slowly! The shop has 2 classes which would be really helpful, one in finishing items and another in intarsia and fairisle. So I'll be booking myself on those, to get some proper instruction from someone who knows what they are doing! I'm lucky I have my husband's grandma for advice, but she's 300 miles away!