Friday, 23 December 2011

# 166 Season's Greetings

To all the readers/followers of this blog or anyone who happens to stop by I wish a very
Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New year.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

# 165 Attempt at flower arranging

2 years ago I volunteered to help decorate Berkeley Castle for Christmas without realising there was a lot of flower arraging involved. If I tell you that on my 2nd day there I was put in charge of the teas and coffees that should give you an idea of how bad my flower arranging skills are!

Anyway, yesterday me and A. went for walk and along the way we picked some flowers and twigs that I wanted to use to create some sort of arrangement for Christmas. You can see the result of my efforts below, not at all what I had in mind but I'm liking it more and more especially the crochet sleeves with the little bells and the twigs with the coloured beads.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

# 164 Autumn walks in Berkeley

My long morning walks are suspended for the time being and instead I've been on the Wii a lot. Well, by that I mean about 50 minutes most mornings. It's just been too cold, wet and windy to go out but there have been a few brief moments when the rain stopped and the sun came out and when that happened I grabbed my camera and went for a quick, short walk around Berkeley.


Friday, 16 December 2011

# 163 Fridays recipes: Orange cake

This simple cake is delicious and easy to make.

Orange cake

200g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
125g butter
125g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 orange + juice of 2 small orange

Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks and set aside.

Soften the butter and mix with the sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, the orange zest and mix again.

Fold the flour with the baking powder alternating it with the eggs whites. Pour into a tin lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a pre-heated oven until done.

Remove from the oven but not from the tin. Squeeze the juice out of 2 small oranges and add a tablespoon of sugar if needed. Slowly pour the juice over the cake, don't use it all if you think it's too much. Allow the cake to rest in the tin for a few minutes before removing it.



Thursday, 15 December 2011

# 162 Making Winter: Warm wooly slippers

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens slippers

Of all the pairs of slippers I've made so far I think these are one of my favourites. They fit snuggly and are soft and warm being made from 100% wool. With these on my feet, a hot cup of tea in my hands and a delicious homemade biscuit I'm a happy bunny no matter how gloomy and wintery it is outside.

By the way, if you haven't heard of the Making Winter challenge set by the authors of  Silverpebble and Thrifty Household you can find out more about it here. To take part in December's bloghop add your link here.

If you'd like to have a go at making a some slippers like these you can find the tutorial here.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

# 161 Calendars as Christmas gifts

Personalized calendars make a great gift for close family especially for those relatives who it's very difficult to buy gifts for, my dad and my in-laws fit into that category.

This year I'm sending them personalized desk calendars from this company. All I had to do was choose 13 photos, 1 for each month plus one for the cover. I chose only photos of A. as they only get to see him once a year in the Summer, I'm sure they'll like these, besides they make a very useful gift that is used all year round and it's convenient to post as they pack flat.

Sometime ago I had a photo of A. printed on canvas by this same company and they did a brilliant job. If you're stuck for ideas why not have a look on their web site, they have a wide range of products so you're sure to find one that's perfect for the occasion or recipient.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

# 160 Christmas cards

Along with the gifts I've been making all year long to be ready for Christmas I had also planned on making my cards early but somehow it just didn't feel right. As a result I kept delaying it until the first week of December when I really couldn't put it off any longer. But they are finally done, the task for next week is to write and post them.


Friday, 9 December 2011

# 159 Fridays recipes: Curried burgers

My son A. loves these burgers and when I make them he always asks for an extra one to take in his packed lunch the following day.

Curried burgers

400g lean mince beef
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon mild chilli powder
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil and butter for frying
Double cream

Place the curry powder, the chilli powder and the salt in a bowl. Add the mince beef and mix well.

Divide into equal portions and shape the burgers with your hands. Place them on a plate, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

Fry the burgers in a little vegetable oil and butter until they are golden brown on both sides. Remove them to a plate and drain all the oil from the pan (you don't need to clean the pan just drain all the fat). Put the burgers back in the pan and over a low heat add some double cream (the quantity depends on how much sauce you want to make). Turn the heat off as soon as it begins to bubble and serve immediately.



Wednesday, 7 December 2011

# 158 A special delivery

Inside the latest packet I received from my mum was this.

 It's salty cod, a fish much appreciated in my home country, eaten all year round but with special significance at this time of the year. Traditionally families get together on Christmas Eve and eat poached cod with boiled potatoes and various vegetables all with a generous drizzle of good quality olive oil. I can just imagine many of you are probably going Eugh! which is understandable as this is like Marmite you either love it or hate it.

In a previous packet mum has sent me a few table cloths including a Christmas one which I'll be using this year. The crochet edgings are her work as is the cross-stitching which she learnt from me a few years ago and look how neat and tidy it is at the back as well. Well done mum!


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

# 157 The BMM challenge: Apple and Cinnamon pull-apart

This Apple and Cinnamon pull-apart features in the great Big Book of Bread by Anne Sheasby in the Speciality and Festive Breads chapter, I made it back in October when I was given a lot of apples and it was delicious.

 Apple and Cinnamon pull-apart

For the dough:

450g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast
25g caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
150ml milk
125ml water

Add the ingredients to the breadmaker pan in the order specified in the machine's manual. Set to Dough (2h 20m in mine).

For the filling:

175g light soft brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons double cream
25g butter, diced
25g walnuts, finely chopped (the original recipe mentions hazelnuts but I prefer walnuts)

Combine 55g soft brown sugar and the cinnamon, then add the apple slices and toss to mix well.

When the breadmaker finishes the cycle, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock back. Roll out to form a rectangle. Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a border of 1cm around the edges.

Starting from the long side, roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 12 even slices and place them upright but at an angle so they just rest on each other in a greased tin (it's easier if you use a loose-bottomed springform, as mine doesn't have a tube section in the middle I placed a slice of the dough there). Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (190 ÂșC) for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Cool slightly in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack.

Meanwhile, place the remaining soft brown sugar, cream and butter in a small pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring gently to the boil, then simmer uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the mixture thickens a little. Brush the hot pull-apart with this mixture and then sprinkle with the walnuts. Pull the rolls apart to serve.



Saturday, 3 December 2011

# 156 November photo scavenger hunt

The challenge set by Kathy from Postcards from the PP for this month's scavenger hunt was tough and so most of the pictures below are "library" pictures, that's to say I went through my many photos to find the ones that fit the theme. In my defence I have to say they were taken by me, except for the self-portrait one, so it's really not cheating, is it?!

So here they are, I'm 2 pictures short as I couldn't come up with anything for Polka dots and Lucky charm. You can see what others have captured with their cameras here.

Memorial at Stourhead.

A purple scarf made to be given away as a Christmas present.

Staircase at Shugborough House

Pretty silhouette in one of the rooms at Hughenden Manor.

Poppy wreath at Stourhead.

Christmas garland I made last year with old cards and joined together with a crochet chain (tutorial).

This is one of the blankets I made earlier this year, it's been keeping me warm in the evenings while watching TV and working on other crochet projects.

One of our favourite meals (recipe here).


Friday, 2 December 2011

# 155 Fridays recipes: Cabbage and coriander soup

A nice bowl of hot soup is very comforting, plus it makes a great light meal with a slice of homemade wholemeal bread. Just the thing to have on a cold day.

Cabbage and coriander soup

1/2 butternut squash
1/2 turnip
1 small onion
3 large courgettes
Small bunch of fresh coriander
2 vegetable stock cubes
Drizzle of olive oil
1/2 cabbage, shredded

Peel and chop all the vegetables, except for the cabbage, and put them in a pan. Add the stock cubes, the fresh coriander and cover with water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Add a drizzle of olive oil and blend. Then add the shredded cabbage and simmer for another 10-15 minutes or so.