Wednesday, 24 September 2014

# 395 Pizza loaf

Wow, it's 5 months today since I last posted anything here. I have missed my blogs but have been busy with other things and time just seems to slip by so fast...

Anyway, I plan on making more of an effort to blog more regularly. I'm starting again with a recipe for a bread we all love, hope you enjoy it too if you try it.

Pizza loaf

20 g fresh yeast
400 g strong white flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
260 ml lukewarm water
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
4 slices prosciutto cut into strips

Dissolve the yeast in the water.

Pour the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer, open a well in the centre and add the olive oil, dried herbs, chopped onion, prosciutto and salt. Pour the yeast mixture and knead with the dough hook for a few minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.

Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until it's elastic and smooth.

Grease the bowl you used to knead the dough with a little olive oil, shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and prove until doubled in size.

Knock the dough back, knead for a few seconds, shape, dust with flour flour and put in a baking tray. Cover with clingfilm and allow to prove a second time until it doubles in size.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220ºC for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Check if the loaf is ready by tapping its bottom, if it sounds hollow it's done. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.



Thursday, 24 April 2014

# 394 Easter ramblings

I hope you all had a great Easter and made the most of the very long weekend.

Our plans kept changing with the weather but we still managed to take part in the Family Treasure Trail around Berkeley as a fundraiser for the library, went for a 6-mile walk along the canal in Purton and revisited Stourhead. We went there for the 1st time in the Autumn of 2011 and since then have been wanting to go and see it in Spring. Unfortunately we were too late for the daffodils and the trees were still quite bare but we enjoyed the visit to the house and the long walk around the gardens.

This tree close to the walled garden caught my eye because of the green fluffy stuff on its branches. There wasn't a guide nearby I could ask so I was left wondering if this is some sort of lichen. Does anyone know what it is? I've never seen anything like it before.

There's more photos of Stourhead on my Flickr album here and here if you'd also like to see the photos taken back in 2011.


Monday, 14 April 2014

# 393 Cheat's pizza

Although I enjoy planning and preparing meals for my husband and son I have to admit I don't like cooking for myself alone.

Usually a bowl of soup and a slice of bread or fruit and my lunches are quickly sorted without any fuss or lots of washing up to do afterwards. If you're like me you may like this suggestion for a "pizza" for one. You can change the toppings to use up any leftovers you may have lingering in the fridge which is what I did when I made this for my lunch the other day.

Cheat's pizza

1 thick slice of bread
1 tablespoon leftover chunky tuna in tomato sauce (you can find the recipe for it here)
A few cubes of cheddar cheese

Preheat the grill.

Lightly toast the bread to crisp it up a little. Spread the tuna and top with the cheese. Bake under the grill for 5 or 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

Meanwhile prepare and dress a green salad to go with the "pizza".



Thursday, 10 April 2014

# 392 Crafty makes

It wasn't my intention to be away from the blog so much but my volunteer work sort of got in the way.

When I became a volunteer at the library I thought I'd only be doing a couple of hours a week but a year on and I find myself doing a lot more than that and that's why I've not been blogging as often as before. I do miss blogging but I also enjoy my work as a volunteer so I think I need to strike the right balance between the 2.

Last month, for instance, another volunteer and I went to a craft fair every single weekend, sometimes on a Saturday other times on a Sunday. That involved a lot of stock taking, a lot of packing things away and setting up and also a lot of stock replenishing during the week. It's been fun but also a steep learning curve as no 2 fairs are the same. At some events we just about broke even while at others we managed to make a decent profit. The other interesting thing is our best sellers keep changing from one event to the next. At our last craft fair we sold a lot of brooches, knitted Easter ducklings and pompom chickens among other items but at the previous one our best sellers were the felt needlecases!

We only have one or two craft fairs from now until June when we start doing the rounds again and attending much bigger events, meanwhile we're trying to increase our stock of handmade goodies to take with us. Below is a small sample of what I've been making, you can see more on my Flickr if you like.


 Any tips on your experience as a seller or buyer at craft fairs would be very welcome.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

# 391 Questions & Answers

Shell from the blog Bits and Bobs has kindly nominated me for the Liebester Blog Award. Although I won't be passing this along and nominating other blogs I thought it would be fun to answer her questions and to list a few random facts about me as requested. Ready? Here goes.

1. What was the 1st record you ever bought?

I've no idea unfortunately. I remember I had a Suzy Quatro record and as a teenager my idol was Rod Stewart.

2. Where is the most beautiful place you have visited?

I love where we live now. We're right on the edge of the Costwolds, surrounded by beautiful countryside and are lucky to have a medieval deer park only a short walk away.

3. What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?

Pig's testicles! I didn't know it at the time and was only told when the meal was over.

4. Why did you decide to start blogging?

To keep a record of the things I make, places we visit and favourite recipes.

5. If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?

I'm sorry to say I'm not a pet person so I wouldn't have one.

6. What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved Malory Towers and The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. In my early teens I was a big fan of the Trixie Belden books.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

I think I'm already there as I love where we live now.

8. What has been the most disastrous thing you have made or baked?

The list of culinary disasters is as long as my arm. Sometimes I forget to add salt to food, other times I add too much. I've also burnt cakes, rice, meat, etc. But the most disastrous one happened in my late teens when preparing a meal for my oncle, aunt and cousins when I was satying with them in London. I add no notion how much salt to add to food so I used a ladle to measure the salt. You can imagine the rest.

9. Do you collect anything?

Not at the moment but I used to collect postcards and bookmarks.

10. What is your favourite snack?

Does cake count as a snack? That's my favourite thing in the whole world.

11. If you could get rid of any modern technology, what could you happily live without?

I honestly don't know. I sometimes think modern technology over complicates things that used to be very straightforward but I wouldn't like to be without my computer or Internet access.

Now for 11 random facts about me.

1 . My star sign is Virgo.

2. I love walking.

3. I'm a volunteer at our community library.

4. Many, many years ago I worked as a teacher.

5. I love a good whodunit such as Miss Marple, Midsomer Muders, Death in Paradise, etc.

6. I love reading and borrow most of my books from the library.

7. I have only one son.

8. I almost always take my camera with me on my walks.

9. I bake regularly whether it's bread or cakes.

10. I love making things and always have a craft project on the go.

11. I don't like crowds and noisy places.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

# 390 Raspberry Buns

Alex made these at school back in September for Food Tech. They spent the whole of the first term studying different creaming methods which meant a different bake everyweek. We had brownies (they were delicious, very chocolatey and gooey), fairy cakes, a swiss roll, a Victoria Sandwich and these Raspberry Buns. I was so impressed by his bakes, they were really tasty although some were ever so slightly overbaked. These biscuits were my favourite closely followed by the Brownies and the Victoria Sandwich.

If you'd like to give these a go here's the recipe.

Raspberry Buns

225g self-raising flour
100g cold butter or margarine, chopped
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon of milk
50g (12 tablespoons) raspberry jam (or similar, Alex made his buns with strawberry jam)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add small chunks of butter to the flour and rub into the flour using your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Break the egg into a small bowl and add the milk. Whisk them together and add to the mixture in the large bowl.

Sprinkle a work surface with some flour. Press the mixture together to make a firm hard ball. Cut into 9 equal pieces. Squeeze each piece into a ball and put on the baking tray. Make a dent in each bun and fill it with a teaspoon of jam. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and still soft to the touch.



Monday, 27 January 2014

# 389 I wish I had magic powers

I really do, don't you? Right now I'd love to have the power to stop time so I could work, without interruptions, on some of the craft projects I have lined up for the library and which I'm very keen on trying.

A project I did manage to finish were the heart keyrings in the picture, they were made using scraps of fabric sewn together to form a new piece of fabric. This technique is described in this book and the author calls it the Lazy Crazy Patchwork.

The crazy patchwork was surprisingly quick to achieve once I'd managed to gain access to the box of fabrics I have hidden behind the sofa and had spent a good half hour or more just rummaging through its contents to gather as many fabric leftovers as possible.

The resulting new "fabric" was then cut into hearts which were sewn onto denim (I used a pair of old jeans the husband doesn't wear anymore).

If you could have a magic power what would it be?


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

# 388 Chunky tuna spread

I always keep a can or 2 of tuna in my store cupboard for when I need to rustle up a meal in a hurry. Such was the case the other day when I arrived home for lunch and didn't have any soup made or any leftovers in the fridge that I could heat up  quickly in the microwave.

This spread uses only 3 ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to make, it really couldn't be simpler or quicker and tastes delicious.

Chunky tuna spread

1 can of tuna chunks or steak, drained
2 eggs
1 or 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Hard boil the eggs. Meanwhile toast a slice of bread and, in a bowl, flake the tuna with a fork.

When the eggs are cooked through, peel them, cut them into pieces and mix with the tuna and mayonnaise. I like my spread to be fairly chunky so I only mix until all elements are combined.

Spread on the toasted bread and enjoy. You can also spread this mixture on cream crackers or use it in sandwiches with finely sliced tomato and some romaine lettuce for added crunchiness.

Any leftover mixture can be kept in a food container with lid in the fridge for a couple of days.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

# 387 A prosperous New Year to everyone

I hope you're all having a great start to 2014 and looking forward to the year ahead.

A. went back to school yesterday and I spent a good part of the day putting the Christmas decorations away and putting the house back in order again.

In other news, it turns out we didn't do too bad with our fundraising for the library over the Christmas period and I'm now busy creating new handcrafted items for sale. The bookmarks, brooches and cards proved the most popular and therefore we need to replenish the stock. Here's a small sample of what I've made so far or you can have a look in my Flickr album to see it in more detail.

Another volunteer is busy knitting the cuttest Easter ducklings which will then be filled with chocolate eggs. I haven't been shopping yet after the New Year but I'm told supermaket shelves are already being filled with chocolate eggs!