Monday 15 December 2008

Head above water

It has been busy around here. One thing after another. Firstly, I've been trickling along with the Christmas crafting: some napkins for gifts...
with applique vegetables.

And than we had a bit of chicken pox
which meant that M wasn't allowed to come to B's brothers wedding and wear this...

and for which I had been tearing my hair out making this...
The result was passable (although the pictures barely are),

And, we still have scaffolding all over the house, and builders tramping in and out,

But yesterday after driving back from the London wedding, we got our tree, and now the place feels much jollier!

Monday 1 December 2008

Three Christmas Cooks

Not that you would know it on here, but I have been pretty busy of late. I am frustrated with myself for not keeping the blog up to date, but I think I have to relax and realise that it is going to slip a bit until we have finished this run of building work - the house and our lives are chaos.

The beauty of it is that when this run of building work is finished, I will have a dedicated sewing space... I will be able to spread out and leave it spread out... I can't wait.

Back to the now though...

I have started and finished three little cooks sets, for three little people for Christmas.

They each get an apron with their initials,

a rolling pin and a couple of cutters,

and a matching bag to keep it all in.


Monday 17 November 2008

She's back!

I went and picked up my sewing machine on Saturday... Hoorah! I was so pleased to see it, I gave it a little kiss!

I got cracking with some sewing. Firstly a bit of housework... a pillowcase for M, and another round of flags for the never-ending-bunting project, taking the current count to 100 exactly - just 50 to go.

And then I got going on my Christmas list. I'm lucky in that I can share my Christmas sewing on here as I go along as most of my family are unaware of the blog at the moment.

One of my little sisters is getting quite into sewing, and so I thought a pin cushion and needle case set would be the thing. I can't tell you how much pleasure I got from sewing these little pieces. It has been long overdue.

The other thing that happened over the weekend was Carnival. Here in the West Country there is carnival season where floats are paraded around many of the towns. Each float represents a carnival club who spend all year making their float in top secret.

It is a serious business! The photos don't do it justice and should be seen to be believed.

The members of each carnival club dress up on their themed floats. Either in a tableau, like the Mozart one above, or dancing to the (very) loud music, like on the devil themed float below.

And as we live on the carnival route, we can watch all this from the comfort of our living room!

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Sunday (on Tuesday - whoops)

I have really enjoyed taking part in kitchen poetry, so a big thanks to simple sparrow for suggesting it. I am afraid I lost it with the regular posting at the end there. Oh dear, never mind, just as well there is no blog police!
I rang about my sewing machine today and the shop who are servicing it for me still have it (ready to come back to me) but are waiting for more than one reason to come and deliver it back. They have had it for 3 weeks now and I am going a little potty. M and I might have endure the 2 hour round trip to collect it or no body will be getting any Christmas pressies at this rate!

Sunday 9 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Saturday (a bit late)

So yesterday was the big mezze cook off. We had a lovely day cooking in the kitchen. The fruits of our labour shown below.

Naturally, I was too full to post this last night.
Flatbreads, olives, falafel, tzatziki, tomato and aubergine dip, broad bean salad, houmous, filo and spinach triangles, kofte kebabs, grilled halloumi, tabbouleh. We didn't make the houmous or olives, but everything else. phew!

Friday 7 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Friday

Sorry about yesterdays post! Perhaps a little bit cranky? This daily blogging business is new to me, and I guess it shows your true emotions.

So, for Fridays entry. I did have something else in mind, but Mr Elastic was insistent about show and telling his collection of tinned fish...

How could I resist?

Thursday 6 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Thursday

I am very stressed out. The full reasons I will no doubt share at some point. Maybe something to do with the whole house being covered in a fine layer of black dust - right down to the top of all the picture frames and the toilet seat, and also the fabulous prospect of having the entire roof taken off in a matter of weeks... yes. that means no roof in December... Joy.

Rant over, down to the evenings Kitchen Poetry:

Mr Elastic's mise-en-place. I assure you he did this off his own back... no rearranging for the camera (obviously just another day in the Elastic household!).

The main event: Chinese Pork Stir-fry with rice.

And sideboard of general mayhem. These silver(ish) pots are out to try and persuade me to polish them. They will probably be there for another few days before I get round to it. There is also some shampoo and conditioner from today's shop waiting to go upstairs, the local paper, some junk mail, and a Mediterranean cookbook to seek inspiration for our big Saturday night cook up... We had a disappointing Meze last weekend and have been talking of nothing but rectifying this disappointment all week. The menu is being fine tuned.

Night night, over and out.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Wednesday

Tonights dinner... spicy potato cakes (made with last nights left over mash - don't you just love left over mash?) with spinach and mushroom daal.

Yum Scrum.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry: Tuesday

So seeing as my sewing machine is still at the doctors, I thought it would be fun to get involved in an un-sewing-related blog topic. I was inspired by simple sparrow to join her kitchen poetry week. This is a week of taking a picture of happenings in your kitchen and posting this on your blog - sorry, I am a day late starting.
So this evening (camera in hand) I ventured into the kitchen to see what there was there to inspire a picture, maybe the bangers and mash that was to be plated imminently, but no. My walking into the kitchen (camera in hand) clearly inspired Mr Elastic to behave like silly buggers. This was the first picture I took and, I thought, one that ticked all the Kitchen Poetry boxes.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Autumn Scarf

My sewing machine was collected yesterday for its much needed service. I am hoping it will come back working like a dream. The man said it could be two weeks though! A whole two weeks! Luckily I did manage to get a bit of sewing in last week.

I made myself a scarf for Autumn, although, it will probably have to do me winter too. I patchworked a front piece, and used brown linen for the back. It also has a brushed cotton interlining to give it some body and cosiness. I then hand quilted the patchwork with some lovely pink variegated thread. I've been wearing it every day and although I wasn't sure about the bright colours at first, I am now won over. I think this may be one for the Christmas gift list... Mum and Mum-in-Law.

I also managed to knock up some labels for the chutney, so it can finally be stored away in the cupboard.And, Fancy Picnic has asked for the recipe, so here it is, let me know if you try it!
Chilli Apple Chutney
2 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
10 large apples (2kg) peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
375g raisins, chopped
115 glace ginger chopped finely
1kg brown sugar
1 litre white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp mixed spice
2 tsp five-spice
1 tbsp turmeric
1 bay leaves
Combine ingredients in large heavy-base pan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours or until mixture thickens. Discard bay leaves. Spoon into hot sterilised jars, seal while hot.
Makes about 1.75 litres.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Chutney and Tagging

I was given a big bag of cooking apples last week by a lovely lady who I am attending my patchwork quilting class with. B and I have been meaning to make some chutneys to go with cheese at our wedding and also for some Christmas gifts. We did a fair bit of hunting through recipe books and came across an untried recipe for Chili Apple Chutney. It looked delicious with lots of spices and yummy ingredients such as crystallised ginger. Last night we got out one of our big pans and set too.

I have to admit to sloping off to bed before bottling, but B did a great job... I checked this morning and there was not one dribble... I always manage to dribble hot chutney down the side of at least a couple of jars. He's in trouble now as I'll always get him to do that bit now!
Also, I have been tagged by fancy picnic. I need to disclose 7 interesting facts about myself ... hmm... there's nothing like somebody saying 'tell me something interesting about yourself' to make you feel utterly normal and boring! I have been panicking ever since Fancy Picnic tagged me with this one. I shall give it a go, but sorry if I bore you!!

1. I first met B at primary school... we were 7 and I thought he was a dish.

2. I am a chili fiend and find it quite difficult to eat anything without adding chili sauce. I even have folk bring me stocks of my favourite brand down from London when they come... you can't beat Maggi Marsala!

3. My son has a surname as his first name.

4. When I was 18 I began a chef apprenticeship at The Connaught in London... I didn't last long... chefs can be bullies and I don't like bullies!

5. I hate flying, but love planes.

6. I have a full motorbike license and used to ride a 1971 Vespa... ah, one day I'll have another.

7. A dreadful thing has happened... I have lost faith in my sewing machine... there may be a lull in sewing until I can get it serviced. Consequentially I feel a little lost.
So, the rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
And I am going to tag:

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Treacle Tart

So, Kyoko tells me that treacle tart is her favorite and wonders if it is easy to make.

It is so, so easy, so Kyoko, this is for you... and any other sweet toothed bloggers.

Treacle Tart - recipe courtesy of Nigel Slater

250g Shortcrust Pastry - you could make your own, but why not save the trouble and buy it from the supermarket?
225g Fresh white bread (you can leave the crusts on too)
600g Golden syrup - warning, this is a shocking amount of sugar!
Juice of half a lemon

Grease a 22 cm Tart tin/ Pie dish.

Roll out your pastry on a floured surface to fit the tin. Lift it into the tin and press into edges. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, cover and leave to rest in fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200c/ gas mark 6.

Take tart case from the fridge, cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes until the pastry feels dry. Remove and set aside.

Lower the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4. Whizz the bread in a food processor till you have fine, soft white crumbs. Mix them with the golden syrup, stirring until they are all fully coated and then stir in the lemon juice. Pour the crumb mixture into the warm pastry case and return to the oven for 25-35 minutes. Leave the tart to cool for 10 minutes or so before cutting. Serve with cream or ice cream.

If you have left over pastry you can also add a pastry lattice top or pattern with pastry leaves/ hearts/ stars after pouring the mixture into the case and before putting it in the oven for the last time. I have a star cutter and did stars for B's birthday and it looked really fun.

Let me know if you try it!

Monday 6 October 2008

B's Birthday

It was B's Birthday on Wednesday. As tradition dictates, none of us were at work or school and we had a day of holiday. Starting with presents and bacon and eggs. There was a home made gift among the bunch too...
A Moleskine cover. I did look for inspiration in blogland and found this which is great, but not quite what I was after, so I measured something up to my own design.
B never goes anywhere without a pen and notebook, using them for drawing and writing, as well as for shopping lists and explaining things to people. He has a couple of moleskins so I thought a cover would be appropiate.
The patterned fabric is from the Denyse Schmidt Katie Jump Rope range, which I bought at Millie Moon.
I did a velcro close and there is a slot for a pen. It is not perfect, but overall I am pleased with the result... just need to make one for myself now!
In the afternoon we paid a visit to Kilver Court and walked around their gardens, which are really beautiful... you would never expect them to be there, and we had the whole place to ourselves.
We came home as the rain started, and cooked ourselves a fancy supper. I even baked a cake and a treacle tart for pudding, but failed to take pictures before they got demolished... ah well!