Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cross Stitch Crazy

Apparently the Devil makes work for idle hands. Having no idea what sort of horrors Satan would sling my way, and no desire to find out,  I have taken up my Cross Stitch hobby again. Frankly we have enough stress on our plate at the moment without having to stoke the firey pit of hell for a man in red tights and a bad temper. Also, I remember my Dad hollering at me one School Summer Holidays when I complained of being bored, "Only boring people get bored!" So I find it impossible to sit around doing nothing incase it confirms what I have long suspected.

I did a bit of Cross Stitch last year when my son still had his daytime naps and I found it strangely addictive. Sadly those naps have long gone (sob) but as I have no social life in the evenings anymore, I have plenty of time to sew. There is a great magazine called Crossstitcher which often has free little projects for you to make which are a bit nicer than the other Cross Stitch magazines which, in my limited opinion, tend to be a bit fuddy duddy. Other good reference for more modern Cross Stitch projects by absolute Professional stsitchers are:

Satsuma Street -Colourful, modern, abstract designs.

What Deliah Did - Predominantly nature inspired designs. She's has also just brought out a great Christmas Cross Stitch book.

Mr X Stitch - A man!

This was my first sewing last year, copied from a pattern in Crossstitcher. Quite an ambitious design which took bloody ages. It has been folded up in a drawer since. Not quite sure what to do with it . . . .

This was my 2nd attempt. An amalgamation of things I had seen online.
Considerably smaller. Again folded up and stuck in a drawer. Shame.

For my son. Designed by my own brain.

So since Christmas is on its way, I thought I would make my son a Christmas stocking. The red felt cost about £7 from the local haberdashers and I had accumulated all the other bits and bobs from my 'Wedding Bag' and various little projects from Crossstitcher. I'm not sure that the 'Big FC' (aka Santa) will be able to put the little man's desired gifts in (a 'blue bike' and 'big giant teddy'), but there's definitely room for a few satsumas and a Cadburys Selection Pack. Overall it probably took about 7 hours and is much more personal than anything I could have bought him in the shops - it even has a little picture of him on the front so Santa knows who it belongs to.


My son.

The Big Man.

Sons initial on 'luggage tag'.

I made the buttons too.

And finally, these 2 little fellas that were meant to be made into Christmas Cards, I have made into decorations to hang onto the tree.

Monday, 24 November 2014

St Botolphs Letterpress at The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room. It just keeps getting better and better. As well as the events I have already mentioned in some of my recent posts, this Saturday they held an awesome Printroom Open Day event. I've never used a Letterpress before, although I did buy a book about American Letterpress when I was planning my Wedding that didn't happen, but have always thought it would be great to try one out. We very nearly booked ourselves onto a Course in Walthamstow a few years back but sadly work scuppered that particular plan. Stupid old work. Now, however, there are the facilities to use a wonderful press at The Waiting Room. I'm not entirely sure how one can access it but I think if you had some ideas of prints you wanted to make, you could contact them and go and use it! What a great resource! I believe The Waiting Room were given an old press and a whole heap of bits and bobs that they have spent the last few months beavering away, cleaning and organising. But now it seems to be ready and up and running.

You can find out about their forthcoming events and other titbits via these links:

St Botolphs Letterpress

St Botolphs Printroom

The great thing about Saturday's event, not only that it was just up the road (and everyone was super friendly), was that I got to make my own print (when I say 'made' I didn't set the type but I did put the paint on and peel the paper off!), my son got to make his own little bag AND we got to meet the guys at Typoretum. They are a local Company who gave up their "real" jobs to follow their dreams of running a Letterpress business. It's going so well that they were involved in the title sequence for '12 Years a Slave'! How great is that?! Total inspirations. They not only do they sell beautiful cards and prints on their website they also run courses which you can find out all about if you click on their name above.

Nice work Waiting Room guys, another very interesting trip out.

Their small Adana Press. I didn't manage to get into their actual 
Print Room which was a shame but hopefully another time.

Bag making area

The bag my son made. 
I'm going to say its 'Moschino Cheap & Chic' if anyone asks.

The Typoretum Press

My print! Still being flattened. 
Think it will look super next to the Anthony Burrill's.

A limited edition print made by the St Botolphs folk using their wondrous acquisition.

Cinnamon Buns by Felicity Cloake / Bread + Butter Pudding

The Danish Cinnamon Bun. I have looked into a few recipes but this seems to be the most successful. Also the beauty of this recipe is that it's almost 2 cakes in one! It was massive! I defy anyone to eat it in one sitting unless you have lots of visitors. We ate it fresh from the oven on Friday afternoon, perfect for a rainy day, then on Saturday when we had friends over, I made a Bread and Butter pudding. Win.

Cinnamon Buns by Felicity Cloake

For the dough:
300ml Whole milk
1tsp Ground Cardamon Seeds
50g Butter
425g Plain Flour
7g Fast Action Yeast
60g Caster Sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Beaten Egg
A little oil

* Put milk in a pan with Cardomon seeds and heat until just below boiling point.
* Remove from the heat, stir in butter and set aside.
* Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the centre, add the beaten egg, strain the milk then add it to the mixture.
* Stir until dough comes together.
* Tip onto a slightly oiled surface and knead for 5 minutes.
* Cover and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
75g Butter
50g Dark Brown Sugar
2tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

For the glaze:
1 Beaten egg
Demerara Sugar

* While the dough is rising, make the filling and preheat oven to 200C /Gas Mark 6
* Mix all the 'Filling' ingredients together until it resembles a smooth paste.
* Grease a 23cm springform cake tin cake tin.
* Roll dough out on lightly floured surface and roll to a 25cm x 35cm size
* Smear filling on top then roll up like a swiss roll.
(Felicity suggests cutting the long swiss roll into 7 pieces and arranging in the tin but I found my buns were huge. A sentence I never thought I would write. When I make it again I will make more smaller buns and cook in a bigger tin).
* Finally glaze the cake with beaten egg and sprinkle demerara sugar on top.
* Bake in the oven for 25 mins or until golden on top.

There are millions of recipes for Bread + Butter pudding but the below is one I made with what I had in the house.

Bread + Butter Pudding

Slices of Cinnamon Bun)
Handful of dried cranberries
2oz Caster Sugar
10fl oz Milk
2.5fl oz Double Cream
1/2 Lemon Zest
3 Beaten Eggs
Mixed Spice

* Slice the bun to fit your tin and butter them all on one side.
* Lay first layer of bun in the bottom of tin and sprinkle cranberries on top
* Place a 2nd layer of bun in the tin and sprinkle with remaining cranberries.
* Mix together the milk, cream, sugar and lemon zest.
* Finally mix in the 3 beaten eggs.
* Pour it all over the bun layers, sprinkle with Mixed Spice and put in the oven for approx 30 mins at about 180 Fan.

Lovely pudding, crappy camera.

Walnut Macaroon Layer Cake

Sometimes, it's the little things that can make such a difference to your day. We had some friends to stay and I wanted to make a cake. Something a bit different to a Victoria Sponge/Banana Loaf/Madelaine's. So, I made a cake from a recipe by the Delia Smith of Denmark. A legend basically. I tweeted her a picture and she retweeted it saying it "looked fabulous!" WOW. What a boost!

So, here is the recipe for 'Walnut Macaroon Layer Cake'

For the cakes:
Butter for the cake tins
300g Walnuts
200g Caster Sugar
6 Egg Whites

* Preheat oven to 160/ Gas Mark 3
* Line and lightly butter 3 x 24cm diameter springform cake tins.
* Blend the nuts in a food processor, until fine.
* Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
* Add the nuts slowly until mixed then divide between the cake tins.
* Put in oven for 35 minutes, remove, then leave to cool on wire racks overnight.

For the Coffee Cream:
300ml Double cream
3-4 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Instant Coffee

* When you are ready to assemble the cake, put all the Coffee Cream ingredients in a bowl and beat until stiff.
* Place your 1st cake layer on your serving plate and spread with half the cream mixture.
* Add 2nd cake layer and repeat with the rest of the cream
* Place final cake layer on top.

For the glaze:
100g Dark Chocolate
20g Butter
Several Walnut Halves

* Break chocolate into small pieces and melt.
* Once melted, leave to cool slightly then spread on top layer of cake.
* Arrange walnut halves on top and keep in fridge until ready to serve.
* Serves 10


Friday, 21 November 2014

Dark Rye Loaf / Doves Farm

I had a dream. It involved my own business. And food from a particular region of the world that I love. Since moving out of London and being a mum I'm feeling a bit lost to be honest, without a purpose I suppose. But my little dream got me excited and was (still is) something I feel very passionately about. I had been making in roads earlier in the year, potential premises, local suppliers, branding, a friend offered to give me advice on their similar business, blah blah....Then the rug got pulled from beneath us. A sudden death in the family, Wig's A+E visit, trying to keep my hand in with my freelance work, rearing a toddler and dealing with yet more costs on our moneypit/house sucked all my motivation away.

However, the dream is still there somewhere, inside my shattered shell, I just need to pick myself up again and plod on. 2015 is a clean slate, if I can just crawl my way to the New Year...In the meantime though, toddler permitting, I have been testing out recipes at home. Luckily a steady stream of visitors to our house is giving me plenty of victims to test them out on.

The first recipe is from Doves Farm. It's for a very easy Rye bread. I'd only ever made bread once before and found it frustrating as I'm a very impatient individual. All the 'proving' and 'knocking back' put me off. However, this loaf is fairly quick to make and has, so far, worked out every time. I have been making a loaf on a Friday night (Soho, Soho, where for art thou Soho? ...) and it has lasted us all week. I was probably buying about 3 loaves a week prior to discovering this recipe, but as it is such a dense loaf we aren't tending to eat so much. But it's great toasted for breakfast with a boiled egg. The black treacle in it gives it a slightly 'Malt Loaf' taste and you could always add seeds to the mix if you wanted to change the flavour.

Dark Rye Loaf

400g Doves Farm Wholemeal Rye Flour
200g Doves Farm Strong Plain Flour
1tsp Sugar
1tsp Doves Farm Yeast
1tsp Salt
30g Black Treacle
400ml Warm Water
2tbsp Oil

200 Fan / 220 Oven / Gas Mark 7

*Mix together the dry ingredients
* Dissolve the treacle into the water
* Add the treacle/water to the dry ingredients, as the dough comes together add the oil
*Form the dough into a ball, cover and leave in a warm place to rise
*Knock back the dough and vigorously knead for a few minutes
* Place dough in an oiled loaf tin (2lb size) and leave for a further 45 minutes
* Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes
* To make a crustier crust place a dish/tin of hot water in the bottom of your oven.

I tried to stick Pumpkin seeds on this one but they just fell off when it came out of the oven.
Apart from that, I was very happy with it.
Thank you Doves Farm!