Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Avast, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day today! Have fun me hearties, yarr!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


I'll be posting another tutorial. Here's a little hint about what it will be.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Lookie what I got today!

We went to Sully car boot again. After wandering around most of it and not buying anything, I came across someone selling bolts of fabric.

Now, as you may have realised, I'm a bit of a collector of fabric, so I went and had a rummage. And found these beauties. Of course, I had to give them a good home!

I've got a feather filled single quilt, so I'm planning on making an eiderdown with some of the fabric, as well as a cushion cover and maybe some lavender filled hearts or something.

My sewing machine's going to be busy!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Autumn, my love/hate relationship

Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with autumn.

I love the colours, I love the harvest, I love the things that happen between now and the end of December (a few birthdays, our anniversary, guy fawkes night, and christmas/winter solstice).

What I don't love is the fact that it means winter is coming.

Oh, I love crisp, sunny, blue sky winter mornings, but unfortunately they are few and far between.
Normal winter days are grey and cold and often wet to boot.

That, I don't like. And I don't even have a fireplace that I can build a fire in to make it feel better. (there is a fireplace, but apparently the smoke comes out in the bedrooms)

But anyway, I didn't want to moan about the coming of winter, I just wanted to note that the swallows have flown.

They nest in my in-laws garage on the otherside of the motorway, but often fly over here. In-laws said they had flown yesterday, and this morning I saw a couple of stragglers trying to catch up.
This afternoon I heard a bird chattering away and saw that it was a lone swallow.

As is my wont, I turned the chattering into human speak! Like (Johnny Morris)

"Where is everyone? Oi, stop hiding! Look, I just went out for a few bugs. I can't help it if I got up late. My alarm didn't work."

I hope he catches up with the others.

In other news, Dan has got his stuff from his dads now, so we're really cramped (moreso than we were before, and how the hell did that much stuff fit in his small room at his dads, cos it doesn't fit in his small room here?)

Matt has got his start date at work and will be staying with us (until he gets his own place) at the end of this month, and Caroline, my bestest friend, is applying for a job in HR at the same place.
They NEED her. Really. They can't find their arse from their elbows!

And I am so looking forward to having my best friends nearby.

Thankyou to all the new people who have commented on my blog, it's really lovely seeing new *faces*, and of course, thanks to the regulars. It means a lot to me that you you hang around!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Bread Making Tutorial

Making bread is really easy, but people tend to get put off making their own bread because it takes a while. Most of the time involved however, is in waiting for it to prove, rather than the actual making of it.

So, I thought I'd show just how easy it is.
First of all, the ingredients.

500g strong white or wholemeal bread flour
1 Sachet of easy blend yeast
2 teaspoons of salt (I use slightly less, about 1.5 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons of sugar or honey
2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
Just under 300ml of warm water.

Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. This is my KitchenAid bowl because I was feeling lazy and decided to let the mixer do the work of kneading!

Mix the oil, honey/sugar and water together.

If you're using a mixer, you'll need to use the dough hook.

Mix it together, adding the water mix slowly.

When it all comes together, either knead it by hand for about 15 minutes, (that's the hard part, but can also be very therapeutic!) or with the mixer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then cover the bowl with cling film or a damp teatowel.

And wait. For a couple of hours.

Then it should look like this, about twice the size it was.

Punch it down, or if you have kids, get them to do it. They'll love hearing the pffft sound!

Take it out of the bowl and give it a quick knead on a floured surface, then shape and place on a greased baking sheet or loaf tin, cover with a (dry) teatowel and leave it again, this time for about half an hour. Heat the oven to 220C.
Before second proving

After second proving

Pop it in the oven and cook for 10 mins, then turn oven down to 200C and cook for a further 20 minutes or so.

The bread is ready when it's golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Turn it out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

To make the walnut loaf, I used wholemeal flour, substituted walnut oil for the olive oil, and added a couple of handfuls of chopped walnuts when the dough was being mixed.

I'll have to show you how to make butter next!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Walnut Bread

I decided to make some bread yesterday. I use a recipe in one of the River Cottage books, but this time I decided to tweak it. I replaced the olive oil with walnut oil, and added a couple of handfuls of walnut pieces and this was the result:

It's rather nice, especially with butter and honey, and I'm sure it will also go well with cheese. The only thing that I think I'll do different next time is use less salt. Hubby didn't think it tasted salty, but I do! Anyway, it was a hit with him, as he's a big fan of walnut bread, so I'll be making it again.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


My in-laws are away and have told us to help ourselves to stuff from their garden, so today while Dan was mowing their lawns, I was raiding the garden!

Look what a wonderful bounty I got.

Apples, pears, runner beans, (actually, I got those a couple of days ago) a red onion (there are loads of onions and garlic drying in the greenhouse, but as I already have some, I only took one) and a couple of beetroots.

And from the greenhouse, tomatoes.

I've had a quick search to find out what the yellow ones are, and they look like they might be these.

I don't usually eat beetroot (and nobody else in the house does) as although I don't dislike it, I have to fancy it. And I've only ever eaten pickled beetroot. I hear that fresh beetroot is much nicer, so I picked these to try them out (and got royally stung in the process by nettles that were hiding from me!).

One of the apples we picked was huuuge! The tree it came from was an old tree that got broken one winter when it was blown over, severing most of it from the trunk. It looked like it had died, but a couple of years later, shoots sprung out, and now it has lots of new branches full of apples that look far too big and heavy for it. Obviously, it's had a new burst of life and is really happy. I thanked the tree, as I do whenever I take something from plants.

Just to show how big the apple is, I took a photo. Wondering what to use as a point of reference, I thought of a standard baked bean tin.

So, here it is:

A pic of the apple held in a hand would be better, but only my hands were available at the time, and I was holding the camera. But I hope you get some sense of the size.

I do love this time of year, but I do wish it didn't herald the start of the downward slope to winter.


I made chutney for the first time yesterday! I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Glutney recipe from his book The River Cottage Year, (marrow, onions, apples and sultanas) but halved the amounts and ended up with 4 jars. More than enough for me, (as I'm the only one who eats it in this house) so when hubby told me he'd mentioned it to a friend at work who'd sounded interested in it, I gave hubby a jar to take in to work with him. I hope it's ok! Matt and Caroline will also get a jar, as it was the marrow they brought up from Matts mums allotment that was used (and there was still enough marrow to have sliced and roasted last night, and enough left to make a chocolate courgette cake).

Hugh says to leave it a couple of weeks before trying it which will be hard. After making it, I had a strong craving for some mature cheddar and crusty bread!

The only downside to making it, was the smell and fumes of the hot vinegar, which made my sons complain all afternoon!

Next on my list is jam. Probably blackberry and apple as we have loads of blackberries growing around our gardens and fields, as well of lots of cooking apples from hubby's parents garden. Yum!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Car Booty

We went to Sully car boot yesterday. It was a good day with decent weather and lots of sellers. Last time we went, I came away empty handed, but this time, boy did I get some goodies!

Some glass dishes for £1.

A couple of cookery books. £1.50

I don't know when the Sensible Cookery book was printed, but one of my favourite bits in it is this section!

There are also pages telling you how to make a haybox cooker, and how to cook using a gas cooker. There are loads of recipes, some sound quite nice, others not so nice, such as Ragout of Cowheel. Also, I noticed that one of the recipes in the vegetarian section included dripping!
It's fascinating reading though.

I also got a preserving pan for a fiver, but the piece de resistance was this:

(not the cat of course, he's just helping to model it!)

and look what's inside

Someones old sewing box, complete with a mix of vintage and newer notions. Just £6. I'm guessing it came from a house clearance. I'm glad I can give it a new home.