Tuesday, 29 March 2011

More Muffins and Suchlike

These little delights are Yoghurt and Spice Muffins. Not overly sweet to the taste. They would be nice with either cream, ice cream or custard. They have mixed spice and sultanas in, making them a little reminiscent of Christmas.
I made a dozen, they won't last long! The recipe will go in my 'Tried & Tested' book. An all time favourite that I don't make often enough. Chocolate Butterfly Cakes, these are with lemon buttercream. They lasted just over 24 hours. Definitely make some more, and variations of.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Cheese Straws, Faffiers and Macarons

The baking continues. Cheese Straws. I followed the recipe. I think it it needs it tweeking. They tasted good, however, and didn't last long. I shall make cheese straws again, but not for a bit.
Palmiers. I thought I'd venture into pastry. It's never been a strong point. My shortcrust pastry is passable. I saw the recipe for Palmiers and it got me going. I was pleased how they came out, they could be better though. I'm going to re-name them Faffiers, because you really need to faff to get them made. These too didn't last long. As the recipe said, they are nice with a hot drink. They are also tasty with ice cream. Again I'd make them again, when I'm feeling up to it. They need some time and patience. I did add some mixed spice, which worked well.

Today I tried making Macarons. Disaster. I won't be trying to make them again. Trust me! Next time I shall be sticking with cupcakes and spongy type stuff!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Surprise in the Post

Yesterday the postie delivered a swap package from Knitr54, who lives in America. It was a lovely surprise, as I wasn't expecting it then (even though I'd been sent an email to say it was on it's way, I'd not been onto Ravelry to pick it up). The contents were delightful! There was a gorgeous sleepsuit and outfit for Mary-Jane Some delectable yarn for me, to make things for MJ. My fingers are twitching to get going......... Oh and this bag, what can I say? I love it! It is so me! I debuted it yesterday afternoon in Whitehaven, very proud of it I am!
Here is MJ in her new ourfit. I have told her that whilst she has the bib on, she is a frog princess
She looks so cute in it. On the bum of the trousers is a lovely star, I like the idea of this, a pretty detail.
Big Thanks to Knitr54 for the package, you've done yourself proud!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Walk on a Spring Day

Yesterday was a wonderfully warm spring day. Come mid morning, MJ and I were ready for a walk and make the most of the glorious weather. HK has been chomping at the bit to get outside and do, so he was more than happy being out and sorting the area between the house and the garage. Mary-Jane and I headed out on the back road to Beckermet (Nursery Road). It was wonderful to be out and to feel the sun warming our bones!

I know I've shown these views before, I like to see the same place throughout the year to see how the place changes with the seasons. If you look in the centre of the picture, you can just see the sea. It is much more visible by the naked eye. As beautiful a day it was, there was a lot of snow on top of the fells. Again, look at the centre of the picture, it is snow, not low laying clouds!
We walked into the village and turned right up School Lane. I'm not sure if it actually called School Lane or Mill Fields something or another! There is a primary school and a nursery down there. We carried on till we got in distance of some bends. As there was no path, I decided to turn back. Appararntly if we had continued, the A595 was directly the other side of the bends. It would bring us out at the roundabout. However I'm pretty sure that there is no path on the main road between there and here, but I shall have a look next time we are out - which will probably be later this afternoon.
We were out for and hour and a half in total. On the way back it was that warm that I had to take my coat off. Today the weather is soooo miserable. Not cold as such, but wet, very wet. It's been raining all day. Visibility is poor, the fells are nowhere is sight, neither is Sellafield. That's not a bad thing!

More Kitchen Goodies

I'm still trying to spend some time in the kitchen, where I have chance. I made a quiche - mushroom and cheese - using some of the eggs from the girls in the garden. It tasted good. I didn't put in as much cheese in as usual and used a small amount of double cream rather than creme fraiche. Surprisingly it tasted more eggy! Meringues. At the last WI meeting, there was a cookery demonstration. I came away with a variation on an idea for stuffed mushrooms. And inspiration to try meringues. I have held the belief that meringues are very difficult to do. This theory has now vamooshed into the Ether. Meringues are now in my repertoire of Things I Can Bake. They are mighty sweet though, that I shall tinker with.

So here are my first meringues. I used two egg whites and double the weight on sugar. BAked on a very low heat for just over an hour. I'm chuffed. As well as being inspired to try and bake meringues, I also tasted mangoes and passion fruit. I duly went out the following day and got some of the fruit. Yum Yum, I'm converted. Why wasn't I brave enough to try these fruit before? Oh I also tried Physalis. Makes your ears waggle, but will look out for them when shopping next!
That leaves me with my trust Cheddar and Apple pie. This is more gorgeous than the picture looks. It's cheesy pastry, and the filling is layers of fried onion, sliced apple, sweet potato, wensleydale cheese and sage. Topped with creme fraiche. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Hats R Us!

Mary-Jane has been having fun exploring hats and various headwear of late. She seems to like and tolerate things on her head. Or is it just me liking to have a play? Well, there is a question that needs no answer!

It started off with The Frog. Actually is started a long time ago by putting her muslin cloth on her head, but the less said about that the better. Mary-Jane thought it was fun that the frog was on her head and posed quite happily for photos. The next hat, and please note that not all this head-onistic fun was all on one day, was the rather gorgeous hat from Tavish. It comes with a matching jacket as well. This hat is rather splediferous and has bells on some of the ends of the twirly bits. MJ loves hearing the bells when she moves her head.

This is a hat I made her to go with her new play dress. As is the common theme with my knitting of late, it is a little too big for her, but not too overly big. Honest.

That hat is not as big as this one that I finished for her last night. The picture is a big hazy as I left the camera in the car last night and we have had Cumbrian Rain all night and all morning so far. I will tell you the delights of Cumbrian Rain another time. Any how, the hat. I used Robin Cupcake. It's a lovely warm yarn and if I can get the bloody tension anywhere near right then, I would gladly use it again. The pattern gave two sizes, 18" and 20". I decided to go with the 20" (not being clued up on baby head sizes, a fatal flaw in this sorry little tale). I thought my little girl is growing and doesn't need the first size. Oh dear. A measure in time saves frogging. As does a tension square.

I'm sure you can see where this sorry tale is going. Hat complete and me beaming that it looks fine and planning to take MJ out in it, HK suggested very tactfully that it was a bit big. It is, a lot bit big. It fits me. The proportions are a little out, but it fits me. I measured it, 22". My head measurement is 23". I shall see how well the yarn frogs. I'm getting rather p*****d off with this tension malarky!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Mary-Jane is continuing to grow, as babies do! The biggest news is that she has finally cut her two front teeth. She is learning to sit up and has help with this from Ermintrude. We got a new stroller for MJ, as she was fast growing out of her original pram/pushchair. The new one is not quite so good at off-roading as the old one, but I can push her round the garden in it.
MJ has not grown out of her beloved play mat. However when she is rolling round on the floor, she does not keep her rollings to just the play mat, this is just her starting point and she rolls all over. When she gets to the edge of the room, she is returned to her play mat to start again! She loves it.
Here is Mary-Jane out in the garden a few days ago. It was a lovely warm sunny spring day. She really enjoyed watching the chickens about the place.
We now have 6 more chickens (that is the royal 'we' by the way). They are young. As yet they haven't been allowed out of the run till they have settled down and got used to their new home.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Baking & Two Recipes

I've been spending a bit of time in the kitchen of late. Mary-Jane sits in her high chair and watches the proceedings. I enjoy this time. It is a calming time for me (as long as everything is going as it should!) and I want MJ to get used to spending lots of time in the kitchen.

I made a pastry plait. This is a new-ish type of thing for me to make, and will make it again. Okay, so I cheated and used a pack rather than all from scratch. The pastry is made, then left in a warm place to prove. The poppy seed mix is made seperately. The pastry is then rolled out, the poppy seed mix spread on top, this is then all rolled up longways. It is then cut length ways in two then plaited and put in the oven. Simple when you know how! Oh and when it is cooled, a thin icing glaze is poured over it. Thumbs up to this one! One evening I made some muffins, Now I was very pleased with the outcome of these. I had made one of my trusty banana loaves a few days before and added chocolate chips - an idea passed to me by my friend Lauran in the US of A. Chocolate chips will be added again, trust me. I was still in the mood to bake something banana-ry, I had this recipe in a book HK got me for Chirstmas. The original recipe includes apricots, but I'm not a big fan of apricots, so I added chocolate chips instead (thanks Lauran!). Again I was chuffed with the results. The recipe is straightforward:

Banana and Chocolate chip Muffins
(Makes 12)
3oz butter, melted and cooled
10oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 oz castor sugar
2 bananas
5 fl oz milk
2 eggs
Preheat the oven to GM 6/ 200.c. Place muffin cases in muffin tin. Sift together flour, baking powder and slat into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.
Mash the bananas, place in a measuring jug then add enough milk to make the puree up to 9 fl oz.
Beat the eggs lightly, then beat in the banana puree mixture and the melted butter. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquid. Stir until just combined; do not over mix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
BAke in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until goled brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins then either serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yesterday I baked a Baked Apple and Sultana Cheesecake. Now this is scrummy whilst still warm, just as good cool. I served it with double cream (poured). One of the nice things about this cake is that it is not overly sweet to the taste.

Baked Apple & Sultana Cheesecake
6 oz white self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 oz soft brown sugar
6 oz sultanans
2 oz hazlenuts, flaked (you can omit these)
1 lb desert/eating apples, peeled, cored & sliced
2 eggs, beaten
3 fl oz oil
8 oz wensleydale cheese
icing sugar
Grease a 9" round loose based cake tin
Sift the flour & baking powder, stir in the sugar, sultanas, hazlenuts & apples
Combine the eggs with the oil and add the dry ingredients. Mix well together
Turn half the mixture into the tin and level. Crumble the cheese evenly over then cover with remaining mixture. Roughly spread the mix to the edges of the tin.
Bake in preheated oven at GM 4 for approx 1 hour until golden and just firm. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.
Serve warm, sprinkled with icing sugar.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tension Headache

The saga of the playdress continues. I got to not far off finished, when that now dreaded feeling of 'it's not right' smacked me in the face again. Out came the tape measure. In a nutshell, my tension when knitting on circular needles is much much looser than when on knitting on straights. I had got as far as the first set of shoulder straps. I've frogged it and re-worked out the tension and taken a bit off for good measure and started again. It kinda looks okay now. I've done about 3 and a half inches. Got to get it right ir as near as damn it, at least before the yarn gives up the ghost and won't be re-knittable! Hurmph.