Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cadi's Koigu Kerchief

I was gifted a skein of Koigu KPPPM by Cadi.  I fell for the yarn and the colours.   I wanted to make something that really showed the colours off, something that was fairly simple and straighforward, with out being too simple.  I had a go at two other kerchief's.  Then I was inspired by one pattern to design my own.  I will write up the pattern, post it here and link it to Ravelry.  Not tonight though unfortunately, time has already ran away with me.  It is worked from the tip upwards, with a border of five garter stitches then a yarn over.  The center piece is an Aran Braid, which I thought appropriate with it being head wear.  It is completed with an I-cord cast off.  It made me think of the first time I was introduced to such a cast off and boy, did I think it was complicated and over my head.  So, in hindsight, Sarah, you were right, it is a simple, smart and effective cast off edging.
I'll see if I can get HK to take a photo of me wearing it.  I have enough yarn left over to hopefully do a hair band as well.


I have started another 22.5 degrees shawl.  This time definitely for me.  I am using Ice Yarns Bamboo.  It is a 50% bamboo and 50% cotton blend in variegated pinks.  I'm using 5mm circulars and it seems to be knitting up fast so far.  I've had the yarn for a good few years now, so it's a good Stash Buster project.
I have started watching James Martins United Cakes of America.  I am enjoying the series and the cakes, needless to mention!  He visits bakeries across America, then adapts the cakes and recipes to give them his own twist.  These recipes are available free online.  So far I have printed all but one recipe.  I am trying to be good and only print the recipes as I see them.  I am not busting a gut to make any of them at the moment.  It is nice just to be introduced to different cakes and see how the 'work', rather than just look through a recipe book.  I shall very very soon have to find a file or some place to keep all these downloaded recipes.  The small shelf where I tend to push them  is getting more than full.  No doubt HK will have something to say about that - it's just a case of where on earth do I store such things?!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sunny Day and Forward Garden Plans

I think my chest infection is breaking - at least I really hope it is.  This morning I was hacking up loads of crud.  Nice.  I have two days left on the anti-biotics.  Lets hope they completely do the trick.  I have tried to soldier on and keep busy and not give into it.  As each day passes though I do feel more and more weary.  Today I drove to Carlisle and back - nearly a 100 mile round trip - for a WI Home Crafts Committe Meeting.  It was an enjoyable meeting, in which I actively participated.  And now I am jiggered - a very early night is on the cards.
We have had beautiful sunshine all day today.  The only downer being that all the way back I was driving into the sun.  Fingers crossed for the same sunshine again tomorrow and we might be able to spend a bit of time outside in the garden.  HK is gearing himself up to do the veg plot, and hopefully the soft fruit bed.  This will take much more doing as it hasn't been tended for at least three years.  I shall put the brakes on to my mind from whirring and driving me nuts about all the things I could do, make, bake, pickle and dry with the things that we plan to grow.
I am getting on apace with my Kerchief.  It's looking good, the yarn is being well shown off.  It may only need maybe two or three inches then I shall do an I-Cord finish.  I want to try and use as much as the yarn as possible.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Raspberry Curd Yoghurt Cake

Raspberry Curd Yoghurt Cake


  • 225g butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 or 3 tbsp raspberry curd
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  1. Preheat oven to 170c, gm 3.  Grease and flour a 25cm springform tin or 25cm bundt tin
  2. Sift together flour, bicarb and salt, then set aside
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time
  4. Mix curd and yoghurt together.  Alternatively add flour and curd yoghurt until just incorporated
  5. Put mix in tin and bake for 60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave in tin for ten minutes then turn out to a wire rack to cool
  • You could use lemon curd instead, or any curd. 
  • I found this to have a subtle raspberry flavour, not a full on one
  • If adventurous, I suppose you could try any flavour of youghurt, as long as the quantities are the same - make the cake your own!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Raspberry Curd

I have spent  a bit of a while in and out of the kitchen today.  Firstly I made some lemon curd, then I tried some raspberry.  I do have plans to make a cake with the curd.  Probably two cakes, one with each curd.  That may well be tomorrow's task.  I used slightly different ratio of ingredients to the lemon, and slightly less overall.  Raspberries have a lower pectin level than lemons (if that counts in a curd, as it does with jam), so it took a little longer to get it to thickness.

Raspberry Curd
  • 300g raspberries
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  1. Sterilise the clean jars in the oven, 140c/g 1for half an hour
  2. Mash the rasberries, then push through a sieve
  3. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl
  4. Add the sugar, raspberry puree and lemon juice.  Mix until all combined
  5. Add the butter then put the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water.  Stir with wooden spoon until the butter is melted
  6. Using a whisk, continuously whisk the curd until the consistency is similar to that of thick custard
  7. Pour into the jars, (a funnel is useful).  Allow to cool a little, then seal with wax paper and the jar lid
  8. Keep in the fridge.  It should keep for two months, but do use your common sense.  Once opened it should keep for around two weeks.

A New Kerchief

A short while ago, I was lucky enough to win a blog giveaway on Cadi's blog - Chocolate Fishes.  I won a beautiful hand made rabbit (or it may be a hare as it has long ears).  Cadi and I got to know each other via Raverly, we have been t'internet friends for at least three going on four years.  Cadi had her daughter a month after Mary-Jane was born, so for me we have a specialness in common.  My rabbit bought other gifts with it - a mismatched skirt with a rabbit on, a pair of leggins, two t shirts, a cardi with a fabric rose brooch and a skein of Koigu KPPPM.  Amazing!  I am very thankful x  The clothes are for MJ.
I sat last night wanting to start knitting with the Koigu.  I had a think and a good search on Ravelry for something I could make.  I wanted to Knit!  A lot of the searches came up with gorgeous fingerless gloves.  I love making the gloves, but I can't get on with wearing them around the palms of my hands.  The next thought was maybe a shawlette, I might have been pushing it with the yardage.  So on from that was head wear, along the lines of a kerchief.  I found a few that I liked that didn't need any adjusting for weight of yarn too much.  I wanted one that started from the point.  That made sense at the time, but thinking about it, this logic could be flawed, or it could be a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.  Never Mind.
Once the yarn was balled up, whilst watching the first episode of the first season of The Great British Bake Off.  I cast on The Cat's Paw Kerchief.  This evening, I carried on with it, then hit a snag.  I was a stitch short for the pattern and couldn't work out where said stitch was.  Frogging was in order.  I looked back on Rav for another pattern and found Kerchoo and cast on.  I got on with this pattern, a very simple and straight forward pattern.  I wanted to adapt the pattern.  First it started with an easy adaption. I undid it and started again with two new adaptions.  This went fine, till I got to 31 stitches.  I wanted more.  A pattern of some sort, not just stocking stitch.  I did originally think the stocking stitch would show the yarn off well. 
The new stitch adaptation couldn't be too much of a pattern as I didn't want to work out to include stitch increases.  I was thinking along the lines of a row of yarn overs and a ridge of garter stitch.  Then I had the bright idea of a bit of cabling.  Once centred, I didn't need to worry about the increases.  I sought out a cable pattern - Aran Plait - and I seem to be quite happy with what I am doing.  I just have the nagging worry of 'Do I have enough yarn?'  I'm suer I do, though it may be sailing a bit close to the wind.  If needs be, I can make adaptions at that end too.
So really, the pattern is mine, originally inspired by Kerchoo.  I do not have a name for it yet.

Mary-Jane in her new Mis-matched Bunny Skirt.  She had the rest of the outfit on yesterday.  She has added the red beads and the hair band, which she calls 'my crown'.  A proper grown up little girl.
Daddy took this one.  Beautiful x

Friday, 22 February 2013

22.5 Degrees Shawl For Mary-Jane

I have completed Mary-Jane's 22.5 Degrees Shawl.  She was very pleased with it.  It is much bigger than I thought it would be, and it fits me a treat as well........I wanted it to be more of a shawlette than a shawl.  There is still some yarn left, I've not weighed it yet, I'm sure there will be enough to make her a small shawlette.  However, Mary-Jane is very pleased with her new shawl.  She knew it was hers when I was making it for her.  She looks quite the Lady in it.

The pattern is 22.5 degrees by Martina Behm.  It is free on  The yarn is James C Brett - Moonlight Sonata.  I am now pondering about getting a ball of pink colourway as well.  Hhmmmm.
The yarn has a metallic gold thread, which shimmers nicely.  I love the scalloped edging - very easy to do.  It is on the To Do Again List.  It is a very pretty, delicate edge.

I went to the doctors again last night.  I have a chest infection and am now on another course of anti-biotics.  What joy.  It hasn't quite bought me to my knees yet and hopefully it won't.  I do need to slow down a bit and rest.  And I need to be right for Tuesday as I'm going to the CCFWI Home Crafts Meeting in Carlisle.  I couldn't attend last time due to poor health, back in October I think it was. 

I've been out this evening, living the high life - Prize Bingo at Wath Brow.  I didn't win anything, although I came close a few times!

I want to knit something else for Mary-Jane.  I have a pattern and yarn for a lacy shawl. I also want to do her a couple more dresses, though not all the same.  I have in my minds eye, to do her a dress in a feather and fan style stitch, a wavy type on.  I'm not quite settled on the overall shape of the dress yet.  I shall go rummaging through the drawers and see what yarn I can match up to project idea.  The bulk of my stash is still in storage, and has been there since November, and may well be there at least a good few more months.  Never mind, I have plenty to be going on with in the mean time.  When I do get it back it will be like having it all a new!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Running Around

I think I have a chest infection brewing, failing that an upper respiratory tract infection.  I managed to get a GP appointment tomorrow tea time.  It is at a surgery linked to the one I go to.  I was told that if I wanted a pre-booked appointment, I would have to wait three weeks.  Otherwise, I would have to ring and be placed in a queue to be answered, at 8am each morning until I was successful at A. Getting Through and B. There being appointments left that day.  At least I have an appointment.

Yesterday was hectic.  I knew it would be and I was glad when it was bedtime.  Morning started off with Mary-Jane and I going to Playgroup.  In the afternoon, I went back to St Mary's Room, the place where the playgroup is held.  I attended the first meeting of a new knitting group.  There was about 15 or 16 of us.  When suggestions were made for a name for the group, I made a suggestion - Knitterati, after the Knitterati that I used to go to at Carol's at Great Gate, on the Staffordshire Moorlands.  Time spent there was very special.  My idea was taken up (yes I did smirk alot), and the new group is now called Knitterati. 

I have yet to get in touch with Carol and let her know.  I haven't replied to her last letter, which she sent me back in September, which is remiss of me, and I really ought to make the effort to write back to her.

Evening time was spent at the WI Group Presidents and Secretary's meeting at Keekle.  I was pooped when I crawled into bed.  Only to be woken an hour or so later by Mary-Jane crying, and again later in the early hours.  Not a bad bad night, but one that has room for improvement!

I have been running around again to day.  It was the WI's Soup Lunch.  I picked up a WI friend (and her partner and son) from Egremont, to bring them to the lunch, stayed for a little while, then back to the house.  HK signs on today, so I drove over to Cleator Moor for him to sign on.   We did the recycling then headed off to Whitehaven to Argos to pick up a Mickey Mouse Playdoh set for Mary-Jane.  This is her Valentines Day gift from Auntie Annie.  She will have it tomorrow. 

No wonder I am jiggered!

I am nearly on the final stretch of Mary-Jane's scarf.  I have two and a half rows to go, then do the scalloped edge.  So maybe a further two evenings work.

All my Lemon Curd got sold today, along with a jar of pickled eggs.  I am planning to make some more and to do some Raspberry Curd as well.  I have a couple of cake recipes that use curd, so watch this space.  My mind is also wandering to Lemon Meringue Pie.  Pumpkin Pie must come first.  It is top of the list!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Lemon Curd

There are many recipes for Lemon Curd.  Most are very similar.  I have previously tried Microwave Lemon Curd, with not as much success as I would have liked.  Last week we picked up some lemons that were on offer, with the intention of me having another crack at lemon curd.  I am more than chuffed to say that this time I have it sussed!  I have success.  I made two batches of the stuff.  I am toying with the idea of making some bread tomorrow as LC on doorstep chunks of homemade bread toasted is out of this world.  I'll see how the morning goes.  Tuesday morning is Play Group, so I may have to have my wits about me and put the bread maker on before I go out.  Busy Busy Busy!

My Lemon Curd
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 6 lemons - zest of 3 and the juice of 6
  • 150g unsalted butter, in small cubes
  1. Sterilise the clean jam jars, in a preheated oven at 140c/gm1, for about 30 minutes
  2. Whisk the egg and egg yolks in a large heat proof bowl until combined.  Add the sugar, stir in the lemon juice and zest.  Add the butter.  Set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Make sure the bowl does not touch the water
  3. Stir the mix with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted, about five minutes.  The use a whisk to continuously stir the mix for about 10-12 minutes.  The curd should be the consistency of custard and leave a light trail when the whisk is lifted.  The curd will continue to thicken in the jarss
  4. Pour the curd into the warm sterile jars and leave to cool.  Cover the curd with a disk of waxed paper or parchment and seal with a lid.  Keep in the fridge and use within two weeks
With the left over egg whites, I bagged them up, four in each bag, and froze them, to use at a later time.  I think I will either use them for meringues or a meringue topping.  Adapt the recipe and make it your own!

Sliding in the sunshine

The sun has been shining today.  The promise that Spring my be just around the corner.  A day to take advantage of at least.  Mary-Jane has had a few trips into the garden.  The first was with Grandad.  I haven't spent any time in the field for quite some time.  I think that will be about to change, weather permitting.

Mary-Jane loves her slide still.  She asked if she could go on her slide, I said that it may be dirty and I'd have to wipe it.  I then looked at the slide and passed comment on how clean it was, Grandad replied that was because she had already been down it twice.........
Happy times for Mary-Jane and Grandad

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Weekend Catch-Up

I've felt a bit grotty most of the day, mainly to do with my guts.  The IBS still hasn't settled and when it plays up it knocks the absolute stuffing out of me.  I think what triggered it in the main today was my Valentines Cake.  I think it is just too rich for me at the moment.  Three times I've had a slice of the cake and three times I've felt bad after.  Today was worst.  I was even thinking of lying down on the bed for a while, but persevered. 
I have felt tired all day.  We three actually had a good nights sleep last night.  Mary-Jane slept all the way through till just after seven.  I think because we all had a good sleep that we feel more tired - it is all catching up with us!  MJ has coughed a few times this evening.  I have caught her cough. I am aware of my airways (in the usual places), they feel tight, not that I have needed an inhaler, just I know that they are there and they are labouring. I'm trying to ignore it and put it down to being tired and a bit run down.  I still harbour a quiet paranoia about gettitng poorly again.  To be expected I suppose.
I had a lovely day yesterday.  I took Mary-Jane to the library in Gosforth to get some new books.  She had earned herself another Attendance Certificate.  She is now becoming aware of the cetificates and what they are about.  She knows the routine of handing her old books in and taking her new ones to the desk and stamping the date on.  This particular librarian is very good with her.
After the library, we went on to visit a friend who moved into her new home on Thursday.  She has only moved a mile  (.9 of a mile she informs me!) from her previous house.  Her new home is lovely, I'm sure she will be happy there. I certainly would be, without a doubt! We stayed till about three, when MJ was starting to get a bit tired.  We had lunch, ate biscuits and drank tea.  If I'd stayed much longer I would have been giving it some major Zzzzz's in front of the log burner.  On the way back, MJ fell asleep about half way, and boy was she flat out asleep!  The journey is about 20 miles each way.
I was going to bake and have some kitchen time - I want to do some Lemon Curd amongst other things, but as I said earlier, I felt grotty.  I started making a Shepherds Pie, HK came to help as I was struggling even doing that.  It did taste rather wonderful, and I don't have to worry about tomorrow tea!
Oh!  Did I tell you what HK got me for Valentines Day?  Paul Hollywood's Bread and The Hummingbird Bakery's third book - Home Sweet Home.  Very Lucky Me!  I have started looking through Home Sweet Home and am inspred to do at least 80% of the cupcakes.  I am now looking through the second part of the book - big cakes (as opposed to cupcakes).  I've only had a very quick look through Bread, and read the intro only.  Hopefully this will help spur me on to make bread from scratch.  I know I'm not far off taking a foray into bread making - last weeks soda bread was just the start.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Friday Afternoon Ice Cream At St Bees

We had a rare bit of  near sunshine accompanied by little wind and no rain, so Mary-Jane, Granma and I headed off to St Bees for an ice cream.  Mary-Jane was so excited.  We first went to Hartleys Beach Cafe, for ice cream, tea and viennese fingers.  The sea seemed noisier than usual, I'm not sure why.  The waves seemed louder crashing on the shore.  The sea wasn't rough at all, but the tide was in and was just starting to turn.  I could hear the sea gushing over the pebbles, almost seemingly to jingle them as the waves were going back in readiness for the next crash.

After the cafe, we had a walk down onto the shore line.  We didn't go onto the beach itself, but walked a short distance on the path, which is only about three feet above the stones and pebbles.
Mary-Jane must have really liked watching the waves, as she pulled to sit down and watch the sea ebbing and flowing.
Whilst sat, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and the sunshine seemed to come directly to us.  I didn't move to take this, it was just there in front of us.  This will always remind me of my Auntie Cynthia and Cousin Fiona.  Always.  They will never be far away from me at times like this.
When we got back, Mary-Jane climbed into the drivers seat and wanted to drive, like Mommy does.  She was doing a good job, she knew where to out her hands - and to put her seat belt on!  I think she takes on board more than what I give creedence for.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentines Day Cake

I treated myself to a Heart Tasty Fill Cake Pan when I came out of hospital.  I had been ever so itching to use it since before it arrived.  Now I have.  I was kinda saving it for Valentines Day, just to make it a bit extra special.  The cake has taken a fair few hours to do, from start to finish, including making a quiche for tea at the same time.  I am very pleased with the results.  It isn't an everyday cake, and is quite rich and filling (nothing to do with me having a massive slice, mind!)  I put only half the buttercream on the outside.  I also made up nearly twice as much filling as needed, as I wasn't sure of conversion quantities.
I am really chuffed with how it turned out - very nearly like the picture in the recipe leaflet
I've mixed and matched the cake, filling and topping from different recipes

Chocolate Raspberry Valentines Cake - aka You Have My Heart Through and Through
  • 3oz milk chocolate
  • 3 tbps cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup raspberry jam
  • 2 packs of Birds Dream Topping/12 oz frozen whipped topping, defrosted
  • 1/2 pint milk
White Chocolate Buttercream Icing
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4oz white chocolate
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180c/350f
  2. Melt chocolate and set aside to cool
  3. Dissolve cocoa powder and coffee in the hot water, stir well.  Stir in the sour cream and set aside
  4. Combine flour, salt and baking powder, set aside
  5. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing each well
  6. Add vanilla, mix well. Add melted chocolate, again, mix well
  7. Add flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream mix, until all is combined
  8. Divide between the two prepared tins
  9. Cook for 38 - 42 minutes.  Leave in tin for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely
  10. Whisk up the dream topping, then fold in the jam
  11. When cake is cold, place this in the cavities.  Carefully sandwich the two cakes together, then chill (the cake, not you, you've not finished yet!)
  12. Cream butter in a mixer, add chocolate and vanilla, blend well.
  13. Gradually add the icing sugar, a cup at a time.  Add milk and beat until light and fluffy
  14. Ice the cake and decorate as desired, then chill - you and the cake!

Valentines Cakes for the WI

Mum decided that she wanted to do some valentines themed cakes to take with her to the WI meeting.  By gone 3 in the afternoon, she had baked the cakes, been shopping and decided that she didn't have time to 'titivate' them, so asked me to do it.  I already had the coloured sugarpaste - some that I had coloured earlier in the best Blue Peter tradition.  Luckily.  The are quite simple and straight forward to do.  Just have three heart cutters, different sizes.  Stick them on top of each other as shown and Voila!
The hearts are resting on a bed of vanilla buttercream.  I sprinkled the tops with a red and diamond white dust for extra shimmer.  The cakes went down very well!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Princess Dress and A Baking Non-Starter

I have finished Mary-Jane's 'Summer Tee'!  I actually finished it at Woodlands yesterday, at the knitting group.  I am pleased with it.  The next one needs tweaking, especially around the neckline, to make it smaller, so it can be worn on it's own when it is warmer.  Mary-Jane was thrilled to bits with it when I showed it to her.  Her little face lit up and she called it 'my princess dress'.  She then began pulling at the dress she had on, so she could put her new princess dress on.  It definitely needs a t shirt underneath it.  And as she is thrilled with it, then I am doubly thrilled.

The Princess Dress.  It has so much potential.  And it takes no time at all to do.
My princess in her princess dress today, with Daddy's shoes.  The hem rolls up somewhat, that is another thing I want to work on for next time.  Still, it looks good, she looks good in it and she likes to wear it.  Happy Happy Happy!

I have now cast on a 22.5 degrees shawl for her.  It is designed by Martina Behm and the pattern can be found free on Ravelry.  I am using James C Brett Moonlight Sonata, in greens.  It's coming together nicely at the moment, and the stitch count is increasing.  It's a v shaped scarf/shawl.  One stitch is cast on either end of every row and there are two yarn overs either side of the centre stitch every third row.  There is a scalloped edging.  I think I have my head around how to do it, it's a new edging stitch to me.  There will be plenty yarn left over, so I may make myself one, or something similar.  It is a 100g ball, with 500m in double knit.
Last night was WI comittee night.  When I got back, I did feel drained, and had an early night.  It was the firt night in a while that Mary-Jane actually slept through.  She did have a few cries in her sleep, but nothing that warrented us going in to us.  Fingers crossed she is breaking this cycle of screaming for us when she wakes in the night.
Tomorrow night is WI Main Meeting (as I call it).  I hope I shall not be as drained.  I even had a nap this afternoon, on the sofa.  MJ got my lap blanket and put it over me.  I was going to bake this afternoon - and use my new tin with the hidden heart.  I was missing a few tactical ingredients, soured cream, chocolate and icing sugar.  If Tesco wasn't so far away, I would have nipped out and got the stuff.  There is the Co-op but I would be paying top dollar for items.  I quitely had my bottom lip out.  And I was kicking myself, as I was walking around Tesco this morning (HK had an appointment in Whitehaven, so MJ and I had a wander around Tesco to kill time) I thought about getting two of the three things at least, but decided against it as I didn't want to buy without specific reason.  I am trying to use and run down a lot of my baking things, so that I can build up with fresh.  So flippin typical that the cake, filling and topping I decided to do today, contains the things that I decided not to buy.  So yes, I did sulk somewhat to myself!  I thought about baking some biscuits, but by that point, I just thought 'Nah, not today'.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Moist Rhubarb Cake

I have been busy in the kitchen again today.  For lunch I made parsnip soup.  The natural sweetness of the parsnips came through beautifully.  It was a simple soup - 500g parsnips, three small potatoes, two small onions, two veggie oxo cubes and about a 1.5lt water, though a little less would have worked just as well.  What needed to be peeled and chopped was, then oxo cubes and water added to pan, followed by the veg.  Cook until veg is soft.  Allow to cool slightly, then blend/ puree till smooth.  Re-warm slightly and serve. Delicious.

The Cake - I got some rhubarb a few days ago from Morrisons.  I wanted to do more than just a pie or crumble, as much as what I love these dishes.  I have done a couple of different rhubarb cakes before, this one is a slight variation and tastes just as good.  I have modified the original recipe, so here it is -

Moist Rhubarb Cake
  • 50g butter
  • 300g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250ml soured cream
  • 400-500g chopped rhubarb
  • 5tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven at 180c/gm4. Grease and line a 8x11" tin
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla extract
  3. Sift together flour, bicarb and salt.  Gradually add to mix
  4. Fold in soured cream, then rhubarb.  Spoon into baking tin
  5. Bake for 40 mins or until skewer comes out clean

  • This could be enjoyed warm with either ice cream or a warm nutmeg cream
  • It can be baked in a glass dish if being served straight away as a desert/pudding
  • If it is to be eaten as cake, the lining is important as you will be using this to carefully extract the cake from the tin - you can't turn it out as normal as all the sugar will fall off!
  • I am using a fan oven, I think it would be best to have the temp 5-10 degrees lower and have it in for the full 40 minutes.  Obviously check if it is cooked before taking it out of the oven.  A good working relationship with your oven is always a good thing!
  • I used a molasses sugar - black sugar I think it is known as in the US.  It gave a lovely darm brown colour, which highlights the pinkness of the rhubarb.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mary-Jane has been playing with her bricks, with help from Daddy.  She made a table and a chair each for Mr Snuggles and Sock Monkey.


She and HK have been very tired again today.  Mary-Jane woke twice in the night, crying then screaming.  The second time she was curled up in her bed, screaming for Daddy.  I think we are going to have to take a tougher stance on this night time screaming, and literally let her scream till she stops and not go into her.  This approach has worked in the past before.  But the screaming is very taxing on the nerves, especially when you're very tired.  We shall overcome!
I went to see the GP today for the results of my blood test.  Everything (that they tested for) is fine and back to normal, as I expected it would be.  I no longer have to go back, unless I get badly again.  One bit of good news.  Shame they couldn't find out where or what was infected in the first place.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A New Book and A New Project

I have had a relaxing morning knitting and chatting at Fobbles.  I cast on a new project - a Summer Tee for Mary-Jane.  But why a new project only days after starting the Tulip Cardi?  When I dressed MJ this morning, I put her 'Little Sister' jumper/tunic/tee on her, over a t-shirt.  I thought I was taking a gamble with an knitted item at the moment as she has screamed blue murder when I have tried to put something hand made on her.  Today she loved it, calling it 'my scarf'.  I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't a scarf, she was too happy telling me it was warm and cosy.  We came down stairs, HK sorted her breakfast and I dived into my pattern collection.  I knew I had the pattern.  I found it easily.  The biggest size was to fit a 2 year old, too small for her.  I don't have the brain power at the moment to grade the pattern to fit her.  I searched Ravelry to find a similar one that would fit her.  I found one, very much the same in principle.  I had some mixed orange yarn in the drawer, so off I went.
I do have reservations whether the neck line may be too big for her, we shall see.  And I shall have to be prepared to frog and re-start.  I can also start thinking about making this pattern 'mine' and making alterations and adaptations.  When I have the head space.  The yarn is knitting up more pleasanter than what I thought it would do.  No pictures as yet.
By the time I got back I was feeling quite jaded and in need of rest.  I sat for a bit, had a bite to eat then had the brain wave of doing the weekly shop now, rather than in the morning, so I wouldn't be rushing - I have a GP appt in the afternoon.  Off we went.  I was struggling on the way back with the driving and was very glad it wasn't any longer a journey.
I also made a decision not to go to Sugarcraft this term.  I think, at the moment, it would be too much for me.  Come evening time I have no particular energy to do much at all.  The prospect of doing a 37 mile round trip and sitting in a class for two hours, is a bit too much.  Plus I am way behind with the work and would have difficulty catching up.  Mounting pressure that I don't need currently.  I do need to continue with it, and set myself small projects and try out new techniques of cake decorating.
I have already put some of the course fees to good use.  I have had arrive today, Jo Wheatley's 'A Passion For Baking'.  Jo was the winner of the second The Great British Bake Off.  Her book was not due out till March or April time.  However Sainsbury's had an exclusive and are selling the book now, cheaper than even Amazon.  I have looked through about half the book so far and I am liking it.  It is not another baing book full of cake recipes.  It is divided into baking for meals (baking not cooking).  Quite a few things have caught my eye to try.
Mary-Jane had a better night last night.  She awoke only once just after 11.  She came onto our bed for a bit, then went back to her own bed and stayed there till morning.  She hasn't slept through for, well not since I have been back from the hospital.  Fingers and toes crossed for tonight.  She is also a bit snuffly and has a cold coming on.  HK is feeling the effects of many nights poor sleep, and I feel for him.  MJ tends to cling to him when she is sleeping with us, so he gets the short straw.  I suppose it all comes with the territory really!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Banoffee Cupcakes

Monday's Baking Offering was Banoffee Cupcakes.  There are many variations on this cupcake, as you can imagine.  I like this one for taste and texture.  The frosting can be piped, but I was getting past needing a sit down and a rest, so it went on by palette knife.  There was some frosting left over, so the quantities are only guidelines - your taste dependant! It is also a good way to use up the rest of the tin of Carnation Caramel, after making the White Chocolate Brownies.



Banoffee Cupcakes

Makes 12
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 100g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 12 tsp Carnation Caramel
  • 100g Carnation Caramel
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 85g butter
  • Sliced banana and chocolate shavings to decorate - optional
  1. Preheat oven to 160c fan, 180c.  Put cake papers in tin
  2. Mash banana and set aside
  3. Add all ingredients to bowl and mix till creamy, fold in bananas
  4. Spoon half mix into papers.  Add a spoonful of caramel to each cake, then top up with rest of cake mix
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, then cool
  6. Beat caramel witih butter and icing sugar, to form thick icing.  Spoon into icing bag with fluted nozzle and pipe onto cake.  Alternatively, use a palette knife.  Drizzle each cake with extra caramel.  Top with sliced banana and chocolate shavings.
Alternative topping is to use melted chocolate instead of caramel - similar to chocolate ganache.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Gull Baby Blanket Finished & White Chocolate Brownies

 I am continuing to gather strength and to busy myself.  Yesterday we went out shopping (only round the supermarkets, nothing to get excited about) for the afternoon.  I was shattered when we got back in.  And we popped out briefly this afternoon.  I managed to do some baking as well - white chocolate brownies - more of this in a bit.
At tea time, Mary-Jane said she was cold and wanted to wear a scarf, not a cardi, jumper or coat, but a scarf.  I produced my Green Apple scarf and she was highly delighted.  I put it on her, and she kept it on till bedtime.  I shall rummage out some yarn that is suitable for her and make her one.

I have finished the Gull Baby Blanket.  I am very pleased with the outcome.  Tomorrow I start the Tulip Cardi.  With this blanket, I found it seemed to take a while to get going with it, then when I did, whoosh!  It seemed to put itself together and finishing it took no time.
The lace pattern is taken from Elizabeth Zimmemans Knitters Almanac.  It was put into a blanket by Ingrid Aartun Boe - Pine Forest Baby Blanket on Ravelry.  It is a four row repeat, with two rows being good ole purl all the way.

White Chocolate Brownies

250g Caster Sugar
100g butter
100g ready made caramel (Carnation Caramel)
100g white chocolate
2 eggs
200g self raising flour
2       ripe sliced bananas
  1. Preheat oven to 160 fan, 180c, gas 4. Line a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt caster sugar, butter, caramel and chocolate together until smooth
  3. Cool a little, then add the eggs
  4. Fold in the flour, then the bananas
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins till risen and set.
I am using a fan oven, I found 45 minutes a bit too much, a few minutes less will be better next time.  It tastes good, give it a go!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Happiness is a Libby's Tin of Pumpkin

Continuing with getting back into some kind of semblance of a routine, and today being Friday, it was Weekly Shop Day.  It was a little tiring towards the end, but I got it done, all to plan.  Whilst looking for the Birds Dream Topping (another little story) I was completely blown out of the water by what I saw on the shelf - Libby's Pumpkin!  I hope solid means puree,  only opening it will let me know.  I was stunned!  Have Tesco been listening to my thougths and moans?  I am seriously thinking of emailing them and thanking them for stocking it.  There wasn't many tins left on the shelf and I was sorely tempted to get them all, to stock up in case they don't get any more.  Even the recipe on the back is in English English - weights and measures in imperial and metric.  Ah, how the little things in life make me happy.  I am however going to be thoughtfully pre-occupied in getting my hands on some more tins.  HK  has already put in a very strong request for Pumpkin Pie and a Quiche in the next few days, if I don't mind, thank you!  Double Happiness.

Birds Dream Topping -

I treated myself to this cake tin (and I am chuffed with myself as I have never put a picure on here that is not one of my own photos, wooo!), as a bit of a Get Better Me treat.  The recipes are, naturally in American English.  This no longer daunts me, saying that I did need some help with Transatlantic translation for a couple of things.   One was frozen whipped desert.  The nearest thing to this over here is Birds Dream Topping.  Alternatively I have been advised that I could use double/whipped cream with sugar to get the right consistency.  It is to go in the middle of the cake, for the heart filling.  One good thing leads to another.  If I wasn't looking for the dream topping, I wouldn't have found the Pumpkin.
The tin is from Wiltonby the way.  I'm getting quite a liking for their cake tins, as you know!