Skyscrapers and String


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the cooking category.

More than one way to bake a cake..!

Hello everyone!

What a week it’s been!

I was poorly on Monday, which in all truth was probably stress from work. Tuesday we went to a funeral, it was very jolly as funerals go, seeing people you’ve not seen for years, we also got to pay our respects at Grandad’s grave, I still miss him like mad. I am particularly missing him today, we always spent Bank Holidays together. I made a cake and I rarely make fruit cake since I lost him. The smell of fruit and spice just brings him back into the room.

Wednesday was back to work, and I had to work on Thursday And Friday as I’d swapped my day off for the day to attend the funeral.

Friday at work was Very Odd. I saw my colleagues in polo shirts and jeans. I wanted a nap mid afternoon!

Saturday, Lesley and I went to Leigh on Sea. What a fabulous place! So many nice places to eat and drink, such lovely views of the estuary. We had bright sunshine for the whole afternoon and my lungs were full of the salty sea air. There is a fabulous haberdashery there and I stocked up on buttons, on ribbons and lace, and bought some red and cream yarn to make a toy fox.

Yesterday was just quietly indoors, catching up on chores and Knitting. I bought red and cream aran weight yarn to make my latest toy, the stitches flew off my needles and this morning I put the finishing touches to the jolly little chap. Here, what do you think? Isn’t he adorable!

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I am missing my Nipper terribly, she is having a week’s holiday in Spain. I hope she is having a super time!

Anyhow, as Jon is out gallivanting with his friends I needed to sort out my craft corner. I have been through everything. I have so many half finished things. I want to make new things, I think it is known as Startitis!

Here you can see my cake making efforts, I am quite happy, my mouth still tastes the spices. The recipe called for several layers of brown paper and stuff, I had the brainwave to use my new silicone breadmaking pan. What a triumph! If I’d had a proper brain, I would have saved myself washing up and could have stirred the cake in the same pan!

Still, what a success! Delicious cake ! I used the recipe from Kirstie Allsopp Crafts, its the fruit cake that won first prize. I used half measures as I only had half the dried fruit for the recipe as written.

When I finish this post, I will get some more. It is lovely! I hope you are keeping well! The weather here is ghastly! What else is there to do? Lol!

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Bread and Silicone

Hello all,

I hope you have all had a jolly week. Mine has been good and rubbish and stressful by turns.

I will gloss over the whole thing if you don’t mind.

At home, I’ve been getting really organised. Last weekend I tidied my wardrobe, and I feel like I am getting somewhere. I put all my winter clothes in the loft and predictably, the weather has started to change, there is a definite nip in the air!

Regular readers will know for quite a few months now I have been baking sourdough bread. The recipe is very simple but makes a tremendous mess, I get flour everywhere, the dough is runny and sticky, and getting it out of the bowl and into the cooking pot is a bit of a faff.

Recently, I got a Lakeland catalogue in the post, and saw a silicone silicone bread pot. You mix the dough, let it rise, and bake it in the one thing! Genius!

Yesterday Amber and I went to Westfield Stratford for a celebratory shop and lunch following her success in her exams, so I popped into Lakeland and treated us to one of these pots.

When we got home, I put the ingredients into the new pot and left it overnight.

This morning I heated the oven and popped the pot inside.

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The results were fantastic!

Not a speck of flour went astray, no sticky hands, and the result was delicious. Really crispy crust, almost caramelised. Shaped like a rugby ball!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we just had some for lunch. It was smashing.

The bowl came out beautifully clean and has gone in the dishwasher.

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Jon has been tirelessly blocking my shawl backlog, and there’s one beautifully pinned out drying upstairs. I’ll show you tomorrow!


Home Made Bread

Hello all!

At the moment, in the UK, we are having glorious weather.

Amber has finally finished her A Levels, and she helped with a day’s workshops at Amnesty International’s HQ in Shoreditch today. I am so proud of her, her kindness, her huge heart, her beautiful clever mind and her gentle soul.

Our home is filled with an atmosphere of peace and love, and it’s wonderful.

On the side bar of this blog, you can see the link to the blog where I learned to make sourdough bread at home. Lucy from Attic 24 pointed it out and she brought it to my attention first. She makes smaller loaves than me, I like making quite a lot at once.

I took some pictures today of the dough and so on, to share with you.

There’s cheese bread, using strong cheddar, and the other bread has cinnamon and mixed fruit added, both are really yummy!

Here you can see my new Cath Kidston flour shaker. Invaluable if your making this stuff!

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Here is the sticky dough once turned out of the bowl:

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Here you can see the cheese to go in one of the loaves:

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Once the fruit and cinnamon are folded into the loaf on the right, and the cheese into loaf on the left, you can see them here waiting to cook:

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Here you can see them baked, don’t they look grand!

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A bit of the cheese bread stuck to the cast iron pot, you have to imagine what it tastes like mmmmmm:

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Here you can see the finished project, watched over by the tiled Splashback of my cat behind the cooker:

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I urge you to try the recipe. It is life changing. Feed the people you love good home made things, love them and make yourself happy at the same time.

I hope you’re having a fabulous weekend!


Pink, Red and Blue

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

For quite a while now I’ve been trying to organise my life.

My thoughts, being muddled, led to my life being jumbled up. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to get to tidy thinking, and now my world is happier.

For a long time, I built up a vast collection of craft supplies. I would buy things on impulse, and not know what to do with any of it.

The temptation of shopping as recreation, the lure of the sale price, the luxurious product on sale at a show, the opportunity to acquire something really fab and hard to get, the fashion trend, the buying of stuffs with a solely seasonal appeal, you name it, I have fallen prey to the temptation.

And some times I have been a bit led astray. Like the time the Rowan Mill had a sale on £1 a ball yarn, and books at £1 each! Or the time I found my greek hotel was built over a wool warehouse, and I could have any ball for €1. Or the October sale at Loop!

A perfect example: last year, I went on a class by Madeline Tosh on colour theory, she really knew her stuff. We looked at colour wheels, contrast, saturation, tone, hue and everything.

The first question she asked was “what is your favourite colour?” And I answered with Daffodil yellow. This is a precise answer in terms of knitting, because at Loop there is a vast cupboard stuffed with a rainbow of balls of Jamison’s Shetland Spindrift yarn, and Daffodil is my go to shade.

I was sat next to a very talented and clever yarn dyer. At the end of the class everyone agreed on a theme colour for each person. Mine was dusty purple.

I felt vexed. I don’t really ever wear purple. It is dark and dull, plus, during the 80’s I think I was mad on it for a decade, and, now I am in my late forties, I now like bright spring colours.

After the class, I went wild and bought heaps of purple yarn. And I haven’t used any of it.

Anyway, I discovered the key to my stash was in my hand all along.

Just like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, I discovered that my Ravelry notebook was the answer!

I had never much used my stash tab, however over the recent weeks, I’ve filled it in, and knowing exactly how much wool I have, yard by yard, has meant I can pick patterns out properly !

Now I know what I’m doing and my stash is my friend!!!

So busy knitting this week. It’s all going well!

Here is the lovely lace crochet bag now in my queue due to be made in Drops Paris – idea was from their newsletter:

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Here also is Amber’s shawl, I ran out of yarn Friday evening, bought another huge ball to complete the last three rows, and to my astonishment, the wool came today! Post on a Sunday! Fabbo!

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Here you can see the Nimu Isel in blue to make an Ishbel shawl. Regular readers will know the last time I tried to knit this it was rubbish. So wish me luck! The yarn is a soft but bright blue, with denim tones here and there, it is truly stunning.

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I am also making another shawl in red, this is in Shilasdair 4 ply. Gorgeous!

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Here you can see this morning’s baking, wholemeal sourdough, two loaves, one with cinnamon and raisins. Mmm! Also my cat guarding my Ishbel pattern.

It’s been a fab weekend. I hope you’re all well and happy!

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Daily Bread

Hello everyone!

I have hidden the remaining Easter eggs.

Surely the sight of chocolate will please me once again?

No work for me today, all I have to do is lounge about, crochet, drink tea and read. And perhaps a nap.

Must dot out to the Library later too as the latest Bryant and May detective book is out “The Bleeding Heart”. I think this is the 14th book in the series.

The gripping element (underneath the mystery solving part) with these books is that each volume goes into historical details of some element of London life. Previous books have detailed the hidden rivers of London, the history of witchcraft, punch and judy, and old London pubs.

Yesterday, Jon and I went out to buy red kitchen tiles. After a long walk, and heavy carrying, Jon set to work, and here you can see his work:

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After tiling, I put some bread on to rise overnight, the link to the recipe is on my links bar at the left.

It is an American recipe and calls for cups of flour.

Last night I used my regular coffee mug as my measure, and I used two cups of strong bread flour, with one cup of seeded brown flour.

The taste was superb!

This morning I popped the bread in the oven, here it is in its baked glory:

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Here it is once Amber and I had it fir breakfast:

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Lucy from the Attic 24 blog shared this bread recipe, and she republished this in UK measures.

I made a loaf using these weights and it came out way too small for my liking. The first time I made the recipe I used my trusty mug, and I preferred the bigger loaf, it makes a few servings, rather than one.

Now I am crocheting a hat. I am embarrassed to take a picture as it looks like a vast doily at the moment.

My wish list for this year is to master crochet by producing a hat, a lace shawl that is not a granny lace, and some kind of garment, such as a bolero or cardigan.

Watch this space!

Have a lovely day!


The Week Of The Giant Jaffa Cake Invasion!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far!

It has been an odd week, fast paced and fun at some points, and extremes of peace and love followed by witnessing bizarre and unkind behaviour at turns.

On the peace and love front, everyone at home is well and happy, our week has been full of kindness and affection. Amber and I have had lots of hugs and girl time, and we have been walking through our park each day, which has made a tremendous boost to my quality of life. Not only is the walk good for our health, with the fresh air and exercise, the sight of nature waking up each day fills the soul.

After work, Jon and I have been going to the pool together, the pool is softly lit and the day at work speeds past, happily knowing soon I’ll be swimming and zoning out with Jon, then us chatting and travelling back home together.

Knitting Club is in it’s second week of two day meet ups, it is wonderful to have double knitting company! We are ramping up our collective knitting efforts, we have a charity sale in a couple of weeks time. I have made two Minion hats and some striped mitts so far:

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Today I have to knit some eyes for the new Minion hat. I am knitting a small baby sized one next. So cute!

One of the great joys of this week has been the discovery of the giant Jaffa Cakes in Costa. Sadly for my waistline, on Wednesday, right next to the till they had a plate of these delights free for patrons to sample. I succumbed!

Saturday was delightfully spent in the company of dear Lexie, who is the cleverest, warmest and most wonderful friend. A true kindred spirit. We met for lunch at Liverpool Street and the weather was gorgeous and sunny.

We ate at The Real Greek in Spitalfields Market, and we put the worl to rights over a bottle of Macedonian Rose and a plate of Gyros with salad, it was gorgeous, however the wine went to both our heads and by the time we toddled off for our Cultural Expedition to the Museum of London we doubted whether we’d get there!

Here you can see Liverpool St station glowing in the sun.

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The exhibition we saw was the Elizabethan Hoard which was buried before the Fire Of London and was discovered by workmen in 1912. I have no idea why it took so long to put the jewellery on display, and there was little idea given of who owned the items.

Having said that, it was an amazing exhibition! Emerald cube watches, signed gold watches, hair jewels fit for a queen, earrings, all accompanied by portraits of contemporary people bedecked in pearls and necklaces of the exact type being shown. I was amazed at the quality and variety of the objects, it was breathtaking.

We had a nice pit stop in the tea room and set off for home, but not before enjoying the photo opportunities:

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Outside, London was turning to dusk, and we grabbed a quick selfie before heading to St Paul’s station to come home:

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Today has been a lot quieter, Jon and I have been lounging about like lazy dinosaurs dozing in the soaring temperatures. I think the most constructive thing I’ve managed is to marinate the meat for tomorrow’s dinner, do some laundry and sort some wool. I’ve also managed half of one of the James Bond novels I bought in Scotland two years ago. No wonder I only scored 50 in that BBC quiz on how many books you’ve read, I only like obscure pulp fiction and have read more spy books than I can count! I was ruthlessly honest and didn’t tick the serious books on the list I’ve bought and given to the charity shop unread! I would have had over 70 if I’d fibbed, but that’s not the point!

I hope you’ve had a jolly weekend, enjoying the sun and some light knitting or whatever! I am moseying into the kitchen to do something breathtaking with a chicken for dinner!


Saturday Loops

Hello everyone!

Have you had a jolly day today? I got up early to see my daughter off, she was heading off to do her barrister thingy at a Uni in London near Holborn or something. After she went, I went back to bed and had a most enjoyable lie in, with my dear cat:

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Jon put the bread in the oven from last night, and whilst I was on the tube to London to meet Lexie, he sent me pictures of the bread and text messages expressing his enjoyment of the hot bread plus his need for a nap as he was somewhat over full.

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I will be nomming the rest of the bread with some bacon and eggs in the morning. He has left me some, apparently!

On the tube, I was able to take some nice pictures of my crochet bag, which had its first outing today.

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We met at Angel, the weather today was so changeable, it was by turns horridly blustery, tipping with rain, sunny and then freezing. It started to literally pour down, so the first part of our jaunt was lubricated by gin and tonic, as we dived into the pub to get out of the rain.

We then went to Loop, it was very quiet. From there we popped over to our favourite haunt, the “Cuba Libre”. Disgracefully we drank loads of Mojitos and we ate tapas. It was splendid fun!

Jon was at home waiting for the Ikea delivery, and when I got home he’d put a whole work top up for me! Isn’t he good!

My cat was also pleased to see me. Look how it smiles when I fussed it this morning, it is so easy to love her!

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Bread Ta Daah!

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New Year’s Day Doings!

We went out in the lashing rain and I didn’t care as I was going stir crazy indoors. I also wanted to try out my new mitts!

Even with the worlds best stash of yarn and umpteen things to do, I couldn’t bear to be inside for another minute! However despite the undoubted glamour of my new mitts the three minute walk to the bus stop was awful and I was blown to bits and soaked to the skin and once on board I was steaming on the bus, partly because of the wet and partly because my darling Nipper had gone out last night and was staying with friends, and she hadn’t texted me to let me know she was alive or dead and it was now mid day.

My knitting went all wrong and I got increasingly agitated. Luckily by the time I got to Boots I had a text to say she was okay and I could have wept with relief. My mood improved and Jon looked less stressed too.

In Hobbycraft we found mounting board and a frame for my embroidered Robin, and when we got in Jon did his usual wizardry and voila! The Robin is now on the wall!

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We also scored some wonderful smoked haddock for our dinner, which I plan to eat for supper tonight with home made bread ( which is in the oven now!!!!).

Lucy from Attic 24 – see link to blog on side bar to left – put a link last night on facebook to a crusty bread recipe which she’d made and it looked gorgeous. Here is the link. Although it was 11pm I hopped up and put the mixture in the bowl to rise and covered it in cling film. It took about three minutes max. It says to use a cup, I just used a mug, as it is three cups flour and one and a half cups water, salt and yeast, all of which I had to hand – no brainer eh?

It looked a sloggy mess, like the pictures on the blog, so I thought it would be fine. I used self raising flour, as the recipe called for all purpose flour, I didn’t worry unduly.

By the time I came in from the shops it was time to put the bread in the oven. It looked like soup with pockets of gas in it. I covered my work top with about an inch of flour and poured the bread mix out, it rolled over the work top like a volcano erupting, so I dumped a packet of ciabatta bread mix quickly onto it to stem the tide and after a few minutes of kneading, it finally looked like a respectable loaf, so I switched on the oven and left it to rise again under cling film.

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Now the bread is in the oven it smells wonderful. I am very hungry. When it is cooked I will show you! I hope it turns out nice!


Why Am I so Tired?

Hello everyone!

I have flopped down in my chair, hot and bothered after putting dinner in the oven. It is nearly half past four and I’ve not had a nap, which I promised myself as the weather was so atrocious we postponed our trip to the Museum of London (for the second time) and decided to stay indoors.

We have had howling winds and drenching downpours of rain this morning, however this afternoon at about two pm it did in fact brighten up for a bit, but we were set against going out today even for a walk in the park by that time.

“Why am I so tired?”, I thought as I started to open my iPad and write to you. Then I thought back on my day….

I got up at 8am, which gave me a fabulous unheard of lie-in, and made myself a lovely coffee in my machine. I picked up the stitches on the sleeve of my Noro cardigan and started to work round and round in the hypnotic blues and greens.

After a bit, I ran a bath and had a lovely long soak with my book, “Game of Thrones 3, “A Clash Of Kings”. Superb. I am just at the bit where Joffrey is horrible to Sansa, and King Renly has been murdered by a ghost with a sword.

Then when I got out I did a fair bit of my pink shawl, which is coming along really well. It is in leftover aran yarn, so it knits up very fast. I am very interested to see how it turns out as I have not knit a shawl in any thing thicker than double knit before.

The postman came and delivered the bag clasps I’d been waiting on from China. I am very pleased with these! I have two purses in progress just waiting for linings and clasps!

Then I got up on the step ladder and painted the bathroom ceiling. This needed doing in August, and after making myself mad waiting, I decided to do it myself. It took about 10 minutes tops. Humph!

When Jon got up he put my cat picture canvas on my new tapestry frame and helped me mark out the squares. I have started stitching, it is great fun! I’ve done four or five colours, it is the edge of Woozle’s chest and the blue background.

Once I’d done a fair bit of that I decided I would finally sew on the pockets of my pink cardigan. It took ages, but they are sewed on so neatly you can’t see the stitches on the inside.

Now I’ve recalled all the things I’ve done today, I can see why I am a bit tired. I hope you’ve had a jolly day too!

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