Tuesday 24 March 2020

Bread Pudding

Slightly overcooked! 
This is a good way to use up stale bread or when you bake enough soda bread for an army and it goes hard. Don't worry if you haven't got all the ingredients, this is just a guide, and adapts well to whatever is at hand, fruit or sugar-wise. It tastes better with an egg, but it's still good without.

8oz (225g) old bread of whatever variety (better with crusts cut off)
10 fl oz (275ml) milk
2 oz (50g) melted butter (use defrost in microwave)
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar (any sugar will do)
1 egg, beaten
2 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 beaten egg
6 oz (175g) mixed fruit (or not mixed depending on your store cupboard, or chopped fresh fruit a bit past its best).
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180c, 350f, or gas mark 4
Grease a baking dish with butter (I use a lasagna dish).

Break the bread into chunks in a bowl, pour over the milk and leave for half hour.
Once the bread has soaked up all the milk add melted butter, sugar, mixed spice and beaten egg.
Mix well with a fork to break up the lumps, then stir in fruit.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish, sprinkle with nutmeg.

Cook for about 1-1 ¼  hours. Sprinkle with a little sugar and serve hot, or cold.

Sour Milk and Sodabread

If, like me, your milk was left out of the fridge and went off, don't bin it. Make soda bread.

450g flour (any type you have) 
50g rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 Level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon honey
450ml buttermilk (or sour milk)
Mixed seeds

1 tablespoon melted butter

Pre-heat oven 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and grease a baking sheet.

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Make a well in the middle.
Stir honey into milk until mixed then pour into well.
Quickly stir together with hands until you have soft sticky dough.
Form into a round and cut a deep cross in the dough.
If you have any seeds throw a small handful some over the top.

Bake for 50 mins to an hour until the crust is golden, and the loaf sounds hollow hen tapped underneath.
Brush with melted butter and leave to cool.

Eat asap with lashings of butter.

Monday 23 March 2020

Mother's Day French Martini

This was all getting a little too wholesome so here's my recipe for a French Martini - in honour of all types of mothers everywhere and, of course, the motherless.

2 ice-cubes
25ml vodka
20ml Chambord liqueur
60ml pineapple juice

If you're feeling fancy, add a pineapple wedge to decorate.

Throw it all in a cocktail shaker (if you don't have one, they are certainly worth the investment).

Shake well, serve and ENJOY.

Friday 20 March 2020

Toilet roll pots

Social distancing Day 3 and the national obsession with toilet roll shows no sign of abating.

But what do you do with the empty rolls? Here's a quick and easy 'make' that's good for home schooling too. Children can watch their seeds grow and get an understanding that not all food comes in plastic packaging.  And, when it comes to planting out, the pots are compostable so can go straight in the ground, or container.

1. Cut the empty rolls in half, lengthways

2. Make 4 small snips in one end

3. Fold the small snips over each other

4. Line up the folded 'pots' up in a container - like an old take-out box.

5. Fill with compost, and sow your seeds according to the instructions.

Lastly don't forget to label your pots - it's easy to forget what you have planted.

Happy planting folks!

Thursday 19 March 2020

Corona Quilting

My first quilt
Spending more time at home in social distancing, I've returned to my old pass-time of quilting. In response to a request from family I'm sharing a 'how to' for English Paper Piecing, a hand-sew traditional patchwork and quilting method. The main advantage is: it's low-tech, and feels like a welcome respite from the news and being plugged in all day, now I'm permanently working from home. It's simple enough for kids to master, so you can add it to your home schooling schedule once the schools close down tomorrow.  As well as positive benefits on well-being, you can achieve fantastic results, for not much outlay. 

The first picture is my very first quilt, made some years ago. I started by wanting to recycle some of my son's baby shirts, and they make up the centre piece of this quilt. 

What is English Paper Piecing?
Fabric patches are 'stabilised' by fixing them onto paper templates - the 'paper piece'. The patches are then sewn into larger patterns, or blocks by hand. 

The pieces of paper are removed when the shapes are all finally sewn together before you move onto quilting. But lets not get ahead of ourselves and I'll start with the basics.

Templates 7cm and 5cm squares
The Templates
Let's start with squares as they are by far the easiest to work with.

You need two templates - one for the paper and one for the fabric. For my first quilt I made templates from thick card, but then I bought these acrylic 'pre-cut' ones which are more durable. The fabric template needs to be bigger than the paper one to allow for a seam.  These two are 7cm and 5cm. 

The Fabric
If you can, chose quality 100% cotton fabrics, preferably of similar weight and 'pre-washed' to minimise shrinkage when you wash your quilt for the first time. This isn't a problem if you are re-cycling. 

Marking and Cutting
Marking and Cutting 
The smaller template is for marking and cutting the paper. If you want to get going straight away all you need is some printer paper, a pencil, ruler and possibly a set-square. Of course you can go online and order pre-cut papers, or download and print paper templates 

Place the bigger template onto your fabric, draw around the template with a marker and cut out the fabric shape with scissors. 

There is nothing quick about this process, but haven't we all got plenty of time on our hands these days? 

The traditional way to secure the fabric to the paper piece is with needle and thread. Some do use fabric glue but a small pile of fabric and paper pieces, needle, thread and scissors can all fit in a small sandwich bag and be taken anywhere. 
Fold over the seam allowance along one of the edges of the paper. Start in the middle of the edge, stitch through all the layers with big basting stitches along the folded edge towards the first corner. 

As you baste, turn the paper piece clock-wise (if right handed) then fold over the fabric at the corner, turn the paper piece, fold over at the corner, secure with stitching as you go around. You don't have to worry about the neatness of these stitches as they will all be removed prior to quilting. 

And that's enough quilting for today. Check back soon for next steps.

Bread Pudding

Slightly overcooked!  This is a good way to use up stale bread or when you bake enough soda bread for an army and it goes hard. Don'...