Sunday, 29 July 2012

Tea Bread

I have had a bag of currants lurking in the back of the cupboard since I made Christmas pudding last year. It kept leaking its contents so I finally decided to use it up in some tea bread. My Mother-in-Law passed this recipe on to me when I was first married and I have baked it many times since. There are lots of variations out there on the web but this one is really simple.


8oz/225g dried fruit (You can use any fruit you have hanging around)
8oz/225g self raising flour
6oz/170g soft brown sugar (dark or light)
6fl oz/190ml cold black tea
1 tsp mixed spice
1 egg
1 level tbsp marmalade or honey (I prefer marmalade!)


You have to start the evening before by putting all the fruit and sugar in a large bowl, adding the tea, giving it a quick mix around and leaving it to soak overnight.

The next day simply add the rest of the ingredients and give it a thorough mixing.

Put the mixture into a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin. After quite a few failed cakes, I realised that lining the tin made the cake a whole lot easier to remove.

 Bake it at 180C, (160C for a fan oven), or at Gas Mark 4. The recipe says to bake it for 1 hour 15 minutes, but I normally find it takes less time than that, so keep half an eye on it!

Tea bread is lovely eaten by itself, but is also very nice buttered.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Passing on the baton.....

or the needle!

DD has just finished her first cross-stitch. It took her a little while, but she really persevered and I am very proud of her. The little cheeky penguin is a Mouseloft design. They do a great range of tiny kits which are excellent for beginners.

What a happy chap!

DD has already started on her next project. She is thinking ahead and working on a Christmassy theme!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Cosy teapot!

I have finished the tea cosy which was originally designed by Frankie Brown. I am very happy with it and smile every time I see it. It didn't take as long as I thought it would, despite the tiresome amount of ribbing. I don't like ribbing, too much moving of yarn around to get a decent rhythm going. I found the buttons reasonably cheaply as well and I am pleased with the effect. My teapot is quite chubby, so in the end the larger size fitted perfectly. Now I just need to make some fairy cakes to go with it!

DD enjoyed getting creative with the camera!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fudging it!

This year we decided to make fudge as a thank you gift for DS's teacher. The recipe I use is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "River Cottage Everyday".

I was given this as a gift a few years ago and it is one of my favourites. Hugh's recipe uses butter and cream but there are lots of ways to make fudge and Google will throw up a load of different choices.

Morgan from "Growing in the Fens" makes her's using condensed milk, and I have made it using marshmallows, but that was a bit weird! Some recipes use a microwave, but not owning one we stuck to the traditional stove top method with a sugar thermometer. This is the one part of the recipe that DS didn't do!

For some reason the fudge looked a bit anaemic but it still tasted delicious. Not all of it made it as far as the school...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cross stitch wedding card

Some friends of mine are getting married on Saturday. I am so excited; I haven't been to a wedding in ages! I found the May/June issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop magazine when I visited my local craft shop a while ago.

As you can see, my copy is getting very dog-eared! It has some lovely quirky designs for wedding cards:

I found the cross stitch itself pretty straightforward. It took slightly longer than the recommended time, but I think I am a pretty slow stitcher. However, the outlining was a bit different. Don't look too hard at the groom's tie; he hasn't got it on straight at all!

I couldn't get the recommended aperture cards and had to make do with slightly smaller ones. I fiddled around with double-sided sticky tape and added a bit of bling to come up with a finished product:

I very much enjoyed making it. There are a few other designs in the magazine that I am itching to have a go at, but I have a backlog of Guide badges to sew on to a camp blanket first!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Olympic torch comes to town!

Having followed the progress of the Olympic torch around the country, the kids and I were very excited when it finally arrived in our neck of the woods today! We were at the assigned spot in plenty of time, complete with flags and cameras. We were in the schools area, so there were lots of excited children, a lot of enthusiastic flag-waving and whistle-blowing, even some drum-banging. After what felt like an age random cars started to go past:

This one had an unusual passenger!  Cheering could be heard in the distance, and finally the torch itself arrived:

I'm not exactly sure who this torchbearer is - but he was certainly popular today.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Chocolate crunchy cakes

We just cannot believe quite how soggy and wet it has been lately. You can't move in our house for drying umbrellas, wet washing and soggy shoes. DD and I decided that the situation called for chocolate, and as we have a surfeit of cornflakes at the moment, we decided on chocolate crunchy cakes. Such a well known recipe; such a lovely chocolate fix. DD followed this recipe here but there are hundreds on the web. She used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate, as DD and DS don't go a bundle on dark chocolate. DD was in charge of the baking, I was relegated to wielding the camera. DS was happy to be in charge of quality control!


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thrifty shopping

I got ridiculously overexcited yesterday when I discovered a new charity shop in town. Not that we were lacking them before, I can think of eight without effort, but this is a Salvation Army one.

This made me happy on many levels! I have friends who work for the Salvation Army, I know that they do a lot of good and their shops tend to be cheaper. Some charity shops can be more expensive than others, especially for books, which is the section I head for first. I know it's for a good cause and it's environmentally sound, but in my more selfish moments I resent paying nearly as much for a second-hand book as for a new paperback in the supermarket. However, yesterday I was very happy when I picked up a copy of "Matilda" by the inestimable Roald Dahl for 25p! My lovely son was very pleased too and immediately curled up to read it.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cherry and Lemon Cookies

The other day DD came home from school with a list of cookie ingredients for her next Food Tech lesson.

100g self raising flour
50g butter/ margarine
25g caster sugar
Juice from lemon/orange
grated rind from lemon/orange
25g finely chopped cherries

I was intrigued by "25g finely chopped cherries" as I have never used fresh fruit in a biscuit recipe. I found a cheap punnet and a lemon and had a go. There was no method so I used the standard biscuit baking technique of creaming butter and sugar and adding flour and other ingedients. This made a crumbly dough so I used the lemon juice to bring it together. I assumed I needed to roll out balls to bake and popped them into the oven at 180C. Half way through baking I realised they weren't spreading out so quickly squished them flat. The results weren't beautiful but did taste rather good; very lemony and quite sophisticated. Little children would probably want more sugar. The quantities given only made eight, but I managed to take a photo before they all went!

The cup is my favourite tea cup which came from Whittard. Unfortunately you can't get this design any more but I love it.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

No more cold tea!

Recently I have been having knitting cravings. I had two Knitting Nanas, as well as a Knitting Mama, so it is hardly surprising that I learnt to knit as a small child, and knitted my way through adolescence. I haven't done much lately; the unfinished baby blanket for my 14 year old nephew was my last project! I decided that my teapot is in dire need of a cosy, so I signed up for Ravelry, an online knit and crochet community. I found it very easy to use. I could not believe the number of patterns on there; six pages of free tea cosy patterns! I eventually settled on this one:

Frankie Brown's beautiful tea cosy!

I really like the fairy cake design with the bead decorations. It is by Frankie Brown who has designed lots of beautiful things. When I visited the local craft shop to choose some yarn, I dithered for ages. I am still not convinced by the baby pink, but I couldn't see anything I liked better. 

The first snag is teapot size. Did you know teapots come in standard 3-cup or 6-cup sizes? The pattern thoughtfully gives alternative sizing for both. After much faffing around with measuring cups, I discovered that my beloved teapot is 4.5 cups! So I have decided to go with the larger size, and adapt if necessary.

The second snag was casting on. I never realised there was more than one way, so when instructed to cast on with the "long tail method" I was stumped. After frantic Googling I found this tutorial which comes complete with a video. It looks trickier than it is, and I eventually managed to produce a row of not too higgledy-piggledy casting on. You never know, at some point soon I might be able to keep my teapot happy!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Last year we planted a few raspberry canes and, spurred on by a tiny harvest, this year we put in a few more. Today we picked all these, held here by my lovely son. I couldn't believe how sweet they were. They tasted of sunshine, even though they haven't seen a great deal! The bowl wasn't full for long!

Monday, 2 July 2012

A generous giveaway

Nancy is having a very generous birthday giveaway on her blog Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. It is definitely worth a visit! Happy Birthday Nancy!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Just Sweet Williams!

Occasionally I see some flowers in the supermarket that I just can't resist. These Sweet Williams were so happy and cheerful that I just had to bring them home. I really like the vibrant colours. As they are British and seasonal my eco-conscience was satisfied, and at £1.50 a bunch I couldn't pass them up!