Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Home Made Travel Journal

This year, Dave had a travel/holiday/cycle themed Birthday- including lots of new cycling kit and some books about new routes and places for us to go. I also wanted to make something, so decided to make a travel journal to replace our old one, which is full of notes, pictures and ideas:

I got a notebook for £1.29 from WH Smith:

I then wrapped it in the brown card that comes from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper to give it some strength and had fun cutting out and sticking various images from leaflets, magazines etc:

I also cut out little strips of the photos that you often get on an index sheet when you get photos printed and scattered these around:

And finally, wrapped it in sticky back plastic (not that you can really see it in the photo!) to make it a bit more durable for our travels:

I had a quick scout around Amazon and there are some lovely ones- magnetic closure, cute and quirky and Moleskine, for example, but I think you can't beat a good personalised gift for £1.29 (however much I may adore Paperchase)

Now we just need to book a holiday!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Charity Shop Pan

This week is Dave's Birthday and we spent this weekend celebrating. He wanted a cooked breakfast this morning, so I couldn't resist giving him one of his presents in advance- a Tefal griddle pan. The pan is a thrifty special- £4 from a charity shop in Cirencester, a lucky find. The cheapest I've seen a new one is £17 on Amazon and much as I love Tefal pans, this seemed like a bit of a boring way to spend nearly £20 (and meant I got him other more exciting gifts instead!) It's a little scuffed around the edges, but mostly pretty good :)

I think lots of people probably turn their noses up at giving second hand gifts, but I knew Dave would like it. I think a griddle pan is the most manly piece of kitchen equipment- other than knives- I see steak and bacon as very much his domain! I know it's a cliche, but it really is the thought that counts. Plus it's nice to give gifts that are about what we do and love together- building our home and most importantly, eating!

Friday, 24 February 2012

February's Seasonal Recipe: Cauliflower Cheese

This month's seasonal food recipe is Cauliflower Cheese. My mum always used to cook this on the hob with packet cheese sauce when she was in a hurry after work and I can't say the dish has really inspired me (sorry Mum!) until now. The oven baked, home-made sauce variety is much more tasty. Maybe I should send Mum the recipe?

Serves 4 as a main dish

1 large cauliflower (leaves cut off and cut into chunks)
500ml milk (I used skimmed made from powder- thriftier and less fatty)
4 tbsp plain flour
50g cheese

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220℃/fan 200℃/gas mark 7
2. Boil the cauliflower for 5-6 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork
3. Drain and set aside
4. Heat the milk, butter and flour in the pan and whisk until the sauce has thickened (approx 2-3 minutes), stir in approximately half of the cheese
5. Tip the cauliflower into the saucepan and stir to coat in the cheese sauce
6. Pour the cauliflower into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top
7. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until the top is golden (if you get impatient- stick under the grill for a minute or two!)

I served mine with a baked potato and roasted leeks (another seasonal veg for Feb). A winter warmer!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Big Little Girls' Reversible Bags

This month the little twin girls I used to look after as a nanny suddenly became not so little when they turned 5. I made them little reversible bags to keep all of those 5 year old's essentials in...

I found that making them reversible was more of a challenge than I thought... Any advice on how to stop the 'spilling out' of the inner fabric (see left hand bag in photo below) would be most welcome:

Despite the setback, it was still fun and I loved getting to use 'little girl' fabric. I haven't done any sewing in a while and Captain Sew has been gathering a bit of dust, so here's to getting back on track and trying some more ambitious projects!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Microwave Scottish Tablet

This weekend has been very busy with work and play and to top it all off we're off for a cycling adventure to Wales today, hurrah! Whilst Dave does important man things, like load the car and service the bikes, I am preparing the car snacks. I like to think that this is also a very important job.

I am most excited about nibbling on some of this Scottish tablet- a really easy microwave recipe, which I made for my friend's Birthday and Valentine's Day:

All of that sugar might keep me awake on the journey too! I know that making tablet in the microwave is probably sacrilege, but it was so easy and it set in just a few minutes, ready to cut into cubes. I only made half of the quantity from the recipe above and that was good for a bag for my friend, a bag for Valentine's Day and some leftovers for our trip.

This recipe is also good for using up any condensed milk you might have left over from Milk Jelly experiments.

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Valentine's Pink Milk Jelly

I don't know if it's all of the beautiful Valentine-themed sweet treats around (ribbon roses at SweetSugarBelle and Valentine's Bags at Nifty Thrifty Things for example) or the fact that I'm meant to be studying, but I was overcome but the urge to make milk jelly this weekend.

I've now decided as it is berry flavoured and has come out rather pink that it definitely constitutes a Valentine's Day treat (even though my other half would be most bemused if I presented him with a glass of pink gloop on Tuesday!) It would be good for a little girl's Birthday party as a fancier (and pinker) alternative to the traditional jelly and ice cream.

This was a bit of an experiment, so as with the Fruit Betty last week the quantities are a bit vague, sorry!

Valentine's Milk Jelly

1 block of jelly
1/2 can evaporated milk (I use the light stuff as I can't taste the difference in recipes)
Handful of fruit (raspberries, strawberries or in this out of season weather- trusty frozen berries)

1. Make up some strawberry or raspberry jelly with about half of the usual quantity of water- around 250ml. Set aside to cool and when it's stopped steaming, chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, until cold but not set.

2. Blitz the berries with a blender or food processor (defrost first if they're frozen, but make sure they stay on the cold side, this will help the mousse to set).

3. Whisk up the evaporated milk until foamy and then add the blitzed berries and jelly.

4. Whisk for a couple of minutes until mousse like, pour into glasses and put in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

And there you have it, super easy, super fruity pink milk jelly!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bramley Apple Week: Apple and Blackberry Betty

This week (5th-12th February) is Bramley Apple week and what better excuse to make a fruit and oat betty and celebrate an obscure food festival?

This isn't much of a quantities recipe- more of a 'throw it all together' affair...

Apple and Blackberry Betty
Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and pick out some lovely large Bramley apples:

Peel, core and slice the apples and place them in a saucepan, (I added some defrosted blackberries that I've been saving in the freezer for a rainy day at this point). Sprinkle the fruit with sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water and cook on a low heat for 7 or 8 minutes:

Meanwhile, rub together some cold butter from the fridge (approx 75g), plain flour, porridge oats and demerara sugar to make the topping:

Transfer the fruit in the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle the oaty goodness over the top and press down:

Then cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until you have a delicious fruity, oaty mess:

Have a happy Bramley Apple Week!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Frolicking in the Snow

What could be better than some fun in the snow? We went back to see my Mum and Step Dad for Mum's Birthday and were treated to snowfall overnight, waking up to this...

So we grabbed the sledges and like big children scampered to the top of the nearest hill... (Apologies for the quality of the photos, sledging is quite an 'enthusiastic' sport in my house and is a little too risky to bring the camera, so my phone had to suffice!)

View of the village from above

Obstacles to be avoided!

View from the slopes

Hope you all had fun in the snow if you were lucky enough to get some :)

Friday, 3 February 2012

Funky Flamingo

Today I have been crafting funky flamingo Birthday cards on old folder dividers, using scraps of wrapping paper.

I used my guillotine to chop the dividers to make cards that would fit into standard (C6) envelopes:

Old dividers are good for cards as they tend to get scrappy around the edges (which you can chop off) and around the binder holes. OCD Lucy sometimes makes them special plastic pouches to stop this happening, but given that I've just emptied 10 (!) lever arch folders full of notes from my degree, there were a fair few that hadn't yet had the obsessive treatment and were ripe for card making.

This makes a lovely rainbow of blank colourful canvasses:

Perfect for flamingos:

If you want to make your own flamingo cards, here's a handy template I made:

Happy Flamingo Friday!