Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Spot of Cream Tea and a Few Extras

So what do you do to mark the arrival of the hottest summer in seven years........ have some Afternoon Tea of course.  A tad hot in the garden, but as most of it was flower or fruit based, sitting outside it had to be!

I made some cute little bite-sized jam tarts filled with either lime curd or blackcurrant jam from a recipe I wrote out years ago. 

Then I turned to the Queen of Cakes and consulted Mary Berry's 'Baking Bible'.   First up were some Lavender Biscuits made from some freshly harvested fragrant flowers.  A simple biscuit to make and the aroma was divine.  Eat within a couple of days if you want them crisp.  Still tasty later, but they become softer.

Next up, I had a go at one of my 'Never Tried Before' bakes - Scones!  I know, so simple (but so much can go wrong!!).  Mary walked me through it with lots of helpful tips...... keep the dough sticky - it will achieve a better rise, do not twist the cutter when you are cutting out - twisting could cause an uneven rise, dip the cutter in flour regularly whilst cutting out - stops the cutter sticking to the dough.

I was surprised by the texture of the dough, sticky and quite holey, but the rise was good and consistent.  I only made small scones, as it was for an afternoon tea.  Served with Cornish Clotted Cream and a Strawberry Compote I made from Strawbs from our allotment.  Wash the strawberries and pop in a pan with some vanilla sugar.  Cover and reduce slowly over a low heat.  No need for extra water in the pan - they should be juicy enough.  Delicious.

Finally I made one of my old fav's for this time of year.  The onset of courgette glut signals copious amounts of Jamie Oliver's Courgette Carbonara in our house.  But for the first of the courgette harvest, I just had to make Nigella's Courgette Cake.  It comes from Nigella's 'How To Be a Domestic Goddess' Book.  Other than my Winnie The Pooh Cookbook (which has my go-to flapjack recipe in it), Nigella must have been my first ever baking book.  I've been baking her courgette cake ever since we got an allotment.  Never before, have I bothered with the icing, as we are always in too much of a rush to eat it - filled with lime curd, its moist and utterly divine.  But for this special tea, I thought I'd give the topping a go.  It was delicious, with a limey zing.

I confess, I never usually bother with the raisins and just add extra courgettes.  Its a winner every time, so give it a go, you won't be disappointed.  Summer is here!

Happy Baking!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Me, My Socks and More Socks!

Now as you may have noticed, I do like knitting a good sock pattern.  This year I'm taking part in the UK Sock Knitters Group Lunar themed Knit-a-long.  My plan at the start of the challenge was to knit only from yarn or patterns I already owned.  So far, so good!

Different lunar cycles have many names around the world, so we had a bit of choice to be going on with.  Each pattern can be cast-on from its start date (Full Moon), but no later than by the start date of the following Full Moon.  Completions of all socks should be by 31st January 2014 to fulfil the challenge.

28-Dec-12 Cold Winter Birch
27-Jan-13 Wolf Ice Rowan
25-Feb-13 Storm Candles Ash
27-Mar-13 Worm Hare Sugar
25-Apr-13 Pink Seed Fish
25-May-13 Flower Dragon Milk
23-Jun-13 Mead Rose Strawberry
22-Jul-13 Thunder Herb Hay
21-Aug-13 Barley Red Blue
19-Sep-13 Harvest Fruit Chrysanthemum
18-Oct-13 Hunter Blood Blackberry
17-Nov-13 Beaver Snow Tree
17-Dec-13 Oak Frost Bitter

So far, I've managed to complete 4 pairs, have 2 pairs on the needles for the Seed and Dragon Moons and am dyeing the yarn for the Strawberry Moon in between typing!

For the Birch Moon, I made Birch Socks and I've kept them for me!

For the Ice Moon, I made Icicle Socks and again they're all mine!

For the Storm Moon, I chose Wavy Socks.  Well you get waves in a storm right!  They are destined for my Xmas present box.

And finally for the Sugar Moon, I offer my Sugared Almonds, also for the Xmas box.

Best get back to the dyeing and knitting!  I got a lotta socks to knit.

Happy knitting!