Friday, 30 January 2015

My Cup Of Tea Socks - The Knitting Mojo Returns!

Last year saw a bit of a knitting hiatus for me.  I only manged to knit 1.5 pairs of socks in a whole year.  Crazy!  Well my New Years Resolution for this year was to get back into doing all the things I love. Running regularly, baking (you might have gathered that from previous posts this year!) and knitting to name a few.

Last year I manged to start and finish these lovely Betula Socks by Rachel Coopey.  They were a Christmas gift for a lady I work for and well received.

I also started My Cup of Tea Socks by Robin Lynn back in July.  They then sat at this stage of Sock 1 in my knitting bag until ......... well, mid January, I am ashamed to say.  But no more!  The knitting mojo has well and truly returned.  That is, when my cat will allow it, as he doesn't care to share a lap with hand knit socks.

I am totally chuffed with myself, as the pair is now finished, ready for the arrival of Spring, which the colours remind me of.  The motif down the front is based on a Crocus pattern,  

Quite apt as the Crocus are starting to open in the gardens around me.

So I aim to finish some more of my WIP's (work in progress) in the coming months, that have been languishing for far too long, including this Ariel Bias Scarf, which I started back in 2012.  Ooopps!

Then again, there are lots of lovely new patterns to try in my Ravelry Library.  Oh the dilemma.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Davina's Sugarfree Chocolate Brownies

Another weekend of running, so another perfect excuse to bake.  Now please, do not for a minute, by the title think these are good for you. However, they are delicious and free from refined sugar.  This sugar free lark seems to be all the rage at the moment, so for no other reason other than I am inquisitive about new bakes, I gave these Chocolate Brownies a try from a magazine article on Davina McCall.

Rather than the suggested 100% cocoa chocolate, I used 70% chocolate this time, as I was testing out the recipe principal, so my brownies do have a bit of refined sugar.  But hey, I can cope.

I was also interested to try this recipe as it uses wholemeal spelt flour.  Not something I have tried before, but high in fibre, so making a healthier post run snack.

Instead of refined sugar, you used a combination of honey and maple syrup.

Melt, whisk and mix the ingredients as required, then add to a greased and lined brownie tin, or deep baking tray.

Bake in a 190c static oven for 15 minutes, though I would check at 14 minutes if you prefer a chewier brownie.

Allow to cool completely (if you can resist!!), before cutting into squares.

I used large eggs and skimmed milk as that's what I had in the fridge, but the recipe doesn't stipulate.
The end result is delicious and nowhere near as sweet as a regular brownie. Plus the honey and maple syrup provide a slower energy release, keeping you going for a bit longer.  Now I just have to store them in my baking tin until tomorrow, without 'testing' too many.  Wish me luck!

Happy Baking!

Monday, 19 January 2015

'Scandilicious' Banana Spice Cake

I do like an excuse to get baking, as you may have gathered.  This weekend it was to feed hungry runners from my run club, after we had completed the Stubbington 10k race on Sunday.
Now being a relatively healthy bunch, I chose to make a banana cake, which would replenish some of the calories burned and use up some rather ripe bananas in the process.  I got given 'Scandilicious Baking' a couple of Christmas's ago, full of delicious Scandinavian bakes.

One of the cake bakes is a Banana Spice Cake, so I thought I'd give it a go.  Its unusual in that it combines 4 different spices in a Banana cake.  The result is quite tasty and improves the day after baking, giving a moist, yet healthy tasting cake.  Lets say it was well received.

Usually I try and blog about recipes which I can link to online.  Not everyone has a Scandinavian Baking book right?  Well handily enough, I found another blog, where the author had written the recipe out here.

Not the most handsome of cakes, but its really just a little different and really rather tasty.  Perfect with a cup of coffee!

I didn't have spelt flour, so just used plain, as per the suggested alternative, plus I used half fat creme fraiche and chopped hazelnuts instead of walnuts.  170c static oven for 45 minutes.

Here's another something spicy to brighten up a winters day.  Hamamelis, also known as Witchazel, also has a spicy scent and is in full bloom in a West Sussex garden at the moment.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Nordicware Baking Tins - Spoilt at Christmas

As a keen follower of Great British Bake Off winner, Jo Wheatley, I became aware of the amazing baking tins you can get from American company, Nordic Ware.  These tins are not cheap, but boy are they heavy, robust and built to last.  I must have been pretty unsubtle, as I received three of these beauties for Christmas.  I have yet to try the Ginger Bread House tin, but for last weekend, I put the Christmas Tree and Heritage Bundt tins to the test for a birthday celebration weekend for my friend Duncan.

In the Heritage tin, I made Jo Wheatley's new recipe for a Toffee, Banana & Pecan Bundt Cake
Drizzled with Waitrose Toffee Sauce and topped off with mini marshmallows.

Next up was Nigella's Spruced Up Vanilla Cake in the Christmas Tree tin.  It was a little reminder of the brilliant holiday we had in Austria to celebrate his 40th Birthday, hence the cream 'snow', fir trees and wintry village scene.  This cake looks great with a dusting of icing sugar to set the scene.

They both worked out perfectly and were just was needed after a day of activities.  Needless to say, I didn't bring any home.

For both the cakes, I greased them well with Wilton Cake Release before adding the cake batter.  I took the oven temperatures given as for a static oven, not fan.  Large eggs were used in both recipes.

Great tins that get lots of oohs and aahs and recipes that are simple to follow.  I think I am smitten with Nordic Ware tins.  Which recipe to try in them next?

Happy Baking!

Monday, 5 January 2015

A little sprinkling of Christmas Sparkle - Cowslip Workshops Xmas Bonanza

Well Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a jaunt down to Cornwall for Cowslip Workshop's annual Christmas Bonanza, now would it.  This year I stayed again with the lovely Lisa at Goodmansleigh Farm and rented White Park for a week.  This way I could have family to stay, sew to my hearts content and also explore the local area a bit more.  I don't know how I did it, but the weather was great and showed off the delights of Bude Beach, Tintagel and Boscastle at their best.

Not a bad view from the kitchen!

However, I digress, back to the sewing.  A couple of years ago, I started my Reindeer Quilt at Cowslip.  I finally finished it towards the end of 2014. 


At the Christmas Bonanza, I wanted to make a cushion which would complement it, yet also have a go at the Free Machine Quilting technique, of which owner Jo, is a great teacher.  This was my final offering, which I am really chuffed with.

I also made this cute Christmas Robin, mounted on a log, with sewn holly leaves, fresh moss and twigs.

I can,t bare to put my Stuffed Star Christmas Tree away for Christmas, which is now adorned with little silver bells and so it sits proudly in my office/sewing room.

I got asked to make some stuffed Christmas Bells for a couple of my gardening clients and got a bit carried away.  Five later - they looked great bagged up in a simple cookie bag and ribbon.  The Christmas napkins were gifts for family, with the embroidery templates copied by eye from the lovely 'Stitch it for Christmas' Book by Lynette Anderson.

Last year saw a bit of a crafty lull for me, so my New Years resolution?  More knitting, sewing and baking.  Bring it on!

Happy Sewing!