Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Birds, Blocks & Bake.

I was in my kitchen cooking earlier watching the birds through the patio doors & it reminded me that I hadn't blogged my bird photos. In the Autumn I moved the bird table etc right outside of my patio doors as we only use the doors in the Summer. The downside of this is I'm forever taking photos through the glass when I should be cooking a meal :D
I think this Blackbird decided that there were tastier morsels under the house so squeezed in there.
Mistle Thrush
Pied Wagtail
Not a great photo as I had to zoom to the end of the garden but this was a Fieldfare sitting on my bay tree as far as I'm aware we haven't had one of these in the garden before.
And my little Blackcap who I blogged about after seeing him for the first time on Christmas day, well he's been back every day since and there is now a Mrs Blackcap! She has only been visiting here for the last week & is quite timid although bossy, to the other birds, & very photo shy but I will get a photo in the end, incidently she has brown cap.
Now an update on the string quilt challenge, I really love making string blocks it is seriously addictive. I've cut strips from all of my patterned cotton fabrics these are mainly florals it has to be said!
And I've made 30 blocks so far, these are only roughly trimmed at the moment. I have a few things in mind what I'm going to make a few small projects and a quilt then I'm going to attack my Globaltex stash to make some cushions. Excuse the dull photos the light here is not good at the moment.

And for a change in the evenings I've started another crochet blanket this time I'm using Yvestown blog's pattern the inner circles are the same as my hexagon one and these will have another row to square them off in a very pale cream. I've done about 40 so far so I'm getting there, I know I should've finished my second hexagon & my ripple first but I do really love this one so simple too.
52 week recipe challenge - we've now done a creamy mushroom soup, which I did fiddle around with slightly, a delicious soup and I got a chance to photograph my latest CS find 4 soup bowls.
Then another bake this time a lemon cake with crunchy topping, this also went down a treat!
This weeks recipe is for a country cottage pie, which I made on Monday after looking at the ingredients and just guessed the method. I haven't got a photo as I had to make it ahead of a Governors meeting it had been devoured by the time I got home although they did save me some. All the recipes can be found at Debbie's blog here

And finally I'll leave with proof that Spring is on it's way Tete a Tete's in my kitchen and
snowdrops in my garden.
Now my hook is calling.

Monday, 18 January 2010

January brings .....

January brings the snow, Makes our feet and fingers glow. And it certainly did what a strange month, weather wise, we're having so far, here in Cornwall.

New Year's day was spent on Looe beach, very cold but bright blue skies but by 7pm it had started to snow we only had a sprinkling but Lily was delighted when she woke up the next day.
Then we had more so much that we were stranded in the village for most of the week.
Eventually it started to turn to slush in the village, but there was still plenty on the moors.

Then a few days later an eerie freezing fog descended on us for the day.

Then came the rain & flooding on Friday night/ Saturday but by Sunday we were back at Looe in the sunshine.

So when I wasn't weather watching I was signing up to a couple of challenges. Debbie has started a country heart and home cooks 52 week recipe challenge. The first recipe was for the most delicious carrot cake you can try it out here I haven't made the second recipe of mushroom soup yet but will do soon.
I've also signed up to Stephanie at Loft Creations no strings attached challenge, you make string blocks using fabric or scraps that you already have in your stash then make them into whatever you like aiming to have one or more projects finished by June 30th. I haven't made any string blocks before so I'm looking forward to doing this.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Candy Cane Bark & Chocolate Tart

I know you've probably had enough chocolate over the last few weeks to last a lifetime but I thought I'd share these recipes with you. If like me you have a bundle of these left over, which I always do as although they look very Christmassy they are rather sweet, this is a great way to use them up & they taste delicious.

Very simply melt milk chocolate and spread in a baking parchment lined tray. Put some candy canes in a bag and smash with a rolling pin then melt some white chocolate. Add the smashed candy canes to the melted white chocolate then spread the mix over the milk chocolate. Leave to set in the fridge and break into pieces. Although I don't have the exact measures, I guess I used about 200g of each of the chocolates and 8/10 canes. My 3 yr old loves these but hates candy canes!

Another favourite and very easy recipe is Jamie Oliver's basic chocolate tart. I tend to half his recipe and cheat by using a bought sweet pastry case.

You will need a 15cm 'ish' sweet pastry case, 6 fl oz double cream, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 2 oz softened butter, 1/2lb dark chocolate in pieces, 2 fl oz milk, cocoa powder for dusting. I know someone who makes this and says you have to have a really good cooking chocolate but I've made it with shops own brand plain chocolate and there honestly isn't any difference in taste.
Place double cream & sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, remove from heat and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until melted, allow to cool slightly stirring in the cold milk until smooth. Pour into the pastry case, shake to even it then leave to set for a couple of hours. Dust with cocoa powder. I like to serve mine with double cream and fresh raspberries although I did use frozen raspberries this time. It is very rich so you really only need a small slice.