Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Woolly Adventure

This photo just brings a smile to my face! I have to say I am currently bubbling over with love for this blanket. It is a source of joy and hours of my life are passing in happy hooking time. Let me tell you the story of where it all began…

It is January, 2011. I am fiddling with the contents of a box making a half-hearted attempt to find home for the paraphernalia within and I come across a crochet hook purchased to button me in and out of wedding dress. Inspiration descends. I am going to learn to crochet. Saturday comes and I positively skip to the local Haberdashery store. Bubbling with excitement I naively exit clutching my new purchases – First Steps in Crochet and a random ball of pretty wool.

 

Fast forward 6 weeks, some rather bizarre Granny ‘squares’, and the discovery of Attic 24 and I am a convert.

 

I know many of you are avid fans of the lovely Lucy and indeed it is to her that I am indebted for this scrummyness in my life. The first time I caught sight of her Summer Garden Throw I was caught. I wanted one of those!

I bought a stash of brightly coloured, and slightly mismatched, acrylic (I am afraid that budget does not currently stretch to yarn snobbery!) and off I went. 

Now, bearing in mind that this project was started within weeks of my learning to crochet, I have stumbled upon certain problems along the way. The first was the issue of ends… I dutifully carried my yarn along with me as you would in a single coloured granny square only to turn it over and spy some ugly, multicoloured pieces stretching over the corners.

 

Following internet research, I came upon this video posted on Ravelry about how to weave in ends as you go, neatly and securely. Going against my instinct to feign ignorance and carry on, I scrapped the project and started again.

Slowly it grew, one beautiful square at a time.

And grow it continues to do! Oh the happiness of seeing these flowers smiling up at me! The joy of feeling the warmth on my legs as I hook in another square!

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Blossoming Monkey Nuts!

I cannot quite express the excitement I felt as I got home today. Walking up the drive I could see a flash of colour in my window…

A few months ago, my mom gave me a present of a few sprouting monkey nuts. I dutifully planted my little peanuts into a pot of soil but not much happened. However, wrapping the pot in a polythene bag and leaving them on a sunny windowsill boosted their growth and, before I knew it, pretty little green leaves started appearing.

 

Slowly they grew and grew until there were four, bushy plants sitting in the sun. Happy days!

The theory goes that, when the peanut plant has matured, little, yellow flowers will appear. These will quickly wilt before a stem will appear from out of the curled up blossom. Gravity will then cause this to bury into the soil where the monkey nut will grow. Now, peanuts thrive in a hot, humid climate which does not exactly match with central England so my efforts have been met with some scepticism! So, imagine my excitement when I spy that speck of yellow blossom from afar. Yes, my peanut plant has its FIRST FLOWER!

 

I know my plants are relatively small and I have no idea if anything will come of them, but if I get one peanut from this adventure I will be so happy!

Have any of you tried this before? Let me know about your experiences!

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Scrumptious Pound Cake

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Tom’s parents are coming for the weekend, and since I knew they were coming, I figured I really should bake a cake. I decided on something fairly simple that will keep well –  pound cake. If you have a food mixer this cake is really easy to make (its not hard without one, just a bit more tiring as you have to beat the mixture). First, cream a pound of caster sugar (yes, a whole pound) with half a pound of fat (1 part lard and two parts butter works best, but you can adjust this to suit your tastes). Then add a pound of plain flour, sifted, a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of salt, 4 eggs, beaten, and 6 fl oz of milk. Combine. Spoon into a 9 inch bundt tin and bake at 190c for an hour.
To finish, mix two tablespoons of icing sugar with a teaspoon of almond extract and 4 tablespoons of boiling water. The mixture should be very thin, almost like water. Use a pastry brush to glaze the cake while its still hot. Leave to cool.

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This cake is heavier than normal sponge cake, so it will dry out if you bake it for too long, but it lasts longer too – perfect if you need a cake to feed visitors all weekend!

You can adapt this cake quite easily – add rum or lemon juice to the cake/ icing for different flavours. I’ve never tried chocolate pound cake but I guess just swapping 3oz of plain flour for good quality cocoa would do it. If anyone tries this, get back to us and let us know how it turns out!

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Oxtail Stew and Cornflake Tart

Hello there! My dad has been asking for a Cornflake Tart for a long time. Whereas I too remember this dessert from school, I did not harbour such fond memories. However, being Father’s Day, I thought I would oblige his wishes and I am extremely happy that I did! So, here goes…

Scrumptious Oxtail Stew

Now, this is a stew so all the ingredients are somewhat flexible so feel free to substitute and add anything you happen to have in the fridge! This recipe serves 6 – 8 so adapt as necessary.

Take 2.5 – 3kg of oxtail, cut into chunks, and place it into a hot pan. Cook on each side until it looks all golden brown and delicious…

Take it out of the pan and pour in 250ml of red wine and simmer to reduce for 5 mins.

Now come the veges. Especially important in any stew is the onions and garlic, more the better I say! I used 6 onions and a bulb of garlic. Yummy!

For root vegetables I used 8 carrots and 5 parsnips cut into chunks.

Don’t they look lovely? In with these I added 4 bay leaves and 9 sage leaves (these can be added now but more delicate herbs can be stirred in near the end) and 3 litres of beef stock. Return the oxtail to the pan.

Thicken the stew by adding some cornflour or a roux (butter and flour melted, add water to make a paste and stir in).

Add this to the pan and stir occasionally until it is boiling. Add in Worcester sauce, sea salt and pepper to taste (don’t skimp on the seasoning). Tomato ketchup and brown sauce can also be used to add flavour.

Then comes the easy part. Put it in a cool oven (about 160° c) for 3.5 – 4 hours until meat is soft and falling off the bone.

When it’s all yummy, serve with horseradish mash and your choice of vegetables. Delicious!

Cornflake Tart from School Recipes

Well after any good dinner comes pudding. Do you remember this from school? As I was about to embark on the process it struck me… I currently do not own a flan ring. So I beg your forgiveness for the pie-y appearance of my tart but you can imagine how it would look!

Shortcrust pasty

180g flour

80g butter

The secret to any pastry is cold fat and handle as little as possible. If you own a food processer, the dough blade is ideal.

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Using a knife, add water slowly until it is ready to be brought into a ball. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to stand.

Roll out and place in the flan/tart dish. Prick the bottom and bake in a hot oven (180° c) for 20 mins.

Filling

100g jam

55g butter

30g sugar

110g syrup

85g cornflakes

When cooled slightly, spread the pastry base with jam (I used raspberry).

In a pan, melt the butter, sugar and syrup then stir in the cornflakes.

Bake the tart for a further 5 minutes and enjoy!

Please leave a comment if you try these or to let me know what you did for Fathers’ day!

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Something smiling in the rubble

Isn’t that just beautiful? A heart warming dash of colour smiling up from between the rubble. It’s wonderful that something totally uninvited can bring such happiness to a sad, neglected area.

Unfortunately, that is the state of much of our garden at the moment. So much energy over the last year has gone into renovating the inside of our house that the outside is desperately screaming out for some TLC. Slowly and surely though, that is what it is receiving. There is, however, one little area of joy to be found in our two raised beds and several pots that represent our first forays into the world of vegetable gardening!

Introducing the first of our salad crops…

…some promising looking Broad beans…

and some little gems ripening on the strawberry plants!

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Welcome to Rosy Hill!

Well hello and welcome! We are so happy to see you here on Rosy Hill. For a while now I have enjoyed reading other people’s blogs, trawling through photos on Flickr and gleaning inspiration from the wonderful world of Ravelry. The idea that there is a community out there of people who, like Becca and I, find daily joy in cooking, crochet, crafts and colour is a source of great excitement. Previously, our part in this world has been safely on the sidelines, only venturing in occasionally to make comments of appreciation or offer tips and suggestions from our own experience. Now we have decided to leap in there with both feet to bring you our own creative offerings.

I trust this will be the first of many posts that offer you a glimpse into our happy little worlds full of soft, squishy wool, the smell of baking and celebration of colour and beauty. We want to share with you the things that make us smile so please come and join us on this journey!

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Butterscotch Cream Pie

Today I’ve been working on a butterscotch cream pie to take to Abi’s for her dinner party this evening. It’s very rich, fairly gooey and absolutely yummy.
The inspiration for this recipe is from The Complete Book of Pies by Julie Hanson (Robert Rose, 2008). This recipe is different however, I’ve changed it as it was very ‘American’. Not all of the ingredients were available here -use single cream instead of half and half. I would also recommend adding twice as much butter and scotch to the pie filling, and decorating it with some chopped fudge and glitter.

This recipe calls for a pre-made base, which I can’t find in a supermarket here. It’s easy to make on from scratch however. Crush an entire packet of digestive biscuits (for this particular pie I would recommend chocolate or even chocolate and caramel digestives). Mix with roughly 250g of melted butter then press the mixture into a greased pie dish. Leave to cool for about a hour, then its ready to use.

This is a really delicious pie, and very easy to make. It has to cool, so I’d make it at least four hours before you need to serve it. It will keep for a couple of days if you don’t put the whipped cream on top, so you can make it ahead of time if need be, but it is best if served no more than a day after its made. If you have leftovers, it’ll keep as long as the whipped cream will.

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Colourful Baby Blanket

Here are some pictures of the new baby blanket I have been working on. It uses double knit wool – white plus six 25 gram coloured balls – and a size seven crochet hook. It’s worked in Granny square then crochet together. I’ll let you see the finished product when its done!

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