Well the last couple of days have seen a delightful shine in the air. Birds have been chirping, sky is blue with cottonwool balls of clouds dancing along (I know, the words are a tad whimsical but that’s how I feel today 🙂 enjoy it!). My garden is showing signs of life too. Lovely, although it is a teensy bit early so hope we don’t have too much of a downturn on the weather front (forecast is looking a little chilly ahead)
Anyway, I digress. I have found myself recently with a little time off. Apart from napping, I have also been crocheting like a demon and also a spot of baking again. Lovely.
Todays venture has resulted in a batch of lemon curd for my daughter to take back to Uni with her tomorrow so that she can make some lemon curd and white chocolate muffins. Check out my recipe here, for the lemon curd. Keeps for about two weeks in the fridge although we’ve never had it long enough to test that theory!!!
I am hoping she sends me some pics. I have also finally got all the pieces together for my latest blanket, here is a sneak preview of some of the pieces 🙂
The other thing I have been doing is trying to get better at my food photography skills, looking back over the last year to try and find a picture of spring flowers, I stumbled across some pics I took last year that never really got showcased. Apologies for the self indulgence but I really like them despite the fact that one of them is of the peel of a garlic bulb!!! Not to mention that this is the best pic I have produced in the last year (I think!)
I am such a lackadaisical blogger!!! I keep crocheting and lately baking a bit more too. Think to myself, mmm must write up a blog post about that and then promptly don’t. Anyway, the next few posts will (I hope) have new recipes and also some links to some exciting CAL’s (crochet a long) that are coming up or already started.
This post though is motivated by my sweetest, youngest child. In her third year at uni she has decided that it is time to embrace the baking genes that run deep in this family! Text received requesting a recipe for banana muffins. I directed her to my blog as that is where said recipe resides. Shock horror, the offspring has not read my blog. Rude!!!!
Anyway, once over the shock, we discussed the pitfalls of baking without scales and she went ahead and produced a delicious batch of muffins that she shared with her coworkers that weekend. happy days. I am looking forward to the next time she comes home so we can bake something together and post pics.
Although I don’t have a picture of her baking, I do have a really cute picture of Agnes!!
As always, Christmas Eve is made up of me and mine making gingerbread houses. See my previous Christmas posts for recipes (although there are very many fabulous ones online). This year we also made two miniature houses for gifts as well as a gingerbread star tree. I have to say Christmas Eve is truly my favourite day during the festive period. Have a wonderful time, love and sparkles xx
Not much baking seems to be happening these days in my household. The children have grown and are all busy living their lives. There simply isn’t the need for all the baking that I used to do. That coupled with my passion for crochet that has developed over the last few years has meant that baking has slipped from my daily routine.
I decided that this quite possibly was not the way forward for me. Welcome to my mini lime meringue tarts.
Sweet Shortcrust pastry
125g plain flour
50g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 medium egg yolks
50g caster sugar
4 medium egg whites
225g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white wine vinegar
around 5 – 8 limes (depending on size), squeezed- warm them up first to get lots more juice and zested into the bowl
350g caster sugar
4 whole eggs
Firstly you need to make your pastry as this will need to be rested in the fridge for at least half an hour, an hour is better 🙂 Preheat your oven to 190 degrees c
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry –
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Chuck in your butter
Rub the butter in until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Using a fork you can then add your egg yolk and if needed a tsp or so of water.
Gather the dough together with your hands and wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.
Once your pastry is rested you can line your tins. I used muffin tins that I had lightly greased with butter. I pricked the bottoms of the tarts and then baked for around fifteen minutes or so until they were just turning golden. Basically you want them around 90% done I think. This recipe was very much about winging it so play with it to suit. You can use baking beans if you wish, up to you. You could also make a large tart as well.
Whilst your pastry is chilling you can get on with your lime curd.
in a double boiler (one bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) pop all your ingredients, whisk together over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves and then heat gently for around 20 minutes. Leave it to cool, it will get thicker. Hey presto lime curd. This will make a reasonable amount so any leftover curd can be popped into a jar and then stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, yummy spooned straight from the jar into my mouth 🙂 Other citrus fruit works just as well, lemons (obvs) but also orange and although I haven’t tried it I suspect grapefruit might be a bit yum too.
Meringue – whisk your egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix your cornflour, vinegar and vanilla in a small separate bowl.
Add the sugar whilst whisking, a spoonful at a time. Once your mixture becomes stiff and glossy you can add your cornflour, vanilla and vinegar mixture. Whisk for another minute or so. Pop your meringue into a piping bag or you can spoon on the meringue. Whatever your creative juices require really.
This mixture makes enough meringue for a dozen tarts plus a couple of trays of meringue kisses or you could even make some small pavlova bases. It will depend on how much meringue you got out of your four eggs and how generous you were on the tarts 🙂
In your pre baked tart shells spoon in some curd and then pipe on or dollop on your meringue. Pop into your oven that is now around 190 degrees c for around 5 – 10 minutes, keep an eye, you want the meringue to start browning. Once they are going brown, turn your oven off and leave them in it with the door slightly ajar to finish drying out the meringue a bit more.
All of my recipe components came from the wonderful step by step cookbook by Good Housekeeping. I have had various versions of this over the years including my Mum’s 1957 version. Cannot recommend it enough. You can often find a version in charity shops and pretty cheaply online too. Have a hunt.
Well, finally am getting round to posting a few pictures of my completed Mandala. I have so enjoyed this pattern. What a generous designer Helen Shrimpton is 🙂
The links to the pattern as well as all the helpful pictures, links to video tutorials can be found here . The video tutorials from It’s all in a Nutshell were truly invaluable, check out the website for those and many other fab ideas .
Here are a few pictures of my finished piece which has already found a new home. Turns out it was almost impossible to get a shot of this thing without at least one cat on it!!!!
Too hot to work on my Mandala at the moment so inspired by my kids love of Pokemon and the new craze of Pokemon go, I decided to make some small crochet Pokemon for them to find 🙂 I also needed to use up some of my teeny tiny bits of yarn scraps left over from my Mandala Madness blanket.
Had a look on Ravelry for patterns and found to my delight Nicole’s Nerdy Knots. She has created for free, some great teeny patterns that are really straightforward to do. Although they are free, you can make a donation to her page if you fancy. I have not been asked to do this on her behalf, just felt her stuff was good so we should 🙂
Stupidly I only took photos on my phone so forgive the quality and enjoy the following creations.
This last one, a Skarmory, did not have a pattern that I could find so for the first time in my crochet life I had a go at making something without a pattern. Luckily the internet is helpful with plenty of pictures. I am thrilled with the result and now wish I had written down what I did!!!
I have slowed down considerably over the last week, temperatures here are in the mid to late twenties which would be fine if I was on holiday and had a pool nearby. Sadly I have to work and my relaxing crochet time has been hampered by the heat generated by this blanket. Wherever it ends up for it’s forever home, let’s hope it’s chilly 🙂
Anyway, I have over the last month done parts 10-13. I love how each new section changes the feel of the blanket. I am still following my self imposed rule (sort of, I did buy some hot pink yarn the other day but haven’t used it yet!) of only using yarn I already own. As the blanket has grown I have had to add to those already owned colours as I can get through half a ball in one round on some of the larger stitches.
As the blanket has grown I have started to see that counting has become a problem for me! I think I have merrily counted correctly and it is not till the next section that it becomes clear that I have added one or lost one here and there. For the most part it hasn’t caused me too many problems. I can usually pull two together or add a stitch if needed. Luckily, as this pattern has sections, I have managed to maintain an even shape (ish!) Blocking it will I’m sure solve this too. Quite frankly once you’re under it, you’re going to be too cosy to care 🙂
As always, a big thank you to Helen Shrimpton for creating this amazing pattern and sharing it for free.All the links can be found on her website Crystals and Crochet.
And of course thanks to It’s all in Nutshell for the fabulous video tutorials without which I would be lost around part 10!!
P.S yes part 10 is a tad tricky but read the pattern, follow the video and go slow. It’s so pleasing when you nail it 🙂
My cunning plan was to take a picture at the end of each section. I appear to have lost part seven and eight’ s pictures, but got some of part nine. If I come across the missing pics will post them as it is so nice to see each part complete.
Love the way this pattern is developing. My choice of colour has, so far been dictated by what is available in my yarn stash and what the previous row was. I suspect that I will have to buy some yarn as the mandala grows. I am determined to try and continue to use this piece as a stash buster. I plan on only buying yarn, when a colour I already own has been chosen, but is running out on a round. Should be interesting to see what my yarn stash looks like when I’m done.
Anyway, as always refer to the written and pictorial pattern. Helen Shrimpton has designed this gorgeous pattern and is sharing it for free ,so please do visit her site for all the information you will need on this pattern and her many others.
Every month now for a few months, myself and a few friends have been getting together every month. Primarily, so that I can teach them what I know about crochet (not masses, but enough!) and also to eat more cake than we probably should, washed down with gallons of tea.
Anyway, as we crochet, we chat. It transpired that one of my lovely new crochet buddies is planning a wedding for this month. It will be decorated with lots of handmade or grown at home stuffs (see cute pic of sweet peas given to me by lovely groom’s Mum!). It was decided that some crochet bunting would be a good teach as quite a simple pattern, and very pleasing to do as it works up quite quickly.
The leaves and the daisy flowers I created myself without a pattern.I may have a go at writing the pattern up (watch this space). I used them to embellish and trim the bunting. The tassels were, quite frankly, an example of me getting carried away. This was really my first foray into designing something myself. I quite enjoyed the process and the groom’s Mum seems pleased with the result, so all in all, a win methinks.