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.
Well I have finally got round to taking some pictures of the small single colour Sophie I made recently. This is intended for a baby due this month and I hope will be used as a pram blanket. I am really pleased with how it turned out. In one colour the texture of Sophie really speaks for itself.
Lately we have been trying to improve our eating habits. Us and the rest of the country it seems. We have massively reduced our sugar intake in the week, although not quite balancing with our weekend “more relaxed approach” to food!!! The other thing I have been doing is finding more recipes that are vegetarian, low calorie, tasty and easy to cook. Enter my new fave cook book, Elly Pear’s Fast Days and Feast Days Seems to be widely available to pick up fairly cheaply.
There are a few recipes in here that we have done a few times, the red lentil chilli is excellent and hubby is surprised every time he finds out there is no meat in it 🙂
I decided to try to make the above cauliflower dish as it is so far removed from my usual fare. I have to say although delicious it is probably not something I would cook regularly as it was a bit of a palaver to prepare. My main reason for posting though is how much I managed to make mine look “almost” like the picture in the book. I was ridiculously happy with the presentation, so much so that I spent more time than I should have photographing this delight (yes, my dinner was a little cooler than I would have liked 😦 )
Anyway, if for no ones pleasure but my own, here is my dinner!
What a year this has been already. I started this year finishing the xmas blankets (ha ha) and have just reached the longest day of the year having made a bunch of new crochet friends. Happy days.
Crochet seems to have been gathering a bit of popularity of late. A couple of friends wanted me to show them how to get started with crochet. We set a date and a new crochet club was born. Friends told friends, and hey presto, once a month I spend a Thursday afternoon and evening teaching the most delightful bunch of girls how to make stuff from yarn. Some, it has to be said with more success than others but that is probably in part due to my teaching skills or lack thereof !
We have had three meetings so far and already there have been blankets, bunnies and chicks made not to mention a hat 🙂 I’ll have to seek permission from the artists as I hope to share their work.
Meanwhile I have been busy creating baby blanket, lovey and shoe set for a friend who’s baby is due next month and starting a new CAL. I so loved making Sophie’s Universe that I have been hunting for a similar project that I could get stuck into. Found Mandala Madness (by Crystals and Crochet) through the It’s all in a nutshell blog, the same lovely lady that did the video tutorials for Sophie has done some for Mandala Madness. Have a look at her youtube page for all the videos. I have already tackled part 1, and loving it already. Some new stitches that I haven’t come across before but the pattern is well written and easy to follow with lots of pics. The video tutorials are there as well should you need (I suspect I will further on in this pattern as the stitch count get’s higher).
Anyway, check them out and give it a go,
P.S have made one or two other bits and pieces this year which turned out rather lovely including some new creatures for my sisters new class next year 🙂 Check out allaboutami for the dragon