Week 10 – curry time again. Palak Paneer and Spinach Curry without Paneer!!!

I wanted this weekly project initially to have the focus on a bake and/or a make. I have decided to broaden this a bit. The idea was originally to be inspired by something and Β so this week I was inspired by dinner!!

We have, like many others tried the recipe boxes that are everywhere all of a sudden. Gousto was the first one we tried and although we didn’t stick with them, I did adopt a few of their recipes into our regular menu.

The first time I made this, I of course followed the recipe to a T. Since then I have tweaked a bit (but only the tiniest bit, promise) Instead of paneer, I have started using halloumi. It’s just that bit nommier πŸ™‚

Ingredients: (serves 2 but you can bulk it out for 3 with maybe a bit more rice, side dishes, poppadoms and mango chutney or simply double for 4)

  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red chilli (I have substituted dried chilli here if you don’t have fresh to hand, use around 1/2 tsp or more depending on how hot you would like it)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 6 cardomom pods
  • 250g paneer cheese (as mentioned I substitute halloumi as I prefer it and have also reduced the amount by half before to reduce calories without impacting the flavour significantly, your call!)
  • 150g baby leaf spinach
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 20g fried onions
  • 130g basmati rice

Method;

  • Crush the cardamom pods with side of a knife or a spoon.
  • Place the basmati rice and the cardamom pods, a pinch of salt and 300 ml cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once boiling turn it down low, pop a lid on and gently cook for 10-15 minutes. Do keep an eye on this as you want to turn the heat off once it’s absorbed all the water and is cooked. Leave the lid on and leave your rice to one side in the hot pan until you are ready to serve. It stays piping hot for a good while (10 + minutes easily).
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice your onion, chop your chilli finely, chop up your tomato and pop a kettle on to boil.
  • Chop your paneer (or whatever cheese you desire, if you use a vegan cheese here, this dish is perfect for vegans and veggies alike. Violife have one, not tried it myself but worth a shot for this yummy curry) Heat a non stick frying pan and heat up a drizzle of veg oil. Once hot, add your cheese and fry on both sides till golden brown. Once browned , transfer it to a plate, season if desired and set aside for later.
  • Get your pan back on the heat, add a little more oil if you need and then fry your onions till soft. Then add your chopped tomato, garam masala and 3/4 of your chilli (you can tweak this to suit, the dish is really flavourful and can cope with being less heated πŸ™‚ ) Cook for around a minute to release the fragrant spices.
  • Meanwhile, pop your spinach in a colander, stick it in the sink and pour over your boiled water. It will wilt. Rinse with cold water till cool and then squeeze out the water. Grab your wet squished spinach, chop it up roughly.
  • Re boil a kettle
  • To your curry, now add the tomato paste and spinach and cook for a minute or so.
  • To 250ml of boiled water, dissolve your stock cube and then add this to your curry. Cook for around three minutes till it thickens up a bit.
  • Then add your cheese and just warm it through for another minute or so.
  • Serve with your rice and garnish with the fried onions. You can add more chillis too if you want to really spice things up.

I know this looks like a lot of steps. I must admit the first time I made this it felt like a bit of a faff but once I realised that the rice can be pretty much be left once it is cooked, I was then free to concentrate on the curry which in real time takes only about 10 minutes or so to cook, Β if you have everything chopped and ready to go. For someone who used to avoid curries because of the overuse of heat and coriander, this recipe has become a bit of a favourite.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S Its not a pretty curry but then which curries are!!

Week 9 – My overnight oats, oooooh how exciting!!!

This blog started life as a way of recording family recipes that we enjoy. We didn’t want those recipes that we keep in our heads to disappear over time.

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound remotely exciting, and if I’m honest, how exciting do you really need breakfast to be? But, I think, it is just exciting enough (don’t judge me, breakfast sets you up for the day!)

This recipe is inspired by all of the many recipes you can find out there for overnight oats/Bircher Muesli. I had of course read about these and a few friends had waxed lyrical about them. Honestly though, the thought of soggy, cold porridge did not appeal. If you are having cereal, I have always tried to eat it as fast as possible to stop any sogginess happening. I even pondered the two bowl approach πŸ™‚

How wrong was I. Not entirely sure what prompted me to try these in the end but here we are.

I googled and found many recipes. You can probably find a recipe for every day of the week. There are so many options, although the oats certainly appear to be universal. The bigger the better. For the dairy components, you can add milk of course, but condensed milk was in one recipe, cream in another and yoghurt or combinations of.

The next ingredient that features in all seemed to be grated apple. Now I did try this but my grater turned most apples to mush, and I refuse to go out and buy a special grater just for this. It also seemed to be an awful lot of faff for not much in the way of flavour for me. Of course, try it. It is after all your breakfast, you might as well make it to suit you. I dabbled with pureed apple sauce, not bad but settled on apple juice. I pretty much always have it in the fridge as it is hubby’s choice generally, when it comes to juice πŸ™‚

Nuts, another seemingly universal ingredient. All types, it appears go into these recipes . All to add some crunch as well as protein. I do not like nuts, therefore, I did not include them!! If nuts are your thing, go wild.

Dried fruits – again, many recipes include different types depending on the author. Like most households I can usually find some sultanas or raisins in the cupboard but this recipe works beautifully with any kind that you like really. I am currently loving the tropical fruit mix which has mango and papaya in it. Yum. But I have some apricots ready for the next bowl.

That is pretty much that in terms of main ingredients but let your imagination (and what’s in your stores) decide. Add seeds, fresh fruit, spices, syrups, granola, plant based milks and yoghurts. This recipe can be entirely vegan should your heart desire it.

What I have been really pleased with is that I can have this without any added sugar. I have a wicked sweet tooth and generally find that I prefer life on the sweeter side. Adding cinnamon, for me, is the magic ingredient that ties it all together and gives it the sweetness I need. That and the fruits of course. I’m aware they have sugar in them, but for me this is pretty good to avoid adding syrup or something similar.

As the title suggests, these are generally made the night before. This does buy you some valuable morning time. However, if like me you are regularly not organised for life. When you get up, nip down, apple juice your oats, stick them back in the fridge while you get showered, dressed etc. They’ll have soaked enough by the time you get down again. The overnight soaking gives a much softer porridgy mix, but 10-15 minutes soaking is fine if that’s all the time you have.

Lorna’s Overnight (or first thing!) Oats

  • 40g large scottish rolled oats
  • Around 6tbsp apple juice
  • Dried fruit, to taste (I’ve never weighed these, just chuck on a few, about 40g)
  • Milk to loosen mixture, again, this is very much about personal preference.
  • Cinnamon
  • Yoghurt to top
  • Fresh Fruit – whatever is in season or you like. Pears are lovely with this as are strawberries.

Method

  • The night before, in your cereal bowl, place your oats and dried fruit. Add your apple juice to these. Stick it back in the fridge and go to bed πŸ™‚
  • In the morning, take them out and add enough milk to loosen the mixture. You may have to play around with this. It really must be how you like it. I usually add some, give it a mix, taste and then add more if needed πŸ™‚
  • Next sprinkle on your cinnamon, mix. Again this is to taste. Add a little and then more as you like it. Cinnamon is super good for you and apparently help regulate blood sugar. Happy days.
  • Then the toppings. Again this is all about you. I like to add some fresh fruit if I have it to hand. However tinned pears are particularly yummy with this. A dollop of yogurt works well too.

As ever, there is a granny square a week as well related to this project. This weeks square is a delicious peachy pink.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S I tried my best to take a good picture of this, not my best work. I am not a photographer and food pics are challenging when you are faced with a bowl of creamy brownish smoosh!!

Week 8 – Super speedy mobile phone crochet cover.

Week 8 already.

Looking around for simple and speedy patterns led me to a budget bookshop. The Works. This shop is very hit and miss but what they seem to do really well is art supplies and craft books. Super cheap too.

Always good to have a handy supply of books for my crochet group to peruse. You can of course go online for a myriad of free patterns, but there is something pleasing about thumbing your way through a book πŸ™‚

Anyway, the book I picked up for the grand sum of Β£4 is entitled 30 minute crochet. Guess what it contains!

Some of the patterns are definitely not my cup of tea. That said, this book is perfect for the beginner or someone who is perhaps looking for something speedy that they can whip up in no time.

I spotted the mobile phone cover, a really simple pattern that uses dc (UK)or sc (US) throughout. For obvious reasons I can’t simply give you the pattern here. Do buy the book or have a look online, there are loads to be inspired by. See below for a couple of links to other patterns.

Crochet Crowd mobile phone cover patterns

You Tube video tutorialΒ 

The only part of these mobile phone covers that I can claim as my own is the button, although I’m sure that it was a pattern from somewhere at some point!

I simply started with a magic ring and then crocheted 6sc into the ring. Join with a slip stitch, loosely pull your circle together (not too tight, you want to be able to work into the hole for a few more stitches) then chain up one and then working into your centre hole, sc for as many times as you like to get the desired effect, the more times you go round the bigger the button. Pull tight to close your hole and weave in your ends. Attach to your cover.

If you search for crochet button pattern, you will find loads. Sheru knitting, see link below has a really nice one that I think was the one that I was inspired by. Her site has fabulous things to make, I could spend hours looking at her tutorials. Beautiful.

Sheru Knitting

Hope you like these. All in all, I spent a couple of hours (not quite the promised 30 minutes, but close enough!) making both of these covers and the granny square was inspired by the orange one.

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Week 7 – Crochet moses basket blanket and converse style baby booties :)

As ever, another one of my friends is expecting. This time though we don’t know what the sex of the baby so I am doing something a little more neutral. The friend has already decorated the nursery in shades of white and grey so I have taken that as inspiration. Not my usual colour palette but very soothing.

A different yarn choice too for me. This time I have bought grey and white style craft bambino supersoft DK yarn. It s a little more expensive than special DK but you can really feel the difference. Lovely to work with.

As the little one is due in June I decided to do something a little more lightweight and in a size that would work with a moses basket or car seat.

The pattern I chose was inspired by this fabulous modern heirloom crochet blanket by Mama In a Stitch. Check out her blog, its glorious. Full of free patterns and inspiration πŸ™‚

I tweaked it slightly as I was making a smaller version but the pattern really lends itself to a bit of personalisation. The basic pattern is simple moss stitch with colour changes as you like. Depending on how big you wish to go and how fast you crochet, this could be worked up over a weekend really easily. In a chunky variegated yarn, I should think you could have the first of many Christmas presents ready to go!!!

Anyway, as I had a small amount of yarn left, I decided that a pair of booties were in order. Made a pair of my reliable crochet converse booties. Love it in the soft grey. Will suit a boy or a girl, lets face it, the baby doesn’t mind what colour it is as long as its squishy soft πŸ™‚ The pattern for these was a paid for pattern found on Etsy by Choosy Stuff. The pattern is really well written, great value and includes a box you can print out for the shoes if you desire. For Β£4.20, this is really good value. For this baby, I haven’t added the black detailing as I thought it would be a little harsh with the soft grey yarn.

I love how the pictures turned out. The grey and white gives it a really vintage feel πŸ™‚

The granny square that I have done this week was inspired by my scrap basket because I have a lovely shade of teal in it!!

Enjoy,

Lx

Week 6 – Damp Lemon and Almond cake, sounds delicious!!

Ok, so should anyone be paying attention. Last week should have been week 6, but it was sunny and a bank holiday weekend πŸ™‚ So I did other stuff πŸ™‚ Hope you all took advantage of the weather. If I’m honest it was a teensy bit warm for me but no worries it has already cooled down.

Today I have decided to bake a cake. Oh what a surprise she says!!! I really should broaden my cooking and baking, but I do love a cake πŸ™‚

This recipe is from Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess. As ever I have tweaked the recipe a bit to suit me. The main issue with this recipe (to be fair Nigella does mention this too) is that it can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hr 10 to cook this cake. It means that you will be oven hovering for a while armed with a skewer!! My oven took 45 minutes to cook this today. You know your oven best, whatever happens, Β you should start checking from 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 21-23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined on the bottom

Now this is where I tweak things slightly. Ground almonds tend to come in 200g bags. This is technically not enough for this recipe if you follow Nigella’s list above. The last thing I want to do when I bake a cake is to buy more stuff than I need, and have it sitting around until I need whats left. So I use my 200g bag of ground almonds and top up with plain flour. I have made it as per Nigella’s recipe and with my alteration. I cannot spot any difference. My other addition is 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate and if you have it a large spoonful of buttermilk or yoghurt. You can leave these additions out but I find they lighten things a bit so the cake is less dollopy !!

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
  • Cream together your butter and sugar till light, fluffy and pale.
  • Beat in your eggs one at a time with a 1/4 of the flour after each egg.
  • Gently stir in your ground almonds or ground almond/flour combo/bicarb/baking powder and buttermilk.
  • Then add almond essence and zest and juice.
  • The mixture will look very close to splitting. First time I made this cake I added more flour because I thought, yikes it is far too wet. Resist, I promise it will be fine. The whole point of this cake is a damp (hence the title) texture. Sounds yuck but tasted scrum.
  • Pop your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around an hour. As I mentioned before, start checking after 30 minutes, popping a skewer in. You want the skewer to come out cleanish. Think damp!! If it looks like it needs longer but is browning too much, give it a tinfoil hat and pop it back in the oven. I would suggest checking every 10/15 minutes or so.
  • Once cooked, leave it in its tin for 5 minutes to cool before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling properly.
  • Nigella then tells us to wrap it in foil and leave it for a couple of days before serving. This does of course improve the flavour and texture of this cake but I have never left a cake hanging around for days. It tastes yummy eaten straight away with icing sugar sieved on and served with fresh raspberries and a cup of tea.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S As part of this year long project, I decided to make a granny square every week. Colour generally inspired by that weeks make (or what is in my scrap basket!!) This week I have made a lovely raspberry coloured square inspired of course by the raspberries. Really quite liking how the colours are starting to go together.

Week 5 – super speedy and easy, crocheted bag for a child

Week 5.

I can’t quite believe how quickly the time is flying by. My grown up children are too fond of mocking me when I say “where has the time gone?” But seriously, where has the time gone?

My youngest and I planned this year long blog challenge 5 weeks ago, which means that it is 5 weeks since I have seen her 😦 Luckily she will be home soon for Eurovision weekend. So excited, we do love a bit of Eurovision. Will have to think of something to bake or make that will suit the Eurovision theme for that week (ideas on a postcard please…..!)

Anyway, I digress. This week I made a little bag for a child. Very, very simple pattern. Two crocheted granny squares and a dc (uk) sc (usa) handle.

I was on the hunt for a pattern for a granny square bag suitable for a child. There are loads online. In the end the one I made was very similar to this one by Wooly wonders Crochet. The difference being that I chose to crochet my pieces together and I created a handle by doing a row of 4 dc/sc on one edge (two stitches each side of where the pieces were stitched together) and the crocheted up until it was the desired length. Then simply crochet this to the other side. All in all, I spent around an hour on this in front of Β an episode of Jane the Virgin. Oh what a perfect evening that was πŸ™‚

I think I may well be adding a lining to this little bag as the granny square does have holes in it. If you made it with a denser stitch though, you may be able to avoid this. I love how this little bag turned out and will be posting it off to my niece as soon as I have lined it.

Finally I have also crocheted two more granny squares for the granny square a week project. I am not really getting to grips with this doing a thing every week. I really am not the most organised, although I got there in the end, so good enough I say. Colours inspired by the little bag and a bigger bag I also made this week.

The bigger bag doesn’t really fit the brief for this project as it took me a couple of weeks to get it done!! The tutorial for this mermaid tears purse can be found on youtube. It’s by The Crochet Crowd and is really straightforward to follow. Do go to their website for loads of brill ideas.

Enjoy,

Lx

Week 4 – The lemon drizzle cake

Week 4, time to bake.

I have posted a recipe for a lemon drizzle cake before but I believe that this may be the “one”.

Every time I bake a lemon drizzle I have a problem with it. Under baked is my usual issue but struggle to avoid this without burning the edges and top to a cinder. Anyway my previous post for a Nigella lemon drizzle can be found here, you can see from the pictures that it was definitely on the scorched side. It did taste ok but it wasn’t great.

This recipe can be found in the first Bake off book. This is the book that also gave me the best chewy ginger cookie recipe, click here for that one.

This lemon drizzle recipe calls for the all in one method. It’s not a method I have used really but it truly is about as easy a cake to mix as you can get. As long as you have some sort of electric mixer device πŸ™‚

Ingredients:

  • For the cake mixture
  • 200g unsalted butter, very very soft
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten at room temp
  • finely grated zest of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml room temp milk ( I substituted butter milk as my preference for cakes)
  • for the topping
  • 100g caster sugar (I substituted icing sugar, works fine)
  • juice of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

A 20cm Springform deep round cake tin, greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Method:

  • Love, love, love this method. Do make sure your butter is super soft and your flour is sifted.
  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c
  • Simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and using either a food mixer or hand electric mixer. Blitz till it resembles cake mix.
  • Dollop your batter into the tin, lightly smooth into the edges, and bake till golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Recipe calls for 50-60 mins.
  • Your oven may mean you need slightly more or slightly less πŸ™‚ start checking after 35 mins πŸ™‚ My oven is definitely on the feisty side and so I probably could have taken my cake out 5 minutes before I did. She’s a little darker than I would have liked but no matter. This cake is all about flavour not looks πŸ™‚
  • Meanwhile take your lemon syrup ingredients, pop them into a small saucepan and then heat together to create syrup.
  • Once you have your cake out of the oven. Leaving it in the tin. Poke holes all over it using a skewer/cocktail stick or whatever you have to hand. I did this once with a cork screw with some (not total) success.
  • Drizzle your syrup over the cake and encourage it to go into the holes. I tend to spoon it on so that I can do this.
  • Resist the temptation to take the cake out of the tin. You need to let it cool in the tin, while it soaks up the syrup.
  • Make a cup of tea. Take your cake out of it’s tin, place on a plate, cut a large slice.
  • Patience rewarded. Om nom nom

It’s really not a very pretty cake, but it is super yummy πŸ™‚ as you can tell from the crumb covered plate at the back there!!!

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Week 3 – Weekend Project – Duckie Lovey

Oh my, imagine my delight when I found this pattern online. The sort of springlike weather inspired me to look for a duck to make for a teeny project. Stumbled across this fab website called The Little Yellow Duck Project. Utterly delightful and charming projects all created to inspire people from around the world to make little ducks to leave for others to find. All to raise awareness for blood, bone marrow and organ donation.

The Just Duckie Lovey is adorable. I had to tweak the ripple slightly as I couldn’t get my lovey to lay flat. I went to Attic24 for her ripple stitch and used that to make the base for my lovey.

The duck pattern was a treat to follow though. Really straightforward to use. I used Style Craft Special DK in duck egg and petrol for the lovey and lemon and sunshine for the duck πŸ™‚

This little guy makes my heart smile every time I look at him.

In other crochet related news! I have made two more squares for the square a week project. Those eagle eyed amongst you will note that I neglected to post this last week (I had made it though, so it counts)

We now have a lemon square, inspired by the arrival of April and more hopeful weather and a sunshine yellow square inspired by my ducks beak!!!

 

 

Really happy with how this project is shaping up.

Looking forward to next week. A cake addition to the project I think. Inspired by the lemonyness of this weeks yarn!!

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Week Two – weekend project. The Penguin

I had a request from a dear friend who wanted a penguin to gift to her brother for his 40th birthday!!. After looking around online (there are loads of penguin amigurumi)

We decided that this was the one for us. It is from a fab website called The Ageing Young Rebel. It is really well written with great pictures to work from. Click here for the link to the penguin page. Do have a look at her other patterns, really nicely done πŸ™‚

Well, firstly, this is a weekend project for those of you who are determined, and able to crochet in daylight hours. Black yarn is a real challenge in all but the best light. I was able to indulge myself over a few days to make this little guy in the daytime. I am so pleased at how he turned out. Truly one of the cutest amigurumi I have made πŸ™‚

I would suggest this is an intermediate level. This is my personal opinion and purely based on my experience of crocheting amigurumi so far. The black yarn and the unusual way of putting the body together made it quite challenging for me. I am super pleased with the result though and he is already winging his way to his new home.

The hat pattern included was for a knitted hat. I cannot knit well and instead crocheted a hat. No pattern as such. What I did was:-

  1. 6sc into magic ring (6)
  2. increase in each stitch (12)
  3. sc,inc rpt all the way around (18)
  4. 2sc,inc rpt Β all the way around (24)
  5. 3sc, inc rpt all the way around (30)
  6. sc all the way around (30)
  7. 4sc, inc, rpt all the way around (36)
  8. at this point I started trying hat on the penguin to see if this would go on his head Β you can either increase again or simply start adding rows until it is the desired length. So much of this will depend on your tension and the type of hat you are after.
  9. Once it was the length I wanted I then made a row of half double crochet (hdc) in the front loops only (this creates an edge you can fold) to create the rim. Happy days.
  10. Finally make a tiny pompom and attach.

The scarf is my own design (if you can call it that!!) as the original penguin didn’t have one. I simply started with a chain of 8, then hdc into the third chain from the hook, hdc in each chain across. chain 2, turn your work and then hdc in all stitches across. Repeat till scarf is desired length. Attach tassels if you like.

Then smile at the cuteness that is your penguin πŸ™‚

 

 

Enjoy,

Lx

 

 

Crochet / baking project April 2018 – March 2019 – oh my!

Skarmory

Not entirely sure that I have thought this through. Whilst having a leisurely weekend with my youngest offspring (I think we relaxed too much) , we have decided that a blog challenge would be “good for me” and her!!! All the lols πŸ™‚

The plan in a nutshell is – once a week, blog about a thing that I have made that week.

The criteria for the things are as follows:

  1. It must be either a baked thing or a crocheted thing.
  2. It must be achievable in a short period of time – either an evening, an afternoon or a weekend. So for arguments sake we have decided on 2-4 hour projects or one, up to 8 hour project. That way I can have time to do stuff I have to do and still feel like I am enjoying my hobbies.
  3. My youngest can set some of the challenges! (yikes)
  4. Blog about the recipe or pattern. Post pictures, how to’s etc every week on a Sunday.
  5. The last was a clever (not really) addition of doing a granny square as well every week, that will over the year form a lap blanket. The colours each week will be inspired by the weather, season or what we feel like! This cunningly should work through my collection of tiny balls of yarn. All about the right size to maybe make one small granny square. At the end of 49 weeks (a number that makes a square) I will choose a colour and a border to put it all together.

As this is the first week, and we have only just planned this plan. I have only one thing to post. It is (drum roll please) the first granny square!! Inspired by the Spring feel of this weekend, I chose to do this in a lovely shade of meadow green. The yarn is Style craft Special DK. This is my go to yarn for pretty much every project. The yarn is consistently reliable and affordable. You can pick this up online really easily from WoolWarehouse or try your local garden centres. A few near me stock it, happy days.


So here she is. Number one of 49, simple Granny squares. DK yarn, 4mm hook, 4 rows. Here is a really simple, clear tutorial for the type I have made. Do have a google though. There are loads of these on YouTube.

Looking forward to seeing how this develops over the next few weeks.

Enjoy,

Lx