Sunday, 30 December 2012

Breaking the rules - with Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week*. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
*It's the holidays, go ahead a break the rules by sharing on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday...and share some words and an extra photo or ten! (I'll be running giveaways starting on Friday this weekend, but do continue to post in this thread if you'd like.)

All the important parts of christmas good food, lillies, a little crafting and family.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Boysenberry pie in the sun

When on holiday in the sunny hawkes bay we are surrounded by fresh fruit. So it's wonderful to take a little bit of time to make another fresh berry pie. Oh how I'm loving making these. And I think I'm perfecting my sweet pastry recipe which gives me leave to try a multitude of fillings. Fresh picked boysenberries from a stand down the road and a bbq tonight provided the perfect excuse for making another pie.

Ok I promise it looked amazing when just cooked! It's not as pretty when mostly eaten and a tad squashed. Ahem I may have put my bag on it during the trip to the BBQ. Still tasted amazing though!

A simple recipe again. The filling was made using
6 C fresh boysenberries
11/4C sugar
1/8t salt
3T cornflour

Mix together in a bowl and pour into an uncooked pastry shell.
Cover with a lattice top and brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 180degrees C for about 45 mins until golden.

Allow to cool until slightly warm and serve alone or with cream or icecream. A perfect summer dessert.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a merry christmas and a little bit of crafting in the new year. xxx

Friday, 21 December 2012

Tardis tea

Yep tea definately tastes better when made in the Tardis. What an awesome gift from my best friend! Just had to share with you all. xxx

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chewy chocolate, cherry and pistachio cookies

This is the best cookie recipe and very versatile. You can use any combination of dried fruit, nuts or chocolate. I love this combination and the green pistachios and the red cherries add a christmassy feel. I have given a plate of these as gifts many times over the years and am always asked for the recipe.
Even better still they are quick and easy to make.

Chewy chocolate, cherry and pistachio cookies

1 C packed brown sugar
1/2C white sugar
1 1/2C self raising flour
1/2 C flour
1 C chopped pistachios
185g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
200g chopped chocolate (dark is nice)
1 C chopped glace cherries

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl
In another bowl combine butter and eggs.
Stir into the dry ingredients until a dough forms.
Mix in the chocolate and cherries.

Place teaspoons full on a greased tray, leaving plenty of space for them to spread.
Bake for 12 minutes until lightly browned.

This recipe makes about 35 cookies so great for feeding a crowd or for lots of gifts.

Have a great christmas everyone.

Monday, 17 December 2012

There shall be pie

Well christmas is well and truly on the horizon and so much has been going on here. I'm getting itchy fingers with the lack of crafting going on, time has just been so short. I can't wait to have another little project underway, i think tomorrow i will take some time to sort through fabric and find some inspiration.

Among the last few weeks christmas parties was the last craft group meeting for the year. And what better way to finish off the year than with a christmas cocktails and desserts evening.

I will never forget the amazing pies i had while travelling through America many years ago. Fruit pies aren't all that common here. We have apple pie but few others, so i've always wanted to try making a few. And with the glut of raspberries here i decided to give it a go.

A simple recipe from here . So simple i'm embarrassed i haven't tried it earlier. The pastry was whipped up in the food processor and the filling was made in seconds. It was perfect for our dessert night and i got many compliments for it. I had one criticism of the recipe and that is there was too much lemon juice.

Still fun to make and even more fun to eat we will be trying this one again.
take care everyone and make time for a slice of pie

Thursday, 13 December 2012

eels and a run

A bit of a break from the christmas whirlwind today with a trip to the local gardens. Some friendly eel and duck feeding following by a wander around the beautiful gardens. The running away view is the most common one i get of my little man in photos these days. It's so lovely to see him confident enough to go exploring and adventuring when we are out and about.
Although i am thinking i might need to improve my running skills. The pram got ditched more than once while i disappeared down another path to catch the wee mite!

Hope you are having a good night where ever you are. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pepperminty week

~ Frozen fruit pop's for my little man, sometimes with a drizzle of chocolate sauce for a treat
~ Fresh raspberries straight from the cane, we have been picking about 2 handfuls each day and my bubba will eat about half of that before we get inside. It's so nice to have fresh fruit literally in our backyard.
~ Crushed pepperminty goodness made into sweet creamy pepperminty goodness using this amazing peppermint bark recipe from Orangette. It's even better than it looks if that is possible. A sure hit for christmas and gorgeous little gifts when stacked in jars and tied with a bow.
~ A little last minute crafting for a few more gifts.

With most of my christmas gifts under control i'm turning my thoughts to prepping a summer craft for on the road. I love having something simple to pick up and put down easily to work in with the day. Hmmm redwork, blackwork, hand piecing some hexagons for quilts....  The next craft is always a big decision!

How's your christmas gift shopping or crafting going? 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Potted Christmas cakes

This cool little idea came from my mum who has made these before as gifts.

The still need glazing to look all shiny but you get the idea - potted christmas cakes.

First you need to line a terracotta pot with baking paper. I cut a small round for the bottom and then a long strip to wrap into a cone around the sides.

Then fill the pot with your favourite christmas cake recipe (I've included one of my favourites below) and topping with some nuts and glace fruit looks nice.

Then cook according to your recipe (reduce the time and keep a close eye on it) Because these are smaller and taller than a christmas cake they tend to cook quicker. Also you will probably need to cover these with tinfoil half way through cooking so the top doesn't burnt like my first attempt did!

A lovely gift with a big bow wrapped around them and more interesting to give than a traditional christmas cake. 
So as promised here is one of my favourite christmas cakes - don't scrimp on the essences they really make the cake!

Marjory’s fruitcake

Cream 190grams butter
With 1 cup sugar
And 1 tablespoon golden syrup
Add essences 1 tsp each of  lemon, orange, vanilla and 

Add 2 beaten eggs
Then add 2 cups of plain flour but don’t mix it in yet
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 kilo of mixed fruit 
500g sultanas 
Coat your fruit with flour, then mix in.
Add 1 tsp baking soda mixed in 1 cup milk.

Bake at 170 degrees C for about 1 and ½ hours, but check after 1 hour.

I hope wherever you are you are enjoying a little bit of christmas cheer.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A little bit of a homemade christmas

Linking up with Fiona at Arbordale Farm with some homemade christmas inspiration.

I have never really considered doing a fully homemade Christmas, the sheer numbers of people i buy presents for has always put me off. This year with my little man's second Christmas nearly here i thought i would start a small tradition within this little family of making some homemade gifts.

Tying this in with the other new tradition of giving a book on Christmas eve i thought i would start with a book bag. And what fabric could be better for a book bag than Dr Seuss?

I loved Dr Seuss as a child and was so excited when i came across this beautiful printed quilting fabric. I bought a few pieces at the time with no real plan of what to make with it. 
This project seemed like the perfect start.

This was a lot of fun to make and came together quickly. Doesn't it look great? I'm so pleased with it, this fabric really makes it special.

 I also made a smaller version to fit my kindle, i made it slightly small but it does the trick.

I have a few more gifts to make yet so i better head off and get sewing!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Handmade ornament swap -my parcel arrived!

About a month ago i signed up with Christina Lowry designs to take part in a handmade ornament swap. I sent my parcel off last week and this week a parcel arrived for me.

Beautifully wrapped and all the way from Australia my gift came from Monique over at Moniques Mess . I've also just read that the wrapping was also printed from lino designs from many years ago. Wow i'm impressed Monique!

The lovely packaging continues with this gift box and inside was this lovely little mouse and her own little seat  ,made from a spoon and beads, for sitting in the christmas tree.

Isn't she just sweet? The stitching is so dainty and the detail is amazing with the tiny stitched flowers and lace dress.

And here is an action shot of her nestling into the tree. 

She really is very lovely. I'm so grateful for the hard work that went into this. 
Thanks Monique!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Slow living -month 11

Linking up again this month with Christine at Slow living essentials. I've been absent from the monthly slow living reviews for a few months now as, ironically, i just felt the need to slow down and rest for awhile. Not push myself too much and try and gain back my good health. The little break seems to have served me well and i'm starting to feel more myself. So this month i have a little more to share.

{Nourish} - 
Oh there has been a lot of this here this month. Stocks, breads and numerous christmas puddings and cakes are being prepared. Simple has been the order of the day with meals too. Nourishing, healthy and full of flavour.

{Prepare} - There hasn't been much preserving or stockpiling in the last few months. As we head into spring we will get into more of this. I have managed to make some stock from neck chops and bones using the nourishing traditions method and cooking it for 24hrs. 
{Reduce} - Old cotton sheeting was chopped up for straining cloths, pieces of foam became a threading toy for my son and all our old bricks around the place have been incorporated into a new outdoor area.
{Green} - Another batch of my favourite cleaner was mixed up.

All purpose spray cleaner

400ml water
1/2 C vinegar
1 t of essential oils - i use different ones but my favourite combination at the moment is rosemary, lavendar and lemon. It smells heavenly to clean with and makes cleaning less of a chore.

{Grow} - Our garden has had a slow start here with the first 2 sowings being devoured by slugs and snails. But finally we are making some ground. Our raspberries are doing the best at the moment and we are picking 2 handfuls each day. Half of which my son has eaten before we reach the house! Also the lettuces are going strong and zucchinis, strawberries, peas and tomatoes are all coming along nicely. We should be in for a great crop again this year.

{Create} - There is always a lot of creating going on in this house. This month there has been a little more knitting, a kindle case and a dr seuss book bag for my son for christmas. Where would i be without craft!

{Discover} As my little man gets bigger and becomes his own little person i've been thinking more and more about parenting styles. Some people seem to fit easily into one style or another but i don't feel like i've found my niche yet. With a few challenging moments around here lately i've found myself moving between different styles trying to find the right fit. So i've been reading a lot more - from Nigel Latta (politically incorrect parenting) to conscious parenting. It's a lot to think about and something i thought would be more instinctual. Being a parent is wonderful though and i'm sure it's something that will sort itself in time.

{Enhance} Craft group always comes to mind with a wonderful night making fudge handbags covered with fondant recently. It was a good night which went well later than usual, the conversation just seemed to flow. Such great fun. And coming up we are making christmas wreaths and having an end of the year dessert and wine evening to wind things up.

{Enjoy} Catching up with a friend i haven't been able to see in a little while and letting our kids play together. They have know each other since birth and they are great fun to watch play. They mostly play well together but both being rather spirited wee things in different ways they tend to fight like siblings at times too. It's actually wonderful seeing my little man develop those kind of close relationships that you can miss out on being so far away from family.

A busy month but in some ways a simpler one. It really is wonderful and so important to put down extra work some times and be kinder to yourself for a while. Rest is so important for us mummies too!

Take care everyone

Friday, 30 November 2012

Scottish Black Bun

This stuff is the mack daddy of christmas cakes. It is the fruit cake all other fruit cakes wish they could be. As the name suggests this is one serious fruit cake - a black, fruit dense filling encased with short pastry.
It looks kinda like a pie until you cut it open to reveal the intense black fruit filling.

Unfortunately i can't show you a picture of the inside as it needs to mature for a few weeks to really develop the flavours. But i found this one online which shows you what it will look like.

Pretty impressive isn't it? A similar texture and flavour to traditional christmas pudding. If you're a fruit cake lover you will love this cake. You need to make this cake!

Black Bun

2 1/2 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
150g butter

3/4C flour
1/2 teaspoon (t) nutmeg
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t mixed spice
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 C brown sugar
3 2/3 C raisins
1 1/2 C sultanas
2 1/3 C currants
1/2 C mixed peel
2/3 C chopped almonds
2 t grated lemon rind
2 eggs
2 T brandy
3 T treacle
2 T milk

Make the pastry by combining the flour, baking powder and butter in the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg and mix until the mixture forms a soft dough ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge.

In the meantime in a bowl coat the dried fruit in the flour ( this stops the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake). Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Yum looks good doesn't it?

Take the wrapped dough out the fridge and cut into 3 pieces. Line a cake tin with baking paper and roll out the 1st piece of dough to fit into the base of the tin. Then roll out the second piece into a long strip to form the sides of the cake. With your fingers press the dough together where the sides and base meet,

Pour the filling into the pastry lined cake tin.

Top with the last piece of rolled pastry and with your fingers press the edges of the cake together so the sides are well sealed with the top. Prick the top with a fork.

 Then brush the top of the cake with egg white and bake in the oven at 150 degrees C for 2- 2 1/2 hrs until the cake is golden brown.

I hope you will give this one a go. It is a real star and lasts for months if stored in a cool dry place.
Feeling festive yet?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin- boiled christmas pudding

I love christmas time and i take a rather traditional approach to baking in the festive season. Christmas puddings, fruit cake and christmas tarts are always on my favourites list. In truth though with so much on at christmas i don't always bake my own, particularly christmas puddings. But after many years of buying them i thought it would be nice to try making my own. I'm lucky these days to have a good relationship with a local butcher who was able to supply me with some suet as well.

Christmas pudding making was a bit of a family event this year with my mum visiting and compulsory help from my little man.

Cohen is my expert stirrer and dried fruit tester. This kid loves dried fruit so he was in heaven making this pudding.

The batter came together quickly.

It was a bit more liquid than i expected but it turned out fine in the end.

Pouring the batter into calico cloth and tying up the ends.

Then into the pot for boiling. The spoon stops it from sitting on the bottom of the pot and i placed a plate underneath to prevent this as well.

Then i covered up the pot and bubble, bubble, bubble off it boiled for a few hours.

All cooked and ready for hanging in a cool, dry place until christmas. I'm also going to 'feed' the pudding with a little brandy every few days for a little extra christmassyness - it's a word, really it is..... after plenty of brandy soaked pudding anything counts as a real word.

Traditional christmas pudding

1 1/2C flour
1 C suet
1 C breadcrumbs
1 C raisins
1 C sultanas
1 C mixed peel
1/4 pound glace cherries
1/4 pound almonds (i used ground almond as it's all i had)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 t baking soda
1 C golden syrup
1/2 C brown sugar
1 large egg
1 C milk
150ml brandy
grated rind of 1 orange ( i used 1 T orange juice)

Mix everything together. Boil in a pudding cloth for 4-5 hrs. Done. Store in a cool, dry place until christmas, feeding 2-3 times a week with a little brandy. On the day of serving either boil or steam for 30mins - 1 hr until piping hot. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

yummy stuff

So now we wait for the big reveal on the 16th at an early family christmas dinner. I'm hoping to do the whole deal with the pudding and make some brandy butter and light the pudding on fire too. I'll let you know how i get on! I hope you're all starting to feel a little christmassy out there too.

On another note my christmas ornament for Christina Lowry designs ornament swap  is in the post today. I hope the recipient likes it!

Take care people