Saturday, 27 November 2010

Elderflower Champagne

Another addition to my hampers is Elderflower Champagne
4 litres hot water
700g sugar
Juice and zest of four lemons
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
About 15 blooming elderflower heads (I freeze mine to kill bugs as well as to store for making later)
A pinch of dried yeast

Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (I used a bucket from poundland) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

Cover with something like a clean cloth/tea towel and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with cloth, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and pour into sterilised plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so plastic bottles previously used for fizzy drinks are essential).

Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Raspberry Vinegar

I grew up being given watered down Raspberry Vinegar when ever I had a bad cough - it cut through the phlegm, and left a warmth that I now tie in with being comfortable & cozy on a dark winters night.
My nan always would make my Mom a bottle for the family and as the one who suffered the most with bad coughs I probably had most of it.

Since my nan died over 5 years ago I havent had any so I decided to use her recipe this year to make my own and not only use it myself but include it in the hampers I'm making for my brothers families.

To each pound (lb) of  raspberries add 1pint of malt or wine vinegar and allow to stand for 4 days.
I used frozen raspberries but fresh ones give a much stronger flavour.
Strain through a fine sieve (do not press the fruit)

To each pint of strained vinegar add 4-5 oz of sugar.
Simmer for 10mins.
Allow to cool and bottle in sterilised bottles

You may recognise 2 of my bottles as being from a well known brand that I drink way too much of, to make them a bit more christmassy I cut red foiled paper into a circle and then placed over the bottle top, securing with an elastic band and finishing off with a bow of green rafia.

I have recently found out that raspberry vinegar is delicious as a dressing for salad, over vanilla ice cream, and also combined with oil and poured over carrots before roasting them.
To use as a cough drink dilute like you would cordial - not advised if you have a stomach ulcer.

I've frozen the pickled, left over fruit until I've worked out what I can do with it, its a pickled raspberry mush ... anyone any ideas?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Snowman Jigsaw Blocks

When I was little my brother and I had a set of building blocks that when fitted together formed different pictures. I decided to make a similar item for Kai for Christmas.
I took 6 old building blocks and sanded them
I then painted the edges white just to ensure no colour peeped through when all was done.
I had a set of snowman papers that I cut each one to the size of the 6 cubes combined, & then each one into 6 to fit onto each cube.
I covered a side of a cube with pva glue and then stuck one of the pieces of paper on.
I repeated this with the same picture on the other 5 blocks.
I did this with the other 5 pictures and then covered them with glossy accents to seal them and hopefully prevent the paper from peeling or being knocked about so easily.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Twinks infamous hobnob recipe

After their rave reviews I've kept meaning to make Twinks hobnobs and finally got round to it.

I made them up as directed and then split the mix in half so I could add choc chips to half the batch.
They cooked wonderfully and my only mistake was not pressing them down a little bit more as I thought they'd spread slightly more.

The whole family enjoyed them, and this huge batch only lasted about 3 days :-O
Next time I shall try melting chocolate and coating the tops of them after they've cooked and cooled so they'll be like chocolate hob nobs, mmmmmm.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Drizzle cakes

The lovely Moor Mummy mentioned on twitter that she had made cupcakes & was going to drizzle vanilla syrup she'd made over them. Now I'd heard of doing it with Lemon but never anything else, it had never dawned on me that I might try other flavours!!! So after discussing techniques with her I thought I'd give it a go.

I made plain & simple "weight of an egg" cupcakes. While they were cooking I melted some sugar with a tiny bit of water and vanilla flavouring. When fully melted I put the "syrup" into a jug and placed in the fridge until the cakes had cooled.  I pricked the cakes and poured over the syrup

It soaked in lovely, leaving a glossy top, almost as if I'd finished them off with glossy accents (I'm not QUITE that addicted to the stuff ..... yet). It left the cakes moist & rather vanillary-delicious.

I shall be making more of these cakes & playing with other flavours .... do you make any of these syrups? Which ones do you recommend to make, & which ones to avoid?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Nappy Cakes

Last Christmas I made my niece & nephew a 2 tier nappy cake each....

I thought they were perfect for babies who dont really understand Christmas, and dont need many presents.
I filled it with lotions, potions, nappy sacks, photo frame & a teething toy. These were surrounded by a layer of nappies, held together by elastic bands, and then a baby hooded towel around those. Finally a ribbon tied round completed the bottom layer.
The second layer was a solid layer of nappies tied up with a ribbon and bow.
The "decoration" on top was a pair of snowman booties.
To give it a professional look I wrapped the entire thing in cellophane

There are lots of tutorials online for making nappy cakes, or even nappy trikes!! They are a little fiddly but if you dont fancy making them there are also plenty of people who sell them online to order as well such as..
Tiers for Rears & Butterfly Meadow

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Door plaques

As my children get older so do there tastes, I try to make simple changes to their bedrooms to reflect this.
I have made them a foam door plaque each to reflect their tastes, and they are very simple to make.

1. Decide on your design ...

For Zack I hand drew a skull that matches the design on his curtains and bedding
For Kai I printed out a triceratops colouring in picture, hes dino mad at the moment.

2. Transfer design onto foam sheets
I cut out the skull and drew around it onto red foam.
For the triceratops I cut it in sections so I could layer it up. First of all I cut all round the edges and drew round it onto dark green. I then cut out the head from above the mouth, minus the horn that is at the back, and drew this onto a lighter green piece of foam. I used a hole punch to punch out his eye, then stuck the head on top of the body.
Finally I punched out a white circle with the punch, cut the horns out of white foam, and the grass out of light green. I then attached all these together.
Kai kindly drew round the eye for me and I gave him a pupil.
3. Cut out & attach everything together  I used double sided tape to fasten everything together, except for the letters that were bought pre-cut from poundland & already sticky backed.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Vegetarian Mexican Stir Fry Wraps

This is a tried & tested recipe I have been making for many years now
If you want a bit of meat in it then add it at the beginning & make sure you cook it thoroughly, I personally prefer it with just the veg. Its quick, colourful, simple and easy to eat.

You will need....
1tbsp sunflower oil
1 red onion - quartered & sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red, 1 green & 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded & chopped
1tsp cayenne pepper
2tsp cumin seeds
3 tomatoes, chopped roughly
150g (5oz) baby sweetcorn, halved
2tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
salt & pepper
8 soft wheat tortillas
150ml (5fl oz) greek yogurt

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the garlic, onion & peppers (& meat if your using it) for 3-4 mins. The add the cayenne pepper and cumin, cook for 2mins. Add the tomatoes and sweetcorn and cook for a further 5-7mins. Stir in the coriander and seasoning before serving onto a dish.

2. Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in a moderate oven for 3-4mins

3. To serve, spoon some of the stir-fry mix onto a warm tortilla and top with a spoon ful of greek yogurt
Roll up the wrap and eat with your fingers. I always lift up the base flap first and then roll it the other way making an easily handled pocket.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Fimo cupcake keyring

The lovely Hayley from Rainbow Delicious Bakery sent me some of her cakes to try out (& to see how well they travel), ooo, they were definately delicious! I'm now having to bake all kinds of cupcakes to try & win my familys cake love back!!!!

As a thank you I made her this keyring
I also made a few smaller fimo cupcakes as well which I'm planning on making into pendants or earrings.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ribbon Storage

I have a craft cupboard under the stairs which is by no means big enough to hold all my crafting goodies (I also have under my bed for material, & draws & boxes in the lounge). When they are box up I can never remember what ribbons I have and they frequently get tangled, so I set up a "washing line" behind the door in my cupboard where I can peg up my ribbons. I can now see them clearly and get hold of them easily.

As you can see some of the pegs have been decorated, in time I hope to get them all covered, just so it'll look nice. There is still plenty of washing line left so I can make this even bigger as my ribbon collection expands, as I'm sure it will.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sundays HMHF weekly recap

We've gone all Christmassy over at .Hand.Made.Heart.Felted giving you plenty of chance to make some Christmas presents and decorations before December hits in.
This week we've showcased tutorials on how to make.....
Star Boxes
Paperclip Jar and Paperclips

Felt Christmas Trees
Twiggy Tealight Holder

Toy Teepee

Grow a candy Cane

Monogram Ornament

Even more Christmassy fun next week 


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