Saturday, May 30, 2009

2 Puddings!

We have been invited out to Angie and Bill's house tonight (hello Angie and Bill!). They live over the road from us and are quite OK sort of people really. They look after our children sometimes and let them play with their dog. They let mum collect greenery for her flower arranging duties in church. Angie even knits. Yes, quite OK they are!

Anyway, they knew what they were doing inviting us on a Saturday, as they read this blog. When I asked them what I could bring round, the answer was 'Saturday Pudding of course!'

Whilst listening to the radio yesterday, all the talk was about Rhubarb Meringue Pie. I liked the sound of that so decided to give it a try. Instructions here. I've not tasted the whole thing yet, but when I licked out the bowl, I was very impressed! I have a feeling that the pastry will go soggy (despite coating it with egg before baking) but you can't have everything can you?

And because there is no way my children would eat rhubarb, strange creatures that they are, here is what I've made for them. Plain and simple Chocolate Mousse.

Who are you cheering for on Britain's Got Talent then? I'm shouting for Flawless (I can dance like that you know, just that I don't choose to!) but I doubt they'll get past the media hype that's Susan Boyle.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update on the Great Half term Must Finish List

Well what an eventful few days that's been! We tried to unblock the drains ourselves using rods and pipes and things. That didn't work, so desperate to try and avoid the Bank Holiday call out fees for Dyno Rod, we called a friend to see if he knew anyone local who did that sort of thing. 'Yes, me' came back the reply. It turned out that unbeknown to us, this friend has a side line in maintenance, he is normally a farmer. So along he came, worked his magic, and we're now all clear! (It was next door blocking the pipes - not our fault after all). Anyway, I shall just leave you all to imagine the mood of Mr Stressy - sunny bank holiday, garden all done and just about to relax in the garden when youngest son noticed lots of water in the toilet...)

Oh yes, and as if that wasn't enough, I looked out of my kitchen window the other day to see what was enjoying the bird seed on the bird table. A humongous, blinking enormous RAT!!!!! I freaked out. I can cope with mice, but rats? Ugh.

They say bad things come in 3's don't they. Oh heck, what's next?

Anyway, enough of my troubles, let's get on with today's exciting news. I have been busy trying to plough my way through the half term must finish list.

Presenting 3 felted jumper blankets. 3 more just have the border to do. These will be parcelled off very soon to my sister in law's care home.

15 Wiggly Bags for Gina. It seems that some of you don't know about the Wiggly Bags. Well, they are used to house the tubes that children with cancer have to have permanently attached to themselves. They are very easy to make - more info can be found here, but I'm sure if you asked Gina she would send you details on how to make them.

Quite the most exciting news is that the Posh Poppy Socks are now finished. They are, if I can be so modest, fantastic! I am so in love with this pattern - I would always far rather make things in loads of colours and stocking stitch rather than one colour and fancy stitches (lace knitting? No way!) I love the way stocking stitch looks, so neat and even, making a soft fabric with no holes or bumps. This is a very bad photo - forgive me, the light is terrible today. But believe me, they are very lovely socks! (My modesty astounds me at times!)

And last but by no means least, the Golden Wedding Blanket is started! I am going to do this in cream, golds and greens. Yes, I know it doesn't look very green in the picture, but it is quite gold don't you think? 2 squares done, only another 97 to go! If anyone out there has any scraps (or indeed whole skeins!) of Posh Yarn Helena 4-ply in suitable colours, I would love to hear from you...

I know that Kitty is very keen on making a blanket, does anyone else have the urge to make one? Blankets can be as easy or difficult as you like, they are very portable, take up little space, and great for stash busting. I am already a bit of a blanket freak as you know and would love to spread the word and get more people joining in a knit-a-thon. Anyone want to join me and Kitty? (This time I'm not asking you to knit a square and send it to me, I'm saying keep your squares, sew them together and be cosy and warm in the winter.)

Oh, and Saturday Pudding has been named. Boudoir Tarte, as named by Anonymous Sally. When I write a recipe book, or indeed any book, I promise to use it in there Sally and give you the credit! Not that I'm planning on writing a book, but you never know!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Great way to spend a sunny bank holiday. Blocked drains. Normal service will be resumed asap.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday pudding

Today's pudding has no name. It's one of those made up things that us slop jockeys come out with now and again. Puff pastry case filled with a creme patissiere/ summer fruit/ creamy, yoghurty thing with squiggles of white chocolate round the edge. It went down very well at tea time - so well in fact that it has already been requested again. Anyone got a suggestion for a name?

I will post again very soon with news of my progress on the Big Half Term Must Finish List. You may very well be impressed. Or maybe not!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mystery Blanket

You may remember that I'm doing this years Mystery Blanket Club. Every month a package arrives with yarn, beads and instructions for knitting 5 squares. I've not finished this months yet, but as promised, here is the blanket so far. The photo does not do it justice - had to lay it on my kitchen floor as it was raining outside - but you get the general idea.

It is so very tactile. The beads - and there are lots of them - are so smooth and you just want to stroke them. I have never knitted with beads before, but I have loved the experience. It will not be the last time I use them.

In fact, on that very note, I ordered a few hundred this morning, ready to start on the next blanket. The Golden Wedding one. I have got so many blankets on the go, not to mention socks of course, that I think that maybe next week (half term) I really ought to take stock and try and get a few things finished.

Now hands up everyone who's heard me say that before! Think I'll aim for the Poppy socks, the first Ensnared, the second Monkey, all the felted jumper blankets and all this month's Mystery blanket squares (laugh if you dare!). But at the moment I'm making some Wiggly Bags for Gina. Because I have absolutely nothing else to do.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Art of being a Slop Jockey!

OK, OK! I'll tell you about compost heap marmalade. First of all, the recipe for the proper stuff is in this book, which is a lovely little cook book, first brought to my attention by Moogsmum.

My dear Mr Stressy once described me as a 'Slop Jockey' when it comes to cooking. I rarely follow a recipe and prefer to just bung things together to see what happens! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!

This is my version of Compost heap Marmalade. Simply, when you squeeze juice out of a lemon/orange/lime, the part of the fruit that's left normally goes into the compost bin yes? Well, just keep a bag in the freezer and instead of chucking the left over citrus fruit in the compost, put it in the bag. Lemon or lime in a gin and tonic? Drink the liquid, bung slice of lemon in the bag. Tangerines going dried out in the bottom of the fruit bowl? Cut into quarters and bung in the bag. Use any citrus fruit skins you have. I discovered 6 strawberries past their best and threw them in as well. You can also use cooking apples - in fact you are encouraged to do so, but I don't always use them. The peelings and cores that normally go in the compost, bung them in the bag.

When you have about 1 kilo (more is fine, less is not) of fruit in the bag you are ready to become a Slop Jockey Cook. Put fruit in a really big pan, cover with water and simmer for a couple of hours, with the lid on. Strain out all the fruit by tipping it into a colander and squeeze out the juice. Now the fruit can go in the compost bin. Rapidly boil the liquid until you have about 1 pint, bung in a pound of sugar (I always use the stuff with added pectin for jam and marmalade) and boil until setting point is reached.

Setting point is when you put a spoonful onto a cold plate, leave for a minute, draw your finger across the surface - if it wrinkles it will set, if it doesn't boil for a bit longer.

Pour the marmalade into jars. The best thing about this is that there are no 'bits' in it (Mr Stressy picks out all of the peel from marmalade) (and it drives me NUTS) and it is different every time you make it, depending on what goes in. The strawberries this time made it go a very lovely colour.

I really don't think I've broken any copy right laws here as the one in the book is FAR superior to mine - the author is obviously a proper cook and not a slop jockey!

As to Rhubarb Relish, I'm not sharing that with you for 4 reasons.
1. I didn't like it
2. It's a horrid colour
3. Not sure I did it right
4. I really would be breaking copy right there.

But there are loads of recipes involving rhubarb in the book, along with many others that are screaming to be tried out. The chilli pepper jelly in the book is delicious. I spoon it straight from the jar.

This is a practical cookery book - unlike my New Favourite Cook Book - and I would recommend anyone with an interest in growing their own fruit and veg to buy a copy.

Tomorrow I'll be updating the Mystery Blanket. Believe me, it will be worth coming back for!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Busy Day in the Kitchen

The sun is shining and the garden needs tending to. So Mr Stressy is doing that. Eldest son has gone round to a friend's house and youngest son has a friend round here. So neither of them require anything more than the occasional drink or biscuit.

Which has given me a blissful day to myself in the kitchen.

Truth be told I feel guilty sitting knitting during the day, but when in the kitchen I never feel guilty. I am far too busy playing to worry about that!

Here we have Shredless Marmalade (actually it's called Compost Heap Jelly, but no-one except me seems to think that's a good name - remind me to tell you about this one day), Mango Chutney and Rhubarb Relish.

This evening's pudding is made -
Lemon Meringue Pie.

Sun-dried tomato and Parmesan Bread (oh the smells when this is baking!)

Sultana scones.

Oh yes, and this cake was finished last night - they wanted 'pretty and feminine'.

Tonight I shall be knitting - back to the mystery blanket I think (which I have fallen out with a bit due to the fact that I didn't read the pattern properly on one square and have to re-knit it.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A first time for everything...

Every spare moment spent not ironing, cooking, hoovering, dusting (yeah right!) or making blankets this week has been spent knitting this sock. Ensnared in Posh Yarn's Laura.

Once I got the hang of the pattern, it was actually OK and I could manage it. But - and there is a very big BUT.... I tried it on. It appears to be one of those patterns made for teeny weeny feet. I should have known really - I usually do 64 stitches on 2.75mm needles. This one (and I'd already gone up a needle size) called for 60 stitches on 2.25mm.

But the pattern said it was a very stretchy sock and would fit. It did not. It was so tight round the ankle that I could see the stitch marks on my skin. Uncomfortable to say the least. I even got the children to try it on - too tight for them as well.

So there's only one thing for it. Frog it.

I don't frog - ever - as a rule, but there always has to be a first time. This yarn is too perfect to leave languishing in the unfinished box.

I suspect I will also have to take down the heel flap, but it has caused too much upset already for one day. Perhaps I'll just stick to blankets - I have a great many to do.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'll finish off the Posh Poppy Sock which has now been ignored for a few weeks. What do you think?

But wasn't I brave? I am so proud of myself that I may well frog a whole lot more stuff!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Going Healthy for Saturday Pudding

Now you won't believe this I'm sure, but for once I was being healthy. Normally I go for chocolate, cream, high calorie puddings. You know the sort... just look back, high calories is what puddings were made for!

But not this week.

This time I used FAT-FREE cottage cheese, REDUCED FAT cream cheese, HALF FAT cream, real fresh strawberries and a whole bag of frozen summer fruits. That's got to be my five a day right? Oh, and eggs too. Eggs are good aren't they?

Presenting Summer Fruit Cheesecake.

(I am not thinking about the butter or the biscuits in the base, or even the double cream served with the cheesecake. No way, I was far too busy being smug that I had bought anything labelled as 'fat free'. Watch the pounds fall off!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Desperately seeking someone!

I have nearly finished sewing up the knitted squares blanket and would love a crochet border round it. Problem being I can't crochet. Is there anyone out there who would be kind and generous, willing and able to crochet a simple border round this blanket for me? Please? A really big please?

Sadly the only compensation will be knowledge that your edging will be loved by someone who you (or me) are never likely to meet.

Please, all you Happy Hookers out there, do not feel obliged to volunteer, if no one does then I shall attempt to learn the art of the hook myself! Gulp!

Monday, May 4, 2009

On hold...

It pains me to do this, but the latest sock has been put on hold. The photo does not do it justice. It is very pretty - an unusual stitch (well to me at least) that I've never come across before - I now have lots of ribbing to do. It is a fun knit and one I can heartily recommend (come on Sussex Yorkie, you know you want to!) so come on everyone, go here and get the pattern ordered!

Anyway, like I said, this sock is on hold for the week - at least. I am determined to get the blankets sorted. The whole blanket thing has hit a bit of a dead end really. I sent 2 to St Dunstan's, and had an e-mail to say they had arrived - shall we say the recipient (the lady in the fundraising dept who was responsible for dishing them out) does not obviously appreciate the hand made things in life. Sad really. She also said that while they were happy to have more blankets, they thought that maybe a different charity would like some. I took it to mean thanks but no thanks.

So I have been scouring the country. Literally. You wouldn't believe the e-mails I've sent out! It seems that care homes for the elderly have lots already, the ladies like to make them themselves, they have to be classed as fire resistant, oh the excuses I've had. From the people that bothered to reply that is.

And then I had one of those light bulb moments, that I can't quite believe I was so stupid to ignore in the first place. My sister-in-law works in one such care home in North Wales. They do not have lots of blankets. Their residents are not capable of knitting / sewing to make pretty blankets. And as to fire resistant - furniture yes, but blankets? The few knitted blankets they do have are very much favourites in the home. They love colours, they love softness, they love the warmth, they love the fact that people are bothered about them. Strangers like us.

So I will be very busy this week making up lots of blankets - felted jumper ones and knitted squares ones. So bear with me, posting will be slow this week. I have a lot of sewing to do!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saturday Pudding.

Just had to show you this from my fab new cook book. If you have got the book, go out now and buy the ingredients for this. It is wonderful. Quite simply wonderful. As from now I think it's one of my most favourite puddings. Ever in the history of puddings.

Raspberry cheesecake brownie.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


There has been very little knitting taking place over the last few days. I've been busy doing cakes. This one is for a friend of ours - apparently he wants a model railway for his birthday. Not sure this will last quite as long as a Hornby one though!

It has taken hours to make this one, but I've enjoyed it, I just hope they don't cut it when I'm around. I might cry!

Today is Mr Stressy's birthday. Instead of a proper cake, I got out my new best cook book and decided he could have cupcakes instead! Strawberry cheesecake cupcakes no less. A very unusual recipe and to be honest I didn't think they'd work. But they did. They worked very well in deed.

On closer examination of this book, I have realised that it is not for the dieting or weak hearted people amongst us. Every recipe seems loaded with sugar, butter and frequently chocolate (1.4kg of the stuff in one recipe I liked the look of!) I have now tried 2 things from the book and on both occasions found them a little too sweet for me - and I love sweet things normally. But still, these are only little cakes and maybe you aren't supposed to eat 6 at once.

It's my problem then really. Too greedy. (But as these have strawberries on, they must be healthy right?)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Whisper this one please!

On Sunday night a lady phoned me to ask for a cake with a Mexican Theme. Amazing the difference a few hours can make isn't it? We are all now being bombarded with Mexico for all the very wrong reasons. It is, in my very humble opinion, scare-mongering. You can all e-mail me in a few weeks saying that I was wrong, but really, am I the only one who feels like this? Well, me and Terry Wogan anyway!

But I digress. This is what I've come up with for Mexico - the lady came up with the colour scheme, the rest is all me.

What do you think? I resisted the temptation to do little pigs, face masks and anti-viral capsules! (I don't want to belittle the serious nature of swine fever by the way, it is obviously very serious if you catch it, but how many people in the world have heart disease? Cancer? Malaria? The list goes on...)

And just in case you wondered, I have in deed cast on Ensnared. All the knit stitches are knit into the back - it is likely to take a very long time! But it's already so pretty, at only 5 rounds long!