Friday, 29 June 2012

Olympic Knitting in Saltburn

With the Olympic Torch making its way around the country at the moment, I thought I'd share some fantastic Olympic themed guerrilla knitting that I came across a while back.

Back in March while we were up North seeing the family, a collection of wonderfully crafted creations mysteriously appeared on the railings of Saltburn Pier. There was a whole host of knitted Olympians. I think you'll agree they look awesome!

My favourite was these synchronised swimmers, complete with tiny nose clips!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Rose Water Biscuits

This week was one of those weeks when I was in need of a little something to get me going, and that's where these sweet biscuits came in. Once I'd had one (or two, or perhaps it was three...) of these with a cuppa I felt ready to take on anything. Well, you know, mostly dull stuff like the housework.

These would be great for a girly tea party and you could always substitute the rose water for vanilla or lemon extract for a different flavour and use different colours to decorate.

Rose Water Biscuits (makes around 30)

90g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp rose water
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
To decorate:
250g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp rose water
a little cold water
a small amount of food colouring paste/liquid
sprinkles/sugar flowers

1. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and rose water and beat until fully incorporated.
2. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until you have a light dough (it should feel a little springy).
3. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for about half an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 180°C (160° fan) and line two trays with baking paper.
5. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thickness. Cut out rounds (I used a 5cm fluted cutter) and place on prepared trays, leaving a cm gap between each biscuit.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
7. Sift icing sugar into a bowl, add rose water, a dash or two of cold water and the colouring. Mix until you have a good consistency for icing the biscuits, adding more water or icing sugar as necessary.
8. Spoon or pipe onto cooled biscuits. Place any decorations on straight away before the icing starts to set.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Jammin' with Lychees

I've tried to make jam a few times. Each time I was left with a pan of unappealing, sloppy and/or burnt (don't ask), gloop. We were recently given a copy of The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys written by Marguerite Patten, so I decided to give jam making another try. 

There's a very detailed chapter entitled 'Golden Rules for Success'. Eager to avoid another jam making disaster, I read this carefully. The book has recipes for just about any kind of jam you could ever image and I can't wait to try out more. I particularly like the sound of apple and rhubarb jam. 

My previous attempts all involved large quantities of fruit and plenty of peeling and chopping. This time I took the easy option and used tinned fruit. No peeling, no chopping. Just tin opening and draining required, plus some preserving sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Remarkably, within just twenty minutes I had my first jam making success! It tastes great and I can't wait to use it in some form of baked goods. Lemon and lychee cake... lychee jam tarts...  ? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Peanut butter cookies

I love peanut butter! These cookies are melt in the mouth good. It's pretty much impossible to eat just one (fact: four had been consumed before they were finished - one in dough form, and the rest somewhere between baked and splattered with chocolate) and they taste great with or without the chocolate. Go on, get into that kitchen of yours and make a batch now. Here's the recipe.

Peanut butter cookies (makes 28)

250g butter
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g crunchy peanut butter
300g plain flour
75g milk chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted.
2. Mix together butter and sugar.
3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract, followed by the peanut butter and stir through.
4. Add flour and mix until a delicious peanuty dough has formed.

5. Break off golf ball sized pieces, shape into rounds and pop on a lightly greased baking tray. During baking they will spread out a little so do leave some space between each cookie.
6. Bake on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes.
7. Once the cookies (the ones that have survived the journey that is) have cooled, melt the chocolate and fling/swirl/dollop it on top.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cute clutch with fabric flower

I started this project a couple of weeks ago and finally got back on my sewing machine to finish it off this weekend. I don't have a lot of sewing experience really - so far I've made a couple of simple tote bags and aprons. Moving onto zippers seemed a little scary, but I found a great tutorial for making a gathered clutch bag over at Noodlehead with clear step by step instructions and lots of helpful photos.

I thought my clutch looked a little plain, so I stitched up a dotty fabric flower to add a finishing touch. Want to know how? Let me show you...

How to make a fabric flower
You will need: some fabric, needle, thread and a button. 

You'll need to cut out some circles from your chosen fabric. How many will depend on how many petals you want your flower to have. I used 8, each measuring 7.5cm in diameter - I used a ramekin as a template.

Take a fabric circle, fold it it half and then in half again. Tie a knot at the end of your thread. Working from right to left, make a couple of short stitches about a third and two thirds of the way across the round edge, passing through all layers of the fabric. Repeat with each of the remaining fabric circles.

Once all your petals are on, pull your thread to close up the space in the centre of the flower. Stitch on your button and secure the thread on the back of the flower. There you have it - a quick and easy way to use up fabric scraps and add a pretty finishing touch to sewing and crafty projects.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Lego Star Trek Coffee Cake

Well that was one awesome Jubilee weekend - good friends, BBQ, baking, a fair few cocktails and Just Dance! We even went to London and saw the Queen... on a big screen (that counts right?!).

Mr Norris loves coffee cake, Lego and Star Trek. So the Happygang girls (Mrs Norris, Mrs Devonshire and myself) teamed up to make his dream Birthday cake. Here he is as a Lego Star Trek Captain! Great work girls!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Jubilee Cupcakes

I whipped up these patriotic cupcakes for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend. To celebrate we're having a BBQ with friends and tomorrow we're off to London to have our faces painted and see the flotilla. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some sunshine!