Thursday, 27 November 2014

Oatmeal-Cloverleaf Rolls for Thanksgiving Day

Today is Thanksgiving...well, it is in the States.  Thanksgiving was a big deal when I was a kid growing up in Missouri.  It was sort of like a dress rehearsal for Christmas.  It was always exciting for me, all the food and family getting together.  There seemed to be dozens of cousins.  Now that I am living in Britain, Thanksgiving Day can go by practically unnoticed. 

I decided not to let that happen this year.  We didn't have a feast but I did make one of my favourite Thanksgiving Day foods, Cloverleaf Rolls.  

Now, these are cloverleaf rolls with a twist - the secret ingredients are old fashioned oats and soft brown sugar.   Curious?  Here's what you need to make them:

1 cup water
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 heaped Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons or one packet dried yeast
2 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour but plain flour will do)
2 Tablespoons warm water
Pinch of sugar
1 egg

Place the cup of water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Pour in the oats and salt and cook for a minute or two.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and butter.  Pour the oat mixture into a large mixing bowl and set to one side to cool to almost room temperature.

In a jug or small bowl, stir together the dried yeast, 2 Tablespoons of warm water, and a pinch of sugar.  In a few minutes you should see the yeast begin to bubble and foam. 

When the oatmeal mixture is just warm, add the egg and the yeast mixture to the bowl and stir until it is well incorporated.  

Add two cups of the flour and stir well to combine.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and knead it into the dough while it is still in the bowl.  The dough will be slightly sticky but DO NOT add more flour or the rolls will be tough.

Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise. You will need standard muffin tins to form the cloverleaf rolls. Prepare the tins by buttering the inside of 12 muffin cups 

When the dough has doubled in size, gently knock it back.  Lightly oil your hands with vegetable oil and roll the dough into 36 small balls.  Place three balls into each muffin compartment.

Put the filled muffin tins in a warm place and let the dough rise a second time. While the rolls are rising, turn on the oven to 350F/180C to pre-heat thoroughly before baking.

When the rolls have doubled in size, bake them for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown.  Let the rolls cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn them out and serve warm with lots of salty butter. 

Oatmeal-Cloverleaf Rolls, now that's something to be thankful for!  

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Pom Pom Fork

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say.  So when I needed to make a mini pom pom for my tiny stocking cap Christmas ornament I improvised and used this GIANT fork I had in the kitchen drawer.  It worked a treat!

So for Almost Wordless Wednesday, here's how to make a mini pom pom using a big fork:

Wind yarn in a figure of eight and tightly tie in the middle.

Slip yarn off the the fork and cut loops with scissors.

Or NOT.. I rather like the loopy ones.  Apply to hats, parcels, or directly to Christmas tree. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Time To Make A Start

It seems like Halloween was just yesterday, but it's time to begin the preparations for Christmas.  As a matter of fact, this past weekend was Stir-Up-Sunday, the day when Christmas puddings are traditionally made.  It's official, Christmas is on the way!

I didn't make a Christmas pudding but I have begun to organise some of the decorations for the festive season.  Despite the fact we have an attic full of ornaments I couldn't resist adding a few new things.

For example, we purchased this lovely Noel while grocery shopping.... and these cute little mittens.

It's practically a tradition to have a Christmas craft project.  This year it was knitting tiny stocking ornaments.

When I saw these tiny clothes pegs I knew I had to have them too.

They will be perfect for hanging the little stockings.  I am not sure how or where these decorations will be used but I am sure they will all be very useful. When it comes to Christmas, you can never have too many ornaments.  I can't wait to begin! 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday - CRrrrrrUNCH

We have a kitchen drawer that contains all the odds and sods of baking equipment: measuring spoons, knives, unused skewers, kitchen scissors, and what used to be the most useful gadget ever! 

My poor pasty cutter, which should have parallel wires, now a casualty of the dreaded over-stuffed kitchen drawer! 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Freebee Pattern for Christmas Stocking Ornaments

I know it's obvious but I'll just say it for the record.  I am a pretty rotten knitter. Just reading a knitting pattern fills me with fear but today I saw a free pattern for tiny Christmas stockings and I knew I HAD to give it a go.

I didn't have the right size knitting needles.  All of my yarn is VERY inexpensive and I didn't have any red or green but I wasn't sure if I could do it anyway. So I just WENT for it!

Everything was going well until the part where the pattern started instructing me to 'turn the heel'!  That was when panic set in and I nearly gave up. 

I stopped, had a cup of tea and a biscuit.  I did some yoga breathing and went through the instructions step by step.  To my surprise, it worked!   

CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE CHRISTMAS STOCKING PATTERN   There are lots of very beautiful and technical designs for you proper knitters.   Have a go, you can make lots of little stockings before Christmas. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sunshine and Showers

This morning we had torrential rain...again!  Instead of the usual grey, leaden sky the rain fell in brilliant sunshine resulting in a dazzling combination of brightly coloured leaves and sparking raindrops.  It was remarkably beautiful and impossible to photograph.  

Andy went out immediately after the storm and snapped these photos.  I think they are beautiful.

I hope you enjoy them, too.  

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Milk Chocolate Chips!

When Andy travels, and he frequently does, I give him a wish list of things I'd like him to bring back.  Usually it's things like candy corn, Gardetto's, and Toll House Chocolate Chips, things I can't find in our local shops.  

I put in my order for Toll House Chips and he came home with at least a kilo of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips!  

We'd never had the milk chocolate chips before so a batch of cookies was required for a taste test.   I used my tried and tested FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE.

So far, they look good...

Of course, I had to have a little nibble of the dough before it was baked.  That's my favourite bit.  

And the final product ... you can't tell the difference by looking.  As for the taste, they are very good.  I suppose the moral of the story is -  whether semi-sweet or milk chocolate you can't beat a home made chocolate chip cookie. 

To bake a batch, CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE.  You can even go mad and use white chocolate chips!