Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Stourhead

I've been saving these photos for Wordless Wednesday.  Last Saturday we visited the world famous gardens of Stourhead to see the trees in all their autumn finery.  It was cold, blustery and filled with people.  Now I know why, it was so beautiful.  

There is so much more to see at Stourhead.  We've yet to visit the house and walled gardens.  That will have to wait for another day.  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pond Scum Pudding a Halloween Classic

Take a close look at this photograph and tell me what you think it is.

Here is another photograph of the same thing only at a different stage.  

It looks a bit oozy and icky doesn't it?  The sort of thing you find on the edges of ponds.  Maybe it's frog's eggs?  What if I tell you it is the main ingredient in our last Halloween treat recipe!  

Yeap, we are going to make the ever popular Pond Scum Pudding!  What do you mean you don't want to make Pond Scum Pudding?  Look at all those sticky, icky eggs floating in that oozing froth....yum! 

OK, ok,  don't freak out.  It's not real pond scum it's tapioca pudding.  Did you say you'd rather eat pond scum?  It's not like that stuff that comes out of a can...  or like the tapioca we used to get in the school lunch room.  It's nice....Really!

If you don't want to try it, I understand.  But I am going to give you the recipe anyway.  Think about it, you might really like it.  At least you could make it for the kids and watch them FREAK OUT!   Now that would be a real treat!

Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding

1/3 cup pearl tapioca
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs - separated
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large saucepan soak the tapioca in 1 cup milk for one hour. Then mix in the sugar, egg yolks, salt and the remaining 2 cups of milk.  Cook over a  low heat, stirring constantly until the custard is thick and the tapioca is translucent.  Take your time and cook the tapioca properly. 

Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla and set the saucepan to one side while you prepare the egg whites. Beat the two egg whites until they are thick, fluffy and hold soft peaks.  Fold the beaten egg whites into the hot tapioca pudding.  

The pudding should have a light, almost mousse-like texture.  I like it slightly warm but it is lovely served chilled, too.  

So there you have it, Pond Scum Pudding or Tapioca Pudding, which ever you find most frightening!   I hope you have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Chocolate Cookie Pumpkin Patch

When I was a little girl Halloween was one of my favourite holidays.  It was second only to Christmas.  We would plot and plan for weeks, trying to construct the best Halloween costume possible out of bits and pieces of junk and old clothes.  Boxes became robots and gypsy fortune tellers needed only a good swirly skirt and an arm full of bangles.  We didn't buy or rent costumes, that would be cheating!  

I don't dress up anymore but still like baking Halloween treats like these Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies.  A few days ago we baked chocolate bat cookies.  These are made from the same chocolate cutout cookie recipe so you could make half the dough into bats and half into pumpkins.

I used a very simple icing to decorate these pumpkins but you could use Royal Icing or coloured sugar sprinkles. 

So get baking and make your own Halloween Pumpkin Patch!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

From Uncle Andy's Archives - Play Ball!

We were looking through some photographs and found these photos of the Dust Bunny when he was still a bit of a kitten.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.







The Dust Bunny may be a grown up cat now, but he still loves to play a good game of ball.  

Friday, 26 October 2012

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

The leaves are quickly blowing off the trees.  Soon they will be gone.  Let's take a moment and enjoy them while we can.  It would be rude to ignore such a beautiful display.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Batty Way to Make Cookies

I've seen lots of wonderful Halloween treats made FOR kids but here is a Halloween baking project to make WITH kids.  The cookie cutter and chocolate cookie dough do all the hard work for you.  They super easy, super spooky BAT  COOKIES!  

You have to admit, those glowing eyes are a bit scary!  So is cutting out cookies with those fiddly little bits that break off when you try to put the cookie on the baking sheet.  This is how I avoid amputating ears, legs and other delicate cookie parts.  Always chill your cookie dough before rolling it out.  30 minutes is usually long enough but overnight is even better.  

Roll the cookie dough directly onto a piece of baking paper.  Use a piece of cling film over the top of the dough if you find it is too sticky to roll out without a lot of additional flour.  Slide the baking paper with the rolled out cookie dough onto the baking sheet.

Dip the cookie cutter into flour and shake off the excess.  Cut the cookie shape directly on the baking sheet in the position you are going to bake it.   You won't break off any delicate bits because you never have to move the cookie!  Gently remove the excess dough from around the cut cookie.  

Add the 'eyes' and you are ready to bake!   When the cookies are baked, just slide the baking paper, cookies and all, onto the kitchen counter to cool.  Be sure to use all the dough scraps to make more bats.  Just roll out the left over dough onto another piece of baking paper and pop it in the fridge to firm up before cutting more cookies.  

I used this Chocolate Cutout Cookie Recipe and got a Bat-tallion of cookies!  So get those children out to the kitchen and go batty!  It's nearly Halloween!

Laura from Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel from Dolly Bakes invited me to submit these batty cookies to their Calendar Cake Challenge for Halloween.  They were so kind, it would be rude to say no.  You should pop over to Dolly Bakes to see more spookily good Halloween treats.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Enough With the Leaves Already!

I promise if you just indulge me one more time,  this will be the last set of Westonbirt leaf photos.  

We could move on to photographs of whole trees, groves of trees, trees with shrubs, etc.  But that would just be cruel.   Thank you for letting me share a bit of Autumn with you and thank you, Westonbirt, for being so very beautiful!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Part II - Leaf Peeping

If you don't love autumn leaves, look away now.  Here comes the second instalment of photographs from the Japanese Maple Collection at Westonbirt Arboretum.   Some of these are so bright you might want to put on your 'shades'! 

I am pretty sure that first photo isn't of a Maple leaf. It was in the Maple section of the arboretum, was a lovely heart shape and HAD to be photographed.  Sorry, I couldn't resist!  

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Leaf Peeping Picnic at Westonbirt Arboretum

One of my favourite days out is packing a picnic and going to Westonbirt Arboretum to see the Japanese Maple collection in full Autumnal colour.

Yesterday the weather was clear, crisp and bright so we packed the picnic hamper and all the camera equipment we could carry and headed off for a day of 'leaf peeping'.  

I hope you find the fall foliage as beautiful and varied as I do because I will posting some of my favourite photos.  

I promise, I won't make you look at all of the 300 photos I took yesterday!

With all it's vibrant colours and variety of leaf shapes, how could you not enjoy a day leaf peeping at Westonbirt!