Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Keeping Traditions Alive - Elevenses

I am a traditionalist.  Some might translate that to 'Old Fashioned' but I don't mind.  Some things are too good to let slip away.  The mid-morning coffee break or Elevenses is one of those great traditions that should be honoured as often as possible... at least once a day!

Traditional recipes should be remembered and made, too.  This morning's revisited recipe is for SNICKERDOODLES!

Rolled in cinnamon and sugar, these old fashioned American cookies are great with a cup of coffee for Elevenses.  They also make a lovely after school treat for those too young for Elevenses.   Click HERE for the recipe and enjoy an old fashioned treat.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Woolly Flowers for Christmas

I know it's rude to use the C-word (Christmas) before the Thanksgiving turkey is eaten but I've got an idea for decorating some really special Christmas packages. Here in Britain we have a plant known as the Christmas Rose and it inspired me to make these simple knitted flowers. 

I think they would be lovely used in place of bows on the Christmas gifts.  Sew a small safety pin onto the back of the flower and they can be worn as a brooch or pinned to your favourite winter hat.  

They are easy to make, take next to no time to knit, and can be made from the bits and pieces of left over yarn in your knitting basket.  You can customise the basic pattern by adding a button and a skinny pom-pom to make the stamens. 

Are you ready to knit?  Here is what you will need:

Pair of small knitting needles - I used 3.25mm
Some yarn -  Double Knit is best - mine was from the Pound Shop!
Buttons and a darning needle

Here's the pattern:

Cast on 60 stitches
Rows 1 -10:  K2, P2 across the whole row
Row 11: Knit 2 stitches together across the row ( 30 stitches)
Row 12: Slip 1 stitch, Knit 2 stitches together then pass the slip stitch over
             Repeat across the whole row (10 stitches)

Break off the yarn leaving a long tail. Tread the tail back through the stitches on the knitting needle. Slide the stitches off the needle and pull the tread tight, forming a flower shape.  Sew the edges together to complete the petals.  Finish with pom-pom stamens and buttons.    

That's all there is to it.  I am going to get back to my knitting.  Watch this space to see the final floral flourish on wrapped Christmas parcels.  Of course, I haven't actually bought any Christmas gifts yet.  It's far too early to think about Christmas shopping!  That only happens after Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Acer Ablaze

After a glorious show, our little acer tree in the front garden is about to give up all her leaves.

For about a month she has been gradually changing from green to a rich red.

Each day we watched as the colour grew more vibrant.  The dark red became more crimson.

In the sunshine, the leaves looked as if they were on fire.  In fading evening light, they gave off a deep rich glow.

Now, with each blustery autumn wind, the leaves drift down making a faded tapestry on the green grass. 

I wouldn't be surprised if her branches were bare come morning... the grand finale to fall. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Cinnamon Scones and Hugh's War on Waste

One of my favourite TV personalities, eco-warrior, and chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has taken up a new campaign.  This time it's THE WAR ON WASTE.  You wouldn't believe the amount of perfectly good food that goes to landfill or doesn't make it out of the fields at all.  How can food waste on an industrial scale be allowed to continue when so many people live in a state of food poverty or worse, starvation? We are so blessed to live with the luxury of an abundant and safe supply of food and it is one of the things I am most grateful for everyday.

I must confess that I am almost fanatical about food waste.  I try very hard to make wise food purchases, cook only the amount of food we will eat at a meal, and consume all the food we buy.  Sometimes we have some pretty strange meals made up of bits and pieces and odds and ends but generally, the kitchen experiments are very successful.  

For example, I found some double cream in the fridge that was left over from the pear and apple pie experiment.  In the spirit of the War-on-Waste I decided to try to make some cinnamon scones for breakfast.   I started with our favourite recipe for RIVER COTTAGE SCONES and elaborated from there.  CLICK HERE for the scone recipe, make the dough and follow the instructions below to spice up your scones. 

A mix of 3 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon makes the filling.

Gently roll out the scone dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, brush with a little cream or milk, and sprinkle over 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar.

Fold the dough into thirds, roll it out again, brush on a bit more cream or milk, and sprinkle over the remaining sugar cinnamon mix.  

Fold the dough into thirds again, but DO NOT roll it out.  Use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle that is about 1 1/4 inches thick.  Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal in the cinnamon sugar.

Use a big, sharp knife to cut the dough into triangles or squares. Dust the knife with flour to keep it from sticking to the scone dough. You should get six big scones or make them smaller if you like.  Brush the tops with a bit more cream or milk.  Place the scones on a baking tray lined with baking paper and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before baking them.  Resting relaxes the gluten in the flour so the scones will be tender and flaky. 

Bake the scones at 200C/400F for 15-20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown around the edges.  You may want to leave your cinnamon scones just as they are... deliciously naked... or...

Leave them on the baking tray to cool completely before drizzling over a simple glaze made of icing sugar mixed with a little milk.  Store any leftover scones in an airtight container and enjoy them the next day.  After all, we all agree there should be a war on waste.