Sunday, 21 November 2010


It has been, among other things, a weekend of soup, stirring and simmering, and now my freezer is stocked with lots of tasty lunches for the next few weeks.

On the way back from my holiday last weekend, I picked up a copy of Saturday's Guardian, which contained a 'Soups and Stews' supplement. So far I've made two soups from it, and both have been wonderful:

Lighter French Onion Soup
Lighter French Onion Soup

Serves 4

150g haricot beans
50g unsalted butter
900g onions, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 bunch of thyme, tied with string
1.5 litres light chicken stock
50g parmesan, grated (plus a piece of rind if you have one)
A squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp parsley, lightly chopped

1 Soak the haricots overnight. 2 The next day, melt the butter in a pan and add the sliced onions. 3 Cook gently for 20-30 minutes, until soft and starting to caramelise, then stir in the oregano, mustard, vinegar and some seasoning. Lob in the bunch of thyme too and simmer until all the vinegar has reduced away – just a few minutes. 4 Drain the haricots, tip them into the onions, cover with the stock and bring to the boil. Toss in the rind of the parmesan now, if you have it, to infuse the flavour. 5 Once the soup has come to the boil, skim off the froth, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the beans are soft and tender. This may take anywhere between 1-2 hours (it depends how old the beans are). 6 When you're sure the beans are cooked, check the seasoning and make sure you are happy with the thickness (simmer it down to thicken, add some water to thin). 7 Remove the rind and bunch of thyme. Stir in half the grated parmesan and finish with a light squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and the remaining cheese once it's in the bowls.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
Moroccan Carrot Soup

Serves 6

½ tbsp cumin seeds
750g carrots, chopped
30g butter
80g rice
250ml milk
1.2 litres light chicken or veg stock
2 egg yolks
Small handful of mint, chopped
Sprinkling of paprika

1 Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until you can smell their flavour, then crush with the side of a knife. 2 Wash and roughly chop the carrots into 3cm chunks, then sweat them on a medium heat in the butter for 10-15 minutes. 3 Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 12 minutes or until ready, then drain. 4 Once the carrots are beginning to go golden, cover with the milk and stock, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. This will take about 10 minutes. 5 Blend the soup to a rough consistency, then tip back into the pan and add the rice and cumin. Simmer for a few more minutes. 6 Pull off the heat, whisk in the yolks one by one, stir in the chopped mint, season well and serve immediately with a sprinkle of paprika.

Both utterly lovely soups, light and tasty, and easy to make, with a nice amount of kitchen pottering, and time to knit while things simmer. There are lots more lovely recipes in the booklet, I think next I will try the Salt Cod Macaroni Bake

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Leaving Stirchley

So, in 7 days, I will be moving out of Stirchley. I've decided to move to Moseley because it's a part of town with a lot more going on (6 pubs! A farmers and arts market! A folk fest!)

And just my luck, as I plan to leave, Stirchley starts doing stuff. Today was the second Stirchley Market, which I went to. While there I purchased this rather beautiful cupcake:

Frost and Snow Cupcake

Which is a lemon & earl grey cupcake by Frost and Snow Bakery. It was delicious, lovely light sponge, perfect for a pre swimming snack.

While there I also found out about a cycling cooperative who are going to help me get on the road on two wheels. I was tempted by a pizza fired on site by Loaf, but decided the cupcake was enough.

I'd recommend the market if you're passing through, it was lovely.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Mum and Dad came up to see me yesterday, bringing a tub of blackberries from their garden.

Finding myself at a loose end at 8 this evening, I decided to make blackberry crumble muffins:

Blackberry Crumble Muffins

And had far too much crumble tpping, with spare blackberries, so 4 cute little crumbles happened too:

Blackberry Crumble

Now off to taste test them, though my sources say the muffins are good!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Busy Day

It was my birthday on Friday, so today I made cakes to take in to work tomorrow:

Baking Birthday 2010 (5)

53 cupcakes and 24 cookies

Birthday Baking mosaic

Mocha, orange, lemon and vanilla

Baking Birthday 2010 (4)

Baking Birthday 2010 (2)

Baking Birthday 2010 (3)

Here's the orange cupcakes ready to go in, and Piggy Wiggy, the spatula my colleagues bought me, which has worked hard today!

Also, mum & dad gave me these lovely flowers. I don't have a vase at the moment, so I arranged them in a set of jam jars:

Birthday Flowers

Tired and accomplished!

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Current UFO Pile:
  • Lace Mohair Scarf - ever ongoing
  • Manos Vest - stalled because I have too many YOs in the wrong place - need aunty Helen to help me make it Go! ;P
  • Denim dress which needs fixing
  • Purple Linen skirt - just needs the hem turning up
  • Laptop sleeve - lots left to do. I got bored.
  • Hemming for a lady at work - really should do this.
  • 1 x Top Secret Crochet Project - just need to join pieces
  • Part finished blouse - slow progress being made
  • Crewel picture, lots of circles - I think I'm nearly done with this then I can frame and hang it
  • Textured embroidery butterfly pic - nearly done, got a few more areas to add to, stitch the border, frame and hang.
  • Petticoat - loads to do on this, however I now have a bias binding foot for the sewing machine, and a ruffler foot for the overlocker, as well as Hot Ginger as an excuse!
Hrm... There are probably many more UFOs lurking forgotten in cupboards, but these are the ones I can call up straight away!

How many have you got, crafty peeps?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Embroidery Threads

Yesterday I discovered that Sharon B, who writes my favourite Stitch Directory, was teaching an embroidery course through Joggles.

Despite being half way through already, enrolments were still open, so I took the plunge and booked myself on. So far, it looks fantastic - loads of great instructions going from design to stitch.

The first activity involves working in monochrome - all white/cream threads - to focus on design and texture. I knew I didn't have many suitable threads, so decided to find all the heaps of cottons I have stashed around the house, and tidy them, so that I can pick up some more.

Having found all my stashes, I had:
Embroidery Threads (1)

Including a lot of blues and greens:
Embroidery Threads (2)

And almost no blacks and whites:
Embroidery Threads (3)

I tidied these away into my two Gold Concept boxes:
Embroidery Threads Mosaic

Sunday, 21 March 2010


I've been doing quite a lot of crafting recently, knitting and trying to allow myself to relax more.

I have a lot of ideas for projects, embroidery particularly, in my head, but because I am not a very good artist, I struggle to get them down in a form where I'd be able to execute them. To that end, I've been trying to do more drawing. I've been using the poses on Pose Maniacs*, set to 90 seconds, and drawing the people as displayed. This is my first foray into life drawing, and I am pleased with the results. They're not perfect, but they look like people:


I'm intending on doing more drawing, then hopefully both being able to produce my own ideas, and going to a life drawing class to further my skills.

*The site displays a massive range of male and female figures in many poses, some quite challenging. They're displayed as muscular forms, rather than naked flesh, so should probably be safe for most workplaces. I've certainly been drawing from them on my lunch hour!