Sunday, 27 December 2009

I Got You A Present!

Did Santa get you what you wanted for Christmas? I hope no one got a lump of coal, but if you did, well, coal is fairly useful.

On my part, I managed to stuff a 12 course dinner into my gut on Christmas Eve, and then spent Christmas Day working it off in a strenuous session of computerised arse-kicking, courtesy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Because I'm tough.

Anyway, because this is my 100th post, I've decided to give one reader a late Christmas present, to say 'Thanks' for sticking with me! I''ll be giving away a very colourful granny square bunting, handmade by me! Hang it on your walls or over your windows to brighten a dreary day, or just wear it like a scarf, as I've done in the picture below.

The bunting measures 90 inches in length (that's over 2 metres!) and is made up of 16 granny squares, so you'll have lots to go around. I've also included two loops at the ends so you can hang them on nails.

I'll also be including other goodies in the package, such as vintage postcards, a couple of scrap paper notebooks, and some little handmade notecards with envelopes. If I find any goodies from my trip to Swallow Falls next week, they'l be going in to! So, a rather large package will be winging their way to one lucky blog reader.

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is tell me your favourite thing about winter. Just leave a comment below, and you'll automatically be entered into the draw for the giveaway. I'll be picking a winner out of a hat on January 4th (eep, that's next year!) and posting the results here soon after that. I'll be happy to post internationally, so anyone can enter. If you haven't got a blog account or anything like that, just email me at: and I'll enter your name into the draw. And if you want to remain anonymous, please leave me some way of contacting you if you do win.

Remember though, you have to tell me what your favourite thing about winter is, or you won't be eligible for the giveaway. Good luck everyone, and Happy New Year!

Edit (02/01/10) - I'm extending the giveaway til 10th Januuary, as I'm fairly busy this weekend. Good luck everybody!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Shovelling Snow

The Mancreature and I are going for a short holiday next week, so things'll be quiet round this here blog for a week or so. I'll leave you with some photographs...

Happy Festivus, everyone!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow, Socks and Squares

It snowed here late last night/ early this morning, and I woke up to find the view outside covered in a lovely thin veil of white! As you can see, it wasn't a lot, but some snow is still prettier than no snow! Even the cars looked cute, like little snow-covered turtles crawling about.

So I guess it's a good thing that I finally finished the other sock on Monday morning, seeing as it'll be getting rather nippy these days. It took me only two days to finish the first one, and yet, I spent a week trying to finish up the other side! Is this an attack of the dreaded second sock syndrome?

In other news, remember me mentioning the giveaway I'll do doing when I reach my 100th post? Well, here's a sneak preview - a whole bunch of little granny squares. But it's not gonna be a blanket...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A Year of P's and Q's

Quinces are rather neglected fruits, don't you think? Sure, pomegranates are pretty, and pretty fashionable these days, and apples and pears make for stalwart kitchen companions, while durians always get their moment in the spotlight whenever some middle-aged, middle-class TV host decides to film a 'daredevil eating adventure'. But what about the humble, oft-forgotten quince?

Looking (and tasting) somewhat like a lumpy, yellow cross between an apple and a pear, the quince can be eaten raw, although it's slightly  sour,  crunchy bite may not be to everyone's taste. However, should you spend some time cooking it gently, you'll be rewarded with a tasty dish laced with a delicate, rosy perfume.

The quinces had started appearing at the grumpy grocer's down the hill about a month ago, sparking off my current quince obsession. Honestly, I don't even know why I keep thinking about quinces, since all I've ever really had of them has been in the form of quince cheese - those deep red blocks of stewed, jelly-like quince paste that go so well with cheese. Because I haven't had much experience with quinces before, I restrained myself from buying up a box of them, until I could think of a suitable reason excuse to start stockpiling. The excuse came last week, when a friend suggested we have a Christmas meal together, and share the cooking. To which I replied 'Well, I'll just HAVE to make a quince pie!'.

Dissatisfied with most of the recipes I came across, I decided to come up with a simple one of my own over the weekend. As it was an experiment, I used store-bought shortcrust pastry, which I deeply regret -insomnia, unhelpful baking beads and stupid broken pastry all contributed to a dramatic bout of tears in the kitchen. The Mancreature may be off in his own little post-apocalyptic digital world most of the time, but he does have his uses, and saved the day by saving my pie.

I'll be refining the recipe and posting it soon, but here's a short run-down of what I did. I got 3 large quinces (which came to just over a kilo) and 4 little Braeburn apples (I'm not an apple expert at all, I only knew they were Braeburns coz the sticker told me so), and poached them for about two hours in a slowly simmering pot of water, with rosewater, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar all thrown in for flavour.

Once I took the fruits out of the poaching liquid, I was left with a beautifully cloudy, soft pink liquid, which I thought was too pretty to throw away. It tasted of the quinces and apples that had been soaking in it for the last couple of hours, so I decided to make some jelly with it on the spur of the moment. All I had to do was add two packets of gelatin, stir it through, then pour the mixture into little containers. I put them on the balcony because there was no space in the fridge, and when I checked on them a few hours later, they had set! I have a balcony-sized fridge!

Also, it's exactly a year ago today that I started up this blog. I chose to forgo a proper introduction and simply rambled on about my unfinished Moebius cowl (which I still wear). It's been a year, and nearly 100 posts of me ranting and rambling on about eating and making! I hope I've been at least a little entertaining, if not very useful, and to those of you who've been checking in every so often to find out what's been happening in this little world, thank you so much! My 100th post in coming up very shortly, and I'm going to do a giveaway soon to celebrate this whole 'blogiversary' business, so check back in a little bit!

Monday, 14 December 2009


Friday night saw me leaving my lovely lair and venturing to Bethnal Green for a 21st birthday celebration. The  other guests were...shall we say...a little grey, so the Mancreature, our friends A and B and I moved over to the foosball table in the corner and indulged in four pulse-quickening games of little-men-on-sticks-pushing-a-ball-around.

The Mancreature and I lost heavily (I'm sad to say, my very last goal happened to be an own goal, how embarrassing!) but it's inspired me to look into making a foosball table. I'm thinking of getting little Barbies or Action Man figures and drilling holes through them so I can attach them to metal sticks. Not sure about how to actually go about making one of those fancy weighted tables though, so it will be a very rudimentary set-up.  I want to be a winner at foosball!

Black beret - 'Everything £5' shop, Red jacket - vintage Jaeger via opshop, Black t-shirt - Uniqlo, Polka dot dress - It's so old I can't remember!, Grey and black belt - car boot sale, Bag- Singapore

Our little foosball-team guys happened to be painted in black-and-red, very much like my get-up that evening. Although, a cursory glance in my wardrobe (aka pile of clothes on the floor) just confirmed that most of my wearables tend to fall within either Red team or Black team anyway. I guess I need more blue stuff in case I ever end up playing on the blue foosball side.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Christmas Tree

These were finished a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to make sure the people they were intended for received them before I posted pictures.

The Christmas tree 'bracelet' is actually a wearable pincushion, for sewing on the go. Or just to wear if you want to feel like a Christmas superhero. I made two of these - one for my Mumsie and another for the Mancreature's Mama. They're very simple to make, and you should be able to whip one up in about half an hour, if you need some emergency stocking fillers or gifts. By the way, I'm sorry there aren't more 'process' photos, I didn't really think about making a tutorial until I'd finished them, then I was too hungry to make another one, with photos. Please don't give me lumps of coal for Christmas.

You'll need -
felt (in the colour of your choice)
embroidery thread (I used a matching green for the blanket stitch around the outside, and two strands of red and yellow for the stars)
stuffing (Polyfill, cotton wool, yarn or fabric scraps)
5 inches of elastic
scrap of fabric, about 8 x 4 inches (optional, you can choose to use pretty ribbon or lace and make the pincushion tie around the wrist instead) to enclose the elastic
paper stencil, in the shape of a tree (or any other shape you feel like making, I guess)

- Use the stencil to trace the shape onto the felt, then cut out two pieces, one each for the front and back. To make sure that both pieces are the same size, pin them together before cutting.

- Embroider some 'stars' on the front piece of felt. You can use a washable or disappearing ink pen (like this) to map out where you want the stars to be, but I just placed them randomly. I used cross-stitch for them, first in red thread, then going over those with the yellow thread.

*You can skip the next two steps if you're using ribbon or lace.
- Sew the long sides of your fabric (to cover the elastic) together, making a long tube, then turn it inside out so the stitching and seams are hidden. Put the elastic into the tube (I find it easiest to use a safety pin to guide the elastic through the tube). Pinch both of the elastic and sew them together, making a circular band.

- Ok, this is the part where I just jammed everything together, so...erm...
Sew the ends of the fabric tube together somehow, so you get a stretchy, fabric-covered 'bracelet'. Sew this bit to the back portion of the felt tree shape.

- If you're using ribbon or lace, sew it to the back of the felt tree shape as well, but you won't have to go through all that hassle with the elastic and all. You can leave the ends open so the recipient can tie it to fit their wrist. I should have thought of this when I was making my trees!

- Using the green thread, start blanket stitching around the top third portion of the tree, then stuff Polyfill (or whatever you're using) into the portion that's already stitched. Keep adding blanket stitches and stuffing alternately, until all the stuffing is inside. Knot the thread neatly and securely, then cut of the ends, and you're done! Wearable pincushion tree!

I also crocheted some heart shapes from thin metal wire to send to my family, so they could hang it on their tree. Although my sister tells me that they may not be having a tree this year, so I guess these ornaments won't be going up...

I don't actually have a tutorial for these, as the pattern isn't mine. I got the pattern for the hearts from here - I found her crochet hearts a lot prettier compared to most others (which are mainly made of of rows of single crochet - boring!).

All I did was string some beads onto thin copper wire, then crochet the hearts, and add a bit of yarn to the top for hanging. They didn't take too long to make either, although I found working with the wire very fiddly. You can always make it in nice yarn if you want to be kind to your fingers.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Upcycle Auction

Just wanted to let everyone know that all the items that are in Folksy's Upcycle Competition have now been listed on eBay, ready and waiting to be bid on! Get your fingers over to the Folksy blog for more information about the competition winners, or hop on over to the eBay shop that the Folksy team have set up.

And that reminds me - I haven't got around to showing you guys a picture of the last item I made for the competition. After knitting countless metres of icord, I then looped the resulting rope around several times, and attached it at one point with a small piece of fabric knitted in the same material. The yarn came from this baggy batwing jumper that I'd picked up from Sue Ryder Camden. Voila! A long, loopy scarf...made with 100% cotton.

Monday, 7 December 2009

S Is For...

a) Spiral bedsock - Started and finished my first sock (yes, just the one, for now) on the weekend. This spiral pattern is great for novice, nervous sock knitters like me, because there are no heel turns to fiddle around with. It's basically a cuff-down tube that's grafted together at the toes. The wonderous part is that the 3x3 spiral ribbing helps it fit your feet perfectly.

*Sorry for forcing my horridly misshapen feet in your face. I don't think I ever realized how freakishly long my second toe is. Sorry :(

The pattern comes from this trusty, obviously well-thumbed booklet (perhaps the best 50p I ever spent!). I did only one and three-quarter repeats, making them anklet-sized. While the instructions actually call for double-knit yarn, I decided to go with the much thinner sock yarn my sister recently sent to me. I also switched to 3.25mm needles instead of the recommended 4mm ones, and knit them in the largest size so they would fit.

b) Second - sock. Which I started this morning and hope to finish VERY VERY soon. So I can start on another pair of socks.

c) Sunny's blog - My awesomely talented friend Sunny has just started her blog, chockful of sexy ladies and crazy creative doings. Go check it out.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hoa Viet (Or Hindsight Is Often 20/20)

On hindsight, the fact that 75% of the menu was dedicated to Chinese takeaway standards should have tipped me off, but I guess my hunger over-ruled my (gut) instincts...

Now, I'm not an expert on Vietnamese food, but I've eaten plenty of it over the years, and I've eaten enough food to form an opinion on what I think constitutes good food. And our dinner at Hoa Viet in Camberwell certainly wasn't.

Feeling flush with the takings from my stall on Saturday (thank you Christmas shoppers!), I insisted on taking the Mancreature to dinner on Sunday night. He decided it might be a good night to try the food at Hoa Viet, a sparsely laid out Vietnamese place we'd often passed by on the way to Morley's (fried chicken and ribs, more on that next time). They have tinted windows out front, which always gave me the impression that it was dimly-lit inside, so I was fairly pleasantly surprised to be confronted by bright fluorescent lighting when we entered. I like seeing what I'm eating, and it helps with photography.

Upon perusing the laminated menu, though, I was shocked to see a large portion of Chinese takeaway dishes (lemon chicken, various sweet and sour meat dishes) taking up a substantial portion of the menu, with the Vietnamese portion relegated to the last 2 pages. Hidden, if you will. The ubiquitous summer rolls (vermicelli, prawn and pork bits wrapped up in rice paper with a dipping sauce) weren't even on the menu. Right...okay, your sign says 'Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine' and yet you haven't even got summer rolls?

Things weren't looking too good when the waitress came over to take our orders, and seemed confused by what was on the menu. A few looks of puzzlement were exchanged between us before we managed to get our choices across. The Mancreature and I split three starters - banh xeo, the aforementioned summer rolls, and some dumplings. We also ended up ordering two bowls of pho - I asked the Mancreature if he wanted to  share a bowl and he claimed he'd be able to finish everything.

I didn't get a picture of the dumplings, so just believe me when I tell you that they looked like any other pan-fried dumplings. Basically just pork bits wrapped in a slightly stodgy, thick dough wrapper. The innards were fairly dry, without tasty porky juices oozing out when we bit into them. I also didn't detect the presence of any vegetal matter, which I like in a dumpling as it helps provide a bit of crunch.

The banh xeo (rice flour pancakey thing with stirfried prawn, chicken and veggies) was the second dish to arrive, and I hesitated for a bit before biting into it. The few times I've had banh xeo, the dish usually comes with a dipping bowl of sauce (usually fish sauce, sugar and water) on the side. I though the waitress had simply forgotten to carry it with her this time, and so waited for a bit, but she didn't seem very forthcoming with sauces, and we weren't sure if that was how they served it there, so we just left it at that. (Can someone tell me if it's usual to have a dipping sauce with banh xeo? I've always been served one whenever I've had it, but maybe it's a regional thing? I don't know!)
Although the bright orange shade of the pancake was fairly shocking (how did they get it so orange? Turmeric? Curry powder? There wasn't much discernible flavour) the stir-fried bean sprouts, prawns and chicken stuffed into were nicely seasoned and had a good, fresh factor to it.
It was a little greasy, but the fresh lettuce leaves and pickled salad on the side helped cut the grease immensely. The best (and messiest, at least in my case) method of eating it was to break apart a chunk of the pancake and stuff it into the lettuce leaf, with a forkful of the pickled salad on top of it all.

Next up were the summer rolls. They're one of my favourite dishes, and I've been known to eat a helping of eight fat ones for lunch. And it's safe to say that these two measly rolls we were served were the WORST ones I've had. Not that they tasted really bad or anything. They were just very...meh - the rice paper wrapper was slightly dried out, and the fillings were simply anaemic. Even the dipping sauce didn't taste like much - I think it was hoisin with a blob of hot chilli sauce, possibly Sriracha as there were bottles dotted around on the tables, although all we could taste was hoisin. Blah!
Lastly, our much-anticipated bowls of pho. The wind that night had been bitingly chilly, and I was looking forward to a steamy bowl of pho to warm me up. It looked promising enough - thick, greasy broth covering a generous helping of rice noodles, with finely sliced beef - still slightly pink - perching on the noodle mountain and swimming around in broth.
Our waitress also put a plate of garnishes down, which again led me to utter an inward sigh - the plate contained only bean sprouts, and two lemon wedges. Where were the other garnishes - the fragrant basil, sprigs of mint, freshly cut onions? It was unlikely that they had run out, after all, it was fairly early in the evening, and the restaurant hadn't been very busy or full when we arrived.

Another factor that added to my irritation about the whole evening was that just as I was about to tuck into the pho, a pink-haired alterna-wannabe strutted in with her old pseudo-hippy parents. She then loudly announced to the waitress in such a loud voice that everyone in the place (which by this time was fairly noisy) could hear her, that she couldn't eat gluten, and then went through the whole menu for at least 10 minutes talking about other things she couldn't eat. Her voice was so loud the whole time we were in there that I almost went to punch her in her stupid head. I didn't, because she told her parents (and the whole restaurant) her new address, down to the postcode, and it's near where I live, so I'm just going to go by and drop off a little flaming bag of turd. Isn't it fun having such intense hatred for a stranger?
Anyway, after that talk about flaming turds, let's get back to the food. As I often do, the first thing I did was try the noodles. I think it's because that always takes up so much space, so I want to find out if it's any good because I move on to the other ingredients. These rice noodles were, frankly, pathetic (almost as pathetic as you, alterna-tryhard that I'm pretty sure is studying at the art school nearby). Limp, grey, stodgy - they just didn't have the delightful sproingy texture of most rice noodles. They tasted like they'd just been sitting in warm water for ages. The broth was also rather flavourless, though it did warm me up. The Mancreature and I ended up just finishing up the beef, although he gave up on his dish before I did, even though he was the one who'd decided that he could devour a whole bowl of pho on his own.

So, although it did warm me up, the meal left me rather disappointed, as I don't like wasting stomach space on medicore food. I didn't leave them a tip, haha!

Hoa Viet
42 Camberwell Church St

Monday, 30 November 2009

Dancing Queen

I like shiny things, and this black sequinned beret has been making me very happy for the past week!
Dancing Queen
Black beret - one of those 'Everything £5' shops, Jacket - H&M via op-shop, Jeans - op-shop, Scarf - very old H&M, Bag - Singapore

Plus, the sparkle factor helps to put a little 'Christmas spirit' back in my black little heart.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Once upon a time, three happy little bears in South London had a shiny little coffee doover that made the best little cups of coffee. That cute item cheered them up immensely in the mornings, to hear the water gurgling and the steam whistling as it escaped, bringing with it a rich scent of ground coffee beans. It really was one of the most pleasant ways to wake up every morning.

Then, one day, the little bear (who was very sleepy indeed that morning) went into the kitchen, as always, to make a cup of coffee, as always. This morning, however, she had unknowingly forgot to add a crucial ingredient before setting the shiny little doover on the stove. The plastic handle melted off after about 5 minutes, and she screamed a dismal 'Oh no!'
She'd forgot to fill the base of the doover with water, and the heat had got too hot to handle!

When the big bear came home, he had a laugh at little bear's silliness, then announced in his big bear voice 'I can fix it in the workshop!' The next morning, he ambled away to his workshop, broken doover in hand...and promptly forgot about it. It got buried under a pile of sawdust and sweat - out of sight, out of mind.

Last Tuesday, middle bear and little bear went to visit big bear in the workshop, and sported the sad little doover -no longer shiny now, but dusty - and excitedly exclaimed 'Oh, let's try and fix that!'  So middle bear and little bear both grab little offcuts of wood and started sawing, sanding and hammering. Little bear was contentedly sanding down a little piece of plywood when middle bear told her 'That's not going to work, it's going to take too long!' He them started bashing pieces of wood with a hammer. Little bear ignored him and carried on sanding, patiently.

About 15 minutes later (while middle bear was still bashing innocent pieces of wood), little bear took her nicely sanded piece of wood and held it up to the coffee doover. Lo and behold! It fit! Middle bear gave up hammering, and helped her fit it with a nut and bolt so it would stay.

They took it home, cleaned it up, and had nice fresh coffee the next day!

Ta-da! Action shot!
Little bear would also like to give thanks to the handsome and heroic MacGyver for the inspiration. She is certain that, were she to be trapped on a desert island with only a piece of twine and a toothpick for company, she would be able to construct an airplane to escape. She will attempt to make an explosive device using a week-old avocado tomorrow. Stay tuned for more exciting exploits from the three bears!

My hero!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Roses Are Red...And Purple...And Blue

Just added two more pieces for the Folksy Upcycle Competition. These necklaces are cut from the same fabrics as the brooches I showed you earlier, and are held up with ribbons, so the length can be adjusted to suit. I had heaps of fun making these, and I'm thinking of making more for sale at my Etsy shop, and maybe offering some when I do markets too. I think they'll also go rather well with the headpieces I currently have in stock.

And of course, if you like anything I've just shown you, go on over here and bid on it. There's lots of other stuff in the auction too, so you may very well find something you absolutely HAVE to have. All proceeds go to charity too, so you can easily justify spending some money buying nice things.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


The weather's been fairly, well, London-ish recently, and all I've been wanting to do lately is stay in my PJs or wrap myself up in a blanket constantly. Which is all fine and dandy when I'm at home, but apparently, it's not the done thing when I'm out and about.

So I took matters into my own hands and whipped up a solution. I got one metre each of leopard print faux fur and a red/blue plaid flannel fabric (two of my favourite patterns!) and sewed up a reversible vest, with detachable (and reversible) hood. Can you tell I'm big on reversible items. No 'making-of' pictures, as I wasn't certain it would work. Didn't follow a pattern either, just cut and pinned and held my breath. And here's the end result.

I made the hood slightly bigger than usual, so it would go over my other hoodies or even hats. That way, I'll never need an umbrella. Stupid things are only useful if you want to poke someone's eyes out anyway.

Vest - DIY, black hoodie - some store in Hong Kong, blue flannie - KMart Boys section, t-shirt - hand me down from Hansen, jeans - opshop, beanie - opshop, bowler hat (2nd pic) - eBay

I premiered the vest last night on a supermarket run, and guess what? It's like wearing a blanket and PJs TOGETHER! Best thing ever! Expect to see lots of this little baby in the coming months...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Upcycle Update

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I'm taking part in Folksy's Upcycle Christmas Challenge. The last few weeks have mainly been spent tearing clothes apart so I could reuse the material, but I've managed to make a couple of items so far.

I've pretty much completely given in to my current yo-yo obsession and based almost all the designs in the competition on yo-yos. The first one is a little brooch, with the base part made from the WAG-ish lilac Karen Millen jacket (I'm not even sure why that jacket makes me think of WAGs, it just does. Could be the colour reminds me of their talon-like acrylic nails?). There's also a little hair-clip made from the giant old man's pyjama set for now.

Besides those two little items, I'm also working on a couple of statement necklaces type items, with yo-yos strung together, and probably held up by ribbons or lace. This one down here's a preview, but I've got another one in the works. And I'm also working on a stupidly long icord loop scarf thingo, I don't even know if that's going to turn out in the way I think it will, but I hope so.
You can have a look at the other items in the competition over here, and if you like anything, make sure you vote for it during the auction in December! All the proceeds will go to Sue Ryder Care.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake-Soup

Or, squeeze your pumpkins!

The last of my pumpkin dishes from Saturday - and the whole raison d'etre for even getting a humongo pumpkin in the first place - was a pumpkin cheesecake. Which sort of became a pumpkin-flavoured cream cheese soup But it was still tasty anyway (thanks to the addition of a WHOLE tin of condensed milk) which is really all that counts.

I may have mentioned earlier this week that I'd steamed the pumpkin for about half an hour, to ensure the flesh got soft enough for mashing. The problem with steaming, though, is that the pumpkin flesh gets a little too watery. And since I was soooooo eager for cheesecake (piggy!) I didn't bother trying to spend ages squeezing all the liquid out of the streamed pumpkin - which resulted in a sloppy yellow-tinged mush that never set. We're eating it with a spoon anyway, it's still yummy.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's the incredibly easy recipe for no-bake pumpkin cheesecake.

1/2 pack of plain HobNobs (or similar digestive biscuits)
1/2 pack of dark chocolate Hobnobs (or similar)
100gms of butter

600gms cream cheese
1/2 large pumpkin (steamed, mashed and DRAINED)
400gms sweetened condensed milk

Crush the plain HobNobs into fine crumbs (you may find it easier to do this with a food processor, but I just used my hands. My strong, powerful hands.) You can leave the dark chocolate HobNobs as bigger, rougher crumbs so you get more chocolatey bits to bite into. Place the biscuit crumbs into a springform cake tin.

Melt the butter and mix it through the biscuit crumbs to bind them together. Use more butter if the crumbs don't stick together properly. Now's not the time to be worrying about your expanding waistline. Use the bottom of a spoon to press the mixture down into the tin.

Mix the cream cheese, pumpkin mash and condensed milk together (either with a spoon, or a food processor). Pour the deliciousness into the springform tin, on top of the biscuit mixture. Pop into the fridge and let it set for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Chewy Pumpkin Biscuits

The humongous pumpkin I purchased on Saturday was more than enough for the cheesecake I'd planned on making. So, after cutting up and steaming the pumpkin, I separated the cooked, yellowy-orange flesh into two portions - one for the cheesecake, and one for something else. I wondered about freezing steamed pumpkin for later, but my sweet tooth overruled me and I decided on pumpkin biscuits!

You're probably already aware that I'm a fan of the fast and furious, throw-everything-together-and-stir method of baking. So, I came up with a lazy easy recipe for chewy pumpkin biscuits while roasting the pumpkin seeds. The amount of ingredients are fairly approximate, as usual.

1/3 large pumpkin (steamed, then mashed)
150gm butter
300gm caster sugar
150gm plain flour
150gm self-raising flour
cinnamon (to taste)
nutmeg (to taste)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Cream butter and sugar together.

Add both kinds of flour to butter/sugar mixture, and as much (or as little) of the cinnamon and nutmeg as you like. Give it a slight stir to make sure the spices are fairly evenly distributed throughout.

If your steamed pumpkin flesh is quite watery (as mine was), then try to drain as much of the liquid out as possible, otherwise, your batter may end up far too liquidy. When that's done, add the pumpkin to the dry mixture, and stir everything together.

Once all the parts are mixed together (like brown mush), grab your baking tray (either greased or with baking paper on it) and drop dollops of the batter on it. Use a tablespoon to help you.

Pop it into the baking try and bake for 15-20 minutes, let them cool, then destroy them with your mouth! They're really good dunked into a nice mug of hot chocolate.

Monday, 2 November 2009

SOS (Save Our Seeds!)

While I didn't go to a Halloween party this year, I did try to acknowledge the day by buying a pumpkin. The idea was to make a pumpkin cheesecake (more on that later) but after butchering the pumpkin so I could steam its flesh, I also ended up with quite a few pumpkin seeds. And since I'm loathe to let things go to waste, I decided to roast the seeds instead of chucking them. It's really simple to do, and the seeds make a tasty beer snack.

Once you've scooped all the seeds out of the pumpkin, try and get rid of as much of the stringy pulp as you can. I did this by placing the seeds into a bowl full of water, and picking out the pulp by hand. It doesn't take much time. After you've cleaned the seeds up, place them on a tray or plate to dry for at least half an hour.

When the seeds are fairly dry, start preheating the oven on a low heat - I set mine to 120 degrees Celsius. Place the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Melt a knob of unsalted butter and  pour it over the seeds, coating them evenly. (And if you're microwaving the butter to melt it, please make sure you keep an eye on it or cover it with sometime, or else it explodes all over your microwave and you end up having to clean the greasy bits up. I got my poppet to help me with melting the butter, so he wouldn't feel left out, and that's exactly what happened. Thrice. Because he never learns from his mistakes.)

Add about a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of dried garlic flakes to the buttery seeds, then pop them into the oven to roast for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't get burnt, and remove them when they get golden-brown. Once they get cool enough to handle, they're ready to be eaten!

Although I used salt and garlic (you can use fresh minced garlic too, by the way, I just didn't have any), you can adapt the recipe to make a sweet version too. Just be sure to use unsalted butter, and substitute the savoury flavourings for something sweet, like cinnamon and some honey, maybe?

I also made some pumpkin biscuits and a pumpkin cheesecake that night, so check back here soon for the other recipes!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Candyman Comin' Atcha!

Candy Nails.gif

 The first day of November has been completely grey and rainy so far, but I kinda like it. Anyway, for those of you missing summer, I've got some candy-coloured nails to help cheer you up!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Fashion Tip

Gah! So much to do this week! I'm leaving you with this, The Great Unwashed will be printed soon, check out the Etsy shop for new and old issues!

Have a good week, everyone!

(Too many exclamation marks? Sorry!)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Jump Around!

Folksy is organising an 'Upcycle Christmas Competition' this year to raise money for the Sue Ryder Care charity, and I'll be taking part in it. The deal is this - you enter, print up a ticket and go to a participating Sue Ryder store to pick up 5 items to upcycle, which you then auction on Folksy, with the proceeds going to Sue Ryder Care. I thought this was an awesome idea, since I get a large portion of my materials from op-shops anyway, and it fits it almost perfectly with the cut-and-paste way I usually work.

So last Saturday, I printed up my ticket and went to the Sue Ryder store in Camden to pick up 5 items to tear apart for charity. It turned out to be slim pickings, as I only had 2 bags of stuff to choose from, but I did manage to dig through and get my mitts on 5 items in the end.

I found this brand new, fairly see-through (though it doesn't appear so in the photo) white cotton mesh tank top and gross, shiny lavender brocade blazer jacket after sifting through some of the other items in the bag. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with them yet, but rest assured that I'll be ripping that disgusting jacket apart. And as you can see from the photos, I graduated with honours from the Kate Bush School of Dance.

More digging, and I was rewarded with this white, knitted, batwinged top with lacey panels. Not completely hideous, now that I look at it again, but I think I'll be unraveling it so I can use the yarn to make up something - maybe a cape? And yes, I am wearing trackies in this photo - please don't judge me, it was before breakfast.

And lastly, I picked up this gigantic stripey men's pyjama set to complete my 5 items. The Mancreature is convinced some old guy died in this. Urgghh! I picked it mainly because it was so large, which meant that I would have loads of material to sew things from.

You can't really see it, but the trousers were ENORMOUS, which resulted in a lot of awkward tucking and folding after I put them on.

I can't wait to start cutting these things up and making pretty little things out of them. (After all, there's been some shocking atrocities committed in the name of charity recently, and it's about time to put things right.) If you're interested in bidding on items in the auction, or you want to take part in the competition, then get thee over to the Folksy site. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Folksy, it's pretty much like Etsy, but with a focus on UK sellers. I'll be posting updates as I finish making stuff.