Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sewing Success!

When you spend time reading blogs it is hard not to be inspired by the wonderful things being created. I love reading craft and sewing books and have been known to knit the odd scarf or two (odd because they are usually wider at the top than the bottom) and make jewellery etc. but still I had a yearning to be good at sewing.
I have fiddled about with a couple of patchwork quilts which I was quite pleased with, but what I really wanted to be able to do was make clothes and handbags, things I could use on a daily basis.

Not being a sewer I found it very hard to justify buying a sewing machine. When I enquired at the local college about night classes in sewing they said you had to take your own machine. But I didn't want to buy one in case I was rubbish at it! A tricky situation indeed. Then one of my lovely customers come to see me. She has Parkinsons Disease and was struggling to use her beloved Bernina sewing machine. She knew I was crafty and keen to sew. Would I like it? Could I give it a good home?
You can guess the answer.
Then I got chatting to another customer. She is a professional seamstress. Can you see where this is going yet?! So yes, I have been a very lucky girl indeed and am now the proud owner of a Bernina and have had several free sewing lessons from my very lovely friend. Who also supplied copious amounts of coffee and homemade cake. Hurrah!
I showed her the Amy Butler pattern I had and explained how I needed help with it. I have never cut a pattern out or measured myself before, so she gave me loads of help and advice. The patience of the woman!! She found it all very exciting as well as she has never used American patterns before, and couldn't believe how 'simple' it all was. Hmm. I bought fabric from the local shop, nothing fancy, just something cheap and pretty, ideal for a summer skirt for a beginner.
Do you want to see then? do you?

So with the skirt sorted and worn several times I decided to brave the bag myself. I found the pattern for this ages ago on Sew Mama Sew, and printed it out to put in my 'Things I want to Make One Day but Probably Never Will' file. So I measured and cut the pieces out a few nights ago and today I finished it. I am SO pleased with it. Seriously. I have put things in it. And taken things out of it. And cooed over the lining (lightweight flowery print cotton) and stroked the handles.
I need to send a big thankyou to all of you bloggers who sew. For all of the words of wisdom, and for not assuming when you blog about your projects that we are all sewing geniuses! Thanks for keeping instructions as simple as possible, and for explaining each step clearly. I am hoping to move onto winter skirts and tunics next.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Raspberry Roulade Recipe

I have had a day off today and despite spending most of my working week baking and feeding the hoardes bacon sandwiches, I have still enjoyed a peaceful afternoon in my kitchen at home. Relaxed cooking, not to order, not for anyone in a mad rush on a lunch hour, but instead cooking for us, for our meal this evening. We have picked the first courgettes from the allotment now. Small yellow ones, and a striped green variety. I can never remember their names, and the packets seldom last. At home we are growing large tubs of peas, staggered in planting so that they last over a period of time. There are hanging baskets of tumbling tomatoes, grow-bags with beefsteak tomatoes and several large terracotta pots with Sungold and Gardeners Delight. But for tonight, as the tomatoes are yet to ripen, we are having Tesco Tomatoes instead!
We all have our specialities when it comes to cooking. My husbands is risotto. And roast chicken. And actually most main meals, in fact. I do soup and puddings and cakes. So I have prepped the veggies ready for tonights risotto, and then moved onto deciding what I could do with several pounds of raspberries also picked from the allotment.

I had planned on sitting in the garden with a cup of coffee before the rain came. Typical isn't it-blazing sunshine for days and then my day off comes-rain! I did pluck a rose from the garden though and bought it inside to sniff every now and again. It really does smell beautiful.

So, raspberries!! Sarah Raven has come up trumps yet again, and although I am yet to have her latest book, I do love her Garden Cookbook. I have made a lot from it, but never Meringue Roulade with Raspberries.

Until now! Ok, here goes people....
Feeds 6...(oh no, and we didn't invite anyone around for dinner....)
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
50g flaked almonds
350ml double cream
400g fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, or gas mark 6.
Line a swiaa roll tin with greaseproof paper and brush very lightly with oil-sunflower, not car.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until VERY stiff.
Gradually add sugar a spoonful at a time until all gone. Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and glossy.
Spread the mixture into the tin and scatter with the almonds.
Place the tin fairly near the top of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 160 degrees, gas mark 3 and bake until golden brown (this took another 8 minutes in my oven, and I also lowered it in the oven as it was browning a bit quickly)

Remove from the oven (as above) and then flip over. Don't ask me how I did this. I am just pleased no one was here to take photos) make sure you flip in onto a sheet of greaseproof paper or parchment though. Peel off the paper from the base and leave it to cool (as below) for 15 minutes.

Whilst it's cooling whisk your cream until it's stiff and then stir in half of your raspberries...

When it's cool spread your cream/raspberry mix carefully across your roulade. I didn't go right up to the edges with mine as I knew I would end up covered in the stuff.
Using the greaseproof paper to help you, roll up the roulade as tightly as you can. I didn't read the recipe properly, as you are supposed to roll it lengthwise. Ahem. Mine is slightly bigger than it should be as a result-but I think it looks fab, so no matter.

Scatter the rest of the raspberries over the top to serve.
Wait for husband to come home and find pudding in the fridge....
I guess you could use any fruit you have, I think it would be lovely with thinly sliced peaches or nectarines, or strawberries...go crazy.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Race For Life

Yes indeed, Sunday was Race For Life Day. After signing ourselves up back in February to do the 5km walk/jog/stagger around Cheltenham Racecourse the day finally arrived. I have never taken part before but am so pleased I did.
The atmosphere was amazing, 5000 women all joined together to take part in an event that raises money for such a good cause. Our team, all ladies from the cafe, have raised in excess of £600 so far, which we are delighted with.
Thankyou to all of my family and friends who have sponsored us, it is hugely appreciated. Hopefully with all of the money being raised by ladies across the country we will eventually find a cure for cancer.
As for me, I am definitely going to do it again next year, hopefully running it next time. No promises though...!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

How does your garden grow?

Ahh, yes, so as per usual I have been VERY busy in the garden and at the allotment, producing all manner of wonderful vegetables and flowers....

Ok, so not really. For a very fabulous birthday surprise last week the lovely husband took me on a surprise trip to the Chelsea Flower Show. What made it even better was that I had spent the previous few evenings watching it on television and saying "ooh, we really must go next year" whilst he sat quietly next to me knowing that he had surprise tickets and picnic hampers at the ready.

There was so much to look at it, and it really is an amazing place to go if you are into gardening.
I came away with loads of ideas, the main one being that I am going to put vegetables in with flowers this year in our back garden, as well as at the allotment. We have a small garden but borders all around, and quite a large patio, so there is quite a bit of space that can be filled.
So far we have courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins, kohl rabi, french beans and peas. I bought a couple of packets of seeds back with me which have gone straight into pots.
The allotment has rhubarb, peas, broad beans, potatoes, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries, carrots, parnsips and a kiwi plant.
I don't think any of us will be suffering from vitamin deficiency any time soon. Hopefully we'll save a small fortune as well!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

No photos, just me!

Hello folks, long time no speak. Me that is, not you. I still manage to find some time to read all of my favourite blogs,(even if I haven't been very good and left a comment!) but somehow the inspiration hasn't been there for me personally to write a post. Not sure why, no great reasons behind it...just...normal life I suppose.

I got a bit tired of logging on and seeing those gingerbread men below though-the ones from Christmas 2009! and now here we are, Spring (ish) 2010, and I have had so many lovely messages from lots and lots of you asking if I am still alive, and Yes, I am! Hurrah!

We have had the usual frantic few months here in the Cotswolds, with things going very well indeed at the cafe, I am pleased to say. Lovely bloggers still keep coming in, and I am always so very touched that they have made the effort...despite the fact that I never seem to have time to do anything other than shriek in surprise and dump a cappuccino in front of them before serving the masses.

We are open 7 days a week now, which may seem like madness, but it does mean that I have a WHOLE weekend off every now and again, which is hugely exciting. Lots of camping trips during the summer months, is the plan. And perhaps some sitting in the garden with a good book and enjoying the sunshine with a glass of pimms to hand. That would be splendid.

So, if you're reading this, and are still with me, then Hello! I will try harder, promise. And I will write again before another quarter of a year passes, promise. And I will share some FABULOUS new cake recipes as well. Promise.
Bye for now.....