Sunday, 3 August 2014

Popping by xx



Well I've comendeered this evening to come say hello to my much neglected blog , I've told both boys and hubby I am not to be disturbed this evening as I am blogging . But OH MY GOODNESS ME I haven't been by in 7 weeks ,  can I tell you  it feels wonderful to be here . 

I am in the full swing of the school summer break and I have decamped my work at home for this time ( I am priodically making short trips to The Studio to collect the odd piece of equipement I need when making my little creations ). It's great that my creative making time is building up to a nice managable pace once again , I am happy to inform you that my mum no longer really needs my help ( she only needs help in small ways ). We are still waiting for her neck fracture to heal but she is taking life at a happy gentle pace and is enjoying her indipendance once again . This is so great to see and I feel blessed she is healing and here to be a part of our lifes.

 So what has been keeping me busy these last 7 weeks ??
Creatively I have been getting back into the flow of  making in the studio by doing some of my signature pieces. This has at times meant keeping my head down and ignoring some of the world around me . 


I just love hunting for and sewing with antique or vintage textiles , breathing a new life into tired or unloved pieces that where once work by someones creative hands.



 This piece of antique Malteese Lace was either a Victorian or Edwardian lace collar and it has now been made into my next Mrs Mill Mouse bridal skirt , Mr & Mrs Mill Mouse will be unveiled very soon . I have been  sat today knitting her shawl from a lovely Rowan fine tweed yarn.

I have really enjoyed producing my Linen Hares which are the first batch of the year , I have got my next batch under way and I am looking forward to getting on my sewing machine this week in between spending time with my boys  and doing housewife duties . 
I adore working with Liberty lawns and good quality Linen as well as the pleasure of using quality pure fibre yarns to crochet and knit with . I also get very excited when playing with colour combinations .

My next batch of Yorkshire mill Mice are under way as well ,  I have started producing some of the little knitted shawl and scarfs ,  I am doing a couple of  Mr mill mice too for those folks who feel  their Lady Mice in need of a companion .
  My pie tin pin cushions were the last batch for a while as I have used the last of my tins , so I need to keep my eyes peeled for some more .
 Creatively I am keeping things ticking along and in the back of my mind is a calender and I'm mentally counting down the weeks to Yarndale . This is because I will having an Open Studio event on the Friday (the day before Yarndale ) and  Saturday  27 th September the 1st day of Yarndale . Detail are to follow shortly to do with times but you will be able to visit the working space of myself and Lucy on these two days  . It will also be an opportunity to come and look at and buy some of my work . Even get your hook/needles out and have some yarn therapy in our creative space ( please note seating will be limited as our studio is quite bijou ).

I have also been busy in my kitchen , we still strive to have a much  simpler life and try to produce more for ours selves and spend less  .  I am really enjoying the challenge of learning to make things from scratch that the whole family enjoys . I am still making my own butter every week and it has been two months now since I last bought butter . I have also had a go at making my own peanut butter with great results . I  like the fact that the time and energy spent making these things has its own rewards other than working out cheaper that shop bought and you know what ingredients are going into the product , it often works out that you end up with a good surplus supply to store away for later use in the months to come . I am also sticking to the rule that we only make things in bulk that we would normally buy as I can't afford to make costly experimental mistake by making something we won't necessary like or use . As many of you will know where children are concerned they don't like too much change , so making home made versions of shop bought favourites is a good way to start I think .


I am also trying to look around me and be inspired by making  food with things that are in season and not just the fruit and veg !

Lavender Shortbread 
Everyone in our house loves shortbread and I feel quite pleased to feed the family it as a treat especially as it is also made with my own butter .  A couple of weeks ago I was pootling about in my back yard and noticed  the little tiny flower on the Lavender plant were out  and I suddenly remembered Mr P  had made some beautiful Lavender short bread some years ago . Yes I did say Mr P , it was in his house husband days when our roles were reversed for a couple of years .
So I hunted down the recipe and gave it a whirl , it is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal recipie from his 'THE RIVER COTTAGE YEAR ' book on page 151.


 So to make 8 very generous portions as above or 12-20 fingers if using a 18 x 28 cm tin  . Beat together 160g of softened butter with 80g  caster sugar and add 2 teaspoons of fresh lavender flowers ( they are a little tricky to harvest but well worth it !) beat until pale and creamy . Sift in 240g plain flour or 160g plain flour and 80g corn flour and work to a smooth dough. then turn your mixture out into a lined tin either 18 x 28cm or I used a regular sandwich cake tin .Press it out firmly and evenly in the tin then prick with a fork pushing it fully through the mixture. Bake @ 170 degrees C/ gas mark 3 for 20-25 mins and until very light in colour and firm to touch . Then remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar and mark into either 8ths as above or into fingers , press only a couple of millimetres into cooked shortbread . leave to cool and harden then carefully remove from tin .


 I used an extra couple of pinches of the Lavender flowers to decorate as well as some lavender stems on the side of the plate .
At this point there is nothing else to do other than put the kettle on for a cup of tea/ coffee and a slice of shortbread .

 More baking has taken place in the last week with my eldest celebrating becoming a teenager , I can't believe my eldest is now 13 . Oh boy these years are whizzing by !! He put a request in for a chocolate birthday cake . So in need of some inspiration I popped over to pintrest ( yep I'm on there under my business name of : Handmade Over Yonder, if you fancy to popping by ) . I saw this style of cake on pintrest and new he would love it . A very big indulgence for a very special day and boy I wasn't wrong he thought it was fab , one happy birthday boy !




 I really am enjoying what my little yard has to offer me at the moment in the way of produce , mainly courgettes as I have 3 different varieties growing .

 So before I picked my next batch which were ready to harvest I had a think about what I could make.  I wanted something that could be stored away and enjoyed at a later date . Then Piccalilli came to mind I was going to make it last year but I never got around to it . My mum always recounts her childhood when ever I  mention Piccalilli , she has memories of helping her mum, grandma and Auntie making batches of it all together in one big session of Piccalilli making . So in paying homage to a family tradition that had died long ago ( & the fact I would like to take my mum some home made Piccalilli on my next visit ) I rooted some recipes out . All the recipes recommended picking 5-6 veg from cauliflower , courgettes ,pickling onion or shallots , marrow, green beans , celery and peppers. Bellow are my choice for my Piccalilli.
 The recipe I opted to use was from this old book I've had over 20 years and I made a mild sweet version with 3kg of veg which meant I used 500g of cooking salt to steep the veg in overnight . I did this by layering the prepared veg with salt in a very large bowl which I then covered with a weighted plate on top to ensure all the veg really steeped in the salt . Before making the Piccalilli I thoroughly washed all the veg ( in small batches in a colander) with cold water to ensure all the vegetables were thoroughly rinsed and drained .


These are the veg once rinsed and drained and ready for cooking .


I got all my ingredients ready as listed above under the mild sweet sauce recipe with the addition of 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds .
next you put the turmeric , dry mustard & mustard seed , ginger, sugar and all but 3 x 15 ml spoons( 3 tablespoons )of vinegar in a large heavy bottomed saucepan . Mix well then add all the veg and bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes , testing occasionally the degree of crispness or tenderness . This is all down to individual taste but do not overcook the veg .
 When ready, remove the vegetables with a perforated spoon and pack into hot ( pre sterilised  jars) , If you notice any standing liquid collecting in the bottom of the jars drain off liquid back into pan , I found holding a slotted spoon over the neck of the jar stopped any veg escaping back into pan .Dissolve the cornflour in the reserved vinegar  and stir into vinegar mixture in the pan , bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes stirring continuously . Pour the sauce over the veg and cover at once . Ready in 6 weeks .


 Another little glut buster I made today , but this was a 2kg box of tomatoes at a bargain price . The recipe is one a friend gave to me years ago and it was passed onto her from her mum out of a magazine . but I make a batch every year as it's so scrummy and very versatile it can be used a bit like a sweet chilli dipping sauce .



So this is only a snippet of my life recently and as any woman ,mum/carer ,wife/partner and employer/employee will know life is one major juggling act  and unfortunately in my life it is my poor little blog that takes the hit . But I do try and make up for it when I call by .So thank you so much if you keep popping by but it is ta ta for now .    Tracy xx


29 comments:

  1. Nice to see you back, and you have been very busy indeed. I think you have made some really good things. All that food you have made is making me hungry!!

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    1. Hi jabbott
      Thanks for popping by and thank you for your kind comments , I hope I didn't make you raid your fridge for a snack !!

      Have a lovely week with kind regards Tracy

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  2. OMGoodness! What a post! Your handsewn creations are terrific. I just want to touch everything and examine all the little details. Your son's cake was whoa! Any child of any age would drool over that. You are a spectacular mum. I admire greatly any person who grows wonderful veggies and fruits in her garden. Glad to read about your mum and glad you are happily creating.

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    1. Hello Kepanie
      Thank you , you are so kind about my work .
      Yep the cake was a great success , the boys eyes nearly popped out their heads when they saw all the goodies I had decorated it with .
      I do love my little yard and the things I manage to grow in pots and planters .Where there is a will there is a way!
      Thanks for popping by , its great to get chance to visit blogland and catch up with people and blogs .
      with kind regards Tracy x

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  3. Hi Traci, everything looks to good especially all the food. I really like all the hares and their crochet sweater is just adorable.

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    1. Hi Taciana Simmons
      You are so kind and thank you for popping by .
      with kind regards Tracy

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  4. Glad you're back, sharing your creativity and cookery skills xx

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    1. Hi Jacqui
      Thank you , its great to be back .Thanks for popping by .
      with kind regards Tracy x

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  5. Goodness me you have me worn out just reading this. I love the idea of butter making and might give it ago as I have 6 weeks off. Also on my to do list is Lavender Short bread as we have some wonderful lavender in the garden. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Hi Sara@the bottom of the garden
      Oh you must give butter making a go it's so easy and you will never go back to shop bought , there are so many great instructions on pintrest and youtube . I have put a bit about my butter making experience on my previous post too.
      Lavender shortbread , nom nom nom ! thats all I have to say on that . : )
      I'm so glad you popped by and found some inspiration , have a lovely week .
      with kind regards Tracy x

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  6. How lovely to have you back, Tracy. Such good news about your mum, too. You have been a busy girl! Yarndale was such fun last year and I was lucky enough to see your studio - and bring Mr Fox home with us. He is faring well in this heat :) Can I ask a daft question? Are the sweets on that fabulous cake fixed on or do they pour out when you cut a slice? Just curious.
    Take care. Deborah x

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    1. Hi Deborah
      Great to hear from you and I'm so glad Mr Fox is coping with the heat .
      In answer to your question the sweets are stuck on top of the cake . It is a two layer chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream in the centre of the two layers and on the outside of the cake .I was then able to stick everything to the butter cream outer . I hope this answers your question Deborah.
      Have a lovely week with kind regards Tracy x

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  7. Lovely to read Tracy, glad your Mum is well on the mend. I love to see pictures of your work, it is so gorgeous! I am growing courgettes and will make courgette and ginger jam. It's a Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall recipe and very nice.L Anne

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  8. Hi Anne
    Glad you enjoyed the read , I've just been in and edited the post as I spotted so many typo errors .I was up until very late doing the post and my brain must not have been going to sleep .I am glad your courgettes are doing well too , this is the best year I've had for 3 years . Last year they all damped off and died . I too am a big Hugh fan ,I've been hooked ever since he did the T.V sreies called T.V Dinners , now that is a lot of years ago! . I have most of his books and I use a lot of his recipes on a regular basis , The courgette and ginger jam sounds interesting , I will look that one up and thank you for sharing .
    with kind regards Tracy x

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  9. You have been busy, and I'm so glad your mum is healing now. I love the sewing, beautifully done as always. The cake is fantastic, every boy's dream birthday cake I think - I'm taking notes! Hope you have a lovely summer. CJ xx

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  10. Yum yum - the picallilly looks amazing and will definitely be trying this during the week. My mum and dad have recently got an allotment and are really enjoying growing their own veg - plus whenever anyone gets a glut they often swap amongst themselves! We had marrow cake last week and are making blackcurrant teabread this week. My garden will finally be at a stage where we can start making raised beds so fingers crossed we will be self sufficient next year too x Lovely to catch up with your blog x

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  11. It is so good to hear that your Mum is doing well and needing less help. I hope that her recovery will be complete before too much longer. It looks as though you have indeed been very busy with lots of lovely things. Your hares are wonderful!! xx

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  12. Nice to hear from you again!!!! WOW, you have really been a busy girl!!!! Enjoy your summer "break at home" and have a happy week!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  13. What a fantastic post :-) it's certainly been worth waiting for. I just love to hear how well your mun is doing and read about all your creativity. Liz x

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  14. Lovely that you've found some time to blog about your recent activities. Looks like you've been really busy. As I type hubby has just returned with another HUGE batch of wild blackberries. All going towards a batch of jam making, x

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  15. Great to hear from you again and I went drooling over the pics of the piccalilly... haven't had that since moving from the UK, so thank you for the recipe!! Love from Sweden /Jen

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  16. Hi lovely lady and welcome back ... a lovely read and my goodness you have been busy ... you are a marvel and so glad to hear Mum is progressing well and on the mend. I read somewhere the other day of orange zest in shortbread ... we liked the lavender and I may soon try the orange!! See you soon Xx lots of love Joy Xx

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  17. Enjoy the holidays - you're certainly keeping busy! Love the little mice and I may have a go at Piccalilli - it's one preserve that I've never made, but yours looks absolutely lovely and I bet it'll taste good too. Happy Birthday to your teenager. When our 3rd one had his 20th birthday we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate 'surviving the children's teenage years' - it was actually so much fun with 3 teenagers in the house - 12 years in total (I've just worked that out) but it all seems to get so much more expensive as they get bigger!!!

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  18. It's so good to see a new post from you. I love all your creations and your food productions sound and look great. I don't see how you manage to fit all that in to only 24 hour days. You must be super organized----or maybe you just never sleep.

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  19. Glad to hear your mum is on the mend. Gosh you have been so busy making and growing. All very inspiring. Your photos are lovely.
    Caroline

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  20. Hi Tracy - you may not pop by your blog too often, but when you do its a pretty packed post!! Lovely things and so good that you have been making your own food staples. My youngest is 18 today and I am going to finish work early and make a cake!! Don't think it will turn out like your fantastic creation but its the thought... I hope :) Glad to know your mum is on the mend and look forward to seeing you at Yarndale xxx Kathryn (from one of your rag rug workshops)

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  21. Good to see you're well, busy and sounding happy.

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  22. I haven't commented in ages, possibly never, but you had me at the lavender as it's something I love! If you have any left over, pick it, rinse it, dry it well and add it to a screw top jar with some fine/caster sugar. Leave for a few days to infuse. Put as much or as little in the jar as you'd like, and I just sift out the pieces when I use the sugar and put them back in the jar and top it back up when necessary. I like to do the same thing with lemon and orange peel too, makes fantastically flavoured sugars, but it's best to keep it in the fridge. I added orange sugar and nutmeg to my porridge this weekend!

    Hugs
    Brenda

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