Sunday, 26 September 2010

A cake for half time

Today we were going to be good. We had planned a stomp through the local fields. Some fresh life-affirming autunmal air in the lungs, and perhaps a post-walk pub lunch and pint in the belly.

But it wasn't to be. We got caught out by catching up on sleep, emergency trips to the pet shop, and then the sudden onslaught of rain.

No matter though, instead it's been an afternoon of sofa guarding, yarn winding, pattern browsing, and light pottering.

And I always believe that when the weather does this:you should do this:
The cake in the picture is Dan Lepard's Malt Whiskey Ginger Cake, that was featured in The Guardian Magazine food section yesterday. A few changes - less ground ginger (I'd run out) and so a shake of nutmeg and cinnamon, crystalised ginger not stem (I find the former much more satisfying in everything) and a lemon based icing - and we had a lovely warming cake to enjoy at half time, in between knit and purl rows.
My cake was deceivingly gooey in the middle, despite the obligatory toothpick test, but this wasn't unwelcome. We also both agreed that whilst very nice today it will be even better tomorrow when the flavours have developed.

I wish I could say we were good and enjoyed this with a cup of tea, but in this weather, it's all about the afternoon glass of red wine.

Come on, it's a Sunday!

Oh, and for those of you who have been asking about how Sniff is getting on with Gatto, I thought I'd share this moment from last week...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Tutorial for a rainy day.

 We had the most unbelievable thunderstorm here a few days ago. The bright morning sky suddenly disappeared and within moments the rain descended, and the banging and crashing started. At one point a clap of thunder went off directly overhead, so loud that it hurt my ears and set car alarms in the area off!

The cats were freaking out and so I decided that it was time to put on some music and relax with some sewing. I thought I would share this little tutorial with you to help with your sewing on rainy days.

How to sew whilst entertaining a 12 week old kitten.

You will need:

1 pattern of your choosing, and the requisite fabric, notions etc.
4-35 ping pong balls, depending on availability
2 lengths of string
1 pack of plasters
1 tube of antiseptic
Stain remover
1 teapot, mug and teabags (milk and sugar if desired.)
1 large chocolate bar

Begin by waiting until the kitten is safely asleep, then frantically lay out your pattern, cut and then pin to the fabric. If you're lucky you might manage at least five minutes of this before the kitten wakes up and realises they are missing out on all the fun.

This is where you need your ping pong balls on hand. Each time the little kitty makes a chase for the scissors, or the pins, or attempts to skid around on your carefully laid pattern, reach for your stash of ping pong balls. The trick is to distract the kitten at key moments by chucking a ball into the other room.

Keep this up for as many balls as you have. Experience denotes that you will gain about 3.6 seconds using this technique, so cut fast!

Now you've managed to cobble together the piece of the pattern it's time to begin sewing up. Here is where you need the string. You will be using this to try and keep the kitten away from the bobbin, thread, and moving fabric as you sew. This is where you will learn the essential "sewing one handed" technique, which is guaranteed to change the way you sew forever.

The final stage is when you begin to do the complicated points of the pattern, such as setting in the sleeves, or pinning the bodice to the skirt. Chances are by now you've used up all your ping pong balls, string and other diversionary tactics, so the kitten will manage to pounce on your bare foot to chew your toe, just as you are placing a pin.

This will repeat itself indefinitely no matter how firmly you scold the cat.

Finally, place antiseptic and plasters on wounded toes (from the cat) and fingers (from the pins jabbed into them as the cat feasted on your toes), place stain remover on the blood splatters on your project, and then decide it's not worth washing and place in the bin.

Retreat to the sofa with a large cup of tea and chocolate bar, just in time to watch the kitten smugly fall asleep in a pile of off cuts and pattern pieces next to the sewing machine.

I hope this has been helpful to all those out there who might consider naively sewing and kittens a nice mix on a rainy autumn day!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A fresh start

After years of adherence to the academic calendar I don't think I will ever fully shake the feeling that the start of the year comes in September, rather than January. The change in the air from sultry (okay, we're the uk...ahem...warmish) summer to crisp autumn is one of my favourite moments. It means the digging out of jumpers, the acquiring of new stationary (yes, this week I bought sharpie pens, just because I couldn't resist all the colours in the packet), the last of the tomatoes and the return to rich flavours and warm spices in cooking and baking.

The change in season and the new start couldn't have come at a more apt time this year, with a new house, new cat, new routine, and a new blog.

After an incredibly stressful summer, when the first of September rolled around and the chill hit the morning air it suddenly felt like everything had fallen into place.

We celebrated with a walk around the new area, and a pint in a new local. The perfect way to ring in the changes.

I have also managed to get four days off in a row, and so will hopefully have some nice projects to share. In the meantime I offer not a recipe, as it's not complicated enough for that, but a suggestion. Next time you make pesto, try replacing the pine nuts with cashews. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
I hope you're all enjoying the autumnal weather, I've been very much enjoying spending my mornings slowly and surely catching up with my blog reading, so if I haven't already I will be popping past to say hello.