Saturday, 24 September 2011

A pleasant surprise...

A couple of lovely souls have purchased items to help out my friend, so I went to the Folksy site this morning to double check that I was sending out the right items.

Imagine my surprise when I found one of my items on the front page!

Get in!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Easy Peasy Beret

This is a really easy hat project; I think it actually takes longer to cut the pattern than it does to make the hat :-)

If you have an old pair of trousers languishing at the back of the wardrobe, why not use the material to make a simple beret.  Suit  material, like tweed, works especially well, without the need for a lining.

Things you'll need:

Old pair of trousers
Matching or contrasting thread
One button

The pattern I've supplied is quite large (I have a lot of hair!) but you can trim it to size if you need to - but make sure that you trim, evenly, all around the pattern and not just the bottom :-)  Each square on the pattern grid should measure 5 mm.

If you're unsure about the size you want, measure right around your head from your forehead to the base of your skull and back; add an inch for seam allowance and then divide by six.  The number you are left with should be the measurement of the base of the pattern.

You'll need to cut six panels from your chosen fabric.

Now, take the first two panels, pin them right sides together and sew, using about an eighth of an inch seam allowance - stopping just before you reach the tip of the panel.

Continue with the other panels until all six panels are attached.

Now we can close the hat up by sewing the last two open sides together, and sewing across the middle point to close up the top.

We can now add the hat band.
(When I first made this project I just assumed all of my initial measurements were correct and didn't bother to double check - needless to say, my band was about two and a half inches too short; so it's best to check the circumference before cutting your material and remember to add about half an inch seam allowance.)

Once you have the correct length you will need to make the band about two inches wide.

We're going to work with the right sides together, so we need to match the raw edges with one another.  There should be a little extra material left over where the two ends of the hat band meet; this needs to sit on one of the seams of the main hat. Pin and sew around the band.

(Remember to use free arm sewing)

Sew a straight seam along the width of the band where the two ends meet.  Trim off any excess.

We can now finish of the main body of the hat!

Turn the hat inside out and and fold the hatband under and pin, leaving enough band showing for it to become a decorative feature.  Sew the band down.  (If you are using quite a heavy fabric, like denim, you may want to press the band before sewing.)

Almost there!

All we need to do now is cover a button, to place in the centre of the hat.  Covering buttons is not a forte of mine, so I don't have much to offer in the way of instruction!  I simply try to gather together as much of the fabric behind the button as possible, and keep sewing until the material seems both taut and secure.

Like this... I think...

Now we can add the button to the hat and voila! Your hat is complete!

really bad lighting, sorry...

Here's another one I made with some simple decorations, made from t-shirt scraps.

Give it a go!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Beautiful Bergamot

I love earl Grey tea, and I can fully understand why Captain Picard drinks so much of it.

So, I decided to mix two of my favourite things and make some Earl Grey Tea cakes.  

I did find a lot of recipes, online, but even the vegan ones had to be modified for people who have sensitivities to wheat and soy (like myself), so this recipe was always going to be a little experimental with new substitutes for original substitutes.

However, even with the tweaking, they turned out great. The texture was light and just moist enough, and the bergamot was nicely balanced with the citrus flavours.

And here's how to make them....

Wet Ingredients
1 cup of rice milk
6 to 8 Earl Grey teabags  (I used two Rooibos Earl Grey made by Dragonfly and four Sainsbury's taste The Difference decaffeinated - I would suggest staying away from cheaper brands as the tannins get released very quickly, leading to a rather bitter taste.)
1/4 cup of flavourless oil (I used sunflower)
1 pot of plain 'Wot No Dairy' dessert by Redwood Foods (this is a substitute for the soy yogurt; if you can eat soy you can use that instead.)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of orange essence
1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Dry Ingredients
2 cups rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds.

Heat the rice milk, on the stove or in a microwave, until it gets close to boiling point.  Add the teabags, cover and remove from the heat.  The tea will have to brew for about ten minutes, so this is the perfect time to pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees or gas mark 6.

Once the tea has brewed, give the bags a good squeeze in order to ensure that you're getting as much flavour from the tea as possible.  Now all the wet ingredients can be mixed together.  

The yogurt substitute will make the mixture a bit lumpy so try to get everything as smooth as possible, at this point, in order to make mixing the dry ingredients easier.

Add the flour gradually, stirring constantly.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

The yield of this mixture was about eighteen cupcakes, or one, average, 9 x 9 cake.  Be sure to grease whatever implement you're pouring the mixture into, including paper cases, if you're using them, as the cakes can be quite sticky once baked.  The cakes rise quite well, so it's best not to fill the cases to the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the 'toothpick test'. If possible, allow the cakes to 'rest' overnight as this really enhances the final flavour.


    Sunday, 4 September 2011

    Another Easy Top

    This is perhaps the easiest top in the world to make.  All you need is a bandana and three pieces of ribbon (or jersey, or decretive cord).  I made a bundle of these in various colours to wear over the summer (which, unfortunately, didn't really materialise in the UK), but they can also be worn over a spaghetti top if you want to add an extra layer.

    You will need:

    One bandana
    matching thread
    Three pieces of 'cord' - one long enough to fit comfortably around your neck and one for each side, long enough to cross over the front of your body (mine worked out to be about 26 inches each).

    We begin by folding down one corner of the bandana.  Pin this in place and press along the fold.

    Leave enough space along the folded edge to insert the drawstring and stitch along the pinned line.

    Now we are going to attach the ties to the sides.  I decided to use jersey as I always have scraps of T-Shirts left over from other projects.  Pin the ties to the wrong side of the bandana and stitch.  Tie the exposed end of the 'cord' in a simple knot to prevent fraying.

    Take the last piece of 'cord', attach a pin to the end and feed it through the channel created at the top of the bandana.  Knot the exposed ends as before and you're done!

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    Accidental Vegan Trifle


    I've been battling a rather annoying head cold (probably brought about by sitting in near arctic conditions at work last Tuesday) which may explain why I did something to a recipe, one that I've used many times before, ( and which follows at the end of this post) to make the results look like this:

    Now, I was actually baking these to take to a WI meeting, and no amount of frosting was going to hide the fact that the cakes had sunk completely.  I had little choice but to bake another batch, paying closer attention to the recipe.

    The second batch turned out fine - but what to do with all the sunken cakes?  They tasted fine, they just weren't very presentable....

    Trifle, maybe?

    The idea of making a vegan trifle had never occurred to me because trifle was never a dessert I felt comfortable with - possibly due to the the clash of textures created by eating cheaper versions of the dessert.  But I had almost twenty of these cupcakes so I had to do something.

    Did I mention that I had a cold?  Well, that's probably why I failed to get any custard powder.  Oops....

    Gotta improvise I guess ;-)

    Take one sad looking sunken cake.

    add two teaspoons of St Dalfour fruit preserve.

    add two dollops of plain 'Wot No Dairy' dessert from Redwood foods,

    and a sprinkling of chocolate chips.



    Now here's the recipe if you want to sink your own cupcakes!


    One and a half cups of rice flour
    Three quarters of a cup of sugar
    One teaspoon of baking powder
    One teaspoon of bicarbinate of soda
    One teaspoon of ground flax seeds

    The juice of four average sized lemons
    One tablespoon of lemon zest
    Three quarters of a cup of flavourless oil (like sunflower)
    Half a cup of rice milk
    One teaspoon of orange essence.

    Pre heat the oven to 250 degrees/ gas mark 6

    Mix the dry ingredients first and create a well in the centre of the mix.

    Mix the wet ingredients.  The resulting mix will look as though it's separating, and your first instinct may be to try and whisk the ingredients to get them to blend.  But, really, don't worry about the whole oil and water thing - just pour the mixture into the well in the dry ingredients.

    At this point you may think your ears are deceiving you - they're not, the mixture is actually fizzing (this is caused by the citric acid in the lemons reacting with the bicarbinate of soda.)

    After the 'fizzing' the mixture is going to look a little weird, like it won't hold together, but keep calm and carry on until the cake mix is at 'dropping' consistency (a healthy spot between the texture of dough and the texture of a smoothie.) 

    Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, or a lightly greased baking tray and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  trust your sense of smell when it comes to the baking time....

    NB They taste even better the day after baking :-)