Sunday, 21 January 2018

Marmalade 2018 - a bumper year.

The arrival of Seville oranges must be one of the few seasonal food events left to us who live in the world of strawberries in December.  I couldn't wait for them to arrive this year as my supply was well and truly depleted.  Not a spoonful left to glorify my morning toast or add to my favourite fruit cake. That said they did sit in my fridge for a few days as you really need time to make marmalade.  It can't be thrown together in minutes. Marmalade requires time to prep all of the ingredients but once that is done it can be switched on and left to its own devices for a couple of hours.

This year my lovely granddaughter will be joining me to make the marmalade. She has requested a finer cut to the peel so she will have to roll up her sleeves and help. I won't refuse her.

Out comes the fruit juicer and we are away.

To make a lip puckering marmalade and why make anything else, you will need:

1kg of Seville oranges. Make sure that they are fresh as the fresher the oranges the easier it is to get the marmalade to set.

1.9kg sugar.

The juice of 1 lemon

2 Lt water.

You will need at least 6 jam jars. If they are small you will need more. They should be sterilised. I do mine by washing them in the dishwasher just before I need them.

Now comes the fun and this is why help is appreciated.

Cut the oranges in half and juice. Remove the pips and pith and pour into a bowl. The rinds should be sliced thinly, only you will know how thick you like your rind. This will take a while, but while one person juices the other can slice. Add the rind to the water along with the juice of the fruits and bring gently to the boil. This will simmer for 2 hours. It really does need this as it takes that long for the rind to soften.

Now, convention would have it that the pith and pips should be put into a cheese cloth tied with string and then added to the boiling marmalade. When this is cooked the bag is squeezed to get out the pectin which is a thick gel that oozes out of the bag. Well blow that. I put my pips and pith together with about half a pint of the water from the 2lt into a microwave bowl and cooked until mushy. This may take a few minutes. It depends on your machine. Put the resulting mush into a fine sieve and, using a large spoon, push as much as you can through the sieve. You will see the pectin coming out with ease. Scrape the pectin off the bottom of the sieve. If it gets to be too thick, take a ladle of the hot liquid from the pot, avoid the rind, and pour onto the sieve. Stir and push again. You get the idea I'm, sure. When you have removed as much pectin as possible give it  a good stir and whisk into the boiling marmalade. Allow it to finish its 2 hour simmer.

Put a side plate in the fridge to cool.

Now add the sugar and mix to dissolve. Bring the marmalade up to the boil and, if you can do it, a good rolling boil. No namby pamby simmering needed here. You really need to get up to a temperature of about 105C. This is the setting point of most jams. However, any time from 99C on you can test for setting. Do this by putting a spoonful on a cold plate, put the plate in the fridge and when cool the jam is ready if the jam on the plate wrinkles when pushed with your finger. It is a good idea to switch the jam off while you do this other wise it may over cook.

Ladle the marmalade into the jars. Screw the tops on firmly and turn upside down. this will help prevent the jam from going off. Leave to cool and when cool get out the toaster and enjoy.

Hearts for Valentine's Day

Just love making and designing these felt hearts.

I've decided that resistance is futile. I love making these hearts. It really can't be denied. Every evening I make another. You may wonder why I need so many?  I intend to have a bunting of felt hearts. So I have a reason. Well, that's the one that I'm using and I'm sticking to it.

Here's the latest:

If you want to see the hearts on display then please come and find the stand.

I used:

Baby Pink Felt Hearts 7.5cm wide, 30% Wool Blend x 6
1.5cm White Pointed Edge Cotton Lace x 2 metres
Light Orchid Satin Swiss Dot Ribbon, 3m x 6mm
Glass Seed Beads, Ceylon Round, Pink, about 3mm, hole:1mm 6cm tube
Light Orchid Satin Edged ChiffonRibbon, 2m x 25mm

Saturday, 20 January 2018

How to make a bow

Did anyone think that I could give up Craft Fairy and give up crafting at the same time?

All of my friends and followers know that I could never give up crafting. Craft Fairy grew out of my love for craft rather than the other way around so I have to have some project or the other on the go.

If you want to know what I do when 'watching' the television then ponder no more because this is what I did yesterday evening. I made a dozen of these in an hour. That didn't include the cutting of the ribbon but quite honestly that took about 5 minutes and my full attention. Scissors and looking in the opposite direction don't mix. ouch!

The Bows will make a perfect Christmas stocking filler if they are added to hair clips and that's what I intend doing with them.

So do you want to know how to make them? I've made a video clip here for you so that the mistery is unravelled and you'll be surprised at how quickly and easily they are made. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Just add lace to make a distinctive bag

From this

To this with a little lace, a few buttons and some ribbon.

Getting from one bag to the other was a joy as I was working with such beautiful materials.
I chose one of the new cotton laces:
50mm Cotton Lace Natural x 1 metre
Some of the baby pink buttons:

Baby Pink Mixed Buttons for sewing and craft, 50g

Some ivory and Sherbet 16mm satin:
16mm satins here 
Some 3mm satin
3mm satin

Of course I also used one of the pink bags.
Small jute shopper

The pictures below are fairly self explanatory:

Start by putting a strip of double sided tape across the top of the bag. About a third of the way down is good.

 Then cut a piece of lace to fit with just a little to turn at the edges and stick to the double sided tape.

Add another layer of tape to the top of the lace and then stick the ribbon to the lace. Turn the raw edges so that they are hidden.

Now sew on the buttons, leave room to add the rose.

If you look at the finished bag, I also decided that a few dangly bits would look good so I tied buttons to the middle of about 5 pieces of 3mm ribbon and then sewed them to the bag before I sewed on the rose.

I hope that you have enjoyed this as much as I have. In fact, I think that I like this so much, I will use it rather than keeping it as a demo piece for the shows.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Left Over Mincemeat?

Left over mincemeat? Never in out house so I made mincemeat especially for this.

Mincemeat and apple streusel, what could be more comforting? Perhaps the addition of a big bowl of softly whipped cream or a jug of steaming yellow custard.

Without further ado I will give you the recipe as I know that this is a cake that you will want to make immediately.

175g self raising flour
125g sugar
1 egg
125g unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced
Half a jar of mincemeat, better if it is homemade.
Crumble about 6 digestive biscuits.

1 baking tin approx 18cm x 27cm. It will not be a problem if it is slightly larger or smaller. Not too much though.

Heat the oven to C160 fan or C170 top and bottom heat.

Put the butter, sugar and egg in a largish bowl and beat well to combine. No need to cream really as this is not going to be a sponge.
Fold in the flour to make a fairly stiff mixture. Sort of half wak between a sponge and pastry.
Spoon into a  buttered baking tin. Smooth out with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
Top with spoonfulls of mincemeat and then with slices of apple. Finally top with the crumbled biscuits.
Cook for about 40 minutes. Check with the point of a knife, if it is not cooked then leave to cook for a few more minutes.
Leave to cool and cut into slices to serve.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Christmas Italian Style

In our house, as in many Italian houses we will be having a pasta course of annolini in brodo. They are small pasta parcels that are filled with a fantastic mixture of stracotto and cheese which is an intense and wonderful flavour.

These have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact a Christmas meal would not be the same without them.
I am not going to pretend that they are not labour intensive as they are, but like the tortelli they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until needed.

First of all you will need to make the stracotto which translates as over cooked or extra cooked.
Start off with a good size piece of brisket. No need to worry if you have too much as you can eat the extras and enjoy every mouthful. You will need at least 1 kilogramme.

1 large onion.
2 or 3 cloves of garlic. It all depends on how big they are. they will cook for ages and the taste will mellow while they cook so don't skimp.
1 carrot.
1 stalk of celery.
1 Knorr stock cube. I bring mine back from Italy and I use gusto classico. It has a good flavour and does not fight with the flavour of the meat.
250g butter. Yes, that much.
A couple of glasses of white wine.

What you will need to do:
Fry the meat in a little butter, add the onions and continue to fry gently until the mixture is brown.

Add the carrot which you have peeled and cut in half along with the the halved celery.

Pour over the wine and add the garlic and stock cube.

Simmer gently and I do mean gently for about 5 hours. If you have the oven on low then it will sit quite happily in a very low onen for the same time.
It will be ready when it falls apart.

To make the filling you will need these extra ingredients.
Parmesan cheese Use as much as you think that you need. I generally tase mine and see. the cheese also tends to dry the filling so if you think that your filling is too wet add more cheese.
2 to 3 eggs
Fresh breadcrumbs

Make the pasta in the same way that I described in the Tortelli section and
These will fill us so much that the turkey course that follows will be picked at rather than devoured.

Blue for Christmas

This is a memory from an earlier blog post. Now that Craft Fairy and I are no longer an item, I have removed the links to the products.

However, I still have the stamps so message me if you want them!!!

I've made a lot of red and green cards lately and this challenge was very welcome. I have also decided that this card is going to be the one that I send out to my nearest and dearest. So to anyone that reads my blog, and doesn't get one of these handmade jobbies you know why.

Materials used
Trees plate 
Blue satin swiss dot ribbon 3mm
Buttons from the pack of mixed buttons
Art anfdGraphic pens from Zig Kuretake in number 3