Thursday, 17 May 2018

Delicious Kefir Berry Shake

How many of you have been watching the many, many television programmes on improving our health? If you have you may have seen Dr. Michael Mosley and others promoting the increasing of good gut bacteria. To do this we need to eat more probiotics and this is best achieved by eating kefir.

Kefir is the new super food that is said to promote good gut health. It is not readily available and when it is it is expensive. Not to say unpleasant to drink. So today I have a way of making kefir delicious. Watch the video and enjoy.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Panzanella, A Taste of Italian Sunshine

The sun is finally shining so today to celebrate the first real sunshine here in the UK, I've decided to post a sunshine salad. This salad is known as panzanella. It appears frequently on Italian recipe web sites but when I told some friends in the village that I was making a panzanella, they told me that they had never heard of it. This is fairly typical of Italian food knowledge. People eat what they were taught to cook by their mothers and grandmothers but don't really look outside that repertoire. What they do cook is excellent so it is hardly surprising that they don't look for anything else. 

The colours of this salad are truly vibrant, but don't expect pretty. It is a mix of all the ingredients so that the flavours mellow and blend together in a bowl of heaven.

I have to admit that I was lucky as everything in this salad came from my garden, so if you are not as lucky, then try to get the ripest tomatoes that you can get your hands on. The quality of the tomatoes will affect the quality of the salad.

I do feel that it not making this salad they are missing out big time. So, if you want to join me in a bowl of delicious and dare I say it, healthy eating this is what you need to do.

  • 1 red onion that has been soaked in wine vinegar. This will soften it and make it less harsh.
  • 3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes. I used the cuore di bue which are the size of my hand. 3 of these will weigh about a kg. So aim for that.
  • 3 small European type cucumber. These will need to be peeled as they have a spiky skin. Failing these use 1 hot house cucumber.
  • a large handful of stale bread cut into chunks.
  • a bunch of basil torn up.
  • olive oil
  • wine vinegar
Begin by slicing the onion thinly and soaking it in vinegar for at least an hour. Drain and keep to add to the salad.
Toast the bread for about 10 minutes in a medium oven. You are looking to dry stout so that it will absorb the dressing and the juices from the salad.
Make a dressing from 1 part vinegar and 4 parts olive oil. If you have some dijon mustard you can add that. I usually have this made up in a jar so I can't give you precise amounts. Just add enough to coat the ingredients. 
Cut everything else, except the basil, into chunks.
Put into a bowl and add the slices of onion, the dressing and finally the the basil torn up into pieces. Toss it all. Leave for about 10 minutes for the bread to absorb the dressing. 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Pearls never go out of fashion.

Today's cards is on a Pearl theme.  I thought that this card of the lovely stamp Champagne Pearl was perfect.

The card is made with a fab stamp from I Brake For Stamps and you can get her by clicking the title  below:

Pearl and Champagne

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Amethyst beaded necklace

Amethyst Necklace with a twist. A spiral rope necklace in fact.

I have some beautiful large silverlined glass beads. They are lentil shaped which means that they are discs with a dome shape in the middle. I also have the Silver Colour Scarf Tube Pendant x 2, which I used to hang the pendant.

Now, I'm not pretending that this was quick to make as it was not. The rope will take a couple of evenings but, when that's done, the rest is a breeze and the effect is stunning.

If you are interested I can make up a kit for you at the cost of £10. This will include everything except the fireline and needle.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Book Review: How to Lose Weight Well

Book Review: How to Lose Weight Well

Some of you that follow this blog will know that from time to time I review a book. Today's victim is

How to Lose Weight Well by Xand van Tulleken

You may well have seen the highly amusing television programme that was broadcast last month. Just about everyone lost weight on the variety of diets that they tried. This book is not about that, it is about the diet that Van Tulleken has devised with the help of a nutritionalist.

The preamble to the book is well written and it is easy to understand his reasoning behind weight loss and his own battle with being over weight.

The recipes that he publishes in his book are interesting and tasty with a big emphasis on vegetables. This is perfect for me as I tend to eat more veg than fruit. So far so good.

What I didn't like so much was the choice of three diet plans that are on offer in the book. Basically it is the same amount of food split between the three main meals of the day. You  either eat three meals, two meals or one meal. The amount of food doesn't change just the portions at each meal time. 

If you want a diet that will see you dropping fat at a fast rate then this is perfect for you. I only want to lose three kilograms so I can't say that it is for me. I will use some of the recipes though. The aubergine recipe is fantastic.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Make your own non dissolving dusting sugar

So you want to dust a cake with icing sugar. You do so, and much to your disappointment within an hour or so, sometimes even less the sugar dissolves and that beautiful finish has disappeared. Why doesn't this happen to the same cakes that are on display in the local bakery? 

This is an easy question to answer. In the bakeries they don't use icing sugar. What they use looks like icing sugar but it's a mixture of dextrose, cornflour, vegetable oil and flavourings. The important thing to know about it is that it is non-hydrating.

How does this happen? Here's the science for you. 

The sugar particles are coated in the vegetable oil so the moisture can't get at them. It's as simple as that. The use of dextrose instead of sucrose also helps as it is a finer and less sweet sugar. That's why those sugar coated doughnuts don't taste overly sweet.

Now we reach the second problem. This dusting sugar is not widely available in the UK. It can be bought from bakery supplies if they will sell it to you but it comes in 12.5kg bags. Far too much for the home baker to use. 

So what is there to do? 

The solution is fairly simple. Instead of using the above list of ingredients you can coat the sugar in melted cocoa butter. To give the sugar a delicate flavour of vanilla use some vanilla extract in the melted cocoa butter. 

You will need a food processor to make the dusting sugar, but at a push you could do it with your finger tips. It is less messy and more efficient in the food processor.

To make your dusting sugar:

10g cocoa butter, melted. 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dextrose
50g icing sugar

If you don't have dextrose and it is fairly easy to get from Amazon. See this link then you can use all icing sugar. It will be sweet.


Melt the cocoa butter. I did this by putting the cocoa butter in a small bowl and placing it in a larger dish that contained boiling water. it didn't seem to like the microwave method of melting chocolate. It will only  take a couple of minuted to melt. Add the vanilla to the melted butter.

Put the dextrose and sugar mixture into the bowl of the food processor and switch on. Pour the cocoa butter in through the feeding tube. It will mix into the sugar. If any of the butter collects on the base of the bowl then give it a stir and pulse again. Repeat this until all of the cocoa butter has been absorbed. It will not be pure white as the vanilla will colour it slightly. You won't notice this when it's on the cake.

Your dusting sugar is now ready. Store in an air tight jar until ready to use.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

It's a stamp! Tree stamp painting

What a fabulous day we've had today. The family came to lunch which I got on the table without mishap. I even made sure to make too much so that there would be some left for tomorrow.  Can't get any better really. 

So, I now have time to make a card.  I've chosen to use the tree from 'I Brake for Stamps' as my new stamp. I've not used it before despite the stamp sheet being a really popular one. Silly me then, is all that I can say.

Just love tree stamps

One of the special things about this stamp is that it can be coloured straight onto the stamp. To get the two or even three tone effect on the tree you will need to use at least three pens. I used the Kuretake, Zig Art and Graphic pens in colours 57, 55 and 49. These are available from me.

Please leave a message if you want them.

The star of the show, the tree stamp is from the Trees Plate 3, sheet below and it is the one featured in Craft Stamper too.

Last but not least is the ribbon which is the 9cm saddle stitch which is a recent addition to the huge ribbon range that I will link to on eBay.