Sunday, 13 March 2016

Work, stitch, bake, oh no - and eat!

This blog is going to be about baking and stitching - which is the only thing I seem to be doing apart from working (when will my numbers come up????). It's my double busy time of year at work with the new budgets coming in - woefully small in comparison with Tony's Blair's budgets where we were awash with grants and initiatives. Education, education, education has been replaced with squeeze, cut and more squeeze. Hey ho - that's the work bit over.  Work is what makes the other bits possible!

So stitch -
I finished this over half term
It has a fleecy backing which was actually very tough on the hands to stitch. The pattern above is around the border but you can't really see it on the busy front.
I love the bit when you are sewing the binding down - it's like watching one of your babies come of age.
Hilary organised a sewing day to 'Dress a Girl around the World'. These two dresses took about four hours to make and are part of batch which High Street Quilting customers have made for the project. You'll need to scroll down a bit (just slowly so that you can see all that lovely fabric and all those beautiful quilts people are making). We used the extra day (February 29th) to do the dresses but I loved doing them so I'll definitely be making more. There are different patterns to choose. Just in case anyone thinks that dressing a girl is gender biased - I'm just a drop in the 're-dressing the balance ocean' on this, but my little bit goes to make the whole. It's so easy to be lulled into a false sense of security living in a place like Britain where women have equal rights and opportunities - but don't get me started on that, anyway the charity does shorts as well as dresses.

I've layered two UFO quilt tops:
The first one is all batiks (apart from the backing) and the second one is all homespun plaids.
Not everyone likes the effect of homespun plaids because the stripes and checks never match but I love that rustic look. The plaid quilt was a collaborative done at work - it's just taken me a long time to get round to it! All three quilts are destined for Quilts for Comfort, together with one I made for a sample for a pattern.
I love making the quilts and when you have a house full of them it's nice to know that you can still make them for someone else.

Baking! Lots of baking!

During the half term break when I had more time I thought I'd make some choux pastry:
 Some 'oreo' biscuits
and some Victoria Sandwich hexagons made from some mix that didn't rise enough to call a cake!
I bought a little Mary Berry cookbook from the book man at work.  All the hype about Mary Berry on the television as Queen of Baking hasn't yet stacked up when I've used this book.  I made Coffee Fudge Squares - the cake was sooo dry, as was the topping which I had to slacken off with some water,
Then I made Viennese whirls
and had to add half as much butter again because they were too stiff to pipe - I could have rolled the mixture out! Back to my trusty BeRo book I think.

For Mother's Day we got together for Afternoon tea - I made some Macarons using Swiss Meringue

and some chocolate orange cake - I weigh the eggs and use the same weight of sugar, margarine or butter (margarine makes a lighter cake) and flour.  My eggs are all different sizes so this is the most accurate way to do it.
I also add yoghurt or sour cream to the mix - I can't tell you how much though - maybe a dessert spoon per egg.
 and then the different flavourings - this was orange rind and zest
I took some of the mix out before I added the orange to make Rose and Pistachio cupcakes.
The icing was made with a thick white sauce as the base which is allowed to cool and then beaten together with a little softened butter and icing sugar.  It is not too sweet and very light - like American Frosting. I haven't got pictures of the finished article though - I'll explain later.
Then baked the rest into a full sized cake with chocolate orange ganache.
Mini cheese scones
Mini Sausage Rolls and 'Tartes Tomates'
Making millionaire's shortbread - I make a base with the ingredients for shortbread but just press that into the baking tin, then refrigerate for a short time - no rolling makes a crisp but tender base.
The toffee layer goes on next - this was a bit firmer than I usually make as I took my eye off the caramel for a few seconds, luckily it hadn't turned bitter.
and then the chocolate goes on top of that when it's set - no picture of the final article for the same reason as the rose and pistachio cupcakes. Everyone arrived as I was putting the finishing touches to the sweet things and I didn't like to take pictures when they were all there.  We all pitched in to make cucumber sandwiches and some ham and mustard sandwiches too.  A lovely pot of Orange Pekoe tea (I save this for special occasions) and some chilled Prosecco washed everything down.  We decided to do it all again for Father's Day!

In all this activity there has been no crocheting but that will change next Friday night. We have our Annual All night 5-a-side football match at school for Sport Relief.  I am the night nanny - I make sure the teams of players actually rest between sessions.  No kicking footballs about for me!  Crochet can be done in lower light then quilting so I'll be in the quiet room hooking up a storm.

Now (all chores except ironing being done) I'm going to watch a bit of rugby and catch up on the stuff I've recorded to watch when I'm awake!  I've done some work in the garden while the weather is nice, and feel better for the fresh air - the weather is lovely today - but now it is time to stitch again.

Until next time. xxx

1 comment:

  1. W-O-W!!!! You are a baking machine Brendie! Can I come too your house for tea? My mouth was watering reading your post. Those Cheese scones did it for me.
    The quilts are so beautiful too.
    Well done, I really don't know how you manage to squeeze all these lovely crafty things into your day xx