Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pork Pie

I've tried making a raised pork pie in the past - lots of fiddling round moulding hot water crust pastry around a jar, then the inevitable collapse when the filling was packed in - too much faff for me. So when I saw a pork pie tin in my local branch of Lakeland I thought I'd treat myself and give it a try.

Being moulded to the inside of the tin, and them baked in it, the collapsing problem is eliminated. Problem solved.

I followed the recipe  provided with the tin, which uses a pastry made by melting lard in milk and then cooling it, much easier to handle than the traditional hot water crust. The filling is made by dicing pork (they suggest an equal mixture of fat and lean, so I used cheap shoulder steaks that I would have found too fatty for grilling) and bacon and mixing them with thyme, cayenne pepper and salt. It looked like a lot of filling, but packed firmly, it filled the tin perfectly level with the top.

After baking and cooling, jellied stock is poured through the hole in the top. They suggest either making pork stock or using ham stock with gelatine, but as I had some rather fine home made chicken stock I set that with gelatine instead.

I must say, it's the finest looking pie I've ever produced - and it tasted delicious too. Now I've tried it out using the "official" recipe I'll be doing some experimenting with it.

I'm joining in with #CookBlogShare - ooh, and I really must try that carrot and lentil tabbouleh that's featured there this week!

Monday, 28 July 2014



This week's code word at Addicted to CAS is Celebrate

I've used a Hot Off The Press stamp (you'll probably recognise it, it was part of a very popular QVC kit a few years ago) for the word. The tiny star stamp is an anonymous unmounted stamp I found in the bottom of my Christmas bits box.  

Pink and purple


I know that pink and purple are a lot of crafters' favourite colours, but they are not really "me" at all. Which is why I've had a lovely piece of purple corrugated card hanging around for absolutely YEARS. I've kept saying to myself that I should use it, but nothing ever made me want to go quite purple enough. Until I saw this week's photo inspiration at Addicted to Stamps and More

So I went to grab my lovely piece of card, I went straight to the place where it lives - and it wasn't there. I have turned my card storage boxes out and searched thoroughly but there's no sign of it. Either I've used it without noticing or it's been eaten by a poltergeist. I reckon the latter is more likely.
But never mind, it gave me a chance to play with my new set of Spellbinders tag dies, and to dig out a very old and much-loved Linda Luckin stamp to go with it. I stamped the image once onto the card and again onto scrap card to cut out the images to add to the tag. It was gloomy this morning and I had to use flash, which has given the purple card a reddish tinge - actually it's almost exactly the same shade of purple as the tiny flowers!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

More food, glorious food

Here is the second food-inspired card I made today. This time is isn't a Christmas card! I've used an image and paper from the Joanna Sheen "Viva la Diva" CD. I've had this CD for several years and only used it a handful of times. I find it quite difficult to be creative with it, because each image speaks so clearly for itself that really all they need is to be printed out and stuck on the front of a card. However by using a second image to create a 3-D decoupage effect and making the card into a stepper card (my Hougie board is having a busy weekend!) , I think I've managed to inject a personal touch into the card.

This is my second card for the Food, Glorious Food challenge at CD Sundays, and I am also joining the Fruit and Veg challenge at Oldie But A Goodie as the CD is several years old.

Food Glorious Food

This week at CD Sundays the challenge is Food Glorious Food. I spent a lovely morning browsing through my CDs and finally narrowed it down to two designs that I wanted to use. I really couldn't decide between them so I printed out both and have made two cards.

Here is the first - sticking with my current Christmas card making craze, I used a topper and papers from the La Pashe CD "Christmas with the Wrinklies". The drumstick "embellishments" were cut from the paper that I used for the inside. Custom-sized gatefold cards are an absolute doddle to make with a Hougie board!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Another Christmas card

It's been so hot and steamy here, I think my urge to make Christmas cards has come from a need to think about cold, frosty mornings!

I'm not sure why robins are so closely associated with Christmas - the one in charge of our garden is around all day and has been ordering us around as usual today. But here are some robins I've made into a Christmas card, using a stamp that was a cover mount on a craft magazine a couple of years ago. The lines are added with a gel pen, the pom poms with Liquid Pearls and the fur trims with glitter glue.

I'm joining in with:

Less is More - Anything Goes  (I really think I should have done a birthday card this week as it's Chrissie's birthday, but my crafting head is firmly buried in the snow!)
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Cute

Tobogganing fun

Another card made mostly from rummaging in my bits box - the image is one I printed out from a magazine CD last Christmas time and the background paper is from a Hot Off The Press Christmas kit from years ago. The pine cones and branches are cut and embossed with a Spellbinders die.

I'm joining in

Christmas Cards All Year Round - non-traditional colours
Winter Wonderland - On The Move
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Cute
Crafty Hazelnut's Patterned Paper Challenge - July

Rummaging in the bits box

Every year I tell myself that I don't need to buy any new Christmas craft stash, and every year I give in and buy some. And whatever I buy, there always seems to be some of it left, so I have a lovely festive bits box to rummage in when I'm looking for inspiration. And that means I had lots of things to play with for the current Clear It Out Challenge - Christmas in July using Glittery, Sparkly things from stash.

Some of the elements of this card must have been lurking in that box for over 10 years!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Vintage Christmas

As you can see from my other posts today, I've had a bit of a break from making Christmas cards, but despite the heatwave I'm knuckling down to it again, with yet another card made with the Joanna Sheen papers from last year's Making Cards Christmas Special.

I thought in those days Santa was supposed to wear green, wasn't he? Or is the whole Coca Cola thing an urban myth?

I'm joining in with the challenge at Ooh La La Creations which this week is Vintage.

Bread Machine Juniper and Thyme bread

It's really too hot and muggy to spend long in the kitchen at the moment, but thanks to the breads machine I can have lovely fresh, summery tasting bread without spending hours mixing and kneading.  You could bake this in the bread machine instead of just mixing it in it, but I like the flatter, almost focaccia-like shape that finishing it in the oven produces - and I like the opportunity to top it with olive oil and salt.

You will need:

275 ml water
500g strong plain flour
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 sachet (about 1½ tsp) easy blend yeast
a large handful of fresh thyme, woody stalks removed and coarsely chopped
2 tbs juniper berries, coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle

plus olive oil and salt flakes to finish.

Place your ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended for your machine - mine starts with the liquid and ends with the yeast, but they vary. Set it to the dough setting and start the machine, checking after 10 minutes or so to make sure the dough looks to be a good texture, and adding water or flour if needed.

Prepare a baking tin by lightly greasing it. The tin I used is approx. 25cm x 20cm and 5cm deep.

When the dough is ready, tip it into the prepared tin and punch it down with your knuckles, spreading it over the tin at the same time until it fills the tin roughly evenly, with lots of knuckle indentations on the top. Drizzle olive oil over the top, allowing a little to pool in the indentations, then sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Cover with oiled cling film and leave for about 45 minutes until risen and puffy.

Preheat the oven to 230C (fan 210C), 450F, gas mark 8. When the dough is ready and the oven hot, bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from the tin and check for doneness - you should hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. If not done, place back in the oven without the tin for another 5 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, brushing with a little more olive oil while still hot.

I'm joining in with Cooking With Herbs at Lavender and Lovage

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
And #CookBlogShare at Supergoldenbakes

Suits you, sir!

This week at Cards 4 Guyz it's a sketch challenge using this great sketch which I think I'll find I revisit many times in the future.

I've used papers, buttons and decoupage from the Papermania "Heritage Press" collection to create my take on the sketch


Spots and stripes (and flowers and a butterfly!)

This butterfly card is made using papers and embellishments from the gorgeous Dovecraft "Curiosity Corner" collection - you may remember that earlier this year I won a bumper bundle of goodies from the range, and while the bundle is dwindling fast because I love it so much, there's still plenty to play with.

The butterfly itself is part of a selection of embellishments I bought from a jewellery making website - they often have beautiful metallic embellishments at much lower prices than similar things sold as card making supplies!

I'm joining in with The Butterfly Challenge - #11 Spots and Stripes

Singin' in the Rain

this week the theme at Less is More is Singin' in the Rain . This makes me very annoyed with myself, as only last week I saw a really lovely umbrella die that would have been perfect for the job, and I was extraordinarily noble and resisted temptation. The moral of this tale is - temptation is there for a purpose and needs to be listened to!

So I had to think of some other way to represent rain, and pair it with a die cut musical staff. I decided to use Glossy Accents to make a shower of rain drops. Glossy Accents bottles and I really do NOT get on with each other and my "raindrop" background caused a lot of grumpy language! And then of course being clear, it was hard to make the raindrops show up on the photo!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Too-whit too-whooooo

This week's photo at {PIN}spirational challenges is this beautiful wide-eyed owl

His huge eyes reminded me of the owl stamp that was free in the very last issue of Get Stamping magazine, so I whipped up this quick card using the stamp and picking up the colours of the photo with scraps from my stash

Sunday, 20 July 2014

At the beach

This week's challenge at Cards 4 Guyz is At The Beach. Very appropriate with the scorching hot weather we are having at the moment!

For this card I have used a decoupage sheet from the La Pashe CD "Something for everyone". The "underwater" background paper is from an Anna Griffin mat pad that I've had for years, and the sea urchin and cockle shell are cut from another page of the same pad.

I forgot to photograph the inside but I've decorated it to co-ordinate with the card front.

Bottom of the fridge "minestrone"

There's something very satisfying about conjuring up a tasty meal out of next to nothing, and if you have a scavenge round the bottom of your fridge, you're almost certain to come up with a few veg that have seen better days, or maybe are individually not quite enough to make into a meal. And that's where soups come in. I always think soup is one of those dishes where the sum is greater than the parts - all kinds of unpromising ingredients can be magically transformed when they are made into soup.

I suppose technically this should be called "minestra" rather than minestrone, because there's no bacon or ham in it. Call it what you will, it's a delicious way to clear out the fridge!

You will need (for 4 servings)

1 onion
1 tbs light olive oil
an assortment of odds and ends of veg - I used a few sprigs each of broccoli and cauliflower,  half a dozen green beans, a carrot and a few celery leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes OR 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs tomato purée
a sprinkling of fresh or dried herbs - I used oregano and herbes de provence
a handful of small pasta shapes.  I used macaroni, but you could use broken spaghetti or those cartoon character shapes the kids pestered for and then wouldn't eat.
grated Parmesan to serve

Finely chop the onion and fry it gently in the oil until soft. As it cooks, start to prepare the other veg, chopping them into spoonable sized pieces and stirring them into the onion as you go. Start with the slowest cooking ones, so in my  case the carrots, and add each one to the pot as it is ready, mixing well each time. Stir in the garlic and herbs and mix well.

Now add the tinned tomatoes and two empty tins full of water OR the fresh tomatoes and a litre of water, stir in the tomato purée, taste and season. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring in the pasta 10-15 minutes (check your pasta pack for cooking time) before the end of cooking.

Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan

I'm joining in with No Waste Food Challenge at Elizabeth's Kitchen and Anne's Kitchen

Credit Crunch Munch which this month is hosted by Maison Cupcake  with Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

Extra Veg which this month is hosted by Juggle Mum with Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food For Families

No Croutons Required at Lisa's Kitchen with Tinned Tomatoes

The School Run

For many parents in the UK, school term has just ended or is about to end - and that means a few weeks away from the school run. So I thought I'd share a couple of my La Pashe DT cards to celebrate! They are both made with papers and decoupage from the CD Flippin' Families.

The first is made using acetate, with each piece backed on the reverse of the acetate with an identical sized piece of plain card. This hides all the adhesive and gives the sender somewhere to write!

The second is meant to look as if the viewer is looking out through a car windscreen. The card is a black aperture card, with an acetate "window" and I cut the traffic light motif out twice from one of the backing papers and stuck them back to back with a little gold thread in between, sticking it to the top of the window to look like one of those popular traffic light shaped car air fresheners.

I'm sharing the End of Term sigh of relief with Make My Monday.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A blue Christmas

I've made a few more Christmas cards this week - I'm working my way through some of the projects in last year's Making Cards Christmas Special to try to kick start my crafting mojo, which is still pretty sluggish after last week's dose of flu. The designs are all from Joanna Sheen and the real beauty of the magazine is that I have a matching CD, so that if I want extras of any of the cards and papers, or want to print them on a different weight of paper or card, or on acetate or vellum, I can do so.

I'm joining in with:

Winter Wonderland - Blue Christmas
Alphabet Challenge Blog - L is for Lace
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra - July 2014  
CHNC challenge 186 - Layer It Up

Thursday, 17 July 2014


This is a bit of a fridge-dive recipe, and while it is by no means an authentic paella it has a very Spanish taste and feel to it - it's paells-ish with a hint of risotto  - hence Paellish!

There were all sorts of bits and pieces in the fridge: a few mini chorizo sausages left over from Mark's Pork and Beans,  the scraps of a roast chicken, picked off the carcase, stock made with the carcase, a couple of tired tomatoes and a handful of fresh peas.

It didn't take much to turn them into this:

Ingredients (to serve 3)

1 medium onion
2 tbs olive oil
175g paella rice (see note)
500 ml chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon mild smoked paprika
a pinch of saffron strands
6 miniature chorizo sausages, halved diagonally, or about 80g piece of chorizo, cut into chunks
about 120g left over roast chicken, or 1 uncooked raw chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
about 75g each of any or all of peas, broad beans and green beans, fresh or frozen. If using green beans, cut them into 2-3 cm lengths

Heat the oil  n a wide, shallow pan with a lid and gently fry the onion until soft. If your chicken and/or chorizo is uncooked, add it and continue frying for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, mix well then stir in the paprika, saffron and garlic. Cook for another minute and then add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and all the liquid absorbed. Add cooked chicken  and chorizo, if using, and fresh peas and beans after 10 minutes simmering and frozen ones, along with the tomatoes, after 15 minutes. If you prefer a dryer dish, remove the lid and increase the heat for the last few minutes.

Taste, season and serve with a plain green salad.

Note- paella rice is a short grain rice and is becoming quite readily available in supermarkets, but if you can't get hold of it, any risotto rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli would work. But if you are on a budget, these specialist rices can seem expensive, especially when you are thinking of using them in a "finishing up bits and pieces" meal. Have you ever tried using pudding rice instead? It's very much cheaper and is often just a mixture of lower grade and broken grains from the premium risotto and paella rices. I've used it in savoury dishes many times with great success. The broken grains can make the rice a little starchier, but sometimes in a risotto that helps you to get a nice creamy texture!

This my dish for #CookBlogShare this week