Monday, 29 October 2012

Dilemma

Tried and trusted, potentially disappointing. Or new, exciting, potentially devastating?

Eek.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Attention!

The two hour stitch challenge.. Royal Guard in felted frame with magnet back :)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Charity Shop Find

Took a stroll around the charity shops in my local town today and managed to pick up this little beauty - a set of 3 utility mixing bowls, I really only wanted the largest one with a duck egg blue rim but I think the two smaller ones will be good for making dough and baked eggs. And the damage? a purse busting £3.30! (All going to a good cause) Result!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Why shouldn't I work for the National Security Agency

Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people that I never met and that I never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Send in the marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the schrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure, fuck it, while I'm at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Simply Italian - Pasta Making

After discovering Michela Chiappa's Simply Italian programme at 3am on 4OD I became obsessed with the idea that I too could be an authentic italian chef. Michela makes everything look so neat and easy and trouble free that I couldn't not give something a go and Pasta was first on my list to try.
 
 
 
The basics of pasta making are really easy to remember and there are 3 golden rules.
1) 100g of '00' grade flour and 1 egg per person (you can use plain baking flour but 00 flour is much finer and therefore easier to work with)
2) If your mixture is too dry, add olive oil and knead - repeat until it combines. If your mixture is too wet add flour
3) Never use flour to stop the pasta sticking to your work surface, it will make the dough too dry and will also make the end result pasta taste odd.
 
So starting with your 100g of flour tip into a mountain shape onto a dry wooden board. (It's really handy to find a cup or mug that you know is 100g so you don't have to measure each time)
 
 
 
 
Make a well in your mountain (so it looks like a volcano!) and crack one egg into the hole.
 
 
 
Sprinkle salt over the egg and then using a fork mix the egg with the flour and once it's mostly combined get your hands dirty and start to combine and knead. This is the only difficult part, it's tricky to get the mixture not too wet and not too dry, I found the key here to be the egg - it needs to be a really fresh, and very large egg. If you only have small eggs do not make pasta!
 
The difference is quite drastic, my first attempt with a small egg is on the left, it was too dry so I added oil (you can see its much yellower as a result) and then the dough wouldn't combine and just crumbled, the second attempt on the right was with a large egg and it worked perfectly!
 
 
Once your dough is combined cover with clingfilm and rest for 30 minutes.
 
Once rested, squish the dough out so it's flat and then with your rolling pin work the dough so it's about the thickness of 1-2 playing cards. Remember, do not flour the board or the rolling pin!
 
 
Once the right thickness, use a knife or pastry cutter if you have one to cut small rectangles (this is for farfalle, if making another type of pasta, cut to the corresponding shape!)
 
 
 
 
Get your rectangle and pinch the top and bottom sides together to make a bow shape..
 
 
 
Put your bows to one side and leave to dry for 15 minutes. Michela recommends using semolina to stop them sticking, I didn't have any so just left them as they were and they were fine!
 
 
 
Once dried you can either cook immediately or store in an airtight container for upto 2 months.
I cooked mine straight away, 1 litre of salted boiling water for 5 minutes..
 
 
 
In summary; it was good fun and i'm pleased I did it, but I only would make pasta again for a special occasion. It was just too time-consuming! But thank you Michela for the inspiration and I will be making more of your recipes soon.
 
 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Lunch

Visited my local (although I live nowhere near it) The Royal Oak at Bishopstone for lunch today. I had two Gin and Lemonades, BBQ & Mustard short ribs with blue cheese dressing and triple cooked potato wedges. Followed by Poppyseed Cake with Lemon Curd which was DELICIOUS and I really want to try and make it at home, luckily my sisters boyfriend is the pastry chef so I might be allowed the recipe! :)

the hardest part of baking

Is deciding which mixing bowl to use...

81 days

and counting..
I've got 16 Stockings, multiple decorations, and dozens of cards all to make. I always say I will make these things and more but this year I am determined - wherever possible gifts will not be brought! Home-made presets are so much more thoughtful and personable and everyone I choose to give a gift to this Christmas deserves to have some time and effort put into it. Just a little concerned that 81 days may not be long enough...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My week in Instagrams

A little slow on the uptake but Instagram is my new favourite thing.

Follow me @Jo_Brdly