Friday, 6 January 2012

Two for One


Wishing everyone who reads this a Happy New Year.  Though many of you will be jaded from the frenetic activity of the last couple of weeks! 
I am going away next weekend with Dominic to see my Mom, so there will be no blogging for a couple of weeks from me.  Hence the title Two for One as I have tried to put twice the content in this!

I have been busy over the festive period, and completed a nice small afghan for the expected baby, the idea is it can be used as an afghan or play mat. If I cannot get a pic of it this entry I will put one in another time.  It has so got me back into crocheting, although I was only ever a basic crocheter, I have bought the yarn to do a bedspread!  Yeah, I know what I said a few weeks back that I would never do another bedspread.  But I derived so much pleasure from the small afghan that I really want to try a larger project.
With knitting there can be the temptation to keep progressively doing more complicated projects, but I sat and thought “what was one of the best things you ever knitted”, and the answer was “a baktus”.  I will also definitely be doing another soon. I have asked the designer of the pattern I used if I may link on here to here pattern and she has kindly agreed.  See below for more on this.
This week there are recommendations for a knitting pattern, two podcasts, two free Kindle/E reader Books and  two recipes one  for Magic Eccles  Cakes which I learned how to do them from my Mom, (who won prizes for hers) and home made chocs.   And an "hello" from our resident squirrel who eats hazel nuts at an alarming speed.  If anyone knows what else he would like to eat please let me know.
1)    Knitting Pattern Recommendation. My photo does not do justice to this project, and to be honest the reason for this is that I have worn it so much before taking the pic!  It goes under coats without being bulky and affords plenty of warmth.  I have knitted many shawls and scarves but have had more compliments for this than any other.  So thank you Strikkelise for this lovely pattern.  Its well written and not difficult, and a fantastic stash buster as it can be done mono or multi coloured.

Podcast Recommendations   The two podcasts this week that I am recommending, are both video rather than audio.  I first watched the Apple Blossom and Ewe and for a while this was the only video one I subscribed to, and can be found here second is  They both have similar ways of presenting, both being chatty and informal.  Both of them have Ravelry groups to which the viewer can belong and feel part of the action.  They both do comprehensive reviews of fibre and yarn and patterns. Both have also done generous giveaways!

3)  Free ebook Recommendations:.  One modern, one historical.  Both of these are free and legal.  The first is More Blood, more sweat and another cup of tea by Tom Reynolds.  I got my copy from  Written by an emergency medical technician who works for London ambulance service. I have downloaded this book on recommendation.
The second is the evergreen Forsyte Saga which is also on  This is such a good work of fiction that it has twice been serialised on tv.  The depth of the characters are such that new nuances are gleaned each time the novel is read.
3) Two Recipes.  As always my recipes are suggestions rather than "instructions", but if there are any queries I will do my best to help. 
Magic Eccles Cakes  These are relatively simple to make especially if the pastry is bought ready made.  You will need: 1 packet of puff pastry (the block is better value than the ready rolled), 10 tbs or 8  handfuls of dried fruit, 2 tbs sugar (any kind), 1 heaped tbs of butter or margarine.   Put oven on number 6
Put the fruit,sugar and margarine in a saucepan and heat thoroughly stirring until there is no sign of the margarine and the sugar has virtually dissolved.  Put the saucepan in a bowl of cold water to cool the contents.
Roll out the pastry into 8 rounds, and onto each round put a portion of dried fruit, moisten the edges of the round and fold the edges over so that each cake is thoroughly sealed.  Turn them over so the edges are face down and across the smooth top cut a vent with a sharp knife.  Put the cakes on a baking tray which is either greased or covered in non stick paper.  Brush tops with milk/soya milk and sprinkle liberally with sugar.
Bake number 6 for about 12 mins.  Check and if they are golden brown they are done.  If not done, keep in oven till they are golden brown. 
Put on a rack to cool.  By the time it is tea time and you are ready to serve them you will have observed there are no longer 8 on the rack!  Well who could resist as they smell so nice.  That’s why they are “magic”, they disappear!
Yummy chocs.  My best friend Jo, is to blame for my new found delight in making chocolates at home.  She bought me a kit.  I have used a third of it, but since the chocolate is really special in it, I have decided to experiment with lesser chocolate so that eventually I will make really super ones with the remainder of the kit. The chocolate making took me back to childhood when my father would make Easter Eggs for every kid in our street, he would buy a huge brick of chocolate and he had a mould he had to use over and over.  But I knew from this that it doesnt have to be too technical.  So far I have made ginger clusters (in the pic they are the ones in paper cases), and soft centred ones. For both I melted chocolate I had bought in a block (any chocolate including cooking choc will do for this), and the best way is in a bowl over hot water, or if you in a hurry then hurl it in the microwave and keep an eye on it. 
To make the ginger ones I bought a tub of glace ginger pieces (the sort that goes in cakes and comes in tiny chunks), and stirred them into the melted chocolate and spooned the mix into the little cases.  Popped them in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour, and they will keep a while unless the temptation is too great to eat them.
To make the soft centred ones, I melted the choc and to make the centres I mashed banana and peanut butter together till really soft (microwave a few secs if necessary to warm the peanut butter and then add mashed banana).  I put some melted choc in the moulds (paper cases are fine), and then spooned a little into the centre and then filled the mould or case with more choc till mould full.  Again place in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour.  I thought that releasing from the mould might be tricky but it wasn’t at all.    The moulds are easily available and look like these   If not one can use ice cube trays or paper cases

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