Category Archives: Things I’ve made

Bank Holiday Baking

As the rest of the world marks Bank Holiday Sunday with a piss-up and my neighbours drink shots on their new decking (England is to be entirely covered by decking by 2015), I have taken to the kitchen. In the wake of a cidery weekend of the wonderful Caravan Palace and Upfest festivities (more on Upfest to follow) the only way to feel wholesome is through cleansing, DIY and baking.

Some matcha green tea powder was lurking in the cupboard from the time I’d bought it with the intention of making green tea icecream until I actually read the recipe and realised it required an ice cream machine.


There it has stayed until today I remembered going for Afternoon Tea at a little place in London – the Modern Pantry – where green tea scones were served with clotted cream and rhubarb jam. Yum.

Enter the green tea scone experiment. Normal scone recipe + green tea powder. Recipe below.




SUCCESS! They will be delicious smothered with home made jam and cream. Image

Recipe, adapted from BBC Good Food:

*Green tea scones*

  • 350g self-raising flour , plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter , cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 2 tsp green tea powder
  • beaten egg, to glaze
  1. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
  4. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C/fan140C/gas 3) for a few mins to refresh.
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I’ve never felt so powerful

Back when I was 13 and working in the salubrious laundry of a nursing home, one of the cooks – impressed by my domesticity and obsession with neatly folding and organising the laundry cupboard – told me that I’d make a good wife someday. I’d clearly managed to keep my [lack of] cooking prowess under wraps.

This weekend I took a drill and put some shelves up in the Palacette. They’re still on the wall some three days later and look to last the distance. I’ve never felt more powerful.

I made and fitted my own Roman blinds, fixed my Swiss army knife, balanced and bled the radiators and tuned the telly. I’ve got a jar opener and I’m happy to take the bins out.

Why would I want a man?







For those of you that don’t know, I’ve spent my usual roaming outlay on a little house in Bristol clipping my wings temporarily in the process. Obvious aside from the Iceland and Suffolk adventures which I may presently rhapsodise about retrospectively. Only temporary but that will likely see this blog morph into a new form, a more domestic, local one, I daresay bordering on the mundane. Apologies in advance.

This is my latest adventure and I’m learning every day. 

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The domesticity continues. A few weeks ago I came over all Austenesque and decided to make a belated wedding gift for my sister Sarah and new brother-in-law Dave. I wanted to give them something considered, something symbolic, a labour of love. After three 6-hours shifts of stitching it by the light of the moon (this only the last stage in the improvised process) I wished I’d never started the b*stard thing.

But here it is, a quilt, crafted by my own fair hand from fabric bought in Nepal that I really would have liked to keep for myself. It’s imperfect, it’s wonky, but it was made with reverence. If that’s not sisterly love, I don’t know what is.

How to make a (very simple) quilt:

You will need:

– 6m fabric of your choice

– 6m complementary cotton fabric

– about 3.5m 20mm wadding

– 9m ribbon

– 9m haberdashery cording

– 2 reels of cotton thread

What to do:

1. Take a 6m run of your fabric of choice. Cut it in half, stitch together down the long side and iron the seam flat. Do likewise with a 6m run of complementary fabric for the reverse side. Tempting though high-gloss satins are, they’ll slide right off the bed so use cotton.

2. Take a big piece of wadding (I used 40mm thickness but half of that would be more than enough) 3m x 2m. You may need to sew a couple of widths together to get the right square. Sandwich it between your two runs of fabric.

3. Pin and tack the three layers together. Tack liberally and make sure the thread tension is high. You need everything to stay firmly in place when you start sewing the ‘grooves’ in.

4. Meanwhile take a pretty ribbon, one that picks up a colour in the fabric. Get 9m to be safe. Take 9m of haberdashery cord and fold the ribbon around it, pinning along the full length.

5. Sew along the full length to seal the cord inside.

6. Measure an even border around the full width of the quilt. Measure and mark evenly spaced lines between these borders (the stripes made this a hell of a lot easier). Sew the whole fabric/wadding sandwich through to create ‘grooves’. You’ll need to manhandle the whole lot through the sewing machine. My advice – roll and squish.

7. That done, work your way around the edge, folding the fabric on each side, tucking it in towards the wadding to create a clean edge and pinning the ribbon cording between them. Fix with pins, many many pins.

8. Sew the cording in place by hand with tiny, neat, blinding stitches. Remove all traces of pins and tacking. Voila!

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Cake problem

I’m not nesting, but the domestic urges are strong. I can’t get enough of baking. This is my third cake of the week. Wild weekenders have been usurped by molasses and baking powder.

Most of the experiments stem from food-based curiosity. How *do* they make sticky toffee pudding, I wondered. But I didn’t want a pudding, I wanted a cake so I hereby present to you sticky toffee cake, largely cos this little fellow likes cake and I am a sucker for him.

Cake monster

Golden wonder. Is it ready yet?

Stage one, complete.

The toffee

Nom nom

Here’s the recipe (courtesy of the English kitchen). Fiendishly sugary but oh so good.

*Sticky Toffee Cake*
Makes 18 serving

8 ounces dried dates
300ml of water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
6 ounces soft light brown sugar
4 ounces butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
6 ounces self raising flour

For the icing:
6 TBS double cream
3 ounces soft light brown sugar
1 ounce butter
1 ounce icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter and base line a shallow 11 by 7 inch baking tin. Set aside.

Cut each date into 3 or 4 pices. Place in a saucepan along with the water. Bring to the boil, and then boil uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the dates have softened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the eggs and then fold in the cooled date mixture. Stir in the flour.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface. Bake for 35 minutes, until risen and just set. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, gently heat the cream, sugar and butter together in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and then cook, uncovered for 4 minutes, until golden. Do not stir. Leave to cool. When cold, beat in the icing sugar until smooth. Using the back of a wet spoon, spread it over the cake. Leave to set before cutting into 18 rectangles.

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Experiments in cup cakes

Reunited with my beloved food processor, I put it to work in a cupcake mission. My cherished public, I present to you: chocolate beetroot; carrot, mandarin and hazelnut with cream cheese topping; ginger with lime curd; vanilla with a hint of lemon.

The proof will be in the eating. Somebody alert Bristol A&E.

Happy wedding day, Uncle Rich and soon-to-be-Auntie Suzanne!

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Halloween get-ups

The Halloween Things. Note that I got promoted for a night. Boom.

Already brain storming for next year. Think it’s worth making it an international event.