Sunday, 27 September 2009

Last weekend was a kitchen one, rather than papercrafting. Over the two days I managed to make a batch of gluten free almond butter chocolate chip cookies. And very yummy they were too. I did a lasagne for dinner, cream of mushroom soup with white wine for the week, braised lamb shanks with a redcurrant and mint gravy with mashed potatoes and parsnips and a batch of peach chutney.

With peaches being in season they are lovely and ripe, large and firm, and very cheap! There was a bit more liquid in the chutney than I'd like but I wanted to retain firm chunks of peaches rather than have a soupy mess, I kind of made up the recipe as I went along but it contained:

1 cup of champagne vinegar
0.75 of a cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 finely chopped small onion
1 cinnamon stick
8 skinned and chopped peaches - firm ones are better
Handful of raisins

I just put all ingredients into a non stick saucepan, brought to the boiled and simmered for about an hour. Now the jar will sit in the fridge for about 5 weeks to mature before I can tell you how it turned out. Next time I'd either add more peaches or reduce the vinegar down to two thirds of a cup with half a cup of sugar.

The cookie recipe is exceedingly easy, and probably a good one to make with kids.

1 cup of almond butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg
2tsps of baking powder

Mix the almond butter and the sugar, add the egg and blend in. Next add the baking powder. You can also throw in some chocolate chips to taste as I did.

Next take about a walnut sized lump of dough and roll it into a ball. Place on greased proof paper on a baking tray, flatten with a fork to give a tines pattern and bake at 180c (160c fan oven) for about 11 mins. Allow to cool slightly on the tray before cooling completely on a wire rack.

Minor disaster was the oven element blowing up again as I started the weekend off, meaning I had to bake the cookies in the small convection oven in batches which took a while. I will be taking delivery of a lovely new oven tomorrow, as my old one sounded like an airplane taking off I'm looking forward to a bit more tranquility as the smells of baking cakes and roasting meats wafts through the house on the impending Wintery afternoons.
Only one day off this weekend as I'm working today (Sunday) on office moves. Yesterday was dedicated to getting my layout for the Sugar and Spice blog done. You can see it here. There's another layout on it's way of one of the kittens sleeping in what appears to be a very uncomfortable place, but he looks happy.

I also finished my friend's having a baby card which is doing the rounds at work, photo of that to follow.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Cats, cookies and cards

I'm finally coming out of the other side of a flare up of what's probably arthritis. I can now walk without the crutch and I'm not in screaming agony all the time, and it's amazing at how much more energised I am because of it.

Woke up invigorated yesterday and started on my first batch of Almond butter, the prime ingredient in some cookies I want to make. You can buy it in Health Food shops but there isn't one conveniently placed and I'm all for having a go myself. A bit of research on the net showed it was pretty straight forward. So, one 800g bag of almonds and some serious food processing brought me to this. No additives, just the almond butter, though I think if I was making this for straight eating purposes, like peanut butter, I might add a small amount of sugar and salt. Or use more expensive almonds. In the cookies though they only need to provide a nutty flavour and the bulk of the biscuits themselves. And frankly, it's still pretty good as is. Off a spoon. If I get round to making the cookies today I'll post pictures in a later blog.

Two cards also need to be made this weekend, my brother's birthday is Tuesday. I find it more difficult to make masculine cards, but think the trick is to just keep it simple. Picking the right colours right at the start makes it a lot easier. This is made from scraps from a class by Bananafrog owner Bev, and stamps from Sugar and Spice.

I punched out lots of circles from scraps, stamped and punched the Happy Birthday and the lettering inside. My next card is for a friend at work who'll be leaving soon to have a baby girl. That one I suspect is going to be a whole lot girlier!

My boys also had a bit of trauma on Friday courtesy of a trip to the vets for their neutering. I'm very relieved to say that they came through it ok, stressed out by being around the other animals, particularly the dogs, but recovering nicely. I love this picture of them, taken pre the chop.

And now, as I was still awake with PMT induced sleeplessness at 3.30am this morning I'm off for a nap.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Oooh, an award. How exciting!

The lovely Louise aka FairyQueen has given me my first blog award. Thank you ever so much!
The rules are simple, you need to pass on the award to five other people. So I nominate:

and to list five things I'm addicted to:

Shopping - no big surprise here
Amish Culture

I'm now off to indulge at least two of those this evening :)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Mojo is Back

The mojo has returned and I'm in a creative mood. I didn't get round to baking cookies last weekend, my local supermarkets don't stock almond butter and my legs were too achy to head into Lakeside to Holland & Barrett, so I'm going to have a go at making my own which appears to be relatively easy with a food processor.

I'm just waiting for some pink vellum to come so I can finish the first of this month's design team postings, which is due on Friday so I'm actually ahead. I also got the new cuttlebug out of it's box last night and attached the handle so it's time to play around with that and my new sizzix dies. I'm feeling the need to play with my stash, and have an idea focused around Bee, one of my kittens, snoozing in what looks like a very uncomfortable position, and another one around one of my loves, Geisha. I hope this drive lasts til the weekend, which seems a long, long way off.

Friday I'm taking the boys for the cruelest cut of all at the vets. I feel very guilty, I'm reliably informed that this is the best thing for them and for the local cat population. It still feels like it's better for me than for them.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Stampin Up! Madness and Shopping

If you follow Craft Critique on twitter this won't be news to you, but for those who haven't Stampin Up! have issued a new contract to their Demonstrators in the US. They all have to sign this or effectively they'll be cut off from all SU services.

It essentially includes clauses to control all SU Demo's forms of internet presence, from Twitter and Facebook through to blogs and websites, not just those used for SU business but those strictly for personal use. It even specifies that links to other sites, including personal friends, who mention or link to competing products are now forbidden. So, for example, if you're an SU Demo with a facebook account, and your best friend owns a stamp company or sells stamps of another brand and mentions this on their facebook account, you can't have them as a friend on Facebook. You can't link to their website or blog.

I've never heard the like. It's draconionan, 1984'esque, unreasonable and unworkable. I hope many Demo's vote with their feet, I certainly won't be buying from.

On a more positive note, what was supposed to be a quick in and out trip on Saturday to pick up a pair of crutches the lovely Polly had left for me at Sugar and Spice turned into a very lovely chatty afternoon with the gorgeous Marion. She valiantly tried to debate the nature of need versus want when it came to the Cuttlebugs she had on special offer. I've been debating getting a bigger die cutting machine for a while, I love my Sizzix Sidekick and use it quite a lot but I want to be able to cut chipboard and I love the Cuttlebug embossing texture folders. She then very kindly helped carry it to the car :D

I haven't had a chance to even unpack it yet as Saturday night was spent cooking - GF cheesecake, Chicken and Pork Terrine with a cranberry and orange sauce and tomato and pepper salsa for a party in Chester on Sunday. Which was brilliant, and a fab night was had by all, but 430 miles of driving in 48 hours was exhausting. I met some lovely people who I'd ony chatted to online before, one of whom is also gluten intolerant and she brought along the most gorgeous Almond butter cookies, which I'm going to be doing a batch of this weekend.

Results will be posted here!