Sunday, 24 June 2012

A tasty bit of crumpet…

Crumpets are probably the best food ever invented, except maybe Yorkshire puddings and roast pork and cheesecake and some other things…

They’re pretty good though especially with tuna mayonnaise, which sounds wrong but trust me, try it!

We eat a lot of crumpets in our house so I decided to have a go at making some from scratch, here’s how they turned out:


…and here’s the recipe, courtesy of the Hairy Bikers and the BBC:


  • 350ml/12¼fl oz whole milk

  • 225g/8oz strong white flour

  • 125g/4½oz plain flour

  • 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fast-action dried yeast

  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

  • 1 tsp caster sugar

  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 150ml/5¼fl oz warm water

  • butter, for greasing, plus extra to serve


  1. Warm the milk in a saucepan very gently until tepid.

  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and stir in the yeast, salt and sugar until well-combined.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and stir in the warm milk. Beat well with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes, or until the batter is thick and elastic.

  4. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for an hour, or until the batter has doubled in size.

  5. When the batter has risen, mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warm water, and beat the mixture into the batter for a couple of minutes. Set aside to rest in a warm place for a further 30 minutes. By this time the mixture should have risen and be covered with tiny bubbles.

  6. Heat a flat griddle pan or large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat.

  7. Generously butter or oil the insides of four crumpet rings or 9cm/3½in chefs' rings and place them onto the griddle or into the frying pan. Warm the rings for a minute or two. (I used whatever I had lying about – egg rings and pastry cutters)

  8. Using a dessertspoon, drop three large spoonfuls of the crumpet batter into each ring. It should come around 1.5cm/½in up the sides of each ring, but no more. Cook for 9-12 minutes, or until lots of tiny bubbles have risen to the surface and burst and the tops look dry and set.

  9. Carefully lift off the rings (I had to use a knife because the butter did nothing!) Use an oven glove and take care as the crumpet rings will be hot.


They were pretty good, and with my mish-mash of egg rings and pastry cutters they all came out different thicknesses and sizes. Toasted and lathered in butter then loaded with tuna they were lovely and tasted like the real thing (but were a load of faff to make!)

This mix made about 20 or so, so I have loads left for tomorrow when I suspect they’ll be tastier like most things are the day after!

If you make your own bread you should have a go.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Building a water feature…

Our back yard needed something.

Plants? Check!

Seating? Check!

Acre of cat net?? Check!!

Splishy splashy water feature? Nope!

So we built this:


I say ‘built’ but arranged would be a better word. The big aluminium tub was in my gran’s garage – it was there when she moved in and she had been using it to store old plant pots. I mentioned we were planning a water feature but needed an interesting basin. She said she had just the thing! Yay for free perfect things! Yay for gran!


I bought a cheap tiny pump from Ebay and the old water pump was £15 at the Knavesmire car boot last week. We probably overpaid but I knew the lady from visiting my Open Studio so it didn’t feel right to haggle. It was already plumbed as a water feature and the half circle board it is screwed to fit the basin perfectly. Go serendipity! The pump is hidden under all those pebbles and it only took 2” of hosepipe to connect it up.


A trip to the garden centre got us a sack of river pebbles, a couple of marginal plants, a few ferns and, erm, lots of other stuff we didn’t go in for. Damn their pretty, pretty displays.

We already had a hole drilled through the wall from where an old tv aerial had been so we could plug the pump in straight away. We thought using an old water pump would look a bit twee and it does but we don’t care, it’s lovely hearing the splishy spashy water. It was a lot cheaper than buying a ready-made one too and it looks like it’s been there ages.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Vintage finds at the Knavesmire…

I don’t know how you feel about real fur – I’ve talked about it before and as far as I’m concerned vintage fur is fine but new fur is baaaad.

This fox has been dead longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s beautiful.


He’s a lot less evil-looking in real life. He was tumbled in a box with a lot of other furs but what caught my eye was the lovely ruffled silk on the back. He was marked at £9 and the vintage fabric in the top picture was £7. I offered her £10 for both and she took it. Yay! He needs a good clean though.


I love this Hornsey ware and I’ve never seen one with a lamb before. I see a lot in charity shops, smaller pieces mostly with deer on, for around £6. This one is much bigger and cost £7 after haggling.


I have a fondness for Louis Wain cats, and these are in a similar style. £3.


This case contains bugs favourable to agriculture. I bought it for the box really which has clasps either side so the glass top lifts off. I’ll use it for displaying things for sale during Open Studios and suchlike. Sorry bugs! £4


The previous three were from the same stall as the royal teacups. Everything jumbled in boxes, £2 each or 3 for £5. We spent ages at that stall!


This book was 50p. If there is one thing I like more than vintage china it’s vintage sewing and knitting books.


‘This little jacket is knitted firmly enough to look like fabric, and it’s shoulders are padded in the military manner!’


‘A brassiere top and shorts for the swim; a gored skirt that goes with a swing, easy to slip on when you take your place in the sun!’

I need to stock up on some 4-ply.


Sunday, 3 June 2012



We didn’t make a traditional Jubilee cake because frankly this was a last minute cake baked this morning to take to my gran’s for lunch and we didn’t have any strawberries.

It’s Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake recipe and although it sounds weird it doesn’t taste of Guinness! It is dark and chocolatey goodness.

So, with the cake and the bunting it feels a bit jubilee-ee but we popped to the car boot sale at the racecourse yesterday morning and I found a few more things to bump up the jubilee feeling.


Lawks, I love the queen. The two trios cost £2 each and I can’t remember how much the single cup and saucer cost but it can’t have been much more. With these, it’s becoming a bit of a collection!

I’ll show you all the other things we got a the car boot tomorrow.

Happy jubilee! (or something)


Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee bunting!


Bunting is easy peasy to make! I whipped this up while I watched an old episode of ER this afternoon.

First you need to cut yourself a load of triangles – I made a cardboard template and had lots cut in no time. If you are making double-sided bunting you’ll need an even number.

Place two triangles together face to face and sew down the two long edges.


Then turn them inside out and iron the hell out of ‘em. They’ll look all neat and pretty… see!


I used cheap apron tape folded in half and ironed flat then I inserted the triangles between the fold about 2” apart, pinned and sewed through all four layers (2 tape and 2 bunting).


Et voila! I used red white and blue colours because it’s the jubilee this weekend and I love our old queen. Those of you who have been following for a long time will recognise scraps from dresses I have made – always keep your big scraps! If I have enough I might make a Union Flag too…