Thursday 20 February 2014

B is for Beryl's Baguettes.

Beryl, me and Paul Hollywood worked hard earlier this week to make my very own baguettes for the first time! The recipe came from his Bread book. So easy. Stick the flour, olive oil,  salt and yeast in Beryl. Slow mix for five minutes then medium for five to ten minutes until the dough was very stretchy.

Then leave it to rise for two hours. Then shape. It's a very wet dough and I could feel the air bubbles popping under my fingertips. I did my best, I think next time I'd be a bit more robust in my baguette handling! Helped by my brand new swanky pants baguette mould from the jolly perfect Lakeland I managed to produce three baguettes. One big one and two small. The two small ones because on my first go of shaping, I got it really thin in the middle and decided two mini ones were far superior to one mangled sausage shape.
They were just like the real thing!!
I made my best ever Manchester Tarts 

I made individual ones using a new silicone tart tray I'd got half price when I bought the baguette tray! 

I also tried out the new biscuit press and recipe. Yields twelve dozen biscuits! I gave some to our new neighbour and she declared them delicious! Lots of pattern discs including butterflies, teddies, various flowers and shapes. They are very short and buttery.

For  my neighbour. She said she could not stop eating them! 
Cardigan update - just the ears and buttons to sew on! 
I'm very chuffed with it! Hope the recipient likes it :-) 

What have you been making? 

Wednesday 19 February 2014

A late night revelation.

Oh my stars, I had an epiphany moment last night.

  • Reading book - currently Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ( though I'm sure this wasn't entirely written by her ). I can't remember if I told you but my amazing HG bought me the box set for Valentine's Day after I'd been hankering after them for years. I absolutely adored these books as a lass back int black n white days and when it was televised, my life seemed complete! I have found kindred spirits on Twitter, namely the fantastically funny and adorable Hannah who blogs in a much better way here >>> and the highly hilarious stunning example of womanhood Nicole who writes perfectly here >>>>         Please note Hannah and Nicole,  that in as much as French and Saunders have ruined any chances of me watching Lord of the Rings or Whatever happened to Baby Jane or Titanic seriously due to their parodies.... I found myself laughing out loud as I read through this book recalling conversations about Ma, Pa and their little family! Thanks Ladies! It adds to the pleasure experience ( as does keeping Michael Landon in mind as Pa )!! Ahem.... 
I got to chapter 1 page 3 and a thought started bumbling about in my brain.

  • Wolves - " Sometimes, far away in the night, a wolf howled. Then he came nearer, and howled again."  This sentence made my blood lose a few degrees of body heat. Laura is awake in her little trundle bed. She knew( just as I do did ) that wolves would eat little girls.  Her Pa, picked her up one night and carried her to the window so she might see them. ( I can feel the panic rising in my fingers as I type this! ) she saw two of them.  WHAT IN THE NAME OF CHILD ABUSE WAS HE DOING????  She might have believed that she was safe inside the log cabin. But I KNOW that a HOUSE OF TWIGS does NOT keep wolves out AT ALL. I know this from another true story from my childhood.....

  • Childhood fear - what did you have under your bed.? I'm not talking about the old suitcase full of comics and crayons. The old massive record player. The board games and all the other stuff I crammed stored under there ( as being in the box room meant I had NO space for stuff ) I'm talking about the monster that would be lying in wait to GRAB your ankle as you dived into the safety of your bed. Everyone knows once you are in bed, under the covers, NOTHING can touch you. But if ANY arms or legs protrude out of the sheets and blankets ( black n white days dear reader, 1970's Britain - continental quilts were not even INVENTED yet! ) then prepare to meet a horrible and violent death at the slavering, snapping jaws of the monster that lives there.  I had a wolf under my bed. In the dark, I could see his red eyes . I could hear the low, warning growl. He lay in wait. I had perfected leaping from the landing onto my bed because I was so scared. Realistically I should have been an Olympic jumping star because I never missed a jump. I never missed. I couldn't. The consequences were dire. So THANKS A LOT LAURA AND PA!  It's a wonder I grew up alive at all, what with the wolf under my bed and the witch that hid behind the bathroom door waiting to catch me if I went for a wee in the night. Oh and the tigers/panthers/rhinoceroses .... Next bullet point. 

  • Recurring nightmare - I had this a lot in my youth and very occasionally I still do. It's one of those real nightmares that wake you up with your heart pounding out of your chest, sweat glistening on your brow, alert ready for fight or flight ( or lie in bed and think about butterflies and fairies and nice things till you go back to sleep )!  The general scenario - It's always in my childhood home. It's ALWAYS a tiger or a black panther. It circles the house and gets in and stalks me room to room. There's only the wooden doors of the dining room keeping me safe.....
Cut to 2014, a '28' year old Rachel reading little house and Ta dahhhhh. Suddenly my nightmare is explained! Page 40 - the story of Grandpa and the Panther. A heartwarming bedtime story Pa told Laura how his Father was chased and hunted down by a terrifying Black Panther. Though this isn't the nightmare trigger - I think that delight came from Chapter Four - Christmas. Where they are told the TRUE story of how a panther kept Aunt Eliza prisoner in her own home. The two saviours in these stories were the family pet dogs. I was never allowed a dog. NO WONDER I WAS A QUIVERING WRECK - and I'm still such a scaredy cat now!!  So, some of you who are still paying attention and know the LH books may be querying the rhino. I think that comes from years of watching Survival with my Dad on a Sunday. Rhinos are dangerous and can charge into Landrovers to get at people. Therefore in my dreams, they charge at houses! 

So, I have explained some of my own neuroticness ! I am thoroughly enjoying these books. But reading them as ( an alleged ) grown up, I question some of the idyll which is painted almost sickeningly chocolate box like in the chapters. 

Overcrowding - it's a one up one down  teeny shack type house. Two adults, three children, a cat and a dog all reside here without a care in the world. A whole family come to stay at Christmas. It surely must be a
Stinky house - Ma has got all manner of meat and dead animals hanging from the rafters. Fruit and veg stashed like a permanent harvest festival display.

No one can be that cheery - especially Ma. If I had to do all the stuff she does, I'd be one crabby bitch. Churning the butter is written like it was a piece of cake! Also the children got the "good buttermilk" to drink afterwards. Have you ever had buttermilk? It's truly rank stuff of epic proportions to drink. She never gets pissed off. Mind you, she must feel very appreciated because the mittens she knitted for everyone for Christmas are admired by everyone ALL DAY.

I'm putting my blog down now to eagerly pick up my book. My favourite book of them all, as a child was The Long Winter. I cannot wait to get to it again. I hope it doesn't disappoint!!

Have you read them? Do you have any recurring nightmares that you can explain? Looking forward to hearing from you.

Rachel IngallsWilder  Radiostar xx

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Am I a groovy mum?

This is my February effort for the very lovely Kate, over at Kate on Thin Ice and her Groovy mum linky >>> I indeed a groovy mum?

I put this to my 16 and three quarters year old son.

"Can't you ask my sister?" He whined.

I already did, I told him.



 I dismissed him back to his lair. ( The one he only comes out of to feed ) and he called out as he pelted back up the stairs three at a time with his impossibly long legs that he inherited from his father,
"Make it up!"

This response from my precious firstborn who answered my texts thus:-

Me: humour me, it's for the blog. Tell me ten reasons why you have a groovy mum.

Her: I don't know .. define groovy.

So I tweeted her the link to Kate's blog.

Me: check your twitter

Her: I'm in Uni!!!!

Me: later!
 ( A bit later )
You would be groovier if you stop using the word groovy.
You are bringing me a pie at the weekend.
You do my nails.
You have good music taste.
You are a good cook.
You bought me a signed Hurts picture.
You usually have good dress sense.

Ask my brother for the others!!

So folks, groovy or not? You decide!
I reckon I'm fairly groovy because I've knitted this with my very own groovy fingers! It's almost finished! 

Oh and if anyone is looking for another groovy mum chum of mine aka FrugalMummy , she is having blog issues. Her blog has been taken down for reasons only known to the universe. Once she decides what to do I will let you know xx 

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Ever broke your foot with a sausage roll?

Nope? Just me then! 

Alright I am being a bit of a drama llama, but not five minutes ago ( 6:35 ) I was foraging in the freezer for some beef to make a slow cooker delight for tea tonight.
( imagine I'm playing that 'our tune' so g off the radio ) 
 My fridge is my one true love. I still call it my new fridge, when in truth it's probably nigh on ten years old! It's an American style fridge that I saved hard for two years to buy. It was eight hundred of my English pounds. They were elite back then. It's a sleek silver ice dispensing thoroughbred. The refrigerator is cavernous and I need a stool to clean the top shelf. 
( now imagine I'm playing that sound effect of a needle being abruptly ripped off an LP ) 

( I actually could have somehow put sound effects into this post somehow by googling them and inserting links - but it's nearly 7am and I'm blogging off my little phone! ) 
I digress.... 

The freezer compartment is shite. 

I think it's that ying yang thing. Cliche - gotta take the rough with the smooth. 
It's narrow and shelved. And a big bit is taken up by my beloved ice dispenser. 
Anyway, if one is freezing neat A5 boxes of things ( I never buy neat boxes of things ) it's ideal. Ready meals in little boxes would stack up nicely. In my freezer at the moment I have bread, stupid sized artisan style bread the HG races to Sainsbury's to buy when they are yellow stickered. He emerges, triumphant with armfuls of sunflower & spelt stuff, pain de campagnes, walnut and cauliflower ( just checking you are still reading! ) baguettes etc almost all of which are already rock hard! I have to say we do have the poshest breadcrumbs this side of the Pennines! Top tip is I wrap the full loaf in foil with a good sprinkling of water and put in a hot oven for ten minutes. It freshens it up again and is delicious with soup! Along with the awkward bread I have yellow stickered awkward vacuum packs of jounts of meat. Stupid sized trays of burgers ( because we didn't have enough BBQs in the summer ) , odd bags of frozen veg, Glorious soup in those not freezer friendly plastic tubs bought when they are on offer for a pound a pot and lots of pound land takeaway containers full of HB meals. They alone fit perfectly. Oh I also have some Barton Grange Sausage Rolls in there. They are the best sausage rolls money can buy. Barton Grange is a fantastic place, posh garden centre with a posh cook shop, posh gift shop, posh cafe with a gorgeous posh view,  posh restaurant, posh interior design bit and posh farm shop. And the poshest, glitteriest, colourful stylish wow factor  ever Christmas displays. I walk in like I'm posh and wealthy. I walk out with a packet of five large sausage rolls ready to bake for £3.99!! Actually I only ever buy liver from their butchers too because it's cheap and not blood vesselly! We also HAVE to buy Manchester Tarts for the HG. ( insert your own innuendo here ). The car park is also quite posh. The toilets get ten out of ten for poshness too. My posh purple kitchen bins came from there. They have the best posh sale ever, and there are always posh bargains to be had. It's why we go! 

Anyway ( I do like to spin a yarn out!! ) whilst foraging in the stupidly jam packed freezer, it decided to throw up all over me and the pack of three sausage rolls ( I'd cooked two from fresh ) slipped out and landed right on the top of my foot. Oh my stars I said A LOT of bad words! It brought a tear to my eye. I've a lovely large bruise forming already! Who knew Sausage Rolls could be deadly? 

Latest work in progress... the little hoodied cardigan for the baby next door but two. I'm worried it won't fit as his mother insists on feeding him and he is growing faster than I can knit! It doesn't look very cute right now! I've almost finished off the hood, then I've the pocket edges to do and much sewing up! It looks daft right now!! 

Friday 7 February 2014

A little glimpse of Spring

I finish Class a little earlier on a Friday, so nip home to get ahead with some domestic goddessness. Today the sun is shining and my front garden planted bits are coming back to life!
My photos do not do the colours justice at all! 
You all know by now the ONLY colours I allow in my garden! Am so chuffed that the tiny irises I planted last year have come back. Gorgeous. Made my day!

Thursday 6 February 2014

It's certainly windy!

Hehehe last night I had some vegetarian haggis. It was a bonus yellow sticker find apr├Ęs Burn's Night. I love Haggis. Meaty or veggie. Am happy to report that both versions leave me with the same symptoms that an 8 year old boy would kill for! Just call me a human whoopee cushion!!!
It was a very frugal tea. There are two portions left too. I made a root veg mash of a Cyprus potato, a parsnip, a carrot and some swede to go with it. Very winter warmed I was!

But the wind I'm talking about is the one that's whistling down the chimney. I'm starring in my very own horror movie sound effect scene! It's horrendous. But nothing like the terrible conditions  those down south are struggling with. I hope you all escape lightly. Watching on the news last night , seeing the train track destroyed in Cornwall is quite unbelievable in our part of the world.

I've been reading around a few of my blogs - no Early Birds today so am enjoying a more leisurely morning. I think I need an eye test as I'm getting worse at getting those Capitcha code words right first time! Last week,a few of them were purely numerical, which were much easier. Back to letters this week. I have to admit that I do sometimes give up trying to comment, or not even bother. A bit grumpy old lady of me - which is why I don't have it! Yes comments come through to moderation. I know only a few folks pop by ( and who can blame them! Drivel I pour out ) but I don't want to put off the lovely folks who do comment.

My latest knit job is a hooded cardigan for the baby boy next door but one. Two fronts, the back and a sleeve are done. I'm halfway through the second sleeve. I can't seem to motor through this knit and it's only simple stocking stitch . The wool is a lovely flecked Arran style wool and is soft and cuddly. If I don't get a move on with it, the baby will have grown too much!! If that happens I have two yet to be born babies who it could go to and as it's a monster ball of wool, I'll just knit the next size up!

Rugby update. My beloved boys won an exciting game. Those Italians have been working hard. I didn't swear *that* much!!
Oh well, best get this Thursday going! Enjoy your day, I intend to x

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Early birds AND Night Owls

I am soooooooo tired! This week I am also working at the School's Breakfast Club ( from 7:30am ) as I'm covering for a plaguestruck work chum. I really really mean this as I hope SHE GETS WELL SOON! ( she sometimes reads this! )

What really saddens me though, some of the early birders are there with me .... Right the way to the end of Night Owls at 5:30pm. This little lad I have in my mind rarely smiles. He will sometimes enter into conversation with you, but never voluntarily. He looks serious the whole time. I'm not surprised. I'm not sure where he lives but being dragged out to school when it's dark and going home in the dark is soul destroying for ME let alone a little lad of eight years old.

On the other hand, I applaud his hard working mother for going out to work to keep a roof over his head. But surely there should be a compromise. Mind you, isn't this what a certain  politician has been wanting this week? Extended schooling for all? Well I say NO.  Children need their freedom. Yes, at Night Owls we provide fun, we let them play out, we craft, we have DVD night with popcorn etc in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere...but at the end of the day they are still in school.

I don't know what the answer is. It's keeping a roof over MY head! The only reason I now work longer hours is because my two selfish brats went and ruddy well grew up on me. One even moved away to go to Uni and demonstrate how independant she is! The other is a Sixth Form Student cruising through A Levels. I had the opportunity to work at Breakfast Club when it first started up.  I declined, even though I could bring the boy free of charge with me. I didn't want to leave the responsibility of locking up the house to my then 12 year old girl and I certainly wasn't dragging the boy out of the house at 7am every morning.  I chose this. The extra money would have come in very handy for sure, but I decided that money wasn't everything.

This post wasn't meant as a debate as such - just a non conclusional ramble.  It's very windy outside but I think us oop North have got off lightly compared to the people of Cornwall and Wales I'm hearing about on the news. I also am listening to the radio talking about how it's TEN years today since  twenty three Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives in the treacherous Bay not far from where I live. Time flies. Don't waste a single minute.
Oh well, best get my wriggle into gear or something! Work beckons. Saw this on the t'internet. It's so me!

Saturday 1 February 2014

It's all about the RUGBY!!

I bloody love the annual RBS6Nations me.

I bloody love the Wales squad!

Yes yes I am English, but surely by now, you know I love the underdog. Well many many years ago, stuck with a Bairn on my knee on a cold day in February, the Rugby came on and I was transfixed. I'd  never seen it before. We hate football in this house and didn't choose sports as recreational telly.

The sheer brute force.. The thighs. The confusing rules. The backwards passing. The thighs. The crowd. The raw power. The team playing. The supporters. The thighs. The singing. The thighs.

Ahem I was HOOKED. The team that caught my heart were the Welsh. Because they lost every match in those days I was starting out my rugby career, by a lot.
The commentary back then went.
Jones, to Jones, to Williams to Jones and back to Jones ( sorry, am chuckling!! )  I willed them on to no avail. I didn't care. I loved them. 
A few years later, Johnny Wilkinson made it fashionable ( in my circles ) to like Rugby; he kicked a spellbinding kick in the very last second to win the World Cup. I still followed Wales. ( I will support ANYONE over the French mind - so I can be heard to shout COME ON ENGLAND sometimes! )

I kinda understand the rules ish. I am DYING to go to the Milennium Stadium to watch a live match. I can only compare it to going to a gig. The delicious anticipation of you and several thousand others all there for the same reason.

Anyway, it's starting this afternoon. My beloved Wales are playing Italy, traditionally always an easy win ... But you can never be certain in this game. The British Lions won this year and as the majority of that winning team were Welsh I'm hoping it doesn't have too much of an impact on this 6Nations. Can Wales make it three in a row? Let's bloody hope so! And even if they don't, I will still love them!

I am sorry if any hardened rugby experts are reading this and are exploding with incandescent rage at my uneducated post!

Enjoy the games if you watch! If you listen hard enough you will be able to hear me swearing my head off at the telly! My family totally disown me! Watching along with Twitter is great too!!!

Love from Rachel COME ON WALES Radiostar xxx