Sunday, 16 March 2008

Brownie Recipe........................................

Ok I have promised a lot of people that I would get this recipe up onto my blog. Apologies for not having any photographs but to be honest they never, ever last long enough. I am not sure if Craig managed to grab a photo yesterday or not at the new Iknit shop opening.

So here it is................

Brownies with white chocolate (and walnuts)
125g of unsalted butter
100g of plain chocolate
200g of caster sugar
2 organic eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
90g of plain four
pinch of salt
100g walnuts roughly chopped (optional - I tend to leave out and double up on the chocolate
100g white chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (Gas mark 3)
Rub a deep 16x20cm (or there abouts) baking dish with butter and line with parchment paper. (This is how the brownies stay lovely and moist on the bottom.)
Melt the butter and the plain chocolate in a large bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and then add the caster sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
Stir thoroughly and then add the flour and the pinch of salt. Add the white chocolate and the nuts (if you are including them). Mix gently and then pour into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for 35 to 40 mins. (Check if they are cooked by pricking with a toothpick or similar. If it comes out clean they are ready.)
Cool and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

I have already mentioned that I often leave out the nuts these days, alergies and all that, and double up the amount of white chocolate. This does work particularly well. I have also substituted different nuts and Pecans and these also have worked well.
Avoid using chopped up plain chocolate, I tried this the other week and it seems to remain very runny and causes the brownies to fall apart and also makes you think they need cooking longer and you end up with crispier, firmer edges than you may want to have. My oven is also a little tempermental so I tend to cook mine for nearer 45mins at Gas mark 4. Please adjust for your own oven.

I will add pictures if I ever have any around long enough to photograph. You can see a picture of the pre- cooked mixture in my earlier post about Mothering Sunday.
Happy baking everyone. If you try these please leave a comment and let me know how you get on.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Odds and Ends. What do you do with them?.........

Well apart from having a bad case of startitis at the weekend it is important to look at the root of these problems. I had been wanting to sort my yarn out for a while and after a trip to Ikea on Friday night with G and a non purchase of storage items I ended up resorting my yarn on the Saturday. So how do you go about sorting? Well there is a box for undyed yarn, a box for yarn purchased for specific projects, a hamper (and I do mean hamper of the picnic kind) full of beautiful individual skeins of yarn, the hand dyes, the sock, the luxurious and then there is the box of odds and sods. Mostly made up of old balls of arcylic or left over balls of yarn from projects etc. But what to do with the left overs? Some of it beautiful yarn needing someone and something to put it to good use.

So hence the series of startitis (and a bit of finishing) which has resulted in the following knitted items starting their life.


A very small amount of some lovely yarn from the Sock(topus)Club part I which was too good to just use up holding stitches for fingers for gloves so I created the following. There is a third but it was finished after I had taken this photo.


Staying on the theme of the Karenina, I loved the pattern so much that I wanted to see how it would look in different colours so scabbling around I found the following. You may recognise the pink Smooshy from my gloves.


I am not sure how these will turn out colour wise as they are such a contrast to the purple and yellow but they do remind me of summer and Ice Creams.



And finally I needed something to knit on the train last Friday so I started another beret using the left over yarn from my Chrysallis jumper (yet to be photographed, blogged and logged on the Rav). In fact I think that this was what started the need to sort, classify and use up the remenants.


I will take pictures of the other finished articles as they are completed. This is my contribution to the environment by doing the reduce (my stash) and reuse (my leftovers) bit.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sock(topus)Club Part Two - Neighbourhood tunnels..........

Ok so I am a little late in posting the arrival of the most recent Sock(topus)Club parcel which arrived on Monday last week. This has been eagerly awaited since finish the Karenina socks back in February. Unfortunately I am one of those that is going to have to wait a little longer for my sock blockers - but hey as long as they arrive in time to block these what does it matter?
So the yarn - Sheldridge Farm Ultra in shade Arcade Fire, especially dyed for the socktopus sock club and the colours chosen by our designer Emma Haigh, better known to us all as Quelle Erquesome leader of the Moustachio liberation front.



I have to say I was initially a little wary of this colour having had experience of the same brand of yarn in another colourway pooling a lot with a pair of lace socks that I knitted and not being as pleased with the yarn knitted as I was with it on the skein. However, this has now grown on me and I am feeling far more confident about it. The blue isn't turning out to be as dominant as first thought it would. I have to say I do love the red and orange colours in the yarn and actually the end of the skeins here shows it well.


I still think though I would have loved them to be this colour all over, although I can always buy more yarn and knit another pair. The sock club is all about challenges for me and taking me out of my comfort zone and it isn't only the colour way that has done that!

Toe up! What's that all about? Having battled with loading the CD, still not solved at this point I went on to look in more detail at the pattern keen to cast on. But hello, what is this? A crochet hook and make a chain! Ahhhhhhh.

OK lucky for me Emma is not too far away and kindly agreed to meet up to teach me this new technique. I am sure I could have managed but it is great to have the reasurance of the designer on hand with coffee in a cafe in comfy leather sofas. The key here I think was reading the pattern carefully for each step and not just guessing.

So after much hilarity here is my first efforts at a toe up sock....

the very tip

the very tip 2

the very tip 1

Thank you Emma for taking these pics for me as although I brought my camera I had forgotten to put the battery in it. Forgetfulness has been something of a theme this week but that is for another day.

And the following is a little further progress once I carried on at home..

I am really quite happy with the way the colour in the yarn is knitting up now.
I did try to attempt the next patterned part of the sock but alas I made a mess of that and need to find a block of time when I can shut myself away and concentrate. Although at the moment I am thinking another coffee session and tutorial with Emma maybe needed later in the week.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Having a Mothering Sunday....................

Ok I am one of these people who feels the whole thing has become very commercialised and I am absolutely adamant that cards should say Mothering Sunday and not Mother's Day. That put aside I still like presents and I still like being looked after. However, this Mothering Sunday was going to be a bit odd as one of my children wasn't going to be around (school trip to the lakes) but I wasn't going to let that get in the way.
So we decided this year it would be about being a mother and doing motherly things. So after packaging off child number one we headed to Kew Gardens with child number two in search of a hearty brunch. I was quite suprised to find that they didn't do hot breakfast in any of there eaty places at all. We did however manage croissant and pain au chocolat washed down with a latte and some other savory pasteries I can't remember the name of.
Next was present buying. After listening to the moan of its Christmas in December, your birthday in January, Valentines in February and that was only two weeks ago we agreed no flowers. We instead decided on plants for the garden from Kew, but I get to choose. So we came away with four lovely plants including their recommended plant of the month. A good job they were recommending really as neither of us would have had a clue where to start. All the plants we choose needed shade which was good considering where we wanted to install them.
On returning home these were promptly located out the back and snapped.


Once the bags were removed they looked like this...


and close up like this.....................................





Four fine specimins which I can proudly say have already been put into their new homes.

Once the planting had been done and a lovely meal had been devoured there was more mummy stuff to be done. This time in the shape of baking; brownies, scones, and bread rolls. Child number two had requested to be able to make bread. So here is the outcome.................

The brownies are pre-baking. We then had visitors to collect our old sofa bed and they stayed to sample the cooking and then to round off the day it was out to knitting group in the evening. I have to say it has been one of my most enjoyable Mothering Sunday's yet.