Bleeding Hearts

The first thing I have made using my own jam. They’re clearly just jammy dodgers, but I made them and I think Bleeding Hearts is a good name for them.
It’s a really simple recipe:
225g All-Purpose Flour
175g Margarine/Butter
130g Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
Mix together the flour and butter in a mixer or with an electric whisk, until they look like breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and egg yolk and continue to mix until the mixture starts to come together. I had to add a little water to form a proper dough.
Knead the mix to form a smooth dough, then roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for half an hour.
When the dough is chilled, roll out onto a floured surface and cut out your shapes of choice.
Place shapes on a baking tray (with baking parchment or similar non-stick thing) and bake at 180 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. My oven is really rubbish so I always have to bake things longer, usually judging by colour if they’re done.
After baking, cool on a wire rack. When cool, take two biscuits and stick together with jam!

I got about 10 sandwiched biscuits out of the batch, with a small amount of leftover dough that I just pressed into a circle and used as a taster, hehe 🙂

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As with most of my baking, they’re not perfect, but I’m not so bothered. They’re all slightly unique in their shape and they’re maybe a little crunchier than I had intended, but they’re yummy, and that’s the most important thing as far as I’m concerned 🙂

I always have a little struggle with my conscience over recipes that call for either just egg yolk or just egg white, I hate waste!! So I used the egg white that didn’t go into the biscuits and whipped up a small batch or meringues, so I probably am going to make lemon meringue cupcakes this week!

Hope you’ve enjoyed you weekend,
Betty
x

We Be Jammin’

Having been inspired by my new Queen of Crafts book, I decided to turn my hand to a little jam making this weekend. It’s something I’ve fancied trying for a while, I like the idea of preserving and storing fruit and veg produce for the winter. There’s something satisfying and comforting about the idea to me.
Anyway, I was aware that it about the time of year for blackberry picking. I have great memories of picking blackberries with my parent when I was a kid. So, I took myself and Alf (the puppy) off to the local common, where I knew there were vast expanses of brambles and where, a few years ago, the boyfriend and I had a very productive blackberry picking session. Unfortunately this year was no where near as profitable. I don’t know if I was too early, too late or if it has just not been a good year for blackberries. I came home with about 200 grams, which probably wasn’t enough for making a decent amount of jam.
So, the following day I decided a trip into the New Forest, my childhood blackberry picking ground, was in order. Plus I really love walking Alf in the forest, he enjoys it so much. I took my camera along and took a few pictures in between picking berries and getting caught in brambles.

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The forest wasn’t actually that much more profitable on the blackberry front, but it was so nice to get out with Alf and have a walk in the peace and quite, with practically no other people. I’m quite specific about picking berries, which probably slightly reduced my haul. I don’t like to take too many from one spot, I’d rather pick a few from a bush as a walk past, you need to leave some for the wildlife! I got a fair few injuries too, several pricked fingers, a couple of splinters and a very prickled calf :/
Due to the low fruit yield, and the fact that I had definitely decided I wanted to make jam, I made a quick trip to the supermarket to buy some supplementary blackberries, as well as sugar and pectin, which I also needed. The recipe is not mine to share, I suggest you buy Queen of Crafts as a most excellent guide, but here are some pictures of my jam making fun 🙂

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It was actually really quite easy to make, which I was surprised about. The instructions in the Queen of Crafts book are really simple and easy to follow (but you’ll have to buy it to find out how I did it!). I did have a slight issue, having ladled it into jars and leaving it to cool for a while, it was pretty clear to me that it wasn’t going to set. Having discussed with my mum, I decided to empty the jars back into the pan to boil for longer and, apparently, lemon juice (plus extra sugar to offset the sourness) helps in getting the pectin to set. Fortunately, after a second boil, with lemon juice, the mixture looked a lot more jammy. I put it all back into jars (unfortunately it had decreased in volume, down from 4 jars full to 3 and a third), sealed and left to cool overnight. Joy of joys, this morning I most definitely had jam 🙂
I also impressed myself with my resourcefulness as, not owning a funnel and not wanting to get covered in hot, sticky jam, I cut the top off a Pepsi bottle, which served as a fine makeshift funnel!
There was just one final step, dressing the jars up! I have a large quantity of fabric that I have accumulated for non-specific uses, and picked a heart print fabric to make lid covers. I cut out what I thought were reasonably size circles, but when I put them on the jars they were too large and looked a little silly, so I had to trim them up while still on the jars :/ I hope they don’t look too scrappy now. I also made labels, I tried making labels by hand, but just couldn’t produce anything I really liked, so I turned to my computer, and knocked up some pretty funky labels that I think suit me and my jam down to the ground :p

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I’m really very happy with the outcome. I did a fair amount of tasting during cooking and it was really very, very yummy 🙂 I’m not much of one for jam on toast, so I think I’m going to have to whip up some scones or jammy dodgers or something else that I can include jam in!

Hope you are having a good weekend,
Keep on Jammin’
Betty
x

Queen of Crafts

Last weekend I received my copy of Queen of Crafts by Jazz Domino Holly.
I have been really excited about this book since I first read about it in Mollie Makes magazine back in May or June, when September seemed like a really long way away! A craft book written by the daughter of Joe Strummer, is there anything more awesome!? I added it to my Amazon wishlist straight away, then kinda let it slip my mind, until last week when I saw an announcement that it had been released and I bought it right away.

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I have certainly not been disappointed and, even though I’m really busy, I pick it up at every available opportunity.
The book itself is beautiful. Just on an initial flick through I already knew I was going to love it. The pages are filled with beautiful colours, great little illustrations and photographs that accompany the projects.
There are sections for handicraft, woolcraft, patchwork, baking, preserving, gardening and beauty, amongst other things, the full gamut of crafting disciplines, and more than enough to keep even the most voracious crafter occupied. Don’t think that the wide range of crafts covered means it’s a whistle stop tour that lacks detail and doesn’t allow for you to properly engage with the crafts. To my mind, each chapter contains as much detail as you would want to find in any book devoted to introducing a single one of the crafts covered here. I’m sure once you become more proficient you’ll want to read more and search out new projects, but this is a wonderfully comprehensive starting point. Plus, the range of crafts might lead to you taking up something you hadn’t originally intended to.

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The book opens with a lovely introduction written by Jazz about the resurgence in the popularity of crafting, her childhood and how she got into crafting and creating and her involvement with the WI (Women’s Institute). It is written with a lovely personal tone, in a way that it feels like she has sat down with you and is going to impart her great wisdom to you alone. This continues throughout the book as she takes you through the various crafts, from the basics of tools and terminology, through to techniques and tips, then on to practical modern projects and hosting craft based events. She walks you through knitting a chunky scarf and a bow headband, sewing a cake-shaped pin cushion and a knitting bag, various patchwork items, baking sponge cakes and jam tarts, making a range of jams, whipping up your own lip balm and body scrub and that’s just a sample of the projects covered. There’s something in there for everyone. I can’t wait to try out the bow headband, and all the baking looks delicious, to be honest, I want to do all of it!

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At every stage the book makes everything seem so easy and accessible, acknowledging that you might not be a master straight off, but always being encouraging. Jazz also makes efforts throughout to highlight the modern aspects and relevance of the crafts. There’s no way you could come away from this book thinking that crafting is only for the elderly!
Everything about this book is just an absolute joy. It’s beautiful, inspiring and packed with so many hints, tips and advice. Jazz Domino Holly totally makes it onto my list of inspiring women, talented, resourceful, motivated, funky and beautiful to boot. Plus, she has a leopard print sewing box!! (It’s not one of the projects but I’m pretty sure I can make one on my own). If I wasn’t inspired, I’d be jealous!
I personally love the little Clash/Rock N Roll/Rebel references that are sprinkled throughout – Hey, Ho, Let’s Sew 😉

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I have been into making things and crafting for a while already, but this book has served to further ignite my passion and inspire me to turn my hand to so much more. I am also really interested in her final chapter on setting up social craft groups. Jazz started her own WI group in Shoreditch, London, known as the Shoreditch Sisters, which have helped revolutionise the image of the WI. Now, starting my own WI group might be a bit much, but I would definitely be interested to get a group together to knit, sew, drink tea and eat cake together.
In my opinion, everyone should buy this book (and also, get yourself a copy of Mollie Makes).

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If anyone would be interested in getting a craft group together in Hampshire then get in touch.
Happy Crafting,
Betty
x

An anti-ode to summer

So it looks like summer is over, supposing it ever properly started, and you know what, I am glad.
Summer is probably my least favorite season, which probably leaves me in a minority.
I love autumn, winter and early spring.
I like wearing boots and big socks, scarves and hats and coats. I like thick knits, wool and faux fur. I feel uncomfortable in swimsuits, bandeau tops and sandals. I can cope with skirts and shorts, but only if I can wear them with reasonably thick tights. I get more excited about fluffy ear-muffs than sunglasses. I like to sit under blankets, all wrapped up. I love open fires (not that I have one).
It’s only been a week since the prospect of autumn arriving has been being thrown around, and I’ve already bought some big woolly socks and wellies!
Why do I dislike summer so? Well, partly it’s because I’m a bit of a delicate flower (haha). As much as I like to see sunshine, I don’t like it when it’s hot, I hate it when it’s humid, I despise sweating and I burn at the drop of a hat. Another thing that puts me off summer is the fact that it’s almost entirely taken over by school holidays, meaning the world is over-run with people and children. Everywhere is busy. I’m an anti-social so-and-so at heart.
But Autumn. Autumn is full of beautiful colours, moody skies and bracing winds. Autumn can be warm but never too hot, and when it’s not you get to pile on lovely layers of jumpers and bundles of scarves. I can go out in the autumn and walk without getting too hot and without places being too busy to be enjoyable.
Autumn gives way to winter. Yes it’s dark, yes it’s cold, yes it rains quite a lot. I don’t even mind the rain that much, it’s so nice to curl up inside with a blanket and hot chocolate while it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Winter also brings wonderful crisp mornings with glittering frosts and the prospect of snow! Winter is the perfect season for breaking out sequined party wear, shimmering make-up and glittery heels.


I’m sure a lot of you will probably disagree with me on a lot of this, but to me, autumn and winter are the most beautiful and enjoyable times of year with the most exciting fashion. Summer is too, ordinary.
I do kind of understand why so many people love the summer so much, but I think autumn and winter are too quickly dismissed, especially given they make up the majority of our year in the UK! Autumn and winter have so much more to offer if you look past the rain and the grey clouds and embrace the positives! Find yourself a good pair of wellies, a big coat and go walk through an autumnal forest and kick leaves and then tell me autumn is not a beautiful time of the year!

All pictures included in this blog are from morgueFile.com, a resource for copyright free images.
I hope you’re making the best of your current weather, whatever it is.
Love,
Betty
x

National Cupcake Week 12th-18th September

Next week is National Cupcake Week. Not that I need an excuse to make or eat cupcakes, but I’m getting rather excited by the idea of making huge quantities of pretty little cakes 🙂
Hopefully I’m going to have some willing volunteers to help me eat all the cupcakes I’m hoping to make, otherwise all my diet efforts will be wasted :/

My favorite ideas at the moment include;

  • Millionaire’s Cupcakes: Basic vanilla cupcake filled with caramel and topped with chocolate frosting
  • Cherry Bakewell Cupcake: Almond flavoured cupcake, filled with jam and iced
  • Lemon Meringue Cupcake: Lemon flavoured cupcake, topped with lemon curd, frosting and a mini meringue

In case any of you are thinking of getting your bake on, either for cupcake week, or just generally, I though I would share some of my favorite baking blogs with you for inspiration.

Buns In My Oven
This blog features the best recipes, with pictures so delicious they make you feel like you’re gaining weight by just looking at them. Of course, looking at the pictures is the least of your weight gain worried. With such divine creations as Hot Fudge Sundae Oreo Brownies, Rolo Cake Mix Cookies, Caramel Turtle Tart and Nutella Pop Tarts you can see what I mean!
For those of you less cake-obsessed than I am, there are also a plethora of great savory recipes too.
The recipes are all really well written, well explained and not too complicated. They also come with nice little stories behind them and some fantastic photography!
This is definitely one of my favorite baking blogs.

Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
OK, so this is another awesome sugar fuelled, cakey blog and it totally rivals Buns In My Oven for calorie content and beautiful pictures.
I have seen recipes on this blog that I could never have dreamt up, but definitely want to try. Some of the best include; Rocky Road Brownies, Mini Jello-O Fish Bowls, Cheesecake Filled Brownie Bites, Rolo Brownies and Key Lime Swirl Cheesecake Bars. That’s just five, but I could honestly just keep on listing the amazing recipes on this site all day!
This lady sure does know her desserts, and her photography. This is dessert porn if ever I saw it 🙂

Cookies and Cups
Well, would you know it, another beautiful, mouth watering baking blog. It’s a wonder I’m not a hideous, morbidly obese monster. While this blog may be another enemy of my waistline, I can’t help but love it.
Every post contains a great recipe, accompanied by taste bud tantalising photography and a nice, personal blog post. Some of the recipe highlights in my opinion would be; Cream-cheese filled Snickerdoodles, Caramel Swirled Pretzel M&M Brownies and Double Glazed Funfetti Donuts.
Yet another fantastic recipe resource that I really enjoy reading.

I could go on, but honestly, the sight of all this cake is giving me cravings that I’m struggling to suppress :/ I must stay away from the can of caramel in the kitchen, things could get very messy.

If you have any favorite recipes or cake/baking blogs, I’d love to hear about them.

Love,
Betty
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