Sunday, April 20, 2014

Making fruity tea bread

I usually make a cake when we have friends coming over, but this time I decided to try something a bit different and make tea bread. They were also due over in the morning, and I knew I wouldn't be up in enough time to bake before their arrival, so tea bread also has the advantage that it can be made in advance!

First of all you steep a tea bag for 3 minutes. I used an Earl Grey one. You can make yourself a cup of tea at the same time.

Whilst it's steeping, chop up a variety of dried fruit. I used whatever I had in the cupboard - so it included sultanas, cranberries, pears and dates, rather than what was actually specified in the recipe. Add zest and juice from one orange, plus the tea (minus the tea bag!), and leave, covered, for six hours whilst you wander off to do some more knitting/drink tea etc.

The recipe says to grease and line a loaf tin, but I used a loaf tin liner, because it's SO much easier.

Many hours later, having drunk plenty of tea and done lots of knitting, cream together the butter and sugar.

Turn the light on, and add in the eggs, plus gradually beat in the sifted flour, followed by the tea-soaked dried fruit.

And then pour into the loaf tin.

It takes over an hour in the oven, so that's plenty more time to drink more tea/do some more knitting.
About 40 minutes into the baking time, sprinkle some muscovado sugar on top.

Ta da! Leave to cool on wire rack. Then put in tin overnight.

The following morning slice up to serve to friends - it tastes best buttered. And washed down with tea, obviously.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two whole finished items

I don't seem to have blogged about knitting for ages, but I have had several projects on the go, I just kept forgetting to take photographs in suitable light. But now that Spring is well and truly here it's a lot easier!

I've finished working on the wrap cardigan in Twilley's Freedom Spirit that I resurrected for the Ravellenic Games. I just had one sleeve to finish, plus the border to finish and sew on. I remembered whilst I was finishing the sleeve how much I'd loved the colours when I was first knitting it several years ago.

And this is it all finished and blocked. I think my tension changed slightly over the years and I'm a couple of sizes bigger now than I was when I started knitting it, so it has to be worn as an open cardigan rather than a wrap one, but it's still wearable, and I think will be a useful garment. I (briefly) considered frogging it and starting again, but Freedom Spirit is a nightmare to frog and I couldn't face the thought. It's a little bit pulled at the front, where the border was sewn on.

And I've finished another one of the cabled hoodies for my nephew's eighth birthday. This is size 9 - 10 years, so should hopefully last him a while, and took 4 balls of Sirdar Supersoft Aran. Despite being acrylic, it's nice to knit with and I know washes well, as the last hoodies I made for him and his brother three years ago have lasted well.
This is it pre-blocking:

And post-blocking, where it looks a totally different colour! It's actually more of a burgundy red, like the picture above! Monkey couldn't resist getting in on the blocking action too.

I enjoyed reading the Yarn Harlot's post about blocking the other week and realised that I, too, had been guilty of thinking there was no need to block acrylic. I can certainly see the difference in the pre and post blocking pictures anyway!

I'm now busy working on a couple more Beyond Puerperiums for a friend who is expecting twins, so there should be another knitting update before too much longer.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Garden at the beginning of April 2014

I really wish now that I'd taken garden at the beginning of the month pictures last year, as that was the year of the never-ending winter. I've enjoyed seeing friends' this year and last year pictures on Facebook for the contrast this week! I know from my garden record book that last year's temperatures were well below 10°C colder than they are now.

Meanwhile, this year there is now a lot of colour in the garden as more and more plants start flowering. The birds are all nesting and eating up the hordes of tiny insects which presumably weren't killed off by the mild winter.

The daffodils are virtually over now, but most of the tulips are out, plus all the Aubrieta.

I love the Dicentra flowers, and it seems to be doing particularly well this year - must be the wet weather!

Close up of some more Aubrieta. Three years ago I bought a four pack of different varieties from the garden centre, so we now have clumps in a mixture of purples.

And the first sighting of some apple blossom!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Days out: Gainsborough Old Hall

I went up to Mum's for the Mothering Sunday weekend and we had a day out to Gainsborough whilst I was there. We mooched around the newish shopping area, Marshall's Yard, where we had some lunch, before heading over to Gainsborough Old Hall. I think I last went there on a school trip 25 years ago (how time flies).

It's a Medieval Manor House, visited by Richard III and Henry VIII, and also housed some of the Separatists, who engaged in Puritan worship in the hall. Later on some of their group would travel to America on the Mayflower.

The internal photos are a bit fuzzy as I didn't have my flash on.

I climbed all the way to the top of the tower to have a look over the rest of the building and surrounding bits of Gainsborough. It was a lovely day.

Rather unfortunate model of Henry VIII, complete with enormous codpiece!!

I could remember a few parts (mainly the Ghost Corridor) from when I visited years ago, but there's a lot more to see now, and I think it would be a great place to visit with children.