Thursday, 31 March 2011

made to orders!

Oh yes we do!!

I was so pleased, to be parcelling-up my first custom tablecloth order the other week, for London Town! I'd been asked if I could make a tablecloth like my blue skies and grey petals picnic tablecloth that would fit a drop-leaf table when used either with one side up or when fully extended. "Sure thing!" I said and got scribbling out a plan...

The gingham fabric I use comes in the narrow, 112 cm measurement so I figured out a nifty way to make it fit the table by neatly machining two deep borders (in a double thickness of fabric) to each long side and hand finishing the hem on the underside. I suggested placing the applique in groups of three on either side with a slightly larger flower in the middle. I didn't expect it but the result was you got to see how this big repeating pattern works with motifs appearing across the three patches. Oh, how I wish I'd bought more of this fabric!

My customer was delighted with her tablecloth and I was so pleased that my long-held idea worked. Phew! Now another thing to add to my ever lengthening list of personal sewing projects is running up one of these babies for me. Perhaps with luck, I'll make it in time for Christmas?!

Another random discovery I made is the availability in some parts of my holy grail: 150 cm wide cotton gingham! Yipee!! The range of colours is somewhat limited but I'm looking forward to experimenting with a much larger square tablecloth in the range sometime soon. Well, almost as soon as the shop comes back from it's holidays... 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

cakes for japan

Cakes for Japan, Edinburgh - Tsunami Appeal Fundraiser Saturday 26th March  11:00am - 3:00pm

Quaker Meeting House,

7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2JL

It shan't come as a surprise, that I require little persuading to don my pinny, go forth and bake, most especially when I've had such an important cause to get rattling my baking tins for. I have a few different Japan-inspired baking ideas I'm working on - just hope I've enough time to bake them all!

Find Cakes for Japan, Edinburgh on Facebook:

For more information, or to get involved with the Edinburgh fundraiser, email:

Read about the other Cakes for Japan events at and see the sell-out Cakes for Japan, London sale on flikr which raised over £2000 in three hours! 

Hope you can make it on Saturday!!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Baking Circle No.1: Aunty Jean's Shortbread

We had a good ole natter at the inaugural Auntie M's Baking Circle meet-up last week. The idea behind the evening is that you bring along your baked wares with a fist-full of recipes for it, we taste discuss and swap recipes and then take a little bit of everything home. I am calling this RESEARCH, not an excuse to eat cake, absolutely not. This for me is a serious study of the Art of Bake. 

The theme Michelle chose for our baked wares was 'bars' which I understood as 'tray-bakes' then further interpreted as shortbread, 'cause I bakes it in a tray see. The above photo shows the bakes that made it back to mine, having shared some of the others along the way. There was a Rosemary and Salt Caramel Millionaire's which Emily was into (she got the rest) and having had Stacey's Banana Nut Brownie for breakfast the following day (after the incredible discovery of rhubarb and custard on your porridge) I felt that 43 miles should be put between me and the rest. 

So, on the plate is Auntie M's Buttertart Bar which was deee-lish crisp biscuit base with sticky and ever-so-slightly chewy buttery topping, studded with raisins. The Butter Tart hails from Michelle's Canadian homeland and apparently there is quite a debate over there as to whether you walnut or raisin the filling. I may have to base a research project on this. Auntie M's young protege took along Crispy Treats, a no-bake blend of marshmallows, puffed rice and butter, the simplicity of which belied it's complex moreishness. 

Aunty Jean's recipe is very special recipe to me. Passed on from her, it's one my Mum made a lot. I think it might be unusual in that you melt, rather than cream the fat but it's the cornflour that keeps it wonderfully crisp and light. Oh and did I mention it's a doddle to make? Here's the recipe, scanned out of my notebook. At the bottom I've added the reminders Ma left - just in case. The shortbread trimmings by the way, are one of the very best bits, especially if they are a little over done. Save them for ice cream or maybe even a bowl of rhubarb and custard?!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Dearest Japan...

I am thinking of you and send you all my love. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


There seems to be a fad for writing about your breakfast round these parts. Well, as one Julias' Daughter hopefully re-considers her own self-imposed ban, I feel the mantle falls to me to talk about that oh-so-most-important meal of the day. 

So - what does a night owl eat for breakfast? Well, that all kinda depends what day of the week we're talking about and whether I'm having to rise and shine and get my ass out the house to meet some type of rotational requirement. I hate to admit it but sometimes, just sometimes I have to leave the house without (duh, duh, DUH!). Like this Sunday morning, when I heated up the oats and milk I'd left soaking in the microwave overnight (how very organised of me) and then had no time to eat my too-hot porridge. For shame. Well, the only thing I can say is at least with porridge you can reheat it the next day (which I did) that is so long as you don't make it to the consistency of wet concrete (which I didn't). My top porridge toppers at the moment (incase you are not yet asleep) are raisins and a wee bit of sugar (golden granulated) or my Winter Fruit Compote - mmm PRUNES! I am, as yet, managing to resist double cream. No, don't mention it (double cream) - I said DON'T MENTION IT!

Any hows - what I was really wanting to tell y'all about were the exciting results of my first venture into the land of marmalade. I come from a long line of Marmaladies (actually, that may be a short line) but anyways, I had never been schooled in the technical side. My Ma's preference was for the pre-sliced MAMADE tins (medium cut) whereas my Granny's speciality has a rather different consistency: very soft-set and rather lemony, I do believe she told me that my Granda used to pass all the fruit peel through a table-mounted hand-cranked mincer!

Well, I just followed Mrs Corbin's instruction to the letter: steeping my finely hand sliced peel in water overnight and boiling and reducing the next day. I had to take a break in my preservings (to hop of to a lecture, fancy!) and returned to my pan the next day, to no ill effect. The secret of Mrs Corbin's success, I reckon, is her use of demerara sugar. It adds a wonderful, golden syrupy richness which is quite extraordinarily unlike any other marmalade I have known.

It took me a lot less time to find the setting point than it did for my plum jam (did I tell you about my plum jam?) and for once I actually had MORE preserve than I expected! Lucky old me. So much in fact that I had to grab my marmalade pot out of the cupboard to fill. It's a lovely T.G. Green number which was part of a 'breakfast set' given as a wedding gift to my Ma and Pa. I love the colour. The plate is T.G. Green too, from a charity shop and probably a second - but you can't see the wee blip in the glaze once you've got a wholemeal seeded muffin on there! 

Than reminds me, somewhere I have a recipe for marmalade cake...