Mums are brilliant!

Well, mine is anyway.

I have just had a big bowl of apple crumble because my mum came up to see my sister and me just after her birthday and she brought us gifts!

Lots of yummy fruit and veg from the garden. Mmmm…

So I now have loads of tomatos, some little squashes which will be perfect for stuffing and baking. Although if I’m feeling lazy I’ll  just slice ’em and roast ’em in lots of oil. And apples… LOTS of apples.

My parents live in the countryside and have multiple apple trees and so this year we have a bumper crop. I see apple sauce in my future. And at least one more crumble. Another reason why my mum’s brilliant is that she is a fantastic cook . She taught me to make crumbles. Pretty much my favourite dessert.

I haven’t taken a picture of the crumble because, well,  you know what apple crumble looks like. You also know that I don’t have a good enough camera to make it look pretty. I really should invest at some point. If I’m going to write a food blog, having a reasonable camera is kind of a good idea.

The best thing about making apple crumble is that you can have it for breakfast. Coffee and apple crumble. If you haven’t done it, you really should. Especially if like me you use 50/50 flour and oats for the crumble, so you can kind of kid yourself it’s like having porridge (but better)!

Folded crocus scarf

Folded crocus scarf

Anyway, so it being Mama’s birthday El and I got together and spent an hour or so hunting through patterns on Ravelry and narrowing down our choices. El had a much clearer idea of our mother’s taste than I do and made suggestions of what I should look for, while I plugged ideas into the database and pondered yarn choices and yardages.

We decided on Laura Rintala’s Crocus Scarf but decided to do as many extra pattern repeats as we could get out fo the yarn because we wanted something a bit more luxurious looking than the photos.

Then we popped down to Loop in Islington and caused chaos pulling all the DK and sock yarn out of the shelves and failing to stack it back again properly. (I think everyone does this but it’s hard not to feel self-conscious as you take your hand away and it all comes cascading down on your head… again!) Eventually El came to a decision and we went with the classic: Malabrigo sock in Botticelli Red.

Now I don’t need to wax lyrical about Malabrigo sock yarn. If you’re reading this blog the chances are you know about Malabrigo sock yarn. Pure, soft, soft merino lusciousness and beeeeeyooooootiful colours. Sigh.

The whole scarf

The whole scarf

So I set to work and found that this was a really addictive and fun pattern. It’s simple to memorise but interesting enough to  give you that ‘just one more row’ feeling. The way the pattern works up is cool and it looks far better in real life than in any photo I’ve yet seen. Congratulations Laura for a job well done.

Having done a couple of extra pattern repeats I wasn’t in a position to  do the edging that the pattern recommends for each end so instead I just did a quick row of UK dc/US sc down the sides to neaten things up. A light blocking and we were done.

This was a very quick and satisfying project and thankfully, yes, she likes it. I want to make sure she gets at least another birthday present or two but for now I’m really happy to have got this done and that it really was a joint effort with El in design and me in manufacture. And if you’re thinking of making a quick lace scarf I definitely recommend the pattern. Fast, fun and a great result.

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Tenses or what happens when I get up early.

Scarf for Elly

Scarf for Elly

I am sorry for the dearth of posting lately. In my defense I have had a significant and much welcome upturn in my career and the previously mentioned less welcome but ultimately beneficial personal tribulations.

As part of my new work situation I have had to adjust my body-clock to a more normal daily routine and leave behind the luxurious freelancer’s world of 8.45am rising. It’s worth it to be doing fun stuff and getting paid for it but it is a bit of a shock. So, on the days when I don’t have to traipse across London at sparrowfart I still wake up in time to do so. (There is an upside which is lots of time to crochet on the train. The project in the blurry photo on the right is a new scarf for the lovely Elly.)

I breakfast bright and fresh… ok… ok… I breakfast grumpy and yawning at 6.45am and by 10 o’clock it’s definitely time for elevenses. Hence the title of this post.

So what am I having for tenses? Cooooookiiiiiies! And tea, lovely, lovely tea.

When I left home for the first time my mum gave me a load of simple recipes for the student kitchen printed on scraps of paper. I have carted them around with me on my wanderings since then and they are many of them battered and stained as all good recipes should be.The cookie recipe has become such a staple that it now lives behind the cereal on the worktop in my kitchen along with the basic sponge cake recipe. There’s no point putting them away because they’d only have to come back out again in no time.

The main reason I love this cookie recipe is its adaptability. Today I share it with you.

You will need:

100g soft margarine

150g dark brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

200g plain flour

1/2  teaspoon baking powder

50g tasty stuff e.g. chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chunks etc

Method:

1.Grease two large baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 180C

2. Cream together the marge and the sugar until pale.

3. Add the egg and vanilla essence, beat in thoroughly.

4. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and any powdered flavourings such as cocoa powder or spice. Fold in.

5. Stir in the other tasty stuff.

6. Spoon out even-sized teaspoons onto the baking tray and spread the mix slightly leaving a space around each to expand further as they bake.

7. Bake until firm. Personally I like a crunchy cookie so I tend to bake them until the begin to brown. Take them out sooner if you prefer more chewiness.

8. Cool on a wire rack.

Now here comes the cool bit. Although Momma’s original recipe is for a chocolate and nut cookie, I am an inveterate fiddler. I have found that amongst others you can make:

Oatmeal and raisin cookies

Remove 50g of the flour, add 50g of rolled oats and 50g of raisins and a pinch of cinnamon.

Lemon cookies

Add the grated rind and juice of half a lemon plus 50g of candied peel.

And today’s special… sesame cookies

Add a generous pinch of powdered ginger and 50g of  black sesame seeds. (I’m sure white would be just as tasty but black looks prettier.)

Tea and sesame cookies

Tea and sesame cookies

The sesame cookies are ridiculously moreish. I am getting through them at a hitherto unseen rate. (It’s also that time of the month mind.) They had a weird characteristic of being more delicious once they’d cooled than when they were fresh out the oven, which is frankly bizarre. Warm they were somehow odd and disappointing. Now they are cold though they are going down very nicely indeed with a good cuppa cha.