This is my secret sauce; the reason for my passionate love for nail polish. As a little black dress is a staple in any woman’s wardrobe, the hot pink nail polish is something my hands cannot live without.
So a few weeks ago I wrote about my creation of felt Christmas decorations, this is an update.
I have been sewing away, experimenting with buttons, ribbon, wool, pom poms, pens, everything! My favourites are probably the Robin and Rudolph. I prefer the white felt eyes to the buttons eyes on others. So anyway I will keep making them, some for family for xmas, others just for the flat. I am also going to be making microwavable heat cushions from material and barley so watch out for it.
It is no secret that I love Christmas. So now Halloween is over and bonfire night is out the way, we can now focus on the big event! Last night I started by using my new festive cookie cutters and making Christmas themed gingerbread…
So here is the recipe: (makes approx 20 biscuits)
- 90g soft dark brown sugar
- 45g clear honey
- 30g butter
- 180g (12oz) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 egg, lightly beaten
- Baking parchment
- Put the honey, sugar and butter in a pan, and melt over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan to allow to cool slightly.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and ginger into a bowl. Pour in the melted mixture and the egg. Mix well.
- Knead on a lightly floured surface.
- Set the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Roll out the gingerbread on a surface lightly dusted with flour.
- Cut out your shapes (preferably xmas themed) and transfer to the lined baking sheets.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to brown. Remove from the oven and allow the pieces to cool on baking sheets.
Due to keen interest on Twitter and a request for the recipe from @oppositejohn and @maniacyak, here it is… My Sumatran lamb curry!! The recipe i based this on was from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible. I have made many curries from this book and would definitely recommend checking it out. I had to adapt the recipe a bit due to not having some ingredients, and i added more chillies as it was very mild.
Makes enough sauce for 4-6 people but you can always freeze what you don’t use.
- 1 white onion (chopped)
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (i didn’t have any fresh so i used lazy ginger)
- 3 red chillies, chopped and with seeds
- 2 teaspoons red paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (i missed this out as i didn’t have any)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
- 400 ml can of coconut milk, left undisturbed for 3 hours or more
- 6 tablespoons of corn, peanut or olive oil
- 900 g lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
- Roughly 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons thick tamarind paste (i didn’t have any but substituted with some lemon juice)
- You could also add in a pepper, green beans, and okra pods if you have them!
- I started by placing the chopped onions, chillies, garlic, ginger, and 3 tablespoons of water into a blender and blending until smooth.
- To this i added the paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric (if you have it), cinnamon, and cardamom. Blend briefly.
- Remove the tick coconut cream from the can and keep to one side for later.
- Put the thinner coconut milk into a measuring jug and add water to make it up to 750ml.
- Pour the oil into a large lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat.
- Add in the paste from the blender and fry for 12 minutes until it has thickened and a rich, reddish brown.
- Add in the meat to the pan and stir for a minute.
- Cover and reduce to a medium-low heat and cook for 10 minutes. Check and stir every now and again.
- Add in the thinned coconut milk and water mixture, salt and tamarind paste (or lemon juice). Stir to mix and bring to simmer.
- Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
- Take the lid off and continue to simmer on a low heat for a few hours but keep an eye on it and stir it so it doesn’t dry out.
- When it has thickened and reduced, add the remaining thick coconut milk and continue to simmer until it has mixed and thickened.
I love making my own crafty things, it is so rewarding. I like sewing and with Christmas only 2 months away (i know, it comes as a shock every year) it did seem a bit excessive to put up my Christmas tree so soon, so I decided to satisfy my Christmas craving by making my own decorations.
Off I went to Hobbycraft and after spending a good half hour there I decided on dark brown (xmas pud), light brown (gingerbread man), green (xmas tree) and white (snowball). After some poor attempts at free style cutting of a Christmas tree out of the green felt, I found my gingerbread man cookie cutter and with great success had my shapes:
I also bought this ‘tub-o-buttons’ from Hobbycraft. It wasn’t expensive and contains loads of random buttons that are ideal for the finishing touches for my decorations.
For this gingerbread man I chose two matching red buttons and sewed them onto his tummy. I then attempted to stitch a smile an eyes using black thread, not ideal but as he is only 2 inches tall this seemed my only option. Thicker thread would have been better. After cutting a short length of thin red ribbon to hang him up by, I stitched the 2 gingerbread men shapes together round the edges with thick red thread and stuffed him with cotton wool as i went, and hey presto, my first decoration!
After the gingerbread man success there was no stopping me that evening. I then made a xmas pudding and a snowball (i think) with buttons (festive colours at least).
I persevered and made a tree and a snowman. However, the snowman does look like a bird (i forgot his smile) and his eyes may be a touch on the large side! But I’ve learnt what I can do better foe next time.
I hope you all like my decorations and I’ll probably have made five more by the time you read this.