Wednesday, 30 November 2011


I've been having a great time the last couple of months teaching things that I love.  I was asked to teach a four week course in beginners cake decorating at Neston Youth & Community Centre.   I met 12 great people who by the end of the course new the basics in using fondant, frosting, icing and sugar.  We piped, flooded, feathered, crystalised, coloured, and stamped.  They went away with some new ideas, hints and tips and  enough confidence to do it all again at home.

That was followed with four weeks of cooking for Christmas where I was joined by some ladies from the cake decorating and some new faces.  We had a week of canapes & nibbles, then christmas dinner for meat eaters and veggies.  Next was puddings and we finished off with edible gifts.  It was a great way to kick off the up coming festivities and I now have most of my christmas dinner prepared and in the freezer so it's done me a huge favour 

I really loved spending time with people that have the same interest and enthusiasm for home cooking, baking, and eating - there was a lot of sampling!  We all swapped ideas and learned new things, including me.  Now I can't wait to carry on next year with more classes. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

W.K.F.C - West Kirby Fried Chicken

Oh my word, who can resist a bit of southern fried chicken or North West fried chicken as it would have to be in my house.  No! not deep frying I hear you call but there's nothing wrong with it every now and then or on special occasions like it's Tuesday perhaps.

To make it as authentic as the popular take away I also made coleslaw and added barbecue sauce to baked beans.  All that was missing was the cardboard bucket.

Just to help reduce the possible high calorific values of this meal, I removed the skin and the chicken was pre-cooked to reduce frying time, this also ensures it's cooked all the way through.  It was poached in milk which help it keep it's moisture and makes the meat more tender.

4 Chicken Portions - Thighs and Drumsticks
1 Litre Milk
1 tsp Salt

150g Flour
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Pinch Smoked Paprika
1 Egg Beaten
Oil For Deep Frying

Put the chicken in a large pan and cover with the milk and salt.  Bring the milk to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer till the chicken is cooked through.  This will take about 20 minutes.  The milk and pan will look quite disgusting and become a skummy mess but this will all be discarded so don't worry.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the milk and let it cool so you can handle it.

Next mix the flour with the seasoning.  It you prefer, you could add a ready made chicken seasoning and select your own flavour.  Once the chicken is cool, coat all the chicken pieces in the flour mix.  Now dip each piece in egg and then back in the flour.  this double dip gives it a lovely thick crispy coating.

Once all the chicken has been double dipped, Deep fry in hot oil till beautifully golden.  It should just take a minute or so.  Then serve with your barbecue beans, coleslaw and a handy wipe.

The coleslaw could not be easier.  In a large bowl mix 5 large tbsp mayonnaise with 5 tbsp greek yoghurt, 2 tsp honey and 1 tsp wholegrain mustard.  To this add 1/2 small white cabbage, 1 small red onion thinly sliced and 2 large grated carrots combine everything well.

I'm sure it's not crucial but watching I'm a celebrity seemed to go rather well with this.  Other forms of junk tv are available x

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I've been wanting to learn to crochet for a couple of years now, I even started buying one of those fortnightly magazines that teaches you step-by-step.  Unfortunately all I was left with was a pile of magazines, several binders and a big whole in my bank balance.

Finally my sister went to a set of classes at her local wool shop then spent a weekend with me passing on her newly found knowledge.  It made all the difference being shown what to do and even more being shown what not to do.

I recently went to the same wool shop The Crochet Chain in Waltham Abbey, along with my sister (an early birthday present) to learn to make a 'Scrumble'.  You use 'Freeform Crochet' or as I re-named it - 'Jazz Crochet'.  which is a random collection of different pieces in different textures, colours and stitches which results in an abstract design. They can be made into items just like any crochet or you can use small pieces as an embellishment.

This is perfect for me as there is no pattern - I can't read a pattern yet! and you just keep adding whatever and wherever you like, there are no restrictions.  It means every scrumble is unique, a piece of art like no other.  I think it looks really organic like a beautiful coral.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my scrumble yet but you'll be the first to know when I do x

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


A couple of summers ago I managed to retrieve an old deck chair from the dump which I re-covered with rather more vibrant fabric.  I still liked the stripy canvas that came with it though and made a satchel style bag with it.  Unfortunately, as the fabric was old to start with, it has become a little worn and I'm now loosing small items from it on a regular basis - there's only so much patching you can do.

Luckily my dear friend Emma bought me the Cath Kidston 'Sew' book for a birthday present and I've finally got around to making the bag that comes with it.  It's such a great book that comes with loads of projects to do along with all the patterns and templates you might need.

Now I just need to get some new stripy fabric, adapt the pattern slightly and I'll be away.  I can see a few people getting these as christmas presents this year!


It's not always easy to come up with a good meat free dinner that all the family will enjoy, especially when you have three children with varying views on vegetables.

I remember on pie week of GBBO Holly made a vegetarian pie which she said always went down well with her meat loving husband.  So I decided on her version of a cheese and potato pie.

It uses 3 different cheeses and is topped with puff pastry - which I have to admit I bought from the supermarket.  I still maintain life is too short to make puff pastry when you can get perfectly good stuff ready made. (It's important to know when to cheat!)

It was a dream to put together, just adding layers of the various ingredients it was assembled in a jiffy then in the oven for 30 minutes.  It went very well with baked beans and no-one missed the meat.  Cheers Holly.

The recipe calls for weights of ingredients that would leave me with oddments of stuff left over so I just made a little extra to use everything up and made a small one for another day.  I didn't have any of the onion left for this one though so used Branston Pickle as a substitute making it a sort of Ploughmans Pie.

You can find the full recipe in the pie section of The Great British Bake Off  How to Bake Book.

Monday, 7 November 2011


This week I'm running a competition giveaway in conjunction with the fabulous Betty Bee Vintage.  I love this blog, Betty writes about her love of everything 40's and 50's.  It's full of recipes, craft ideas, beauty tips and inspirational chat so well worth a visit.  Betty also writes for  Guardian Life and Style and for Vintage Life Magazine.

This unique retro cake stand, hand crafted by Betty herself and a must have for displaying your french fancies,  bettenburg or scones could be yours.


Betty is also running a competition.  You could win a copy of 'The Great British Bake Off Book' which I can highly recommend!  It's full of all the best recipes from the series and step by step master classes for the technical challenges featured on the programme.  It has also been signed by yours truly so pop over to her blog and take a look , I'll see you there x

If you fancy making the Christmas inspired Scones on the cake stand, here's the recipe.

Rub 100g Sunflower Margarine into 400g Self Raising Flour.  Stir in 50g Sugar, 1 tsp Mixed Spice, Zest of 1 Orange and 100g Dried Cranberries.  Now measure Juice of half an Orange and make it up to 200ml with milk.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently to form a smooth dough.  Roll out your dough to about 1" thick and cut out rounds.  Brush with an egg wash.  Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes.