Tuesday, 19 August 2008


We had a little birthday party for my daughter at the weekend (at last, only just over a month since her birthday). My organization skills in general leave a lot to be desired, but my drive to provide food at social events is strong so party favors didn't get finished but we had more than enough food to be in danger of spoiling our dinner (it was a late afternoon party).

The picture shows the selection of sweet baked goods I made (with help from my daughter who loves to pour and mix and press the button on the food processor and call for "more choc'ate").

The leftmost cookies are the Honeyed Chocolate Chip Cookies that I spotted on the Baking Bites blog last week. When I noted that honey makes the cookies moist and therefore less prone to going dry and stale I thought that was perfect for my purposes since I could make a batch a day or two ahead to spread the baking out. I used to make a honey and ginger cookie quite often when I was at uni which I'd all but forgotten about, this brought the memory back and I added maybe half a teaspoon of ginger to the dough. I might add more ginger another time for my taste, as it was it gave that slight hint that makes you think "there's something in here I wasn't expecting but I can't put my finger on what it is".

The other cookies are two variations on the Flourless Nut Butter Cookies which I've made several times before. I made a double batch with peanut butter to which I added some cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. Also made a single batch with almond butter which I tried putting a spoonful of jam (some strawberry rhubarb I made a while back) in the middle and a little chocolate on some too. I personally like the almond butter ones much better than peanut, and the jam and chocolate topping was really yummy.

Finally the birthday cake! I took two banana bread recipes I've made and liked in the past and combined elements from both to make a spiced banana coconut cake with molasses then baked it in an 8x8 square baking tin. Should have taken notes, it came out very nice and moist and tasty.

I had intended a flourless chocolate cake too (since some guests don't do flour or dairy). When that didn't happen I thought I'd better put chocolate on top of this cake (after all I had been told there needed to be chocolate by the birthday girl). I had the end of a batch of ganache in the fridge and threw in some extra chocolate and melted them together and spread it on top. Not the most picturesque but it worked for us!

There were some more healthful food options - hummus with carrots and socca for dipping plus lots of fresh fruit.

The party was nice and small and relaxed. We went to the common in town with friends, sat at and around a picnic table, ate and chatted. There was singing to the birthday girl, and she got to open some presents, eat cake, kick a ball around, pet a dog and play with bubbles.

I made her a big footed bunny (using a pattern from WeeWonderfuls) with a pinafore to match the one I made daughter for Easter (which daughter was suitably impressed with when she noticed). Unfortunately I didn't quite manage to finish so we still need to sew on a face, I shall be asking for input from the new owner (there has already been a vote for blue eyes) who is quite appalled at the face with no face. I imagine that once the face is in place the bunny will get her own photo shoot and blog post.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

chocolate stickybun

I made these using the "Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls" recipe from Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day. This is the second batch; I actually remembered to take a picture this time. Admittedly this is not the greatest picture ever but, you know, I wanted to eat!

The first time I used challah dough which was really good. The second time I used just a batch of (more or less) the master recipe which is not as rich and decadent but still really very tasty.

I make 9 rolls in a square pan (8x8 and 9x9 both work). I just like all the rolls being a more consistent shape I guess. And I make mine with chocolate because, well, I love chocolate and too much cinnamon and pecans is not necessarily my favourite.

For the caramel topping I actually melted the butter and sugar most of the way in the microwave rather than creaming because I was in a hurry. It seemed to work just as well that way and I just poured it in and spread it out a bit to evenly distribute the sugar then sprinkled on the pecan pieces.

When I rolled out the dough I spread it with a little softened salted butter and then some ganache (which I made using a mix of semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate so it's not too sweet) and sprinkled on some chocolate chips before rolling up and cutting. The first time I did also sprinkle on a bit of cinnamon which I forgot the second time, I like it both ways.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

I almost forgot!

I edited the photos and then forgot to upload and blog about this dress I made for my daughter back in June (which, incidentally seems to have disappeared of the face of the earth since so perhaps that's why I forgot). I was reminded when I caught sight of this dress made using the same tutorial.
It's made from an old shirt of my husbands using this tutorial.

I made another from a blue checked shirt found at the thriftstore as a gift for a friend of ours who is very into The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy dress!). Forgot to take a photo of that one though.

This was a satisfyingly quick and effective project (since a lot of the fiddly stuff is already done in the shirt, case in point being buttons and button holes).

Another time I will attach the shoulder straps/sleeves closer together (at least in the back) because they slip down a lot as they are in this dress. I think this one runs a bit big on my daughter but that just means space to grow, and/or means she can wear it over warmer clothes in cooler weather, (well, assuming I can find it again anyway).

Sunday, 10 August 2008

finally a FO

I'm so excited to have actually finished sewing something (and something for me too) for the first time in ages! I actually finished a week or so ago when my husband took our daughter off to visit his parents leaving me home alone for hours for probably the first time in 2 years (and this hot on the heels of me getting to go to the cinema by myself to see Mama Mia which felt wonderful).

The pattern is NewLook 6490. The fabric is some I found a while back at the thrift store (and I have quite a bit left over for another garment).

I made the shoulder straps much wider than the pattern (which suggests using 1/4-3/8" ribbon or lace) 'cause I like to wear a bra and not show too much of it off.

I'm not sure whether you can tell from the photo but the top part of the shirt is two overlapping sections, very handy for a nursing mama! The fit is a little weird to me because the top section ends way before my breasts actually do, but actually I think that works!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Porridge Bread

My daughter's choice for breakfast most often is oats and raisins. Partly this is habit, and I suspect she also likes that she gets to do cooking (I measure the water and oats and she pours them into the pan, puts the lid on and watches for the bubbles).

Sometimes she'll devour her bowl of oats and raisins and sometimes she'll pick for ages and eat very little. I hate to throw out the leftover oatmeal but it's not something I like to eat myself and I've been meaning to experiment with making bread with the leftovers. I came across a recipe online the other day that prompted me to give it a go. So here's what I came up with.

Porridge Bread

(modified from this recipe, and I already forgot where I found the link I'm afraid, and influenced by my ABI5MAD experiences so far)

I had 1/2 cup of leftover oatmeal and raisins (had a little milk mixed in but was made with water)
to that I added 1tbspn walnut oil, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup molasses

In the measuring cup I had measured out the molasses in I put 1/4 cup warm water and 1/4 cup milk then sprinkled over 1tspn yeast (if I'd thought about it more I would have used the warm water to dissolve the rest of the molasses and then transfered the liquids to the mixing bowl before adding the yeast)

Mixed wet ingredients in the bottom of a mixing bowl then on top added 1&1/2 cups AP flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour and 1/4 cup oat flour plus salt

Mixed until flour all wet, I needed to add maybe another 1/8 cup water and also decided to throw in a handful or two of currants (next time I might add even a bit more water as the dough seemed a bit denser than I might have ideally liked). No kneading.

This made about 1 1/2 lbs of bread dough.

Allowed dough to rise in the bowl for about 3 hrs (it was a cool day), shaped quickly and placed into small loaf pan and left the dough to rise maybe another hour until it was poking up above the top of the loaf pan.

Baked at 375 degrees for about 45 mins (this may not be the best temp/time configuration for the crust so I'll have to experiment).

I've been eating it lightly toasted with butter, I'm thinking it would also be good with some of the apple butter I made last year too.