Friday, 25 October 2013

Pumpkin Pie

If you live in America, Pumpkin Pie is probably what you have at Thanksgiving. In England, where we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, pumpkins come into the shops only around this time of the year- October. People mainly use them to carve faces in so they can light them for Halloween. So if I wanted to make a pumpkin pie, it would be now. Which is why I'm glad that bakerella posted her pumpkin pie recipe early and inspired me to give it a go!

The American recipes I saw use canned pumpkin, something I couldn't find in my local supermarket. I made a pumpkin puree for the recipe I followed on BBC food and used bakerella's pie crust recipe. I was so glad that I had enough filling to make two pies, as I accidentally used the whole lot of pumpkin puree in the filling rather than half of it. (I wonder if it wouldn't have tasted that pumpkin-y if I hadn't done this.)

After tasting my pumpkin puree I wasn't fully confident that I would enjoy the pie. It didn't have a lot of flavour as you would expect from such a vibrantly coloured vegetable. But actually, the mellow flavour was lovely against the sweetness and the spices of the filling! It felt more like a tart than a pie to me, and made a lovely dessert served just warm: satisfying, unusual, and delicious.

It also gave me the chance to practice my pastry. Of course, there's another difference of living in the UK: I call it a pastry case, not the pie crust. I blind baked the pastry case before adding the filling as the filling recipe is made for a pre-cooked pastry case. If you want your edges a bit neater than mine, which were trimmed after baking, trim them half way through blind baking.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe Notes

Use the pastry recipe from this source.
  After you have placed the pastry in the pie dish, place a large piece of greaseproof paper over the pie  and cover it with ceramic baking beans. This will stop the base puffing up too much. 
  About twenty minutes into blind-baking the pastry case, take out the baking beans and trim the edges if you've left it higher than the dish.
  Bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the bottom is firm and just coloured.
Use the filling recipe from this source.
  After the pumpkin has steamed until it is soft, blend it into a smooth puree with a hand blender or food processor or you will have lumps in the pie!
  I used double the amount of pumpkin puree it said to, which was one small pumpkin, and it made two pies.
  Serve just warm with double cream.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Life {Thursday 17}

Life speeds up as we are now well-and-truly stuck into the daily routine and school work, and time to to do crafts and sew my quilt have been limited. I find myself gravitating more toward the knitting and making side of things, and snuggling up in bed with a good book. So I thought I would just pop in with a few photos and links... from pumpkins and kittens to novel writing.
As I type I have some pumpkin steaming ready for a pie I'm planning to make. I'm doing this in
advance to save time, making the pasty case and filling on the day. I'll let you know if it goes well!
Look at these cuties! They are called Austin and Binkles, two of the litter of kittens we had been enjoying and looking after until they went to their new homes.
I came across  'Modernist Cuisine,' on the bbc food site, photos of food as you've never seen it before. The pictures look at hidden processes seen from inside pans, barbecues and even soil. Amazing!
Have you noticed all the lovely jumpers emerging in clothes shops recently? I was spoilt for choice in the small clothing section at my local supermarket even! I can imagine so many outfits to go with my super-warm Scottie dog jumper, that I think a Autumn Fashion Inspiration post may be coming soon.
Under the Sycamore is one of my favourite blogs and Ashley is having an amazing giveaway from all her sponsors. Write a comment to be entered to win items from lots of lovely online shops, including vintage items, handmade jewlery and art prints!
November is National Novel Writing Month, and I've joined the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, a dare to write and complete a novel in November. You set your word-count goal and can use their word-count validator to see how well you're doing. For now, until the writing frenzy begins, I'm looking at the tips and pep talks and thinking about the plot. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bible Posters 4: Grace and Peace

One of the things I love to design are posters of bible verses. I have been working on creating digital copies of some of these lately. As the first series on my blog, I am going to show these, one at a time, on Sundays on the blog. I hope you like them. At the moment I want all my posters to stay here on my blog, so I have labeled them with my blog address. 

Grace and Peace
'Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' This verse and the many others like it give us a wonderful message about God and his love for his children. God's grace is shown to us through all the gifts he gives us, primarily Jesus and his death for us and the forgiveness of our sins through him. We stand in God's grace {Romans 5:2.} We can have peace in our hearts when we are forgiven of our sins and have peace with God, through Jesus who has made it possible for God to forgive us. 

I had the inspiration for this poster quite a while ago when I was in church and quickly wrote it down. I have heard the greeting 'Grace to you and peace' so many times at the beginning of the New Testament letters to the churches. I wondered if I could find the grace and peace greeting line of every letter and write them down in two columns, thinking of newspaper columns. When I got round to making this poster I wondered what I could do for the papery background I wanted. I considered looking around the web for a papery background or maybe try to create one on illustrator. The paper background you see on the poster was just a photo I took of some crumpled-up paper, and I was surprised how well that worked! Next I sought out the verses to add to the paper, and then the final 'Grace and Peace' text.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Yarn Along

The start of autumn weather brings the start of knitting season in our household (or pom-pom making season for younger members of the family!) I've started with something easy, a small dolls dress in stocking stitch. I'm at beginner level at the moment, so the rib at the bottom of my knitting was so embarrassing it's not in the photo! The knit that is starting to come through is the contrasting bodice. Those red needles.. yes, they are actually great to knit small things with as they are so short and a good size for dk wool. 
'To Kill A Queen' is from the My Story series, and I've almost finished it. It is the diary of Kitty, whose mother and father live near the court of Queen Elizabeth I. There are many plots to kill the Queen and Kitty's father works to keep her safe. It makes good light fiction reading for girls.

I am linking up with Yarn Along on Small Things.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Plaited Bread

I had a bit of trouble trying to decide what to call this post. Simple Flavoured Bread? Easy Bread Plaits? Mix and Match Mini Plait Loaves? What I have been making, and trying to describe, are small plaited loaves of white bread which you can add different ingredients to before baking. The results are delicious golden loaves which have wonderful flavours. My favourites are the Tomato & Chorizo and Olive plaits.
You could make up the dough in the evening, leave it to rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning to put into a packed lunch, or make it in the morning and bake it in time for lunch. You can also leave the bread to rise a second time after shaping if you want to pop it in the oven at a later time.

Plaited Bread

The basic recipe,which I have adapted, comes from the Hugh Fernley Whittingstall Veg book.

250g plain white flour
250g strong white flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tablespoon ml olive oil
325ml warm water

   Mix together all the dry ingredients in a big bowl, then mix in the olive oil and warm water. 
   Knead on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes or until smooth. Place into an oiled bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours. 
   When the dough has doubled in size place it on a floured surface and punch it down so that it is back the size it was. Divide the dough into 4 equal chunks.
  Flatten the dough portions into rough squares. Spread or sprinkle over your choice of topping ingredients, see the list below. Each amount of ingredients listed below fills one plait.
   Fold the topped dough square in half and cut into 3 strips. Pinch together all the strips at the top and plait until you get to the ends of the dough. Tuck the un-plaited dough ends under the plaits. 
   You can sprinkle over sea salt before baking. Bake at 200°C for about 30 minutes, until the bread is browned and feels hard on the bottom.
Makes 4 small loaves.

Cheesy Plait
25g cheddar cheese/20g parmesan cheese

Olive Plait
4 olives, fresh or from a jar, stuffed ones are good, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)

Tomato & Chorizo Plait

2 tsp tomato puree
2 slices chorizo, finely chopped

Garlic & Herb Plait
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh herbs, finely chopped

Enjoy your bread!