Sunday, 26 June 2011

Lemon and almond tart

This recipe is very scrumptious and quite quick and easy too. It has a shortcrust pastry base and a nice tangy lemony topping. I usually add flaked almonds too, but I didn't have any in my cupboard this time and it was still just as delicious. I use only organic ingredients and local mineral water in my pastries.

For the pastry:

200g plain white flour
80g butter
a pinch of salt
very cold water

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt/
Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour/salt mix, until it's all rubbed in and you have a crumbly texture.
Add very cold water a small amount at a time, until you can roll the pastry into a ball and it leaves the sides of the mixing bowl clean.
Wrap the ball of pastry and leave it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then roll it out and cook it "blind" for about 15 minutes, until it's a bit hard but not yet browned.

For the filling:

2 eggs
125g sugar
80g melted butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons
100g ground almonds
a few flaked almonds for decoration (optional)

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until you obtain a pale, creamy mixture.
Add the melted butter, lemon zest and juice and ground almonds.
Pour the mixture into the pre-cooked pastry case.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
Transfer carefully to the oven (it will be quite full and the lemon mixture is rather liquid at this stage).
Let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the top is risen and golden.

You can eat it warm or cold.

Squares and stripes

As usual, I've got lots of projects on the go. Sometimes, however, I just feel like doing something new and actually finish it! That's what happened with this pink/purple square in granny stripes. I was looking through my stash and thought "hmm, these colours look nice together", and started a granny stripes square without really knowing where it was going to lead. I still don't really know what to do with it, but it's finished! It's 21 cms square and I just love it. Don't ask me why, maybe it's the colours or the texture, probably both. At the moment it's on my table being admired.

The other week I bought some lovely grey bobbly yarn in a sale, thinking I could make a cute amigurmi mouse out of it. But the sheer bobbliness of it made that impossible. It was very diffcult to use with a small hook, and any increasing or decreasing was practically invisible. So I got out my 4.5 mm hook and started to make simple sc squares. The texture of them makes a very effective washing up cloth, and with the ball of yarn I managed to make four. Yes, I know it sounds extremely boring, but this means we will spend less money on the expensive washing up sponges we've used until now. My little cloths are very kind to the  crockery but they have enough friction in them to actually remove the dirt, and they're machine washable too.

That's the wonderful thing about crochet, you can very easily just rustle something up without any special material, and even without a pattern. Bye for now!  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Free flower pattern!

Hello there!
I've not been posting much recently, but I have been crocheting. As you can see above, I've made yet another pair of baby shoes, this time in a lovely yellow cotton/bamboo mix yarn that has been sitting in my stash box for a while, waiting for me to do something with it. You can't tell from the photo, but it is quite lovely and silky and soft. When I finished the shoes I had plenty left, so I decided to make a matching hat. A quick look through the many free patterns available on Ravelry, and I found the Josie Posy pattern and crocheted it in no time! Then I needed to make a flower to decorate it with, and I remembered a flower pattern I'd used for a pram blanket when my children were babies. That meant another search, this time through my own written-up patterns, and I found it! My mother had taken the time to type up the pattern on her old Remington typewriter, it must be around 25 years ago. She typed it on very thin "typing paper" (does anyone remember that?) so I'm amazed it was still in one piece. Anyway, I decided to reproduce the pattern here, so at least if the original does get ripped or lost, I'll be able to find it here on my computer. 

You can use any size of yarn and hook as long as they correspond to each other. I mean if you use a thick yarn you'll need a big hook, and if you use a finer yarn you'll use a smaller hook, of course. It uses two colours of the same weight yarn.

This pattern uses the following stitches:

Ch = chain
ss = slip stitch
dc = double crochet (US terms) treble (UK terms)
trc = triple crochet (US)  double treble (UK)
qrc = quadruple crochet (US) triple treble (UK)

With Colour A, make 7 ch and join in a ring with a ss.

Rnd 1: 3 ch, 19 dc into the ring, join with ss in top of 3 ch.
Rnd 2: * Miss next st (1 dc, 1 trc, 3 qrc, 1 trc, 1 dc) in back loop of next st and mark this st, miss next st, ss in back loop of next st, rep. from * to end but do not mark sts. Fasten off.

With Colour B, join yarn to front loop of marked st, and work as follows:

Rnd 3: * Miss next st, 7 dc in front loop of next st, miss next st, ss in front loop of next st, rep from * to end. Fasten off.

Monday, 13 June 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks to the people who took part in my first giveaway. There were only five of you, so the chance of winning was actually rather high, but there can only be one winner:

Well done Jen! Please let me know which felt owl brooch you would like and send me your mailing address so I can send the goodies to you.

I was initially a bit disappointed at the lack of interest in the giveaway, but there again I write the blog mostly for myself and for lovely people like you! I will continue to write the blog regardless, albeit not very regularly, and will post my creations and patterns and some thoughts and recipes too for my faithful folllowers.

Anyway, this weekend I made some red baby shoes:

and I bought a lovely Longchamp bag at a car boot sale for 2 euros:

Have a lovely week.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Giveaway reminder

This is the owl keychain that's up for grabs in my first blog anniversary giveaway. It comes with your choice of owl brooch and a few other goodies. See this post for details. There's only a week left so if you want to take part, please leave a comment before 12th June!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A walk around the château

Today I went for a very pleasant walk around the Château de Voltaire. It's a lovely historic building where the philosopher Voltaire lived from 1758 until his death, and it's very close to where I live. This weekend the gardens were open to the public all day (there are usually quite restrictive opening times) and I went for a wander.

The garden isn't one of these fancy French gardens, full of sculpted bushes and fountains. It's still fairly "sauvage" and is partly surrounded by woods. The sculpted hedges I did see look rather overgrown...

and the fountain was full of weeds and looked as if it hadn't seen water for decades (centuries?). I rather liked the little statue standing in the once-was fountain.

but it was obvious that no water had been through that sprinkler for quite some time.

There were some very nice secluded parts,

and I loved this seat.

A wander down this path

Brought me to a surprise... bee hives and bee keepers!

They were busy finding the new queen in a hive in which the previous queen had left, or died, and I had a very interesting conversation with the bee-keeper.  Once they had caught the new queen, they painted a white dot on her back so that she could be easily recognised. Here she is!

We are very lucky that there is not too much pollution, and the bees have easy access to the great variety of trees in the park, all of which grow naturally and with no pesticides or other chemicals.

While we're talking about plants and insects, I wanted to share a recent photo of my strawberries... since this picture was taken they've all been eaten, but we're usually lucky enough to get a second lot later in the summer. For now, admire these beauties:

Bye bye for now, and remember to take part in my giveaway!