October 2007

I made some halloween cookies today. I found a recipe for the biscuit part from someone’s blog, but i wasn’t impressed, it didn’t work at all well and i ended up throwing half of it away as it just would *not* bind together. Having said that, the biscuits, once baked, were very nice. I’ll have to find a better recipe, i think. In addition the new icing syringe i’d gotten from Lidl didn’t work either so that is going back – i managed to get it to work for the biscuits but i was not impressed. note to self: don’t buy kitchen equipment from there again.

Anyway. before you yell, sez, yes.. there are pics.. of course!!

cookie 1

I checked my stash of cookie cutters – having gotten a big box of 101 cutters from Lakeland – and to my delight, found 4 halloween ones – a ghost, a witch’s head, a cat and a moon. I got cutting away happily – there are plenty of other ones too, christmas, valentine’s easter.. you name it! all i need is a decent recipe.. grrr..

Cookie 2

and here they are, iced.. the noozzles that came with the icing set were all very wide (that was the narrowest one there was) – another reason i wasn’t impressed. It didn’t give me any opportunity to do any fine work. Ah well. teach me to a) spend more money on an icing set and b) not to get stuff from lidl. They’re edible, and that’s the important part!!!

 Anyway. Happy Halloween!!


Autumn is still ongoing.. and so are the pics :) i don’t know how much longer i’ll be posting them though. As Autumn pics, i mean. I’ve enjoyed doing these so much i may well continue with Winter, Spring and Summer. Although… i’ll probably have to move to flickr for them as i’m rapidly running out of space here on wordpress. Thankfully even if they are on flickr, i can still post them here as well.

behind the cut, as always.


behind the cut..


Spent some time tonight making some cards.. I had to make 2 for family members – one for an uncle who has just moved into his new home, and the other to welcome Michiel’s dad home. I haven’t mentioned it before but Michiel’s Dad hasn’t been well at all, and was in hospital for a while and Michiel was extremely worried about him (in fact, we both have). Thankfully he’s pulled around and while not 100% better (it’ll be a while before he’s completely recovered), he’s on the way and coming home is a big step.

So that was tonight’s project. As always, i’ve taken photos for you to admire. I can’t post the one i made for Michiel’s dad as both Michiel’s Mom and Dad have this blog address so they may well peek at it before they get it.. LOL. but my Uncle doesn’t (although his daughter does – J!! if you see this, don’t tell your dad!) so i can safely share that one with you.

Uncle D congratulations card

[oh and Mum? the paper behind the red card? thats from that book you gave me. :) thankyou for that!]

After both of those though i thought i would continue and make a christmas card. I took one of the toppers i made the other night and turned it into a proper card. I fubarred at one point, when the gold pen i was using made a huge *splodge* all over the place.. argh! i had to rip several layers off the card and go back to the topper. Ah well. you live and learn. Still, i’m very pleased with the end result – this looks very classic.

Christmas card 2

In addition, Mum has told me her office is having a christmas fair at the end of November for charity, and she has offered to ask if i can have a “stall”, which she’ll run, for my cards (with a 50/50 split of the proceeds – may be enough to at least cover my outgoings on cards). Its a tempting offer, and i’m going to ask her more questions about it, but it could mean that in the next few weeks i’m going to be making a lot more cards, which would be good, would help my experience levels ratchet up a lot. I’m thinking of making some paper labels to be attached to the backs of these cards – especially if i do end up selling them – something like.. “handmade by kethry” and “please consider recycling this card at M&S, Tescos, TK Maxx or WH Smith – Proceeds to The Woodland Trust – http://www.woodland-trust.org.uk”. may get some cellophane envelopes as well, to protect them until they’re ready to be used. If they are going to be sold then they need to be as professional as possible.

In addition, when Sez comes visiting on her way to the FooFighters concert, first weekend in November, we’re going to go to several arts/material/crafty shops in Manchester and see what we can pick up, so i’d better save my pennies for that!!!

lots to think about..

yup. took the camera out with me again.. behind the cut as usual.


~Rich and Boozy Christmas Pudding ~

This recipe comes from “The Complete Christmas Book” by Carol Hupping, copyright © Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. 1991. The book i have was published by Hamlyn in 1991, ISBN No: 0-600-57394-X (sadly now out of print). Its a gorgeous recipe – I’ve made numerous puddings by this recipe every year – and it doesn’t contain suet (whether veg or otherwise) or mixed peel, something that’s very attractive to many people. It also keeps well, so if you make one and don’t eat it for any reason, you can always keep it for the following year. the recipe serves 8, by the way.

[Hamyln have given gratis rights for reproduction of this recipe on the condition that it is used on this blog in a not-for-profit manner. Many thanks to Hamyln for this.]

175g (6 oz) currants
175g (6 oz) raisins
100g (4 oz) sultanas
1/2 orange, juice and zest
1/2 lemon, zest
175g (6oz) fresh brown breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) whole almonds, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g (2oz) Soft Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
2 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp port
2 tbsp dark rum
100g (4oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  1. mix the dried fruit, orange and lemon rind, breadcrumbs, nuts, spices and sugar in a bowl.
  2. whisk the OJ, eggs, spirits and melted butter in another bowl.
  3. Stir together, mix well (and get everyone in the household to stir too, for luck.)
  4. turn into a 2 pint (1.2 litre) buttered pudding dish. Leave for 1 hour. Either cover with a lid (some pudding dishes come with a lid) or cover with double folded greased greaseproof paper, then folded foil, and tie securely with string.
  5. Steam for 7 hours, or, if using a pressure cooker, stand the basin on a trivet, add 3.5 pints of boiling water. Fit the lid and steam without pressure for 30 minutes, then increase to high pressure and cook for 3 hours. Reduce the pressure slowly. If using a slow cooker, stand on a saucer or something like that, pour water around it so its around halfway up the pudding basin, then cook on high for 10 hours (many thanks to lilmrsmullen and HopeElizzy from MSE for trialling that one for me!).
  6. To store, once cold, replace the greaseproof paper and foil and secure with string again, then store in a cool place. you may need to clean the outside of the bowl as it can be quite greasy after cooking, especially if you wish to give as a gift.
  7. Once ready to nuke, if your basin will go in the microwave, just remove foil and nuke for 4-6 minutes and stand for 5 minutes. If your basin won’t go in the microwave, turn out onto a microwaveable plate then nuke that. [To reheat via the stove top, either steam for 2.5 hours or cook in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes at high pressure and reduce the pressure slowly.]
  8. once nuked and rested, turn out onto a plate, heat a small amount of brandy either in the microwave till its hot and giving off fumes, or you can do it the traditional way by putting brandy into a soup ladle and holding the soup ladel above a naked gas flame till you can smell fumes. Once the brandy is hot, pour over the pudding and set fire to it *immediately*. the flame will be low and blue, for best “ooohs!” and “aaahhhs!!!” and “wows!” turn the lights out. If you don’t wish to do this then just decorate with a sprig of holly to serve.

Best served with (and throw the scales out here) a hot sauce like hot punch sauce, rum sauce, or custard, and either cumberland rum or brandy butter, or both, and or double cream. Its once a year. splurge. its worth it. (and best of all any left overs can be nuked the following day.) Enjoy!
[I originally wrote these out for some american friends, but the hot punch sauce, rum sauce and brandy/rum butters recipes came from Delia's christmas book, (and can now be found on her website, links to which i gave above) which really is worth getting, if only for the brandy/rum butter recipes alone. They charge a fortune for that stuff in the shops, when it costs a couple quid to make both, especially if you already have rum and brandy in the house!]

I’ve had a recipe for christmas pudding for years – it came from a christmas book, and i’ve been looking to recommend the recipe to people, cos it really is a lovely recipe. However, the book was out of print so i was somewhat stymied.

Eventually i got fed up and emailed the publishers, explained the situation, asked them to either tell me an in-print book i could find it in, or would they release the recipe? That was a while ago, but they finally got back to me this afternoon with permission, and its up on the food section – a direct link is here.

Many thanks to Hamlyn for releasing it!

This weekend i’ve been under the weather somewhat, with “Aunt Irma” visiting. I’ve tried not to let that stop me: yesterday i did some more family history research, trying to follow the descendents (other than our line) down from “the matron” i wrote about yesterday down to the present day (didn’t get far, and it was hard work – i worked all day at it, on and off), but i also made apple flapjacks and cinnamon rolls. very yum. its caturday, after all, and in this household, caturday involves bacon and egg butties for breakfast and pizza for tea. not that we’re inflexible or anything.. (!).

Today i put the family history to one side (to give my brain a rest) and made a christmas cake (it was going to be for Michiel’s parents for them to take home on the visit they were going to make for Michiel’s birthday, but since their visit has been cancelled and its far too heavy to post, i think it will be for us now) with a lil bit of the mix taken out and spooned into a clean tin from one of those heinz puddings to make a smaller version for sez, who is coming to visit over the first weekend in November (not entirely to see us.. i understand she’ll also be satisfying a certain craving for a certain american rock band). In between dashing to the kitchen to check on the cake (which took 6 hours to cook!) and doing dinner (stilton & beef burgers from aldi (very yum), mash, boiled onions, peas and a white sauce) .. i got to making more toppers. I’m getting better at this. (pics behind the cut, as always. (more…)

One of the people i’ve been researching is an ancestor called Jane Burn. I mentioned her before – the lady whom, according to the 1881 census, was still working as a matron in a hospital at the ripe age of 84. Well.. i tracked down the hospital she worked at. It wasn’t actually a hospital, but an almshouse. I suppose these days we’d call it a retirement home, except it was meant for elderly people who didn’t really have any money, or anywhere to go, and it gave them money as well as a place to live. It was founded back in the 14th Century and although the actual buildings have been demolished and rebuilt over the intervening years, its survived in the same spot more or less ever since, with a few interruptions.

Jane wasn’t born a Burn, Burn is her married name (i haven’t been able to find out her maiden name, sadly, as she was born – and married, i think – prior to compulsory registration in 1837), and i am still investigating her life but what was clear was that by 1881 she was working at that almshouse, despite a great age. I researched the almshouse on the internet, found that it is very much still in operation and wrote to the current Master of the almshouse and received a reply this morning. He enclosed a copy of Jane’s death certificate, a photograph of the memorial to her that is in the chapel attached to the building, and information about Jane’s time at the almshouse, including when she first went there, which rooms she lived in and so on. It also transpires that Jane was even older than the 1881 census makes out: the memorial and death certificate both give a death date of 26th June 1884, and an age of 93, and that she was a matron of the house for 54 years (having started at the almshouse on 16th August, 1838). Quite incredible.

I plan to do more research into this remarkable lady, but  it was so kind of the Master to send me such information, and i think my gran/great aunt will be very appreciative of this – especially a second cousin of mine (who shares the Jane ancestry), who started her career as a nurse, and who i think will be pleased to know that nursing goes back even further in the family than she previously knew.

yup. that time again. behind the cut as per usual.


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