Off on hols tomorrow. We can’t wait! A few weeks of freedom in the Welsh countryside 😉

I will be back soon with pics of our adventures!

Hope you are all having a nice summer holiday too. x


The needlewoman

I have put this project off again and again. More needy things have crept up. I’m still planning on stitching it, when time lets me!

Due to requests, I have scanned the magazine onto flickr so the instructions can be read and enjoyed by others. It’s an old magazine, out of print and unobtainable for purchase. It’s such a shame to hide the images away in the top of my wardrobe when other people can use them.

Dragon front cover
Dragon pattern 1
Dragon pattern 2

I have also included the pencil transfer I made, since the original was missing.

dragon transfer

If you get around to stitching this up, i’d love to see your pictures.

Cooking with kids; Cherry tart or “crostata” if you feel like sounding posh!

We ate most of this with natural yoghurt for our dessert last night.

I can’t describe how gorgeous it is! Little man and I made it yesterday afternoon. The pastry is scrummy, buttery and crumbly. Delightfullness in a dish. Bringing forth an amusing mmmmm each time the spoon hits your lips.

We made some strawberry and apple turnovers too. Hubby doesn’t like cherries and we didn’t want to leave him out.

So how did we make them?

This amount is enough for two tarts. For the pastry;

12 oz  plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

6 oz butter

3 tbl sp sugar

To fill the tart;

a sprinkle of semolina

fruit for filling-whatever you have to hand

tbl sp sugar

Make pastry in the usual way-Sieve flour and salt into large dish with the baking powder.

Rub butter into flour. Get kids in there with their fingers they will love this job. (despite what people say about making pastry, I don’t think it really matters how rough you are with it at this stage. If you let it rest after making the dough it should work out just fine) Stir into this the 3 tbl sp sugar. Add enough cold water to bring the dough together (about 3-4 tbl sp). Place in plastic bag in fridge to rest for 30 mins.

Pre heat the oven to 220 deg C

Divide the pastry into two. Roll out one half (it’s a very short pastry because it’s all butter. Don’t worry about the cracks, just push them back together).

If you are cooking with children this is fun for them, try not to stress too much about what it’s going to look like. Go with it. Let them roll it onto the baking sheet or a piece of greaseproof paper if you are worried that you can’t pick it up. I think it’s an important stage of learing to cook that you praise the child for having a go rather than what the end product is going to look like.

crustata 001

Plug up any holes with a bit of pastry where little fingers have poked themselves. This is to prevent leakage during cooking!

Sprinkle some semolina in the bottom of the pie. (I use this in the base of all my pies to soak up some of the fruit juice in cooking. The base isn’t soggy then) Spoon the fruit onto the pastry. Pile it all into the middle, leaving about 1-2 inches all around the outside. Sprinkle the fruit with sugar.

crustata 002

Fold the outsides up around the fruit. Sprinkle the pastry part with sugar. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 mins.

crostata 7

You can use the other half of the dough to make another fruit tart or some fruit turnovers like we have. If you want to leave it until tomorrow you can leave it in the fridge but take it out 30 mins before you want to roll it out. You could freeze it for another time if you want to. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Happy cooking all of you. x

Cherry picking

I have had my beady eyes on cherry trees by the canal for weeks now. The cherries are swelling into little ripe jewels amongst the greenery. Mostly they are too high and I need to take a ladder with me. I also saw a tree bearing tiny little cherry like fruit that were very sour. I assumed them to be of a wilder type of cherry than i’m used to. My sister found this bird cherry which seems to be the exact tree. They are supposed to be good in cooking ….ripe at the moment but I imagine they will need a lot of sugar with them. I think they’d be better left for the birds and wildlife!

Anyhow I have picked some cherries (more like the eating type) that need to be ripened on the window sill as they are slightly under-coloured. I think a pie is in order…no…cherry and apple jam…cherry crumble…cherry cake…cherry cheesecake…cherry sauce for ice cream…cherry brandy…gosh what to make! I’m putting it to vote with the gang! ;-D

Making Bread and a sandwich tea party…

It was late in the afternoon for bread making but I decided that I would make it anyway. As it happened it was perfect timing to be on the table for tea time…crusty, not too hot to slice and smelling absolutely gorgeous.

We had ourselves a sandwich party. I laid everything on the table for making our own sandwiches, from cheese and ham to eggs and salad. All I have to say about that was, WOW! I didn’t know little people could eat so much!

So getting on to making bread, here’s my recipe. A couple of years ago I spent weeks upon end adjusting this recipe to get it just right. We had airy fairy loaves and brick loaves but here it is just for you, what I call my perfect loaf because it’s just the way we like it. I hope you make some so that you can enjoy it too.

11 1/2 fl oz hand hot water(not too hot or it will kill the yeast)

1lb 3oz strong white bread flour, and a little more for dusting

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbl sp granulated sugar

1 oz butter

1 tsp easy blend dried yeast (found in little sachets at the supermarket)

1 tbl sp dried milk powder

You could use a bread maker if you want to make it easier. Follow the instructions in your manual for the order in which the ingredients are added (usually liquids first).

To make by hand, put the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Make five indents around the top, one for each of the other ingredients. Measure out each ingredient into an indent. Take a large wooden spoon and keep stirring from the centre. The liquid should lap up the sides of the flour and eventually all the other ingredients. You will have a ball of dough.

Tip onto a table top and bash the living daylights out of it, sorry did I say that right? Knock it about like you hate it, take out all your frustrations. Go ahead and beat it into next year. This is bread, the more you beat it up the better it will be so go for it! Keep doing this for about 15 mins until it’s smooth and strechy-it’s a great upper body work out isn’t it ;-D

Cover with greased clingfilm then leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8

Knead again for about 5 mins. The hard work is done now. Shape into a loaf and put into 1 lb bread tin or make it into a fancy shape. For this you will need a floured baking sheet *

*For a plaited loaf divide into three, roll each into a long sausage shape. Pinch the ends of them together at one end then, plait. Pinch at the other, et voila!

*You could make a cottage loaf  by dividing the mixture into two, one a little larger than the other.  Place the smaller piece on the top of the larger one then poke a floured finger down through the centre to secure them together.

* At this point I have also veered off and made pizza. Make into a pizza shape then leave for a further 10 mins before you throw the toppings on.

Put the oiled clingfilm back over the bread and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Take off the clingfilm then put it into the hot oven and bake for 20-25 mins. Check that it’s cooked by tapping the underneath. It should sound hollow.

Place onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Ward off ravenous children!


Making bread is fun but you do need to know some things about the ingredients, you may be lucky or it’s a definite fail i’m afraid:

The flour that you use must be strong plain flour. It contains more gluten which for us non scientists means that the dough gets more elastic and not brick bread when it’s finished! There are lots of different types out there which you can try but be aware, if you use wholemeal etc.  that it takes a little more water than white flour does.

The sugar is ordinary granulated sugar the type most people put in their cup of tea. Other sugar can be used to give a slightly different flavour. Sugar is food for yeast, you could reduce it if you wanted but expect a longer wait for rising time.

Butter or cooking margarine can be used for bread. I use olive oil for pizza but I find any of the three will work just fine.

Yeast can be found in packets at the supermarket. Don’t use old yeast or the bread may not rise. Keep it away from the salt and sugar until it gets all mixed together.

Salt is needed in bread for flavour and it strengthens the gluten protein in the dough. Without it you will have very airy and holey bread. It also helps the bread to brown. If you reduce the salt, look out for huge air pockets in your dough, you may want to reduce the rising time to prevent this.

Water needs to be warm, not hot (If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast)

Milk powder isn’t a necessary ingredient. I use it because it gives the bread a nicer texture and I think it helps to keep the bread fresh.

All that said, go on-get in there and give it a bash! *Uhhhh bad joke*



You can see that my bread is tall and the tin was square. I decided to cut the top off and slice it, top down and it made fab square sandwiches that cut into neat little triangles. Mmmmmm, happy bread making.