31 March 2010

Spring time eating

One of the things I am most glad to see is the sign leading up to my office saying 'fresh cut asparagus.' A retired man sells bunches from his greenhouse every March and April and it definitely signals the beginning of spring, and the beginning of more interesting food.

There really is no point in buying asparagus out of season - its woody and has a strong cabbagey flavour that just isn't nice. Fresh asparagus is just lovely, tender and sweet.
By happy coincidence my colleagues hens have starting laying lots of eggs recently so she bought in some for us to take home.

I made a simple dinner of grilled asparagus (with just olive oil and salt and pepper), a fried egg and some garlic and olive oil ciabatta. It made for a perfect start to spring, even though the weather isn't trying very hard at the moment.
I think I'll be back to grab some more asparagus before the short season is over, I spotted this Asparagus Pesto recipe over on Local Lemons which looks great.

29 March 2010

Monday Moodboard - Fresh European Shops!

I love finding a new shop on etsy especially when they are all as wonderful as these!
All of these sellers are based in Europe.

Lemon Meringue Marshmallows by Sweet Treats Bakery (I bought some of these!)
Retors Brilliante print by photographybykarina
Pink Garden Floral Cuff by One Little House
Special Vanilla Cupcakes by Tea Loves Cake

See fleurfatales blog for lots more lovely moodboards for Monday!

25 March 2010

Lake District Craft Weekend and the Etsy Blog!

I recently went away to the Lake District with 8 of my friends from the handmade/artists/crafters community. We had a fab weekend surrounded by beautiful countryside, plenty of foodie goodies and lots of crafting.

We were featured in the Etsy storque blog yesterday too! yay!
Check us out here - http://www.etsy.com/storque/handmade-life/uk-edition-9-get-crafty-in-the-lakes-7514/

I learn some knitting, bear making, how to make PMC jewellery and needlefelting. And saw the amazingness of a gocco machine in use. I love learning new crafts and also learning a bit more about jewellery from other jewellers. I've got so many ideas still, even 3 weeks after the trip.

24 March 2010

spring walk

I took a walk today, so glad that spring has finally arrived properly. The sun is shining very bright today and lots of little daisies and daffodils are out. Looking forward to summer!

23 March 2010

Cooking - Lemon & Poppyseed Cake

One of my birthday gifts this year was a copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, its been on my wishlist for a while along with the Magnolia Bakery book. There are so many brilliant recipes in it, it was so hard to pin one down to make first of all!

I picked this lemon poppyseed cake to make first, I've a soft spot for lemon cakes, lemon drizzle is my favourite kind of cake.

This one is a more complex version of a lemon drizzle cake, with a lemon syrup and a tangy lemon icing.I was suprised this cake didn't contain any egg yolks, just whites, I was a little worried it would fall apart - but it was fine.

Lemon & Poppyseed Cake - from the Hummingbird Bakery Book

Ingredients (tweaked a little by me)

for the cake:
85g butter
245g brown sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp poppyseeds
160mls of whole milk (I didn't have whole so I used half cream half semi skimmed)
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder2 egg whites1/2 teaspoon salt

for the lemon syrup:
juice and zest of 2 lemons
50g caster sugar
50ml water

for the lemon glaze/icing:
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
125g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 180c / 350fCream together butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppyseeds until light and fluffy. The recipe suggests using a mixer but I don't have one (sob) so I used elbow grease and then when the mixture was well combined I pulsed it with an electric whisk (slowly) until it was fluffier.

Add the milk slowly incorporating well with the butter mixture.Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into milk and butter mixture in 3 stages.
Whisk your egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks.
Carefully fold these into your cake mixture, try not to overmix.

Pour into a greased and lined cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes in your preheated oven til it is done (a knife should come out clean when you skewer it).Whilst your cake bakes make the lemon syrup. Add the lemon, sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer on a medium to high heat, stirring occassionally until you have a thick syrup. Remove from the heat. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

The recipe suggests pouring it straight into the tin, I've had a lot of trouble with these kinds of syrups sticking to the greaseproof paper. So I turn the cake out into a plate and pour syrup over.
Next you need to make your glaze/icing. Add lemon juice to icing sugar in a bowl, beat until it is very smooth, it needs to be thick but pourable too. Add more sugar or juice to get the right consistency.

Wait until the cake is completely cool (torture!!) before you pour the icing over. Sprinkle with poppyseeds to decorate.

Once the icing is set cut yourself a large and well deserved piece.

22 March 2010

Free Shipping!

It's Euro Week here on Etsy!

To celebrate the Euro fun I am offering FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING in my Etsy shop between the 22nd - 27th March.

Support a European Shop on Etsy this week.
Visit the European Street Team blog for more fantastic shops celebrating Euro Week

Happy Euro Week!

It's Etsy Euro Week!

This week is Etsy Euro Week!

Etsy are celebrating all things european, they have recently opened an office in Berlin and they have two lovely bloggers on board - Amity from the UK and Amelie from France.
Here is my Monday Moodboard to celebrate Euro Week.
Buy something handmade from Europe this week :)

Cupcake Pincushion by Made At Green View
Set of 2 crochet coasters by CasaDiAries
Thigh High Lace Up Leg Warmers by Sannica
Handmade Cafe au Lait Bear by Clare Bears

21 March 2010

day at wimpole farm

We've been meaning to go to Wimpole Home Farm for a long time now, well the whole 5 years we've lived here. It took the National Trust offering a free entry day for us to go.

I couldn't have been a better time to go, during their lambing season.
They have several rare breed sheep, pigs, cows, donkeys, chickens, shetland ponies and ducks!

We also took a walk around the walled garden where they grow fruit and vegetables which they use in the restaurant and sell in their shop. The meat is also sold there too. We'll definitely go back soon once more things come into season to see what their garden and farm can offer.

19 March 2010

bad blogger....

I hadn't even noticed how much of a radio silence there has been on my blog lately, I don't think I've had much to say.

I shall try to have a more interesting week this week and tell you all about some things I will be doing. Hopefully we shall go and see the lambing at Wimpole Hall tomorrow and I will no doubt be baking and blogging!

I've still been busy over on Etsy though, and there are a few new pieces of jewellery in my shop.

10 March 2010

more work in progress...

I seem to have a lot of work in progress projects on the go lately, there will be a time (hopefully soon) when they will be finished and ready to list in my shop.

The one I've had the most fun with lately is making a stacking ring, I've wanted one myself for a while but never got round to buying one from Etsy. Now I'm soldering I thought 'Hey I can make myself one!'

I wanted a substantial ring but something very simple and good to wear everyday. I have chosen slightly thicker wire than a normal stacking ring, this is a nice in between a thin stacking ring and a thicker stand alone ring. You can wear it either way.

This one isn't quite there with the brushed finish yet so I have more wire on the way to make more! I like the brushed finish, I use it a lot in my silver work and it makes the silver sparkle in a different way to a mirror finish.

Keep your eyes peeled for rings in my shop very soon - hopefully in gold fill and silver!


6 March 2010


Yesterday was my birthday and true to myself I celebrated it with yummy food, including lots of cakey goodness.

We had a wander around Spitalfields market, lunch at Leon (a slightly healthy option to prepare us for later on), snooping in pretty shops and then a gorgeous afternoon tea at the much raved about Bea's of Bloomsbury.

Our tea was presented on a gorgeous little bunny cake stand - two little cupcakes, mini valhrona brownies, blondies, mini meringues and two massive scones. And jam, clotted cream and proper tea in a pot. Yum!

The cafe is very small and booked up even for a weekday, I'm glad we booked, the front counter is laid out with lots of gorgeous treats - cupcakes, meringues, cakes, tarts, marshmallows and cookies. The service left a little to be desired but they made up for it with the food.

I would recommend you to go!

We also stopped by Montezuma's chocolate shop (for chili chocolate truffles, lavender cream chocolates and coconut milk choc!) and Laduree (for macarons) - definitely a sugary kind of day.

To inspire me for the future I received the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, lots of cupcakes and other sweet treats! I also got this beautiful cushion from Inkling Prints - the printing is gorgeous.


3 March 2010


I like two things a lot. Sweets and beads.

There are two new things in Cambridge - a bead shop and an old fashioned sweet shop.

These two things formed the basis of my Saturday!

First I popped along to the Beaderie in Cambridge, the last bead shop closed here about two years ago and was no where close to the quality of the Beaderie. I had a long chat with the lady who runs it, actually somebody I'd met via Handm@de Craft Fairs last year. She's very much into Etsy and the new wave of interest in the handmade scene, something I was glad to hear. A lot of bead shops I have been to are run by the more 'old school' style crafters who focus more on hobbyists rather than those who are looking for good supplies for the work that they sell.And excitingly, the Beaderie should be stocking vintage beads in the future - yay!

I picked some lovely glass beads and unconciously I ended up picking an assortment of spring time colours. I got some lovely glass flowers, beautiful green shell beads, some pretty pink glass and some beautiful high quality glass pearls. I'll definitely be back!
Next up - the sweet shop.

I'd popped in before but having spent way too much money on pork pies and posh chilis in the Cambridge Cheese Shop the same day I couldn't justify the sweeties. This time I did get something though.

A Wham! bar - anyone remember those? And a bag of rhubarb & custard and a some lemon bon bons. All wrapped up in a little paper bag as an olde fashioned sweet shoppe should.

Now I must be careful to eat the sweets and not the beads. They are both yummy looking.

2 March 2010

Cooking: Rhubarb Crumble Cake

We are finally breaking through this gloomy winter and the sight of forced rhubarb appearing in the shops is a very welcome one. I love rhubarb, it has a wonderful flavour, can be used in many different ways and is terrible easy to cook - the main rule is - use lots of sugar.

I normally crumble rhubarb but we were cooking for guests this weekend and I thought it would be lovely to make something a little different with my thick pink rhubarb from the farm shop. I have made crumble cake before, its just perfect - a soft buttermilk sponge with soft stewed fruit and a crispy brown sugar topping.

It makes a lovely show off pudding but also holds up well to be thrown in your lunchbox for work days. I served mine warm with double cream, we've still got a couple of pieces left which I'm going to make custard for - because you have to have rhubarb with custard!

Rhubarb Crumble Cake - makes one quite big 9 inch sponge

for the cake:

150g granulated or brown sugar
150g butter
150g self raising flour
3 eggs - yolks and whites separated
approx 75ml butter milk (*see notes at the bottom)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 large sticks (about 400g) rhubarb cut into chunks

Heat oven to gas mark 5 / 190c / 375f

First of all chop your rhubarb into chunks, about 1 inch thick, add to a bowl and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons over the top. Let it sit whilst you make the cake mix.

Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in your egg yolks.
In a separate bowl whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks - doing this separately will make your cake lovely and light.
Fold in your egg whites and then add in your flour, spices and vanilla. Then lightly stir in your buttermilk til you have a smooth batter.

Spoon into a greased and lined cake tin.
Scatter your rhubarb on top. Now you need to make your crumble top.

for the crumble:
50g butter
50g flour
50g brown sugar
1 tsp cinamonn

Pulse your butter and flour in a food processor til you have a breadcrumb texture. Or rub together in a bowl. You may need to add a little more flour or butter if you mix is too floury or thick and buttery. Then mix in your sugar and cinamonn.
Sprinkle this over your mixture in your tin, and sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on top. Make sure most of the rhubarb is covered otherwise you'll get a little too much 'caramelisation' (ie burning) of your rhubarb as it cooks.

Bake for 30-40minutes - my oven is a little tempermental so yours may vary - til a knife comes out clean. If your top starts to brown too much cover with foil.

Serve with custard, creme fraiche or cream and a big spoon!

*Notes about buttermilk (which I totally forgot to add before!)
You don't to buy your own buttermilk for this cake, it's easy to make yourself. Just put your milk (preferable semi skimmed, whole milk, or use single cream) in a cup and add a teaspoon for each 75ml of white vinegar or lemon juice and leave for 10 minutes. You basically want it to sour a little bit.


1 March 2010

Monday Moodboard - March!

It's finally March!I like March, mainly because its my birthday and also because of the beautiful crisp sunny weather. Food starts to come into season and lovely daffodils pop up from the ground.

Sweet Honey Earrings by Leela Bijou
Daffodil Fragrance Soap by Soapy Chica
Needle Felted Easter Bunny by Felt Me Up Designs
Garden Bird Embellished T Shirt by La Marquise Desanges