Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gingerbread Cookies

I did this last year but never put it on the blog...sorry cheating I know, I just have not been keeping things up to date! I also set a challenge on the craft forum last week on the forum and didn't post on here.

I would like to thank my assistant (Owen) - without whom this would not have been possible.

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes around 18 – 20 depending on size of cutters
175gms Self Raising Flour (6oz)
2.5ml Bicarbonate of Soda ( ¼ Teaspoon)
2.5ml Ground Cinnamon ( ¼ Teaspoon)
10ml Caster Sugar (2 Teaspoon)
50gms Butter (2oz)
45ml Golden Syrup (3 Tablespoon)

Icing (optional)
50gms Icing Sugar (2oz)
5-10ml water (1-2 teaspoon)

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Lightly grease two baking sheets
Put the flour, bicarb of soda, cinnamon and caster sugar into a large bowl.

You now need to melt the butter and syrup either in a saucepan or I do it in a bowl in the microwave.

Pour into the dry ingredients and stir well

You will need to mix it together with your hands at the end to form a dough.

Now turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about 5mm (¼ inch) thick.

Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, and put them on the tray. Leave a little room around them. Keep cutting and re-roll left overs until it is all used.

Bake for 8 – 12 minutes. Let them cool a little then transfer onto a rack, I use a slice to move them.

You can ice them by making the into a stiff mixture.

I have packaged mine into a cello bag ready for a gift

I have designed some labels for you to cut out if you have excel. the fonts I have used are Frosty, flakes and journalling hand, also Holidays MT (which are little dingbats and is a snowman) - but I am sure you can use some that you already have loaded. Just cut using the pale grey outline. You can shange colour, wording etc as you like:

Tags on Excel

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Beading today

I have had a busy week...yesterday wa the Christmas lunch at work - as we have a few part timers it was hard to get a day near to Christmas that we were all in! We walked around the corner to the Chinese!

Today I baked cakes for Ampthill Country Market tomorrow - not so many as the weather wasn't looking good and i really didn't want any left.

Then this afternoon I had lunch and a class out with Jane at Craftability. We sat and did some beading and I made this. I really enjoyed it and want to make another - now I have got the hang of it! We chose our beads and then chose something that we fancied having a go at, Jane did something different to me. Once we had finished we played with the Cuttlebug and talked about the Expression! And then had a play with fleting! Vanessa demo's both of them! She does loads of workshops and just does "craftanoons" on Wednesday's

My neck is a bit red in the photo as I had just got back from walking the streets with Father Christmas and the scouts curtesy of the Round Table. It was great fun the boys enjoyed it - lovely to see the little children all waving.

Managed to egt a few things ticked off my list today - and have announced the round robin list for Christmas cards. And I fnished my CJ pages at the weekend.

Still have loads of things on my list to do....
- must sort out the stamping swap
- make card
- finish the advent quiz - i have not thought up all the questions yet and intend to add another couple of pages to the web site!
- need to get my secret santa sorted
- sort out the birthday clubs
- make cards
- do Christmas shopping

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Challenges and cooking

The advent quiz continues...on the Crafts by Carolyn Forum

I have made a card it needed to have a gardening theme for an 80 year old I used Clare's template and came up with this, somehow it looks better in the flesh. I am pleased with it - I hope he will be. I even got the Robo fired up and did the numbers.

Now I was all set to join in with Rosies Great British Pud challenge - I know it was going to be very late anyway - but Owen wanted syrup here is the
Microwave syrup sponge pud (click through for the recipe) I posted about this on the The Cooks Journal forum. I halved the recipe and there was enough for two big portions and three reasonable portions, especially if you had custard. I did warm up a little syrup and pour that over once it was out of the bowl.

It has pretty much rained all day here - I have made a few cards and have been sorting out the birthday clubs on the crafts forum...I even did housework yesterday so we can visitors now! I really got carried away and washed the windows! So had to go and have lie down

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Day of Advent

I have launched an advent competition on the forum, you will need to answer a question everyday, and the winner will be the one with the most correct can only enter each day on the day - from midnight to midnight, so you had better get checking now!

The Artistic Stamper has also launched a competition for a fab prize, check out the Christmas section on the forum for both is on the left.

The challenges have been a bit quiet at the moment - so I am guessing that you maybe a little busy on other we won't have so many in December, just some other activities!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Date Crumblies

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal forum! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it. Join in with the latest challenge - something from Belgium

Clare gave me this recipe and I have no idea what to call them. They are a bit like a flapjack - but not as oaty!

I make them in a 11 X 7 tray - I have managed to find a couple with straighter sides so that when cut into portions they are all a similar size

Date Crumblies
200g of dates chopped and simmer with water – just keep adding a little water until it is a thick paste if that makes sense
225g Plain flour (wholemeal is good)
100g Rolled Oats
75g Soft Brown Sugar
150g Margerine or butter

Melt marg and sugar add flour and oats.

Put half into the tin and squash it down - I just do it with my fist, I did try it with a wooden mallet thing but it stuck! Spread dates evenly, and then sprinkle remainder over the top as a crumble. Squash it a little bit so it sticks when cooked

I think you could use between 150 and 250 g of dates - really depending on taste. Clare also said you can use apricots

Bake 200c – 20 mins cut into 16 or thereabaouts I do 5 X 3 portions so 15. It tastes fab - but I must admit doesn't look as attractive as some thing, and funnily enough a few people couldn't decide if they would like dates when I put them on the market!

Wednesday catch up again!

Two posts today as I have added a recipe too!

Well as usual the week flew by, I did a bit extra cooking for last Thursday as I knew it was the Ampthill Farmers Market on Saturday - but of course it all sold! So I baked a couple of trays of brownies and ginger cakes on Thursday afternoon! It was all a bit of a rush as I went to Milton Keynes Theatre to see Romantic Comedy in the evening. It was a good play - but not really good iykwim. I think they should have lost to american accents and just changed a few bits in the script to set it in the UK.

At the weekend we went to Pauls Mum in you can see why the week has flown! so been to work for two days and this morning I have been busy baking again :)
Clare has just launched a really great template challenge this week - you really must give it a go.

I had a request for some Christmas cards on Ampthill Country Market stall - I have a few there - but they wanted something else! So will hopefully get a few done later - not sure what to do yet.

The card at the top I made using an image I stamped whilst I was at Susan's the other day - I love these stamps - I reckon I will have to treat myself

The Crafts by Carolyn Sponsors are offering some great prizes at the moment - so visit the forum and see what is on offer. Fancy trying something new - well there are laods of ideas on the forum, and some geat ideas for christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Only Weekly!

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Well I only manage to keep this up to date on a weekly basis now! So once again time seems to go so quickly! I do have another recipe - so will get that up tomorrow

It is Pauls birthday and I have yet to make his card! He decided to work from home today as well - so it was obvious I hadn't made it! So am just going to do that!

I used some of my rubber stamped images from the swap at the weekend - they are fab - thanks girls, and you can see them here. Sorry by the time I chopped them up I can't remember who they were all from, still have loads to use as well. The next swap is girls stuff - so if you want to join you just need to send 6 pieces of card stamped. More info is on the forum, great way to see other stamps. I have no idea why I took the pics on a slant!

I have spent the morning baking and did try something new - but for some reason it wasn't a hit :( will analyse it later! So nmarket duty for a couple of hours in the morning I hope that it doesn't snow - did you get snow. I have added a pic of Owen - he just had to get out in it on Sunday!

The CooksJournal has launched a new challenge to cook something from Belgium - so will have to think about that one. Anyone else fancy joining in?

Christmas has started on the forum and we are organising a secret santa! The monthly card swap continues, along with the weekly challenges. Anglenorth has just shown us how to cover a tin - ideal for a Christmas present.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chocolate Chip Muffns

I made these ages ago and I am really not sure where I got the recipe from - as I have printed it out on a postcard size piece of card and laminated it. I thought these were very yummy, but Owen said he would have preferred milk chocolate!

115g 4oz Butter or Marg
75g 3oz sugar
tbsp dark brown sugar
2 eggs
175g 6oz plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
120ml 4fl oz milk
175g 6oz plain choc chips
makes 8 or 9 190c 375f gas 5
beat together fat and sugars, add the eggs one at a time and beat. Sift the flour and baking powder, fold into mix a bit at a time alternating with the milk.

Divide the half the mixture between the muffin cases, add choc chips and then cover with remaining mix. Bake for 25 mins.

For some reason we were left with little cakes on the market today, very unusual that all the big cakes sold. So sad today that I have a few left. The trade is always up and down and it is difficult to judge. I did make more yesterday, which maybe I shouldn't as all of our bakers were back baking. Next week we are one down so maybe it will be different.

Ampthill suffered three power cuts last night/early morning, amazing how dark it is without any lights. Grrr can't wait until they build Center Parcs we won;t have any electricity then. I have never experienced so many power cuts as living here - I don;t remember them as bad in the 70s at least you knew when they were going to be!

GOOD NEWS I won £50 on the premium bonds.....

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

where does time go

Wow it was last Thursday when I last updated! Since then I went out to lunch with Jane and we went to Poplars Nursery and Craftability. We booked ourselves on a "Craftanoon" Wed 5 Dec - and Polly has changed it to beading - so we will be making something beady - our choice! Be a nice excuse to sit down and play. I bought some papers and a few bits and bobs

I made some cards last weekend but nothing too different, need to sort out some pics. I did make this card for the weekend challenge using my new stamps from the Artisticstamper - they are lovely and stamp great.

I am organising a stamped image swap on the forum, and the challenges have started up again now, don't forget the draw will be on the 17th.

I also made some Lamingtons for the Australian food challenge that has been set by Cookie on the CooksJournal forums. Rosie has also laid down the guantlet to get us all making a great british pud - so would love to see your efforts on your blog on on the forum.

I am all behind on my recipes for here I have some more to post. Somehow running the cooksjournal has taken up time recently! We now have a gallery and an events database - all the links are in the margin.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

I have been making these for the Ampthill Market, and thought I would share my findings. I have used a combination of several recipes and have found that these quantities fit into two 8 inch (I think mine are slightly smaller) round tins. I like the idea of the shape as it makes a difference when packaged! Sometimes I leave half plain and add fruit to the other. Just recently I have found the fruit sells better...Perhaps I ought to try dipping them into Chocolate.

I line my tins with parchment (baking paper) do not use greaseproof!

6oz Butter or Margerine
4oz brown sugar (or mix of different depending on the fillng)
2oz syrup
12oz oats

Melt first 3 in a bowl and then add the oats. Divide between two round tins, cut into 6 when still warm – remove from pans when cool.

According to Net the more syrup you add the chewier the flapjack.

Here are some of Nets suggestions:
Dried fruit (I add about 4oz to half)
chopped dates and chopped walnuts - use dark brown sugar.
plain choc and chopped brazil nuts.
chopped apricots

The weekend challenge on Craftsbycarolyn is drawing to a close (link on the side), there have been some fabulous creation created, well done everyone.

Cookie has launched a cooking challenge on the Cooks Journal too - so follow the links and see what we are up to.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More photos

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Pauline who came along to the party on Saturday has just sent these pics over and I thought I would share them with you all. They are fab

Don't forget the big challenge continues on the Crafts by Carolyn Forum

Click through for bigger pics

Sunday, November 04, 2007


This was our guy just having his last drink before he went on the fire...

Yesterday was our annual firework do - there was 21 of us in total, including children, although as it stems from friends I have made through Owen iykwim - they are all getting much older - as he is 12 now.

Paul and Owen made the bonfire and the guy in the morning while I sorted out the kitchen and got the bread, and baked a tray of brownies.
Owen then decided he wanted some Smarties cookies - so he got those done, then we (mainly owen) coated the chicken thighs and drumsticks in breadcrumbs. After asking some questions on the cooks journal we mixed the breadcrumbs with herbs and pepper, and then sprinkled some Paprika on top. We dipped each of them into egg and the crumbs, I cooked them on racks and they were perfect.

We used our Bedfordshire carrots (delivered to the door) for the dips - peeled and shopped by Owen too!

We also had loads of sausages - but I didn't have the time (or energy) to make anything else. I did do some mulled wine - using a packet of spices that were just for the purpose and now I can't get anymore as Tesco have discontinued them. I was so easy you just added the spice mix to some water and sugar, then added red wine. I also added some orange slices and cinammon for good measure. I kept it warm in the slow cooker all evening which was perfect.

The bonfire soon burnt and we should have had more stuff to put on it, I really should have done some pruning - but time didn't allow.

For some reason this year we had loads of fireworks, but we soon got through them, I was given the night off this year from lighting and Ian, Simon and Wendy were doing we often had the excitement of 2 or 3 fireworks at once!

And you can see the garden this morning after the 'crowds' and the rockets! the garden certainly is a little worse for wear - but have much better than in some years where is has been a lot wetter. the weather was perfect.

This weekend is the big Challenge on the forum - there is still plenty of time to join in as you will have all week to finish.

It has got off to a good start - thanks to Sue for all her really hard work and to those that made some fab stuff for her to use as examples (Clare and Sue's Mum).

The weekly challenges have been suspended until the BIG challenge is over, so you can always just join in with one or two.

Don't forget the new Cooking website The Cooks Journal - if you like cooking, growing or just eating food I would love to see you there.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Smarties cookies

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

These were so quick to make.....from the Good Food 101 cakes and bakes

Smarties Cookies
4 oz 100g Butter
4 oz 100g muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
6 oz 150g Self-raising flour
3oz 85g Smarties (just under 3 tubes)
Oven 180c Gas 4
Beat butter and sugar together, then add the syrup.

Work in the flour and then add the smarties. Divide into 14 balls.

Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden. I made these for the Ampthill Country Market stall and if I do them again I will hold back some Smarties and add them to the top as soon as they come out of the oven, so that they can be seen.

Owen said they were yummy!

Our Anniversary

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Today is our wedding anniversary, and we exchanged cards this morning....This is mine sorry the sun had gone out of the garden by the time I thought about taking a pic! Paul gave me a DVD and chocs - I gave him nothing! I really couldn't think of anything to give him....but I will give him a book later when he comes in. I also had a beautiful bunch of flowers delivered.

I met Sue for coffee in Letchworth and managed to spend some money in the new craft shop there - I bought a scalloped punch, and some little inks.

After Sue went I reparked and had a quick wander looking at kitchen stuff - and bought a new silicon muffin tray and a new mixing bowl - what a spender eh? I had got my cheque from Ampthill Country Markets with a full months baking included and thought I could spend a little!

I also visited the Artistic Stamper and puchased a couple of stamps....well it is my anniversary!

I need to catch up on post some recipes...will do done in a mo.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The rest of half term

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Well the week is over - where did it go?

The Farmers Market was a success - although once again it was nowhere near as popular as it used to be - BUT we had very little left. I had baked extra as I knew we had an event tomorrow - but I had a few flapjacks left. I really do think Ampthill Town Council could do more to help it - but they won't even invest in a proper sign in the centre of town - they put laminated A4 (sometimes A3!) posters on the tree - oh well rant over.

I have put some pics here if you want a nosey of our week

We went to Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire on Thursday and had a great day out, it was a nice small Zoo and was very well planted - I would think it would be lovely in the summer. The weather wasn't so good and there was only a handful of visitors. There are a pair of lions and they were playing like domestic cats - they had a ball and were ambushing each other - it was great fun to watch them.

This is the Tapir (sp?) and their baby - so cute looking like he is wearing pyjamas!

The crispy ducks in Chinatown...not the zoo

The Natural History Museum
How sad that the Dodo never survived

Two more challenges have been launched at - Clare has luanched an Autumn leaves, and Angelnorth has launched 'in the spotlight' they are both great challenges to get you are a couple of their example pics:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Half Term

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

Wow busy week...started gentle and just a trip to Bedford. Then Tuesday we went to London for the day. We went to the Natural History museum first, and boy was it busy, we really should have just taken some rolls for lunch as it was a pain queueing for food. We had a great time - Owen loved it, they had a special Antarctic exhibition (extra charge - of course!), but it was Owen's kind of thing.

We then headed over to Covent Garden - although Owen did want to do the Science Museum as well....(!). Funny thing happened on the way - Owen had bought a little monkey with magnetised feet and hands, and while waiting for the tram he showed me a trick with his train ticket where the monkey could hold it. I did point out that it had a magentic strip on the back and probably wouldn't work in the machine now...needless to say he didn't believe me!! So when coming up from the tube Paul and I go through and he is left on the other I tell him to go to the end and talk to the man who would let him through....The man exclaimed "Oh no, that is a fake ticket" We all thought it was really funny - except Owen...but he did laugh in the end.

So had a great time in Convent Garden and then walked over to Leicester Square and finished the day with a pizza.

Am baking for the Farmer's Market atm - so will write up some more later.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ampthill made the news

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting! If you have a food blog - come and tell us all about it.

...the food forum started on Saturday and we have quite a few foodies on there already, so I hope it will be useful to everyone to swap recipes, tips and whatever really to do with food. There are loads of food blogs out there - so I have set up a section for everyone to post about their blogs and also a section for when they update it :)

Well an amazing story seems to have 'evolved' from the Ampthill forum. A little snippet from a local Councillors blog was posted on there about the carnival bunting still being up...

"Ampthill Festival Bunting - The reason that the Festival Bunting is still up arises from the fact that due to local health and safety advice the local fire brigade are unable to take the bunting down. The Festival committee has always appreciated their assistance in the past and is working towards getting them down."

The local paper (who we suspect often pop into the forum as we have been quoted in the paper before!)...ran it as a front page story...and then all of the nationals and news on the TV have got hold of it. Somehow blown out of all proportion - "a massive row" was quoted on the ITV Anglia news, they actually came to the town to cover the story! AMAZING.

Whereas the people of Ampthill are not happy about the cancellation of their firework display that is organised by the Lions at the Ampthill Park, somehow negotiations between the Lions and the Ampthill Town Council (owners of the park) have broken down and it has been cancelled! Fab eh?

I was going to pop down to the town to make my third TV appearance....but didn't make time!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lemon Fruit Squares

Don't forget to visit:The Cooks Journal and is now ready for posting!
I kind of made this recipe from a combination of other recipes and I made it in 8 inch square tin, I cut it into 9 portions for the Country market, they are quite a good size portion. I am enjoying making smaller cakes for the Country Market stalls, that way I can put some aside for Owen's lunches. And it is filling a gap in the current product range on the stall

Lemon Fruit Squares
4oz Marg
4oz Sugar
2 Eggs
..beat together

7oz Self raising flour
Grated rind of lemon
….Fold in

1 tablespoon of lemon juice
If mixture too stiff add a little milk
4oz dried fruit - I used sultanans

Cook in 8 inch square tin. Bake for 35 mins 170c

Once cool ice with some lemon juice and some zest of lemon and icing sugar, let it drizzle down the sides.

I would love to hear of more recipes for with lemons other than a lemon loaf