Barking Mad

My sister and her now husband are absolutely OBSESSED with their 3 dogs!! 2 daschunds and a mixture, Petal, Ollie and Heidi. I had wanted to design them (my sister and her lovely husband, not the dogs : )) some “doggy” fabric and make them some cushions for a while now, and so when my sister and her boyfriend decided to get married I knew I just had to turn my ideas into wedding presents!

First I designed a repeat pattern for the fabric and had it printed…
And then I learnt to sew!

I wanted to make the cushions the most important part. I was even going to make a daschund shaped cushion, however it turned out that that was a little ambitious with my sewing skills (or lack of). I had ordered so much fabric so I decided to make them some napkins as well, and with the last few scraps, some doggy bandanas.

And then I wrapped and packaged them all together.

Here are a few pics….
handmade by me.

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chocolate indulgence

This recipe of Nigella Lawson’s I made for my amazing fiancé’s birthday in September. He loves chocolate, and that is something this cake is not short of. Be warned, its rich, but so gorgeous, for any chocolate lover.

The Recipe: Baked Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes 10-12 slices

Ingredients:
For the base:
125g digestive biscuits
60g butter
1 tablespoon cocoa

For the filling:
175g dark chocolate, chopped small
500g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g caster sugar
1 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
150ml sour cream (or just use a 142ml pot)
1/2 teaspoon cocoa, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

For the Glaze (Optional):
75g dark chocolate, finely chopped
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon golden syrup

Method:

  1. To make the base, process the biscuits to make rough crumbs and then add the butter and cocoa.
  2. Process again until it makes damp,clumping crumbs and then tip them into a 23cm springform tin. Press the biscuit crumbs into the bottom of the tin to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.
  3. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180ºC. Put a kettle on to boil. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Beat the cream cheese to soften it, and then add the sugar and custard powder, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks, and the sour cream. Finally add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and the melted chocolate, and mix to a smooth batter.
  5. Take the springform tin out of the freezer and line the outside of the tin with a good layer of clingfilm, and then another layer of strong foil over that. This will protect it from the water bath.
  6. Sit the springform tin in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan with just-boiled water to come about halfway up the cake tin, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.
  7. Peel away the foil and clingfilm wrapping and sit the cheesecake in its tin on a rack to cool. Put in the fridge once it’s no longer hot, and leave to set, covered with clingfilm, overnight. Let it lose its chill before unspringing the cheesecake to serve.
  8. To make the chocolate glaze, very gently melt the chopped chocolate, cream and syrup. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take off the heat and whisk it to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and then Jackson Pollock it over the chocolate cheesecake on its serving plate. Use the remaining glaze as an accompanying sauce.

Sew and soooooo

Soooooo I’ve been learning to sew. And its certainly not as easy as you may think. I have been wanting to make cushions for a quite a while now. Fabric designing and printing is something that really interests me and if I want to start making my own fabric for the cushions, I am also going to have to learn to sew them myself. Luckily for me someone I knew had just started offering sewing lessons, and so I signed myself up for a few. Patience is certainly the name of the game and that is something I don’t have. After several tantrums and arguments with myself, lots of threading and rethreading of everything many many times, I finally cracked it. And here is my first cushion! Trim and zip and all! And hopefully the beginning of many more.

Rustic Leek and Potato Soup

I got this recipe off one of my most favourite websites to go to for recipes www.tastemag.co.za. This is one of the easiest, most affordable, yet delicious and comforting soups I know. Have it on its own or spruce it up if you’re having guests with some very easy homemade croutons. I usually double up the recipe and freeze individual portions which I can take to work for lunch.

The Recipe: Rustic Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
500g leeks well washed and chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream
chopped chives for sprinkling

For the croutons:
good-quality bread
olive oil for moistening

Method:
Gently cook the leeks in the heated butter with a good pinch of salt, until limp. Add the potato and stir for a few minutes. Pour in the stock or water. Add a little seasoning. Simmer, half-covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Blend (I use a stick blender). Add the cream and check the seasoning. Reheat if necessary. Sprinkle over the chopped chive and serve with home-made, chunky croutons.

To make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Moisten torn bits of good-quality bread with a little oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crusty.

Enjoy!