As sometimes happens, I have started a collection of manky bananas, which have been lurking in my lunch bag and in the fruit bowl. They went all motley and smelly, and there was nothing for it but to bake banana bread. There really is no other use for them!
So I had a nose around to see what sort of recipe took my fancy, and ended up making something up. The basic recipe is from this one at River Cottage and I added some other spices and a squeeze of honey to liven it up even more. It smelled lovely while it is baking, with all the chai inspired spices. It cuts really nicely and has a quite fresh taste to it which surprised me. I think it may be the cardomom. Definitely a bit more exciting than plain banana bread though, and I will be making it again.
- 5 cardamom pods (peel off the skin and grind up the seeds using a pestle and mortar)
- quarter teaspoon of ground ginger
- quarter teaspoon of nutmeg
- quarter teaspoon of cinnamon
- quarter teaspoon of all spice
- 250g self-raising flour (I ended up using some wholemeal flour and baking powder as a substitute)
- 100g margarine
- 125g brown sugar
- 100g chocolate chips
- 2 ripe bananas (about 250g, peeled weight)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- quarter teaspoon or there abouts of honey
- Line your loaf baking tin (my mum gave me some paper loaf tin liners which save a huge amount of faff and preheat the oven to 180C.
- Mix the flour, all of the spices and margarine in a large mixing bowl, until the mixture resembles medium breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and chocolate chips and mix. Make a well in the centre.
- Mash the bananas and add the egg and blend together, then pour into the well in the dry ingredients. Mix together and then beat until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Take the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a rack.
This is my second earwarmer – made from some reddish wool I got from a charity shop. I finished it off with 2 vintage buttons from my collection.
To make a crochet earwarmer, make a chain around 9 to 10cm long. This should be around ch12 (+1) but you could make it thicker or thinner depending on the look you’re going for. You then need to just keep going with the dc stitch in rows until you reach around 45cm long (I’m no good at keeping count, so best just keep checking with the tape measure and keep trying it on to check for size). Some wools has more give to it than others, so bear the stretch in mind when you’re working out the final length.
To finish off your earwarmer so it is like the red earwarmer above, on the last but one row, do one dc then skip a stitch and do a chain stitch instead. Start dc crocheting again in the stitch after the one skipped. Do the same at the end of the row to give you 2 matching button holes. Do the final row all in dc to finish off. On the side with no button holes, sew in place the buttons so they are in the right place to go through the button holes.
To finish off a bow earwarmer like the one below, once the band is big enough to go around your head, sc the ends together and tidy up loose ends.
Crochet a smaller band using dc stitch, around 10cm square, and then sew it into place to cover the join.
Here are a couple more tutorials form over the year which seem to have been popular – this time they are all fabric-related.
Bunting – I went through a mega-bunting phase earlier this year, but this set is my favourite. The vintage Beatrix Potter fabric is so cute – I got in a local charity shop which has a craft section.
Fabric bangle – this project is very easy and would make good Christmas stocking fillers if you’re stuck for anyone.
I was taught how to make these origami stars a couple of years ago, and the person who taught me kindly did a colour coded copy to refer to in the future so I never forget how to do them. Another way to make sure I don’t forget it to blog them! They are really simple to make once you get going.
- 11-12 paper squares in any size. I made a big one out of A4 paper folded into a square, and then used the off-cuts to make mini-stars.
- PVA glue or glue dots.
- Ribbon or string to hang your star.
- Fold a square of paper into quarters as shown below.
- Next, fold each corner point into the middle to make a square shape.
- You then need to make a diamond shape by folding the outer edges of your square into the middle.
- Your diamond should end up looking like this.
- Next, fold over the short triangle of your diamond, as shown below.
- Finally, you need to fold the triangle in half up the middle as shown below.
- You’ll need to make 11-12 of these paper triangles, and they fit together as shown below. There are some little slots on the right angle of the triangle which you can insert the triangle point into. It takes a bit of wiggling and glue to get them to sit in a circle – once you are happy with the shape, leave them to dry for a while, then add some ribbon or string to hang them.
I hope my instructions are followable, but if you have any questions post me a comment and I will do my best to help 🙂
This is my mums famous mince pie pastry recipe, and it turns out it was originally my nannie’s. Apparently when my mum was small, my nannie used to go to a sewing group and one Christmas someone brought some mince pies, and everyone wanted the recipe. The lady was a bit reluctant but then gave it to them in the end. Her son was a chef at the Dorchester Hotel in London, and this was their mince pie pastry recipe. It is a very short pastry, but you can roll it out and play with it as much as you want to without it getting spoilt. It is also pretty much fool-proof!
Makes around 30 mince pies
- 4 oz margarine
- 4 oz trex (vegetable fat)
- 6 oz self raising flour
- 6 oz plain flour
- 1 oz sugar
- pinch of baking powder
- mincemeat (we made ours a bit more luxurious by adding a slug of amaretto)
- have some cold water handy, just in case
- You will also need some small cake cases and bun tins
- Preheat oven to 200-220 deg c and put the cake cases in the tins ready.
- Cream the margarine, trex and sugar together in a big bowl.
- Measure out and then sieve the flours into the creamed mix.
- Bring together the mix, kneading it gently. If needed, add a drop of cold water but our mix was fine without. My mum says she very rarely adds the water.
- Roll out the mix on a lightly floured board, and cut out 68 mm rounds for the bottoms and 58 mm for the tops.
- Put the pastry bottoms in the cases, add a teaspoon of mincemeat and put the smaller pastry round on top.
- Bake for 10 minutes and then check to see how the are getting on. They should be cooked after 15 minutes and be ever so slightly golden.
I thought coming towards the end of the year it would be nice to do a round-up of some of my tutorials, both my favourite projects and those which have been most popular with you lovely people.
This is the first lot, but I will be posting more over the next couple of weeks.
Reversible apron – I made this as a present for my friend, it’s a great way to showcase your favourite fabrics!
Paper flower garland – this is by far one of the most viewed projects over the past year. They are really easy (if slightly time consuming) to make and I have also used them to embellish cards. You could probably use to decorate your special Christmas presents too!
Things to do with yo yos and more things to do with yo yos – need I say more? Yo yos are amazing and very versatile 🙂