Sunday, 26 June 2011

Quilt roll call and a recipe

There’s not a lot to show for this week..., but as we are now half way through the year I thought I would do a roll call on my projects, it's been a bit disappointing really :-(

Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt

I continue on with my version of the quilt. 8 blocks now completed and last night I prepped another block, so I have three blocks “on the go”. Hopefully, I’ll get the basket with berries completed for next weekend, but I am all berried out at the moment and there are only 43 of them, so what am I going to be like after 120 grapes for the centre block I wonder?

Maltaville Album Quilt

Do I really need another quilt project – answer is “NO”!, but hey??? Life is too short...

I finally signed up to do the Maltaville Album Quilt. All the patterns are being drafted by Margaret Mew at Quiltstation. I do not envy her task as she must be taking the patterns from photographs, not an easy job to do when scaling up.

I first saw this quilt hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC back in November 2008. It was Thanksgiving Day and having been let down by the promise of seeing three quilts over at the Museum of American Art which transpired to be full sized photographs of the quilts displayed, on rollers – I was not best pleased...

So, in a real grump I found myself on the basement floor of the Museum of American History where I came across the Maltaville Album Quilt and all was forgiven! One problem though was that it was displayed behind glass panels so I had a real problem with reflected light.

I took loads of photographs, but unfortunately, many are blurred and not fit for publication. My then digital camera wasn’t too good at close-ups, but I have enough detail.

I had resolved to add the quilt to my one day list, so was delighted when I discovered that Margaret had decided to produce the patterns. They are relatively simple blocks at only 11” square, so will be an ideal project for my daily train commute. I’ve prepped the first four blocks, except I am not happy with my background fabric, so stitching may have to wait until after the Festival of Quilts in early August.

And all the other quilts? Well, not much progress, other than thinking about them!

Recipe for Gateau au orange et Cointreau
I was asked for the recipe for the Gateau and I am very happy to oblige. Normally I would have made the cake with a Genoese sponge, but on this occasion I made a traditional Victoria Sponge Cake, so traditional that I didn’t even use Delia’s all in one method!

Victoria Sponge Cake

3 large eggs                                                                  2 x 7” greased and lined cake tins

6oz butter

6oz caster sugar

6oz self-raising flour

Dash of milk (optional)

1tsp Vanilla essence

1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy

2. Beat in eggs one at a time

3. Sieve flour, a little at a time, and beat into the above mixture

4. Add vanilla essence and continue to beat in

5. Mixture should be at a dropping consistency, i.e when you place some mixture onto a spoon and then tap the spoon on the side of the bowl, the mixture should drop off.

6. If the mixture is too heavy add a dash of milk to ease it.

7. Divide the mixture between the two sandwich tins and bake on the middle shelf of the oven heated to 180°C for 25 minutes.

8. After 25 minutes the top should be a golden brown and when pushed with the finger the centre should bounce back.

9. Cool on a wire rack and decorate once cold

Butter cream

4oz butter to decorate                                                        2 tins mandarin oranges

6oz icing sugar                                                                   toasted flaked almonds

Cointreau (optional)

1. Cream together butter and icing sugar, add Cointreau to taste.

2. Sandwich together with a thin layer of butter cream the two sponges

3. With a palette knife using the butter cream add a thin layer around the sides of the cake.

4. Place toasted flaked almonds on a paper kitchen towel and roll the sides of the cake along the flaked almonds and place cake on serving plate.

5. Drain mandarin oranges, but keep the juice and with a teaspoon carefully “dribble” the juice over the top of the cake – take care not to make the cake too wet, just enough to add some orange flavour.

6. With the remaining butter cream, spread over the top and arrange the mandarin oranges. voila!

Have a good week.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Coming out of my cottage...

Quite a good week, so far...

Yesterday, I completed 3 sets of 1st, 2nd and double marking in 4 weeks – the equivalence of 302,000 words!

I do not want to do that again. I became almost hermit like at the weekends and lost a Whitsun Bank Holiday somewhere. My lounge almost became like a cave. There are now just a few scripts with extensions due in over the next week or so and then I start the tutorials for students who failed their assignments and the next batch of marking comes in on 12th July – a small cohort of students so not quite as much marking to do. I am all marked out...!

So yesterday evening I picked up some sewing and finally finished another block for the Cherry Trees Album Quilt – block no 8.

Block 8
 I am quite pleased with this block, Unfortunately, the picture looks very dark as I took it early this morning and the sky was very overcast. It took me some time to decide on the fabric colours/combinations and although I was hesitant to use the cream, I think it looks quite well balanced. I am also pleased with the bird.Block 9 has been prepared, a basket with lots of berries, so I’ll be seeing circles in my sleep!

Orange gateau!
I did get some time to do some baking – an orange gateau or maybe I should call it Gateau au Cointreau! This is one of my Mother's recipes. She always makes an orange gateau for my youngest brother for Christmas because he doesn't like Christmas cake, huh! and he does not like the Cointreau so it's quite "boring" really, because in my opinion, the best thing has been left out ;-)

One of our team at work retired and I offered to bake a cake. As it was a special celebration I decided to add some cointreau to the butter cream and, well, my hand slipped! It was very, very, very nice butter cream!

I am quite proud of this cake, I haven’t done any proper baking in some time. But it was not easy.  The batteries in my scales had died and they are unusual batteries so not easily replaced. So, I then had to do it all by cup measurements and by eye, not easy trying to find out how many grammes or ounces of flour is in a cup etc. and only one of my recipe books, one from New Zealand, gave me any clues. Anyway I am very pleased with how it turned out, not the least because it turned out edible! or, maybe it was the Cointreau LOL.

There's a Parish Council meeting tonight. All of us who live in the street have been invited to attend. Apparently there was a problem with the fire hydrants when the fire brigade were trying to extinguish the fire at the Wheatsheaf pub and an extra tender had to be brought in to help pump water up to the fire hmmmm...
Well, we'll hear more tonight I am sure, but real concerns at the moment because despite barriers going up around the building apparently there has already been some looting, of what I do not know, but the place cannot be left in the current state it is in. It's quite dangerous.

This is only the beginning I am sure...

Friday, 3 June 2011

A sad day for my village...

Today, I came home to find that the three roads into the village were taped off by the Police.

We have two pubs in the village, on opposite sides of the road. I live just 100 metres or so up the road from them. They are both quite old although The Bell is from about the mid-1500's whilst the Wheatsheaf was built in about the 1840's. The tiny plot of grass outside The Wheatsheaf is known locally as the Village Green, so it is likely that the pub was built on the site of the original village green. They are both popular pubs and despite the recession they have kept going although the Wheatsheaf has been up for sale for some time, but unlike so many pubs locally, has not been forced to close.

The Wheatsheaf Pub in 2007

This afternoon a fire took hold in The Wheatsheaf and it has been gutted. Eight fire tenders from around north and west Kent attended the fire and almost 5 hours after the blaze started there are still two tenders outside. I guess they will be there for the rest of the night as they try to dampen down. Unfortunately, whilst it is a beautiful sunny day there is quite a breeze which is not helping.

Outside my front door

My first view of the pub

 Approximately 3 hours after the fire started it is still ablaze

It is amazing to see that the hanging baskets are still there and appear to be unaffected!

There are still flames in the roof and the old stables or "barn" has completely disappeared.

Lots of smoke

One brave fireman

Still trying to damp down

Whilst the roof has completely caved in, the outer walls have remained standing, thanks to the ragstone, a local stone which is used in the building of many local houses and walls etc. So it is thought that the pub could be re-built, but I somehow wonder given it has been up for sale.

Over the years I have been mapping who lived in which house in the street, and exactly 100 years ago the Wheatsheaf was owned by Mrs. Ellen Jarvis. I have a copy of an old photograph of her standing with her husband outside my neighbours house, because just at the outbreak of the 1st World War, she retired and moved into next door, she looks a kindly lady, but at the same time I wouldn't want to cross her!