Author Archives: eganj1

About eganj1

Lover of slow living, nature, making ceramics, arts, crafts, and all things creative

Wish I Was There!

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks as there hasn’t been a great deal to talk about. This week I should have been walking the North Norfolk coast but instead we have been at home, what with the dreary weather I haven’t even felt like going out for a walk.

I started a new blanket which I have called ‘Wish I Was There’, the colours remind me of days at the coast. I have been thinking about my holidays in Norfolk and a boat trip to the seal colony that we did a few years back, I got my holiday dvd’s out to reminisce. 

I think less is more with this blanket, I love these muted colours. Wish I Was There BlanketA couple of weeks ago I took an art course online with Louise Fletcher called Find My Joy, this got me really thinking  about  my crafting life and where I find joy, so I’m having a destash of the things that I no longer get so much pleasure from. It’s a natural progression, I like to try different things  so  I have started to destash my studio, but it seems so much more messy now than it was before. I still have a small Paragon SC3 for sale which is now on ebay along with glass and china painting enamels, jewellery making supplies  etc. There will be a lot more to follow.

Paragon SC3 for saleI’ve spent a lot of time watching the raindrops on the pond that we built just before the weather changed.

pond

I’m so pleased we built it, already the wildlife are using it, on the first day a blackbird took a bath and since then we have sparrows , dunnocks, greenfinches, a cheeky vole visting daily. 

I managed to catch the dunnock having a wash and brush up.

You need to click on the little square corners icon to see the video.

Enjoy your weekend, my destash and tidy mission will continue, I have to make space as I want to paint large messy paintings. 🙂

Sourdough Stottie Cakes

As you may know already I’m dabbling with sourdough, I try to keep baking to the weekend taking Hercules ( my sourdough starter) out of the fridge on Thursday for dough making on Friday (after a couple of feeds) then baking on Saturday morning. I make more dough on Saturday for baking on Sunday. Hercules is fed then returned to the fridge.

The chewy texture of sourdough reminds me of a traditional stottie cake from Northumberland. I couldn’t find anything online for making a sourdough stottie so I set about to make my own. My Gran baked them regularly so I know how a traditional stottie should be and how a shop bought one differs. I’m going to try to make my Gran’s version.

Where does the name come from you ask? To stot something is to bounce if off something, like “stotting a baall off the nettie waal”, or “it’s stotting doon ooutside”, meaning  bouncing a ball of the toilet wall ( in the days of outside loos) or in the latter, it’s raining heavily.

Here’s my recipe, I thought I would have to make a few to get it right but actually the first attempt was pretty close to what I wanted.

Sourdough Stottie Cake.

2 1/4 cups strong white flour

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup active sourdough discard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

150 ml warm water

1 tablespoon dried milk powder

Method.

Mix the dry ingredients except milk powder in a bowl.

Mix the  milk powder and water, stir in the discard and the oil.

Pour into the flour mixture and bring together into a rough ball. Let it rest 10 minutes.

Stottie cake and pease pudding

Tip onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Leave to rest covered with a damp tea towel for  minutes.

Flatten out with your hand and put on a baking tray, poke a hole in the centre, and prick with a fork ( I forgot to do this). Leave in the fridge overnight.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

In the morning bring out of the fridge while the oven heats to 200C. Put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. Pop the stottie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 15 minutes.

It should be cooked, I like to check the internal temperature is about 98 C so I know it’s done. Wrap in a tea towel and leave to cool.

Stottie cake and pease pudding
I made some quick pease pudding to eat with my stottie cake. I soaked yellow split peas overnight then rinsed and put in a pan with water and a stock cube, boil until the peas mush. Keep an eye on the water level and top up if needed. I like a bit of texture so didn’t go completely mush, but I blitzed with a hand blender. As the pease pudding cools it thickens up and becomes spreadable.
Stottie cake and pease pudding
Traditionally the peas would be tied in a clout (cloth) and put in a pan of vegetables, water and bacon bones or ham hock to make pea soup , the peas thicken the soup and the peas in the cloth take on flavour from the stock.
Stottie cake and pease pudding
For a miner’s family this would be 2 cheap filling meals for very little money especially if they grew their own vegetables, pea soup and dumplings and ham and pease pudding sandwiches. My quick version is still very tasty, you can add other things like bacon pieces or onions but we had it plain.

The texture when I cut into the stottie looked right, just a little dense but not too heavy.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

It tasted great, just as I remember it.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

The next day I made another stottie cake but cooked it differently to see if I could get a crust like a shop bought stottie. It was cooked in a cast iron pan then put in the oven to finish off. While it was in the pan I realised why they have a belly button, it lets the steam out and stops it puffing up like a pitta bread.
Stottie cakeIt came out more stodgy, but the crust seemed to have the right texture.
Stottie cakeIt tasted good but I do prefer my Gran’s stottie cake.
Stottie cakeStotties will be a regular feature of my sourdough baking in future, I wonder how my Gran would rate them 🙂

 

Back to work – back to a different kind of normality.

I’ve made the decision to open up my Etsy and Folksy shops again. At some point things have to start to return to ‘normal’ what ever that is now. Things will probably be this way for the foreseeable future  and we/ I have to get on with our lives at some point. I have to say planning  a trip to the Post Office gave me a sleepless night wondering what the best time and route are to avoid people, I could quite happily stay a recluse, I think a lot of us feel that way.

At the start of the year I made an action plan to take my business forward in 2020, listing everything I needed to make over the summer months to keep me stocked up until the following January. This plan has now gone to pot, like many creative people I have struggled with creativity and making at this time.

What I decided was just do a little bit when I felt up for it, for example I went to tidy the studio , looked at a bag of clay and made a few pieces, much nicer to do than tidy up. I walked around the garden saw the smoke bush had leaves so I did a bit of ecoprinting, and so on.

I have reopened my shop mainly with little gift ideas, like flat hanging leaves which can go in the post box and can be sent direct to a loved one to let them know you are thinking of them.
Hanging leaf Silk scarves, send to a friend, or Mum with a note from you included in the package.
leaf print silk scarf
I made some small fused glass light catchers, I used to make lots of these, they are made with recycled glass they are environmentally friendly . Another small gift that will go through the letterbox and put a smile on someones face.
glass lightcatchers

I have plans to make some small stitched pieces as well as some small artworks so hopefully they will make it into my shop before too long, I’m doing a little when I feel up for it and keeping it fun. There’s lots of raku fish and wall art leaves to list too but all in good time, I’m just going with the flow and easing in gradually for now.

Take care.

 

Sourdough journey has begun.

I have spent the lockdown try to resist but in the end I caved in and decided to give sourdough bread making a go. I try not to eat much bread but when I found out that you can keep your starter in the fridge and bake once a week I couldn’t resist any longer and so Hercules was born.
SourdoughAs there’s so much sourdough information out there ( bit of an overload for my brain just now) I bought a book called “Artisan Sourdough  Made Simple” by Emilie Raffa. It’s a brilliant book for a beginner as everything is well laid out and easy to follow.
SourdoughHercules (I’m hoping he is strong and mighty) was halved, fed and watered for 6 days as instructed, he smelled nice and had bubbles but he wasn’t rising up the jar. Day 7 he was fed again, by this time I had quite a bit of discard so I decided to make flatbread from the book. I thought it wouldn’t matter how they came out as they are flatbread. They were delicious.
SourdoughOn day 8 Hercules came good and had risen up the jar so it was time to make the first recipe for a loaf as recommended by Emilie. I didn’t have enough white flour so I went half and half with a local biodynamic wholemeal flour. I was sceptical as the bread dough looked heavy, I got a good crust, however as my main oven is broken it had to be squeezed into the top oven and got a bit too dark on the edges.
SourdoughIt was fine when I cut into it, the crust was amazing, very crisp, and well flavoured. The loaf didn’t last long as we sat in the garden with a glass of wine, some salad from the garden, cheese and olive oil.
SourdoughSadly I ran out of flour but I managed to source some online, in the meantime Hercules was fed with what I had left and the discard started to mount up, so we had crumpets from King Arthur Flour website. These were very easy to make and light, but not the same as my usual crumpets, they lacked the rubbery texture. I will make them again but not think of them as a crumpet.

Sourdough
&SourdoughBy the time Friday came I felt like Old Mother Hubbard as our grocery delivery doesn’t arrive until today, so I had a look around to see what I had in. There was some pesto, cheese, tomato and mushrooms, and of course sourdough discard so I cooked it off in the frying pan.

Quick pizza using sourdough discardTopped it and put under the grill, in a few minutes we had a pizza!
Quick pizza using sourdough discardHopefully my flour will arrive soon, I have to say Hercules is a welcome addition to the family, we have unanimously agreed homemade sourdough is the best, we are hooked.

My punch needle cushions are finished.

Not sure what week we are on now with the lockdown, I’ve settled into the groove and I’m enjoying the tranquility of this new slow lifestyle although every morning I wake up thinking it’s Sunday and I do miss family and friends.

I thought I had already posted my punch needle adventure but it seems I forgot so I’m sharing the process from start to finish. My Oxford punch needle has been sitting around unused for ages, once I finished the waffle blanket I needed a  new simple project with a repetitive process as it’s kind of meditative.
Punch needle cushionsI wasn’t sure where to start in terms of design, I didn’t want anything too fussy just blocks of colour. I turned to my ‘Lansdcape’ sketchbooks and found some drawings I liked, then I did a few quick sketches before drawing the design onto hessian with a sharpie. I’m using rug wool from my stash as well as some Aran wool. I chose the colours to match the decor in my home, nice calming colours that I like living with.
Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushions

I have a frame which pulls the hessian taught making punching quite easy so long as there isn’t any tension on the yarn and you don’t pull the needle too far out of the hessian. My hessian square was bigger than the frame so I had to work around the edges out of the frame. This turned out much easier than I expected.

I soon got into a rhythm and found this process so relaxing indeed, I almost fell asleep a couple of times.

There’s a little video of the punching process on my Instagram.

Needle punching

Needle punching

This is the second cushion, I had to order more wool, also some linen for the backing. I had some manmade fabric that I could have used but seeing the cushions are wool and will be very hard wearing as they are rugs really and will probably last for years I thought natural linen was more suitable.

Needle punching

And here they are, I’m so pleased with them I’m going to make another pair of punch needle cushions for the sofa in the lounge, they will be similar in design but different colours, also I have some ideas for wall hangings and maybe a footstool.

I think I am hooked 🙂

Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushionsHave you learned anything new during lockdown ? I’d love to hear what you have been doing.

Stay well folks.

Growing Vegetables In Pots.

Although The weather has been bright throughout the day it’s been chilly at night, we have even had a few frosts, so I have been nurturing my veggies. One advantage of growing in pots you can bring them inside at night, or wrap in fleece, or cover with cardboard or panes of glass. This will give enough protection to keep off the frosts.

My mixed cut and come again lettuce are doing really well, I will be having baby salad leaves very soon. The other tray has some which we transplanted so that will extend cropping. These get covered with glass at night.
Growing veg in potsThese are cylindrical beetroot, we will eat the thinnings as salad leaves and leave the rest to grow on, 2 crops in one.
Growing veg in potsThe pot in front is spinach and the one behind is mizuna which is quite hardy. We will eat young leaves in salad and the larger ones in a stir fry. I have some other oriental vegetables, the edamame beans aren’t up yet, also perilla and amaranth which haven’t been sown yet. I’ve just sown rocket, basil and corinander in small pots which will be sown every few weeks to maintain a supply throughout the summer.

Growing veg in pots
Potatoes are doing well.
Veg in potsRunner beans don’t like the cold, where I live they shouldn’t really go out until June but they needed potting on so they got planted out. They are wrapped in fleece to keep the wind from burning the leaves and to keep the frost off. A couple of nights they came indoors.

Growing veg in potsYou can see them inside the fleece wigwam, they look ok. I have 2 varieties, one is a purple bean which keeps it’s colour if you steam it.
Veg in pots
The courgettes are growing quickly, if it had been warmer they would have been potted on, I bring them inside at night.
Growing veg in potsThis is a rogue seen that was in the bean packet, can’t wait to see what it is. It looks like the courgettes but more silvery, let’s hope it’s a melon.
Growing veg in potsMy tomatoes are still on the windowsill I bought a compact cherry tomato seed in the hope they don’t get too leggy, so far it’s working. The two smaller ones are grown from seeds from my tomato sandwich as only 4 of the 6 bought seeds came up.
Growing veg in pots
I love watching my plants grow but it will be even better to eat them. Anyone got a good courgette or green bean recipes?

This time last year…..

This time last year I was getting excited about spending 3 weeks on an isolated Scottish island. Little did I know that my ‘holiday’ this year would be spending 6 weeks (or more) in isolation at home.

The reason we went to Luing was to find out what it was like to live on a small island, and hopefully to see otters.  I loved my time there very much. Here are some photos.

The village

LuingBlackmill bay, used to be a busy port .
UntitledOur garden.
UntitledMull in the distance.
Luing
Luing
IMG_4243I got my wish we saw the otters on several occasions, also sea eagles, deer, seals , hares and dolphins.
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Otters
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IMG_4836Being in lockdown just now has it’s similarities, I’m enjoying watching wildlife in my garden, watching the trees coming into leaf and blossom, appreciating the view from my window, and spending time in the garden relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. Planning meals and thinking about where the next lot of food will come from, no pub  to go to. Also I intended being creative while I was there but I just couldn’t muster up.  That’s just how I feel at the moment, although I have found something I’m enjoying but more on that in my next post.

Stay safe and well.

Partying At Home This V.E. Day


I think the lock down must be getting to me I’ve gone stir crazy today, I awoke feeling in the mood for some baking. Like many people we can now celebrate the V. E. Day 75th anniversary with an afternoon tea in the garden.

I thought I’d try and make our tea as authentic as possible, I already make my Gran’s wartime  ginger cake which is a firm favourite with everyone who has tried it.
IMG_0048The unusual thing is this cake has no eggs, it uses vinegar and baking soda instead so it’s great for lock down or vegans. You can find the recipe hereV E Day ration book recipesI should mention everything got a little browner than usual, my main oven gave up on me a couple of weeks ago, I’m using the top oven.
Once sliced you can’t tell  🙂
V E Day ration book recipesI went in search of other wartime recipes and found a great blog called The 1940’s Experiment. I found a chocolate cake recipe that looked great, with mock cream. My Aunt always made a similar mock cream for her chocolate cake and I loved it as it’s  not as sweet as buttercream. She always put Cadbury’s  chocolate and buttons on the top of hers but I  don’t  think they would have had that luxury then and I don’t have any in my pantry so a dusting of icing sugar will have to do.
The cream looks a little lumpy but it tastes fine.
V E Day ration book recipes
V E Day ration book recipesI made my tried and trusted scone recipe which I think came from my Gran originally, I  had it on my blog but can’t  find the recipe, I will add it soon. Again no eggs, vinegar and baking powder make these scones nice and light. With true ration book thrift I divided the scone mixture and made half cheese and wild garlic picked from my garden and the other half fruit.

V E Day ration book recipes

V E Day ration book recipesI’ve donned some red lippy and a land girl look,  I’m looking forward to eating this lot and waving to my neighbours who are busy putting up bunting, these are strange times. All that’s left to do is set the table.
I just wish my Dad could be here enjoying tea with us. Can you imagine how people would have felt at the end of the war, we might feel a little stir crazy with 6 weeks of lockdown but it’s  nothing in comparison is it?

Enjoy your day however you are spending it and stay safe.

Crochet Waffle Comfort Blanket Finished!

My crochet waffle blanket is now finished, and I have to say I think I have a new favourite blanket.

Comfort blanket is finished

If you would like to see the original post with the  updated pattern click here. I finished off with a row of treble so the last row matched the first row. I did 3 stripes of each colour.

I darned in the loose ends then started the border. Having considered several options I chose to do stripes of 2 rows waffle stitch, change colour then 1 row treble. This would keep the border of a similar weight as the body of the blanket. The border is 13 rows deep, then I ran out of yarn.

Comfort blanket is finishedI am really pleased with this blanket it’s so warm and snuggly and lovely it doesn’t get called the plague blanket any more.

Comfort blanket is finished

Now I think I might start another one, maybe lark stitch this time, I do love working on a stripey blanket while watching TV.

Please excuse the photos as the sun wasn’t whining when I took them.

Getting a grip on handles and some pottering

For the past month I haven’t felt able to do any ceramic work, however this week I decided  to tidy up the studio . When I got in there I thought it would be a shame not to capture in clay some of the spring plants flowering in my garden. After all I would have to wait ’til next year for them to flower again. So instead of tidying I have just dabbled with the clay each day, no mass production just a few little things each day.

There are tiles with brunnera, perennial forget me not, ransoms, bluebells, sloe blossom and lungwort. I tried primroses and violets but they didn’t print very well.
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There’s a few hearts and trinket dishes too.
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While tidying up I came across some tools that I haven’t had the chance to use, one is for making handles.
UntitledI’m rubbish at pulling a handle. So I decided to throw a couple of mugs and get to grips with handles. These look much better than any handles I’ve made before.
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I made a lidded trinket box, the lid and box are made in one piece.
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UntitledI’ve had an idea playing in my head for a while now but I will save that for another post, I made the ‘canvas’ which I intend to paint on it once fired, more then.
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For now pottering is enough. Stay safe and well.