11 Jun 2011

Elderflower cordial

Today we took a walk in the woods and picked the last few elderflowers. Most had already turned to berries, earlier than usual, probably because of the warm weather.

I used these to have my first go at making elderflower cordial. There are plenty of recipes around; this is the one my mother-in-law uses.

15 large elderflower heads
1kg sugar
900ml boiling water
2 sliced lemons
40g citric acid

First, checking each elderflower head is free of insects, snip off the flowers, trying to leave out as much of the stalk as possible. (This was the timeconsuming part for me, particualrly as I made triple quantities! The rest took no time at all.)

Then dissolve the sugar into the boiling water in a 2 litre bowl. Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the citric acid. Finally, add the sliced lemons and elderflowers and stir. Cover and put aside, stirring once a day for a week.

After a week , strain through some muslin and pour into some sterilised bottles. It will keep in the fridge for up to 1 year. Alternatively, put in plastic bottles in the freezer,  leaving some room for expansion. I'll update next week,  once I know what quantity this makes.

Update: The quantity given in the recipe makes around 1.5 litres. As I was making triple quantities, we now have 4.5 litres of cordial at cost of around £6 . At Glastonbury last week, there was a homemade elderflower coridal stand selling it at £2 / glass. At that price, I didn't taste theirs, but I can tell you that ours tastes great!

8 Jun 2011

Breadmaking of a different kind

Well, it’s been quite a few weeks since my last post. Since then, we’ve redecorated our dining room, had visitors, both been ill and I’ve been to Chicago for a conference. I have managed to get myself organised again using GTD and have progressed with my grand plan to sort out my digital photos. Maybe I’ll do some posts on these later.

In this post, I wanted to show you last weekend’s project – making bread.

I love making bread and specifically I love my breadmaker. I could bore you for hours about my breadmaker love. But this time I didn’t use the breadmaker, I used the sewing machine - I made felt bread. In fact, a felt sandwich!

It’s my niece's 3rd birthday this week and her parents have bought her a play kitchen so I’ve made her a felt sandwich as something for her to prepare in her kitchen.

I was originally inspired by this felt food on Craftster and found these patterns and instructions.

Now, I’m too lazy for the hand sewing all these patterns suggested and decided to machine stitch the bread instead. Big mistake!

Uneven crust

I added seam allowances to the bread pieces but had terrible difficulty sewing an even width crust. I ended up unpicking the stitching twice until I gave up and hand sewed the rest. For the second slice, I pinned the crust round the corners for all I was worth and machine stitched one side and hand stitched the other. The result ws a lot better but I would still like to be able to machine stitch both sides nice and evenly. It took me over four hours just to make the two slices of bread.

Felt bead

Swiss cheese
Last year I read Margaret Beal’s fantastic book, Fusing Fabric. So for the Swiss cheese, I used her method of fusing the two layers of felt and cutting shapes with a soldering iron. Although I am an electronic engineer, I haven’t done any soldering in years and managed to get a bit tangled and melted the cable protection a bit! Fortunately, it is still intact and safe to use.

The cheese slice took me all of 10 mins to make and it was great to try a new technique.

Felt Swiss cheese

Tomato slices
I then tried to use the soldering iron to cut out the fiddly tomato slices but found the edges where I’d melted the felt were too burnt and the end result didn’t look good. So, back to stitching…

Soldered tomato slice
Prototype soldered tomato slice

I used oneinchworld’s method but stitched the two sides together as I don’t have the needle felting kit. Also, I free machined the seeds. I’m very happy with the results but it was rather time consuming.

Tomato slices

Finally, the last piece was the lettuce which was very straightforward.

Felt lettuce

So, here is the result:

Felt sandwich

We certainly had fun playing with it and despite the 10+ hours it took to make, I am now thinking of making a set for us to keep!

Bob is hungry
Bob likes messy food which I don't let him have. A felt sandwich satisfies both our requirements.

Bear sandwich
The bear tries on the sandwich for size before clambering around wearing a 'sandwich board', shouting "Golf Sale"!
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