Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer into Autumn Pudding with Wild Maine Blueberries

After not one, not two but three recent blueberries fails I decided to go for something so simple it couldn't go wrong and a recipe which would showcase the humble, subtle blueberry instead of overwhelm it. The flavour is so elusive it can easily get lost in a recipe - or so I have found.

So how does one go from this humble punnet of organic wild Maine blueberries fresh from Bahner Farm....
to this glowing violet delight...
It's easy with just some slices of bread, sugar, the addition of apples and a few hours of patience. Let me tell you how!

12 ounces of blueberries  - preferably wild Maine ones
2 tasty apples - sweet or tart your choice - I go with tart because I like a little tang

4oz / 1/2 cup of sugar

about 4/5 slices of good white bread...something with a bit of backbone not the squushy stuff

THAT'S IT for the ingredients!!...well and also some lightly sweetened whipped cream to finish. 

FYI my pudding bowl is quite small - 3 cup size, 4" tall with a 6" diameter - enough for 4 genteel servings or 2 normal Patricia and James sized servings!

1. Peel and grate the apples into a small pan with some water and sugar, or not, to taste and cook until soft - some apples will turn to sauce others will retain their structure - either is fine for this recipe. Allow to cool.
2. Combine the blueberries and sugar in a heavy pan and bring to a slight boil, stir gently and simmer for a few minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

  3. Cut the crusts off the white bread slices and line a medium sized pudding bowl with them...I did this in a rather haphazard manner but if you are somewhat organized you can cut the bread into triangles and apparently that'll make your life easier with the fitting of the curves, leaving no gaps and saving one slice each for the middle of the pudding and one to top the pudding with.
3. Spoon half the berries and stewed apples with juice into the lined pudding basin, then add some of the crusts if you like - or just the fruit is good - I found the crusts gave a little more structure and were delicious...
4. Tear a circle of bread to fit into the half filled pudding... 
5. Fill with the rest of the fruit - save a bit of the juice...tear another bigger circle for the top of the pudding...
6. Pour the final juices over the pudding.
7. Now find a saucer - or the bottom of a flat bowl that fits the top of the pudding and a weighty thing like a jar of beans and set these atop the pudding thus:
 8. Pop into the 'fridge overnight.

9. Take the pudding out of the fridge a few hours before you want to serve it - it really does taste a LOT better if it is at room temperature and when you are ready run a knife around the outside of the pudding to release it from the bowl - you may have to do a fair bit of wiggling to get it out after it's been weighted overnight but finally you should get this:
 Now whip up some cream with sugar to taste, or just use pouring cream over your lovely violet pudding and enjoy this great little treasure.

This is a fun pudding to make - a very old
fashioned and traditional British pudding - other than using blueberries and apples - that's not at all traditional - forgive me dear purists!! It is quiet in flavour but quite miraculous in the transformation of so few simple ingredients to such a whacky looking dessert - you will impress your friends with it's look alone.
Have a lovely Labor Day/Bank Holiday weekend and let me know if you make this pudding - please feel free to post pics of such on my FACEBOOK PAGE - thanks!!

If you like my gingham fabric in the pictures here is the LINK to it in my Spoonflower shop.

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Here's a link to my traditional SUMMER PUDDING

Sunday, August 10, 2014

American Made Eco Canvas and Woven peel and stick wallpaper now available in my Spoonflower shop

Spoonflower just recently added Eco-Canvas to their list of new fabrics available in my print on demand online SHOP 
so all 56 of my various designs can now be ordered in this US made durable material.
"Eco Canvas is a heavyweight 100% polyester canvas made with 45% recycled content. It's perfect for those projects that require a sturdy, durable fabric. This fabric features bold and vivid colors that hold up great to multiple washings. Eco Canvas is ideal for upholstery, home decor and bag projects.
 It is: 100% polyester: 45% recycled content, plain weave
54" wide printable area (137 cm)
8.7 oz per square yard
Estimated shrinkage: 1%
Produced in the U.S.
Appropriate for backpacks, totes, storage bins, chair seats, sofas, ottomans, plushies, play mats, kids shoes and “jean” jackets
Testing is recommended when the printed fabric will be exposed to heavy abrasion and wear.

Wash separately in cool or warm water using a gentle machine cycle. Machine dry using a low temperature or permanent press setting and remove promptly to avoid wrinkles. If required, use an iron with a light touch on a synthetic setting only."
 Please send along pictures of any items you make with this wonderful new fabric or you can post them on my Facebook page HERE

And Spoonflower also just added a Woven Peel and Stick wallpaper too:
"Woven Peel and Stick wallpaper is a woven polyester fabric with an adhesive backing. It is removable (and repositionable) making it great for covering walls and an array of craft and decorating projects. Peel and Stick is easy to cut, customize, and install onto any smooth surface, making it perfect for accent walls, cut and stick decals, and quick decor updates.

100% opaque white polyester woven with adhesive backing
24 inches (61 cm) wide
Length is customizable starting at 12 inches (30.48 cm)
Eco-friendly and formaldehyde-, phthalate-, and PVC-free
To install, simply peel and stick
Easily removable and repositionable: perfect for kids’ rooms and rentals
Appropriate as wallpaper, drawer liners, shelf liners, wall decals, craft and home dec projects."

Plus I just added this new skirt to my Art of Where shop and am working on the co-ordinated capris and leggings:

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Next up is a Maine wild blueberry recipe for this year's harvest.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cottage Chic Gingham and a flurry of activity in my online shops!

Pillow and iPhone 5S case from COTTAGE CHIC GINGHAM, clock and iPad case from COTTAGE CHIC GINGHAM II
The last few weeks have seen quite the busy bee of activity in my online shops from the addition of new textile allover designs and placement prints at my SPOONFLOWER shop, to new products at my SOCIETY6 shop and, most excitingly of all a new venture shop for wonderful spandex leggings and skirts at ARTofWHERE
which I am just starting to populate with my designs.

I cannot express how wildly thrilled I am at the burgeoning world of print on demand and the possibilities it holds for little old me!! That I can create capri's, leggings and skirts from really nice Canadian made spandex at ArtofWhere makes me jump over the moon with glee. I am chomping at the bit to really get some dynamic placement prints up there. Here's a mini taste test started with my newly created Cottage Chic Gingham design - a fresh country retro jolt of rustic modern.
As a former textile designer for the home decor and fashion industries in New York I now have the delight and fantastic freedom of creating my own self-art-directed designs for my own little coterie of online stores - I am chuffed (pleased) to bits I cannot deny. And another aspect of our wonderful new instant access interwebzz world is how easily a customer/client can be in touch with me via this blog, Facebook or Twitter to ask me for a special request - if you like a textile design in my Spoonflower shop but would like the scale reduced (smaller is always easier than larger) or a colour changed - that can be tricky but sometimes it is doable  - you can ask me and I will, if possible, make your wish my happy command - if you see a design in one shop but would like it on an item at another shop - you get it - just ask and if it works for me I'll do it for you, and pretty sharpish too!

 So now when I create a new design, such as Cottage Chic Gingham, I have to take into consideration the very largest of formats I will be applying my new design to - right now that would be the wondrous new duvet covers at Society6

Until August 10th you can get free worldwide shipping (that applies to most items in my shop (there'll be a note next to the items that are eligible) PLUS $10 off each duvet cover with the following

Biker tanks are also new at SOCIETY6 - and I like the contrast of biker with cottage chic thus:

I also have to consider that I'll need allover repeating designs for Spoonflower for fabric, wallpaper and wrapping paper and then many differently sized and shaped placement prints that should work perfectly for each of the different products I now have available for sale from Samsung Galaxy S5 cases to laptop skins, mugs, rugs and apparel. 
Cottage Chic Gingham allover repeat - which contains within it the beginnings of all the placement prints.

BTW I have entered a "Call for Art" with my Cottage Chic Gingham so keep your fingers crossed for me - thanks!

 Because of the vicissitudes of digital printing I have to scan my work, which is created by hand in watercolour on paper, at very high resolutions in order to be able to use my work for large scale applications, so I start with the largest and then work down to the smallest items - that being the smart phone cases. It is a fun, interesting and exciting process to do, somewhat akin to piecing a puzzle together - involving a little bit of Maths, and I am glad to say I just love every minute of it!

I have added a few other new designs to my Spoonflower shop - at the behest of a lovely customer I have created these following designs comprised of a striped collage  of other of my designs, which she is planning to sew into tote bags - they are  all designed to be a complete, self contained 'fat quarter' which is the size of the totes. I love that this customer wants such happy, wildly colorful and energetic designs - it was a fun project to work on and now all these prints are available to the public at large.
A placement version of Cottage Chic Gingham to use for a fat quarter tote bag - available HERE 
My "Europa" design combined with a hand painted plaid - click HERE to go to this design at Spoonflower
My "Alpen Rose" and "Lotus Mandala" designs combined - please click HERE to go to this design at Spoonflower
My Pink Cupcakes and and three pink ground fabrics combined - please click HERE to go to this design at Spoonflower
And perhaps whackiest of all my Rainbow Roosters on 4 different Heidi Folkloric designs to create 4 fat quarters in one yard - pretty eyeball boggling perhaps? Click HERE to go to the fabric page.
The last 2 designs I have added in these busy weeks is Westminster Mandala - on white and black grounds respectively:
Which look pretty dynamic as wallpaper:
Westminster wallpaper on black
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Eccles Cakes perfected - my they're good!

 Ahhhh - a picture of my perfected Eccles Cakes which went through a variety of stages before ending up like this crumbly luscious raisin studded delight you see glowing happily above. My first attempt was on a way too hot and humid day where I added just a tad too much water to the dough, for indeed one needs so much less water in one's pastry on such a day, and I didn't keep my pastry cool so it was a very soft texture thus instead of attaining said Eccles Cakes, and no they are not actually what one would think of as a cake but more of a self contained mince pie - but I digress - I ended up with Eccles Biscuits/Cookies:
...which tasted great but were not what I had in mind. SO I thought I have all these amazing strawberries....

 ...with many more to come from our neighbour - I should make strawberry biscuits/cookies like my failed Eccles Cakes - and so I made them on a less humid and hot day and guess what - I ended up with Strawberry Eccles Cakes - ha ha!!!
James loves "water icing" drizzle so I doused them with said delight and they were very, very good. The recipe for them is the same as that below for the actual Eccles Cakes but instead of the raisiny mix you macerate strawberries in sugar until soft and having given up a lot of their juices strain them - use the resultant juice for a nice refreshing drink, perhaps watered down some, and also use the juice to rub on the 'cakes' thus before baking before the necessary sprinkling of sugar!

SO - to the recipe - I have not made pastry with spelt flour until very recently and now I am a convert - it crumblified and toothified the pastry to a divine extent and I am not sure I will ever make all white flour pastry again:

3ozs white flour and 3 ozs spelt flour mixed together - 3/4 cup each

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar

4 oz/ 1 stick very cold salted butter

1/8 to 1/4 cup - a few liquid ounces of very cold water

1. Put flours in a mixing bowl and grate very cold butter on top - if you keep dipping the chunks of cold butter into the flour to coat it will be easier to grate
2. Rub butter into flours until it looks like breadcrumbs (you can do this in a cuisinart but I like to do everything by hand)
3. Add some of the water and start squushing the pastry and keep adding bit by bit of water until it can be formed into a non-sticky ball - less water is better so squush hard until it comes together: 

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour - or as long as you like. 

Now to the yummy filling:
First make some hot tea to soak the raisin and currants in - you'll need about 8 fl ozs/one cup - good and strong and soak them for about 2 hours
1 1/2 ozs/about 1/4 cup each of currants and raisins
soaked in hot tea for 2 hours and drained

if you can't get GS do 3 ounces total of sugar but GS makes the cakes sing!!

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar 

1 1/2 ozs/ 3 tablespoons salted butter 

1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cardamom
NB Many recipes add lemon zest or candied lemon peel but I preferred mine without - of course you may add it to yours!

1. Put all these ingredients in a pan and melt til bubbly and stir frequently until juices/butter has thickened. 

2. Allow to cool. 

3. Strain the above and save the sauce.
4. Roll out the dough nice and thin and cut into 4 inch rounds - I got 9 out of mine after rerolling the scraps a couple of times.

5. Dollop about a good teaspoon of currant goodness in the middle, it doesn't sound like much but it works and if you do more you can't close the cakes, and dot saved sauce around the edges to help stick the cakes together.
6. Fold the dough over the filling thus - all the way round and then squush and squish as necessary to make sure there are no holes on the bottom for the juices to leak out, this pictures a less juicy example but you may experience the juices running out - don't worry everything will be fine, you just get sticky hands!! - beauty is not an important aspect of the cakes at this point - or any really!!
7. When it's all battened down the bottom of the cake should look like this:
8. Turn it over and flatten a little and very gently between your palms then place on a parchment sheet on your baking tray.
The slits on these Eccles Cakes are too long - make sure yours are shorter!
9. Now cut two SHORT slits in the top of each Eccles Cake - I realized too late my cuts were mostly too long and they made the cakes open up too much so maybe only about 1 inch long.
10. Spread some of the leftover sauce on the tops and then sprinkle with sugar before bobbing into the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown and lovely:
These slits on the top of these 3 were perfect!

OH MY GOODNESS - these are so good - I poured any leftover sauce in the slits when the cakes were still hot to make them even more juicy.

Allow to cool before you enjoy them with your feet up, a nice cuppa in hand and a good read of the latest British Country Living in your near future!!
I do hope you make these and if you do please post pics and comments on my Facebook page HERE - thanks!

Next up on the blog is a whole bunch o' new designs at my Spoonflower and Society6 online shops so please stay tuned!!

Happy Baking from Patricia
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