Save the Bank Gift Idea

Free word art for every occasion

Mothers day has just been and the next occasion I have coming up is my siblings birthdays in april. Sometimes the need to spend money on gifts and going out to celebrate occasions can feel never ending especially when your on a tight budget. So instead of breaking the bank I am going to create home-made presents for the next few occasions. Hopefully more if I have any success. I want to create something unique without having to spend hours working on it. Im all for gifts from the heart which you have spent time and effort making however with three separate birthdays in the next two weeks and very little time to make anything due to working twelve hour shifts I need something simple.

Looking at gift ideas on Facebook swap sites and google I found this website where you can buy personalised word art for any occasion :https://www.facebook.com/Wordartforyou

I really liked the concept but didn’t want to spend £13 buying something I could probably make myself. So I googled it.

The first helpful website I found belonged to another blogger Maggie.  http://blog.thelovenerds.com/2013/09/free-shaped-word-art.html Her website provided instructions on how to make your own word art using a free online engine called Tagxedo. http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html

I decided to give it a go. First I headed over to the website.

5

Then I clicked on create. Next I had to install silverlight as I am now working on a new (second-hand) laptop.

This took me to the creation engine

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Next you need to click load. On the left hand side.Then you can either type in the words you want to use, upload a file from your desktop (perhaps of your favourite poetry) or choose a web address.

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For my first trial I chose to use a web address. In fact I chose the address for my blog.

Then I hit submit and waited.

Once you have chosen your text you can change the shape.

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I decided to try a dinosaur as they are awesome.

din 1

If you then want to change the colour of your creation use the theme arrow down the left hand side.

If you want to change which words are which colour then clock thee circular arrow next to colour.

If you want to change your text font then you can either select the circular arrow next to font for a random selection or use the arrow to pick a specific option.

The software is nice and easy and best of all free to use. Have a play around until you find something you are happy with.

“Orientation” : allows you to choose the direction that you would like your words to face.

“Layout” shifts the words around

When your done click on the save/share button to either print or save the image to your computer.

Good luck                                            dino blog

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Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

Kombucha continued

English: Mature Kombucha

English: Mature Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Hey again,

Last post I outlined the basics of Kombucha.  This time I am going to investigate  how to flavour the finished product.

 

 

Here is a video outlining the basics of how to start your own culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58FzJdliRE&feature=share&list=PLWzMfwDxBs_m9uVcO74d6KeRm8-eN6sGz

Once you have made your own Kombucha and got the hang of making plain batches you might want to have a go at flavouring.

Flavouring is done after the first fermentation. Once you have a batch of plain Kombucha you are happy with you can decant some of it into a separate Glass container (don’t forget to set aside some of your kombucha mix to start your next plain batch)  and then begin to experiment by adding the flavours of your choice. Bear in mind that Kombucha is a living substance so do not use chemicals to flavour it. Instead why not try adding fruit or fruit juice.

Once you have added the ingredients you are using to flavour the Kombucha then you have to re-cover it (still allowing it to breath) and leave it to re-ferment in a warmish (room temperature) place out of direct sunlight. After 5 to 14 days it will be ready to drink depending on your personal taste. Don’t forget to leave a comment on your own mixtures as it is always nice to find new flavours.

There is a fantastic video available on how to flavour Kombucha available here:

Felting a bag.

This week i went to a free felting workshop. all the materials were provided and it has given me a few ideas for what to do with my own wool.

Here is an explanation of what i did in pictures

 

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting

Template for felting

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

My selection of wool

My selection of wool

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

Massaged them together.

Massaged them together.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

sprinkling with water.

sprinkling with water.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.Fe

Emergency flour free dessert – Rissoto cake

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I was invited to have dinner by a friend from my chapel who lives a few villages over. Me and another friend had agreed to walk down and visit before the end of the academic year. I volunteered to bring the dessert if she brought the wine. Being me I didn’t want to bring a shop bought cake so decided to make my own. However my attempt at making a pineapple sponge ended very badly. Although I followed the recipe, I forgot baking powder gets stronger with age and added an extra pinch, the cake tasted very bitter.

At this point I had finished the last of my flour but still needed to make something for the promised dessert as I would be walking across the next day.

I Googled flour free desserts and found this recipe at :

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2762/italian-rice-cake-with-red-fruit.aspx

It was a recipe for cake made from risotto rice, milk and lemon peel. It came with the suggestion to serve it with a red fruit salad. I didn’t dust the top with icing sugar as suggested but the cake was well received.

Ingredients

Serves : 8 

  • 600 ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
  • a strip of lemon zest
  • 150 g (5½ oz) risotto rice
  • 100 g (3½ oz) pine nuts
  • 100 g (3½ oz) blanched almonds
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • sifted icing sugar to decorate
  • Red fruit salad
  • 300 g (10½ oz) strawberries     I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
  • 125 g (4½ oz) raspberries
  • 200 g (7 oz) cherries, stoned

Directions

Prep:1hr15min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:1hr55min

  1. Heat the milk with the strip of lemon zest in a heavy-based saucepan until boiling. Stir in the rice, then turn down the heat so the milk barely simmers. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 40 minutes or until the rice is very soft and the mixture is thick and creamy.
  2. Spoon the rice mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 21 cm (8 1/2 in) springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Spread the pine nuts and almonds in separate baking tins and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Roughly chop the almonds.
  4. Remove the strip of lemon zest from the rice. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Beat in the caster sugar, grated lemon zest and rum, then add the nuts.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture using a large metal spoon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then wrap (still in the tin) and chill overnight. (It can be kept in the fridge for 48 hours, if necessary.)
  7. To make the red fruit salad, purée 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of the strawberries in a food processor or blender. or by pushing them through a sieve. Halve the remaining strawberries and stir into the purée together with the raspberries and cherries. Spoon into a serving bowl.
  8. Unmould the cake onto a serving plate and peel off the lining paper. Dust the cake with icing sugar, and serve with the fruit salad.

Another idea

To make a chocolate rice cake, cook the rice with the strip of lemon zest as in the main recipe, then remove from the heat and discard the lemon zest. While the rice mixture is still hot, stir in 55 g (2 oz) grated good dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa solids) until melted, then leave to cool. Instead of the grated lemon zest, add 2 tbsp cold strong espresso coffee with the rum.

Plus points

Pine nuts have been eaten for hundreds of years – husks have been found in the rubbish tips from Roman camps in Britain. Pine nuts contain useful amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamin E. * Cherries are rich in potassium, and provide useful amounts of vitamin C.

Total Time

1¼ hours, plus chilling overnight

Some other flour free dessert recipes

http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/45991/ – recipe for flourless chocolate walnut cookies

http://www.chefeddy.com/2010/08/flour-free-chocolate-cake/  – recipe for flour free chocolate layer cake

Beans of any other name

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnu...

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnut,jaggery,black pepper filling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest to make gluten-free flour for my friend, after the unsuccessful attempt at grinding the rice, I decided to see what else I could get hold of locally that would allow me to produce flour at less than the supermarket price.

I returned to my initial site: http://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/07/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/ and worked my way through the list looking at what my blender could survive and was cheap enough to be in my limited budget. Anything nut based was automatically disregarded as my fiancé is allergic to nuts.  I didn’t want to try rice flour again so began to research the other possibilities.

WHOLE GRAIN FLOURS

 

buckwheat flour

Corn flour
mesquite flour
millet flour
quinoa flour
sorghum flour
sweet potato flour

teff flour

WHITE FLOURS/STARCHES

arrowroot flour
cornstarch
potato flour
potato starch
sweet rice flour
tapioca flour
white rice flour

However, one section that interested me was the bean flours. I had never heard of flour made from beans before. On the other hand I had never heard of any of the beans on the list either: fava bean flour, garbanzo bean flour and kinako (roasted soy bean) flour.

I worked my way through the list to see how much they were on amazon as an example. Then realised I had no idea what these beans looked like and if I had to use these specific ones or if I could use others. I Googled the fava and garbanzo beans and found that fava beans are a type of broad bean and that garbanzo was another name for chickpeas.

Apparently chickpea flour classes as a whole grain, so following the rule from earlier of 40% wholegrain to 60% white flour or starches; I needed to find another flour to create my all-purpose celiac substitute.

I really wished I could use the white rice flour as that was the easiest to get the ingredients for however after my last attempt I needed something else. This left me with the option of garbanzo flour.

To make the garbanzo (chickpea) flour:

You take dried chickpeas blend them in a food processor and then sieve out any remaining lumps.

However it has been suggested that it is possible to use canned chickpeas instead if the recipe you intend to use the flour for will be adding liquid anyway. We used canned chickpeas to make pizza (Post to follow soon) and added less water than suggested by the recipe as the chickpeas were already soft.

White and green chickpeas

White and green chickpeas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope this post was helpful. There will be more up shortly on how we used the flour, hopefully, with pictures.

Relevent:

How to make your own bean flour can be found at http://www.livestrong.com/article/472318-how-to-grind-bean-flour/ along with ideas of the best things to use it for at http://www.livestrong.com/article/516649-how-to-cook-with-bean-flours/

Over at the little house on the prairie Julie also suggests the ways different bean flours can be used why not check it out at: http://www.littlehouseliving.com/making-and-using-bean-flour.html

Whilst Googling for garbanzo beans I discovered the recipe for a gluten free snack which I will test out and let you know the results asap:  http://www.steamykitchen.com/10725-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-garbanzo-beans.html

http://www.celiac.com/articles/863/1/Gluten-Free-Flour-Alternatives-by-Karen-Robertson/Page1.html – an article about different uses of gluten free flour. No recipes but helpful nonetheless.

http://www.cooksinfo.com/broad-bean-flour – a cooking dictionary where I learnt about bean flour this week.

http://the100poundchallenge.wordpress.com/ – a recipe for pizza using chickpeas as the base

http://www.whats4eats.com/blogs/chefbrad/how-to-make-chickpea-flour – one way to make chickpea flour

Mango Madness

When I went to the shop they had mangoes reduced from £2 to 40p each. I love mango and at this point got carried away buying three instead of just one. So here is what I decided to do with my mango’s:Mango Madness 001

1)      I decided to have a go at making Aamras suggested by : http://karma-free-cooking.com/2010/06/29/incredible-india-all-over-again-%E2%80%93-sweets/ I got the recipe from http://www.spiceupthecurry.com/aamras-recipe-aamras-puripoori/.

Aamras is very easy to make you blend a mango, add the flavouring of your choice, mix together then chill in the fridge before eating with puri or rice. I am going to be trying mine with cinnamon and rice.

I found a recipe for puri here with pictures for anyone who wants to try making their own puri: http://www.rakskitchen.net/2012/06/puri-recipe-poori-recipe-breakfast.html

2)      Next I had a go at Mango curd suggested by http://www.seriouseats.com/user/profile/Saria recipe taken from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/06/project-wedding-cake-mango-curd/. You add the fruit of one mango, 1/3 of a cup of sugar, 3 tbsp citrus juice and a pinch of salt to the food processor. Blend. Add 4 egg yolks ( I use the whites to make omelette). Blend again for about 15 seconds. Pour contents into a metal bowl. Place metal bowl above a saucepan of boiling water (not touching the water). Stir until mix starts to thicken. Take bowl off heat and mix in ¼ cup of butter. Then place in the fridge overnight. Once set it is ready to top toast or bind cakes.

Mango curd about to go in the fridge

Mango curd about to go in the fridge

You can find a video of my attempt here http://youtu.be/bjqdEzKnZ6E

 

3) Finally I made Chicken and mango curry. I used my final mango and 3 chicken breasts. Both sliced.  I cooked 1 sliced onion and my chicken in a wok then added the mango and a tin of tomatoes. I added a tiny bit of coconut some chilli, cardamom and a teaspoon of curry powder. Stirred everything together and cooked on a low heat whilst I made rice. Once the rice was cooked I served the curry and enjoyed. I hope you enjoy too.

Fruit leather

Preserving fruit for later may not save you much money (in season fruit is usually cheaper) but it is a lot of fun. There are many different methods for preserving fruit other than freezing or making jam. Here I explain how to make fruit leather.

 

Cheese making 004

 

I wanted to have a look at some of the different methods available for preserving fruit and try them out. So I Googled fruit preservation. I keep getting the suggestions of canning, dehydrating (or salting), pickling and freezing .

The first thing I decided to try was fruit leather. This is involves making fruit mush, boiling it down with water and honey before then allowing it to dry out at a very low temperature (about 50 degrees) in the oven. This can then be stored in an air-tight box for months (there has been suggestion of years). I got the recipe for this from: http://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/Make-Fruit-Leather.htm . My experience of having a go was fun. I cooked pears with cinnamon and honey before using my hand held processor to create a smooth mush. Unfortunately, I got halfway through the recipe before realising that we had run out of cling-film (obviously I should have learnt by now to check stock before I begin a recipe). It was an early closing day and the shops had already all shut but I had a pan of fruit puree ready to dehydrate. Instead of lining my baking tray I just poured it straight on and anxiously hoped for the best.

I placed this in the oven at 50 degrees with the door shut then waited. Checking every few hours to see what was happening.

Eventually, about eight hours later, the leather had dried out. It smelt wonderful and I had to resist the urge to eat it then and there. I scraped it off the tray using a metal spatula and folded it up so it would fit in a box. It is now stored in the fridge.

I have had a few pieces and it is amazing. It is great to take out to munch on when busy, I just stick a bit in a food bag.

 

 

The whey to make your own cheese

I have always wanted to have a go at making my own cheese but have always been put off by my assumption of the need for complex ingredients and equipment. Then I found this recipe for Labneh a simple cheese that can in made in 24 to 48 hours.  http://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/Making-Labneh.htm. This inspired me to look for more easy cheese recipes.

I bought some whole milk, 500g of Greek yogurt, a pack of clean dishcloths to use as cheese cloths and some more honey.

Straining Yogurt

Straining Yogurt (Photo credit: eekim)

Making the Labneh was very simple. I mixed salt into the yogurt. I placed one of my clothes inside my colander covering the holes and then poured my salt yogurt mix into this. I brought the edges together ensuring none of the mix escaped and sealed it at the top with a food clip (the recipe suggested elastic or string but I used the first thing that came to hand). Then I left this mix to drip over a bowl for the next 24 hours.

Next, feeling a bit braver, I moved on to making my own curds and whey. I used the recipe from wiki how: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Cheese-at-Home to attempt this. I boiled two cups of milk. Then I turned the hob off and mixed in 4 teaspoons of vinegar leaving the pan on the hob. I left the pan for about seven minutes then strained the mixture through my substitute cheesecloth lined colander. I doubled up my cloths for the next bit just in case. I squeezed water (this is the whey) out of my curds and then skipped the option to add salt before hanging this next to my Labneh to drip. Next time I make this I will probably try adding herbs at the salt stage but this time I wanted to try the basic cheese before I began to experiment with the flavour.

3 hours later- checking on my curds and whey I found my small parcel solid enough to place in the fridge. My Labneh mix was still very soft I placed this in the fridge too. I tied both to the shelf above allowing them to continue to drip. I now had two cheese mixes which needed to be left a minimum of twenty four hours to mature.

24 hours later I decided to test the cheese.

The Labneh was still very soft but had formed into a delicious creamy cheese. I tested this on toast and would definitely make it again. It was so easy that I would try this recipe again with my three year old nephew who loves helping in the kitchen.

The Curds had hardened into a solid ball and on tasting had very little flavour reminding me and my friend of mozzarella. There was also a slightly vinegary taste around the edges. This may have been due to my adding slightly more vinegar than suggested to help the curds separate from the whey. If I made this again I would buy un-homogenised milk instead of the normal whole milk.  I would also add some basic herbs to change the taste or use it on pizza instead of eating the cheese cold.

The results- This was fantastic fun and I would try it again. When I have another go I would like to try making cheese using goat’s milk instead of cows. I would also like to test the fridge life of the cheese but this would involve leaving it long enough to go off (a difficult challenge in my house).

Once again thanks for reading. I hope this has been in some way helpful and don’t forget to share your own experience.

Best wishes

Rachael

 

P.S. Here are some picture of my cheese although forgot to take photo’s until after it had already been tasted so the recipes make more than seen.

 

Homemade Labneh (soft cheese) in blue cloth

Homemade Labneh (soft cheese) in blue cloth

Homemade hard cheese from curds and whey mix

Homemade hard cheese from curds and whey mix

Basic Pasta Variations

English: A plate of cellentani (also referred ...

English: A plate of cellentani (also referred to as cavatappi) pasta with pesto and tomatoes as prepared by the photographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello and thanks for following my blog. Today I build on my earlier post and provide some ideas for variations to the basic pasta recipe. You can find the post here: https://frogandcount.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/basic-pasta/

If you take the basic recipe you can, in theory, add anything you want to change it to your taste. I usually stick to herbs and vegetables as it is easier to mix in and it has less effect on the cooking time than meat or dairy.

Choose what you would like to add and mix it (with a blender where possible) into the egg before adding to the flour.

Remember that if you add a more liquid substance then you will need to add less liquid later to make the dough stiff. It’s a case of experimenting and adding more flour or water until you get the ideal consistency.

Here are a few suggestions of things to add to your mix but don’t forget you can add your own.

Why not try:

Dandelion leaves

Spinach

Grated carrot

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054)

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

½-1 tin of tomatoes (will need to blend this with egg to get a smooth paste)

Pesto (I prefer red, you can use shop bought or homemade)

Mixed herbs

 

Or for a less savoury alternative:

Grated orange zest

Cocoa powder

One sweet pasta recipe I would like to try next time I have friends for dinner is Bittersweet chocolate ravioli:  http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/36/Bittersweet_Chocolate_Ravioli44066.shtml

This shows that you can do whatever you like once you have mastered the basic recipe. Sweet or savoury budget and imagination are the only limits.

Good luck and please share your own unique pasta recipe alternatives.

Best wishes

Rachael