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Showing posts with label diy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diy. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 June 2014

How to make: Strawberry & Basil Drinks!

Strawberry basil Mojito
There's nothing more summery than a fruity drink, am I right? I've been wanting to try a Strawberry and Basil Mojito since I found out they were a thing, and since we were invited to a summer party yesterday, I thought it was the perfect time to make a Strawberry and Basil syrup. It's not difficult at all, and I'm just about to show you how I did it!
Summer Punch Ingredients
You will need:
- Strawberries (I used 2 400g punnets, but kept back about four strawberries for decoration)
- One lemon
- A cup of FRESH basil (or a couple of handfuls).
- A cup of sugar
In addition to this, you'll need a blender, a sieve or muslin cloth, a couple of bowls and a saucepan.

The first thing you need to do is to remove all the little green hats from the strawberries, and discard them. Then, transfer all the strawberries (except for some pretty ones you've kept back for decoration) into a blender. If you don't have a blender, I think you could probably get away with mashing them all up with a fork, but it will take a while!
Blended Strawberries
Once you've blended the strawbs, pour all the goop into a sieve, or even better, a sieve with a muslin cloth placed into it, and press all the juice through with the back of a spoon. Make sure you've got a bowl underneath the sieve, otherwise you're just straining strawberry juice onto your kitchen counter for no reason...
Sieve the strawberry smoothie
Set your strawberry juice aside, and squeeze the juice out of a whole lemon. You can pour the lemon juice straight into the bowl with your strawberry juice at this stage. If some pips make it in, don't worry too much because you'll be straining it all again in the end anyway.
cute lemon squeezer
Sugar cup
Basil leaves on kitchen counter
Measure out your sugar, and plop it in with the strawberry and lemon juice mixture, along with a load of basil leaves. Decant it into a saucepan (non-stick is easiest for cleanup) on a medium kinda heat, and stir it until it's been boiling for about five minutes, until it becomes sticky and... well... syrupy! Once it has reached that stage, turn off the heat and leave it to cool, before straining it through the sieve again, to get the basil out. This recipe makes a lot of syrup, but you can halve the recipe to make a more manageable amount of surup. That said, you can store it in a jar or a bottle in the fridge and it'll last a week or two, so if you end up with tons, NEVER FEAR.
Summer strawberry alcoholic
If you mix this syrup with rum and soda water, it makes an excellent 'Mojito-style' drink. It also works really well on its own with fizzy water, and some of my friends at the party tried it with sparkling wine and said it was super tasty, so it's a pretty versatile little syrup. The strawberries are sweet and delicious, and the lemon and basil give it a bit more of a grown-up, earthy taste.
If you'd like me to do more drinks recipes, let me know. I really enjoyed making this tutorial for you - let me know in the comments if you've got any questions, if you've made the drink, and if you've got any suggestions for other drinks you'd like me to make!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

How to wrap an Easter present!

Easter gift wrap
When I was little, I never finished my Easter eggs - they would still be hanging around in their boxes by the time Christmas came around. So after a while, my parents decided that it would be much more sensible to get me a book or a video (showing my age there...) for Easter. Presents need wrapping, and Easter is a great excuse for some adorable chick or bunny-themed decorations, so let’s get started!
I’ve gathered together some brown wrapping paper, raffia, colourful washi tape, and those iconic little fuzzy chicks that seem to pop up everywhere from the beginning of March. Washi tape is available from most craft shops, as well as places like Paperchase. You can use normal sticky tape, but I think this cheerful stuff makes a nice little statement!
washi tape gift wrap
how to wrap a present
present wrapping chick
Wrap your present as you normally would, and don’t worry too much about it being perfectly neat – you can cover up all manner of sins with cute accessories. (A mantra for life). Tear the washi tape rather than cutting it with scissors as this gives it a more rustic look, which goes well with the brown paper.
raffia for giftwrap
Tie the present with a few strands of raffia so that the bow or knot is on the opposite side to all of the washi tape. I trimmed the ends so that they were all a similar length. Oh no, the little chicklet fell on his face!
fluffy easter chick
Tape the little chick next to the knot in your raffia. It also secures the raffia so it won’t slip off in transit.
Pretty easter gift wrapping
Finish the presents off by writing the recipients’ names on the presents. I chose to just monogram them, using a fine-tipped pen.
Easter gift wrap
These presents are for my little brother and sister who (unlike my childhood self) absolutely LOVE chocolate. I wrapped the chocolate eggs up in this adorable tissue paper which I saved from a recent trip to Tiger. They change their packing paper with the seasons and I always try to save it whenever I buy something from there.
So that’s how I wrapped my presents this Easter. I am obsessed with packaging, wrapping, crafting, and making things lovely, so stay tuned for more seasonal gift-wrapping posts.
Oh and I’d love it if you checked out the article I wrote about blanket-forts (ie my favourite thing in the whole world) over at Mookychick a fabulous alternative online zine with a feminist outlook. Let me know what you think!

Monday, 1 July 2013

I was a fashionable child...

Hi there, long time no speak! I've been up to my ears in work and wedding planning, and I've really missed blogging! As part of our wedding, we're having a photo wall, with pictures of ourselves as kids, and of our parents and grandparents too. It's going to be a fun thing to prepare the day before the wedding. Family members have been sending me an absolute truck load of amazing photos, so I thought I'd share a few with you.
new york child
fashion dungarees
red knee socks
I'm only showing you ones of me, because I haven't asked anyone else's permission to put their photo online, but I'm sure you'll agree that I was a very well-dressed child! Props to my mum and dad for dressing me in some excellent, tiny outfits. Also, props to the 90s for being such a hilarious decade for fashion!
I'll be back soon with some photos from my "hen party", and of course I will be posting plenty of wedding photos when the time comes! :)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Learn to make: RAINBOW CAKE!

Chums! The time has finally come for the much-anticipated Rainbow Cake tutorial! This is how to make Rainbow Cake in the UK!

This is not a cake for the fainthearted! It contains a LOT of sugar, and a LOT of artificial colouring. It's the sort of thing I almost certainly wouldn't have been allowed to eat as a child - but now that I'm a grownup I can go absolutely WILD and bake whatever I want. Stickin' it to the maaaan.

Rainbow Cake

I made this cake for my beautiful friend Tara (who does beautiful art which you can see here) because it was her birthday. Roughly speaking, I followed the Martha Stewart recipe (which she got from somewhere else, but that's the internet, guys!), but I'll take you through what I did!

Rainbow Cake Ingredients Food Colouring

So let's start with ingredients! Obviously, Martha Stewart's recipe is American, so I had to substitute with ingredients I could find in England! I also converted all of the American measurements (cups, etc) into Metric measurements, using the wonders of Google.
Here's what I used:
* 360g (but let's be realistic, more like 400g) of Plain Flour.
* 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
* Half a teaspoon of salt.
* 250g of unsalted butter.
* 400g of white caster sugar. (1. That's an unHOLY amount of sugar, even once I reduced the amount. 2. I usually use golden caster sugar but you want the mixture for this cake to be as white as possible so that the rainbow colours shine through better, so I'd recommend white caster sugar here!)
* 5 egg whites.
* 350ml of milky milk. Skimmed or semi-skimmed is best.
* 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Not the lovely natural stuff with a syrupy texture and brownish colour. Remember, this cake is in no way natural!

Last but not least, the food colourings. These were a bit of a mission for me! I live in London, but there still appear to be less than a handful of shops that sell proper gel food colouring. I've made rainbow cakes before that have come out lacklustre and dull, despite the fact that I'd added the best part of a whole bottle of liquid food colouring! Our traditional English food colourings, whilst lovely and nostalgic in their little bottles, do not produce the bright colours you can get from American gel colours. I've tried the 'Silver Spoon' gel colours too, and they don't even come close to these 'Sugar Flair' wonders. Now, you can get them on the internet, but I made a trek to Chelsea, to visit the Jane Asher Sugarcraft shop. It's well worth a visit, if you are in the area and love cakey fun.

For the icing, you'll need:

* 500g of butter.
* 1kg of icing sugar.
* Sugar Flair 'super white'

Let's make this bloody cake then.

cake mix
cakey

Oh, I ought to mention at this point, that if you have a hand whisk, your life will be a million times easier when making this cake! Unfortunately, I do not have such luxurious items, so I did it the old fashioned way - with a wooden spoon! So, make sure your butter is lovely and soft, and mix it all up with your sugar, until it looks like a big yellowy play-dough ball!

eggwhite
cake batter

Your next move, is to separate the whites and the yolks of your five eggs. We only need the whites, because we want the cake mix to be as white as possible. Then, mix it up with your buttery, sugary joy - until it is gooey and combined!

vanilla

Then add the vanilla extract. Daintily.

Photobucket

Set aside your goo, and focus on the powdery ingredients for a moment. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. There you go.

Photobucket

This next bit is a little more tricky. Sift a bit of your flour mixture into your goo. Mix it up. Next, pour some of your carefully measured milk in. Mix it up. Then go back and put more of your flour mixture in. Keep alternating milk and flour until everything is smooth. Once that's done, divide your mixture into SIX BOWLS. As equally as you possibly can. Round about now, turn your oven on to preheat. (180 degrees celcius, gas mark 4, 350 degrees fahrenheit)

purple cake blue cake
yellow cake red velvet cake

Once you've divided it up into the different bowls, you can get to the super fun bit of mixing in your colouring! Start off with a tiny, tiny bit, and mix it like hell, until your mixture is pretty! Then add more! Keep going until it's really bright. Here are just four of the six colours I made. It had started to get dark outside by this point, so the colour doesn't look as amazing as it would have in daylight. Ah well.
Grease your tins with butter. You may have to improvise, and do it one layer at a time like I did, as I only have one round cake tin. It just means you will be baking for a long time. Fortunately, because each layer is very thin, they do bake quickly! They will take roughly 15 minutes, but I always check by sticking a skewer in and seeing if it comes out 'clean'. I recommend a cake tin with a bottom that pushes out, as it makes cake removal so much easier!

Photobucket

Whilst your cakes are baking, get started on the icing. This is going to involve creaming together roughly 500g of butter with a kilogram of icing sugar, give or take. You will need a LOT of icing. I weighed the cake when I'd finished, and it was about 3kg in total. Butter icing is naturally an appetising yellowish colour, but as I said before, natural is not what we want in this cake! I added Sugar Flair's "Super White" powder, which does magically make icing so much whiter! It's really cool. The key with buttercream icing is to play it by ear and keep adding icing and/or butter until it is the right consistency for you. I ended up making more as I didn't have enough to cover the whole cake. Take your cakes out of the oven, and LET THEM COOL! Never put buttercream icing on a warm cake, or everything will be ruined forever.
When they are cool, start to stack them. Start with the purple one on the bottom, followed by a layer of icing. Follow it with the blue layer, and then more icing. Each layer of icing should be lovely and thick. Keep sandwiching the cakes together in rainbow order, finishing with the red one. When you've got your amazing cake tower, cover the top and the sides in the remaining buttercream icing. Then, remove several shelves from your fridge so that you can store the monstrosity overnight.

rainbow cake
rainbow cake rainbow cake
Piece of cake

So there you have it. A mammoth post about rainbow cake! It was a slog to make, and I'd really recommend doing it with a friend, because it would be good fun and also cut down the making time a lot! Baking with friends is the best kind of baking. Give it a go. If you've got any problems or something isn't clear, leave me a comment and I'll try to help you as best I can. Happy Baking, chums! If you've managed to survive that mammoth baking session, why not have a go at these CAKE POPS I made last April!?