tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!


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Garden snapshots

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I think the appeal in taking photos of the flowers in my garden is that they don’t move. If you are used to taking photos of wriggly, bouncy toddlers you know what I mean!

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No little girl (or boy) should be without one… a fairy garden!

Ours certainly isn’t picture perfect or meticulously laid out. But it is played with by two little girlies. A lot. I have been looking for a set of little plastic fairies that they would be able to use outside within the fairy abode. But it turns out that little sticks do the job just fine and all manner of beautiful stick fairies come to visit the garden. Isn’t imagination a wonderful thing? The other day I caught big H using a pan scourer (normally used to play washing up in her mud kitchen) as a fairy. I know. That pan scourer had some moves, twirling around the garden and all that.

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Redcurrant crumble cake

Behold my redcurrants in early summer

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Well, what with the AWESOME weather we have been having in this part of the world, they soon turned red, juicy and plump and my little girl and I harvested a whole colander full of the little beauties.

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Picking them was easy but removing them from the stalks turned out to be a three person job.

They were gorgeous and tangy eaten fresh but I wanted to use them in something special as they were my first ever redcurrants since planting the shrub a few years back. So I decided on a crumble topped cake.

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I used this trusty crumble recipe that is also brilliant on top of just apples or other fruit in the traditional sense of a crumble.

Crumble topping

120g self-raising flour

90g butter

3 tablespoons vanilla infused sugar

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips until they resemble oats. Stir the sugars in with a spoon. Keep covered in the fridge until use.

For the cake base I just used a simple sponge cake recipe.

Cake base

200g butter or margarine

200g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

500g plain flour

1 sachet baking powder

250 ml whole milk

Cream the sugars, salt and butter in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Gradually beat the flour into the egg mixture and loosen up with the milk every now and again until both flour and milk are used up.

 

Spread the cake mixture onto a large, lined and greased baking sheet pan. Put your washed currants on top and sprinkle on the crumble mixture to cover the fruit. Bake at 200 Cº for about 30-40 minutes or until the crumble is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

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Yum!


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My edible garden

Over the last few weeks I have been enjoying spending lots of time in the garden with my girls. We are very lucky because we actually have a decent size garden for British standards and for the fact that we are semi-detached. As much as I love flowers I also like being able to use some of the space for growing attempting to grow some food for us.

I am a complete and utter beginner when it comes to gardening and I have now idea of how to do things properly. I’m sort of a “stick it in the ground and hope for the best” kind of gardener. However, I haven’t done too badly with this method and we have been able to harvest the odd bits here and there over the years.

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A tiny harvest of blueberries- best eaten straight of the shrub.

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Peas are always a winner and we tend to eat them raw straight in the garden- my little girl loves them! I have sown extra peas this year as they are so popular in our house.

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Last year’s carrots were a wash out thanks to the wet and drizzly summer but this year’s lot are starting to get to a decent size now.

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This is an old photo of my raised vegetable bed (excuse the thumb). This year it contains onions, cucumbers, loadsa peas and courgettes. After experimenting with all kinds of different veggies last year, I’m concentrating on just a few family favourites this year.

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There is nothing quite like an apple tree in bloom! Hubby is out there almost every day now looking for signs of tiny beginnings of apples. All the pretty petals have gone now. We have three young apple trees in total and it is looking like a glut of apples this year- fingers crossed!

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This is my currant shrub with it’s FIRST EVER lot of currants on since we planted it a couple of years ago.

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We love our rhubarb and I made a lot of it into strawberry and rhubarb jam with vanilla. I used frozen strawberries and it is delish!

So there you go, growing your own food can be a bit hit and miss but it is so much fun and when you do reap the rewards ….well there is just nothing like eating something straight from your own back garden. It doesn’t get more local than that! What is growing in your garden at the moment?


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Wedding- Teacher- Easter gift idea … Herb garden with money butterflies

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Whilst looking through my photos I came across this lovely herb garden in a basket with butterflies that I photographed at a wedding last year. It made me feel instantly excited for Spring which should (hopefully) be just around the corner!

Apart from being a really sweet wedding present, this idea would also be great as a teacher gift for Easter. You could easily replace the money notes with coloured or patterened papers or get all the parents to chip in and get a collection started. It would definitely make a welcome change from the usual chocolates! Teacher or not, this would be a brilliant gift for anyone for Easter!

All you need is

a pretty basket

several pots of herb plants such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, lavender

a few pipe cleaners

money notes or coloured papers

decorations of choice (ribbons, pinwheels, etc)

To make the butterflies you could just simply fold the notes into fans and tie the pipe cleaners around their middle. However, there are also lots of tutorials of how to make a proper origami butterfly from money notes online. I did a quick search and found an instructional video here.

This is definitely at the top of my “must-do” list of craft and gift ideas!


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Garden berries

I have a shrub in my garden which has been producing tiny pink blossoms all summer long. These have now gone and in their place lovely plump and cream coloured berries have appeared. I have no idea what this shrub is called, but whilst tidying up the garden with my mother the other day, i decided to pick a few twigs. I displayed them in my little tin jug on the windowsill by the sink in my kitchen. This is where i stand and do the washing up whilst looking out into the garden or watching my biggest little girl play on her slide.

The twigs and berries have been going strong for a few days now without withering and I am very pleased with my -albeit clumsy- foray into floristry!

Looking at those berries makes me feel all autumnal. There’s a definite chill in the air!

Does anyone know what my mystery shrub is called?