“Fish Fingers & Custard”

My son turned 9 last month and we had the usual party – at the Center for Computing History in Cambridge – they have ‘Retro Gaming Parties’ for all ages. The kids had a blast and their parents are now planning their own gaming party soon.

He wanted a Tardis Birthday Cake originally and we looked at tutorials online, but as I can’t actually decorate a cake…. we went for “Fish Fingers & Custard” also from Doctor Who. If you don’t remember, Matt Smith’s first episode when he met Amy Pond – he tried out food to see what he liked and decided on ‘Fish fingers and custard’. The show used cake, apparently, but I decided on Shortbread.

Fish Fingers & Custard

They are a little time consuming to make, but worth it for the look on the kids’ faces! Some only tried one because another Mum said they had to try one or they couldn’t play more computer games, and a couple wouldn’t eat them with custard so they had jelly instead. The recipe makes enough for 60 shortbread fingers.

Fish Fingers:

12 oz./375g soft unsalted butter (do not use margarine!)
6 oz./165g white sugar
19 oz./590g plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 tsp salt

5-6 egg yolks
water

200g digestive biscuits or graham crackers
4 tbsp melted butter
3 oz./100g sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – I use an electric mixer. Sift in half the flour and the salt, then mix again. Sift in the rest of the flour and mix. Separate into 2 balls, wrap one up in cling film. If it’s very soft, put it into the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Roll out one ball of dough on a floured surface to about 9-10mm (3/8″) thick – about the thickness of a fish finger. Try to make it as rectangular as possible. Cut out fingers about 7.5cm (3″) long and 2.5cm (1″) wide. I cut each row out as I went along to try to get as many out of each sheet as possible. I used a small ruler so they would all be the same. Place each one on a cookie sheet with parchment/baking paper on it and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other ball of dough, then again using the leftovers of both together.

Cutting out the Shortbread Dough

Crush the biscuits/crackers. I used a food processor to make crumbs then added the sugar and melted butter and pulsed a few times to mix. Place on a plate or pie plate. (you’ll probably need to make this in batches depending on the size of your food processor). Once the fingers are chilled, whisk the egg yolks with enough water to thin them out a little.

Egg Wash
“Breading”

Put each finger in the egg mix and make sure they get covered, then transfer to the coating plate. Cover each one well, pressing down to coat. Remove back to the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the fingers have been coated. Put the cookie sheet back in the fridge to chill again for 15 minutes. Make sure you don’t crowd the cookie sheet, they will spread a little and you don’t want them to stick together. (I put mine a little too close together).

More ” Breading”
Ready to chill again

Bake at 180’C for 15-20 minutes or until they are cooked and start to brown. The ‘breading’ should crack a little and they should look like actual fish fingers. Carefully take off the sheet and onto a rack to cool. They will be soft and break easily when hot.

Baked & Cooling off

We served them in icecream tubs with bought custard – there were a couple of kids who just couldn’t get past the ‘fish fingers’ look and eat them with custard and a couple who gingerly tried then realised they were biscuits and dug right in. It was an easy birthday dessert, and perfect for a party too.

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Anatomical Knits… again!

I don’t often talk about my anatomical knits. Mostly because some people get very embarrassed when I tell them what I’m knitting when I’m out in public – but not children, interestingly. They always want to know “Why?” And I tell them as much as I think they will understand – or the adult they are with is comfortable with me telling them.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I make crochet breasts and have made hundreds. I do occasionally get requests for modifications to my pattern – some I won’t do, some I can’t and some I don’t have time to make to the buyer’s timeline. (The request at the beginning of my Christmas rush for 3 knit alimentary tracts fell into this category). The request below didn’t fall into those categories.

I had a buyer in the US ask if I could modify a crochet breast to add a simulated tumour inside it. It took several tries to get it right, and even then I wasn’t sure. I sent it off to the buyer and then another one off to an IBCLC I know who is also a nurse. Both were impressed, so I guess I got it right as my IBCLC friend said: “I think you have nailed it. It is really good. The lump is not obvious unless you palpate the breast and women are told to use the flat of their hand and not finger tips to do this. If you do it that way you do find it but you have to be thorough which is what women need to be when looking for lumps. Got my husband to try it and he found the lump too.”

Crochet Breast with simulated tumour

You have to palpate the breast to feel the “tumour” just as you would if you were self-examining your own breasts. I didn’t make it easy to feel because usually tumours aren’t easy to feel in a real breast.

It’s shorter and has a cardboard insert to press against while you palpate to find the tumour. It’s made from the same ever-popular pastel rainbow yarn and high quality polyfill as with my other crochet breasts.

Most of my anatomical knits are used as medical teaching aids or models – they don’t break, are washable and you don’t have to worry about handing them to all and sundry when teaching. You can find this Crochet Breast with Tumour in my Etsy Shop, Anatomical Knits by LGD.

Happy New Year!

Hello again. I know, I know, I abandoned you – but not intentionally! I ran out of steam to write blog posts – I did’t just want to post new items I have made to sell all the time, but couldn’t think of anything else to blog about!

Happy New Year!

In Real Life, it’s been hectic, son’s settling in well to boarding and singing, hubby’s been very busy at work and helping son with music practice. I’ve been busy labelling new clothes to replace ones that have gone missing at school, and reminding him to wash his hair properly. He’s shot up as well; he’ll need yet more new clothes in a few weeks, I’m sure. We already had to buy new school shoes to replace the half pair he lost a week before the holidays started – 1 went missing after Games and he hasn’t had his ‘Cinderella’ moment yet. We couldn’t wait to see if it did come back when the new term started, though. Right now, we all have colds, so are grotty and grumpy but I stocked up the house before Christmas so we have had enough stuff to make soups and meals you want to eat when you have a cold.

Looking Glass Designs has been doing well, too. I haven’t finalised accounts for November & December yet, but it looks like I have passed last year’s turnover for those 2 months. Not sure about the tax year as a whole yet. I also started selling on Amazon Handmade and am pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got busy on there.

I have plans for several new product lines that I hope will sell well, and another style of Camera strap too. This one will be a cover, so I can use some of the fabric on my shelves – I have some gorgeous fat quarters!

I smacked my hand on the edge of our kitchen door jamb in August and it’s still not healed. I’m going to look for a physiotherapist – I went to the doctor’s but as it wasn’t ‘deformed, bruised or not bending’ they wouldn’t do anything…

Pippy’s still missing Annie, he spends a lot of time wanting cuddles and sleeping beside me. He got “old” very quickly once she was gone; he refused to go outside almost at all for most of September. We used to have to pick him up and take him outside. He’s slightly better now, but I’m not allowed out of the house for longer than a couple of hours or he’s very upset when I/we get home. He will be 14 this year, in May/June time.

I hope you and yours have a 2018 that is mostly good – if there were no ‘downs’ the ‘highs’ wouldn’t be so wonderful!

Etsy Shop Review – Fairy Fountain Gifts

These are still talked about!

Through The Looking Glass

I’ve seen Jennifer Dodd AKA “Fairy Fountain Gifts” posting on UK Etsy Facebook groups for a little while, but somehow we ended up getting to know each other a little better than others on FB Etsy pages. I can’t *quite* remember how…. Her shops are Fairy Fountain Gifts and Fairy Fountain Kids She makes cute and affordable costume jewellery for adults and children over 3.

She often helps out other etsy shop owners with advice and suggestions on how to improve their shops, and I have in the past as well…. (see my posts on Product Photography)

She ordered some camera buddies and scarf camera straps from me and left some lovely reviews on Etsy, and I finally got the chance to order from her recently.

My son is finishing up in Year 2 (Grade 2) and is leaving his school to go to a new school for Year…

View original post 544 more words

Craft Fairs – and why I don’t sell at them…

I do get asked why I don’t do craft fairs right now. One reason is that my current best-sellers are mostly custom-made so can’t be made ahead of time. I also don’t have transportation right now either, which makes it difficult to get to craft fairs.

This blog post by Mahala at “The Barefoot Blog” is also why: The Curse of the Craft Fair”.

(Just a few of my camera scarf straps – all are available in my Etsy shop except for the butterfly strap which already sold out).

Leopard Print Scarf Strap
Blue Hearts Scarf Strap
Yellow Scarf Strap
Butterfly Scarf Strap

Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe

Here’s the Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe…

Pear & Ginger Chutney

It’s thick, a little tangy, a little sweet, slightly hot with the tiny chunks of ginger, and gorgeous with a mature cheddar. You can use unripe pears and then blitz a few cups of the cooked chutney while hot to make it less syrupy and more thick. (I did).

Ingredients:

10 cups peeled and chopped pears (fairly finely chopped) (15-20 pears, depending on their size)
3 medium red onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
4 cups white sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup seedless raisins or sultanas
1 cup crystallised ginger
1 tsp salt
3 star anise
10 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon, or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 crushed juniper berries

Pour the vinegar in the pot you are going to use to cook the chutney in, then add the pears to it as you chop them up so they don’t turn brown. Take 1 cup of the sugar and the ginger and put in a food processor. Pulse the ginger and sugar together until the ginger is finely chopped, then add to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Stir regularly so the bottom doesn’t catch. Cook gently for 1-2 hours or until the pears are cooked and the chutney has come together. You can blitz a couple of cups of the chutney if the pears haven’t broken down at all, just leave out the whole spices from blitzing.

Sterilise clean jars (you’ll need 8-9 pint jars) by placing them in a tray in the oven at 100’C for 20 minutes. Put the lids in a bowlful of boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Quickly fill the hot jars with the hot chutney to 4-5mm from the top, keeping the rims clean (if you’ve spilled the chutney on the rims, wipe them with a wet sponge and wipe dry). Dry off the lids and screw them on to finger-tight. Leave on a clean dry tea towel on the counter for several days before moving. I usually fill 2-3 jars at a time, then put the lids on.

As long as the lids stay sealed, the chutney will last for years.

Pear Chutney on Cheddar
Makings of a ploughmans’ lunch
Closeup

Exciting News! I’m a Hiya Hiya Stockist!

About a month ago, I was approached by Hiya Hiya Europe regarding stocking their products. I wasn’t sure, so asked quite a few questions, which were cheerfully and quickly answered.

Hiya Hiya Booket

I had a good look at their catalogue, trying to decide if I should go for it or not. I had some unexpected expenses in September – my printer had to be replaced for one – and didn’t go ahead right away. I let them know I was interested but that I couldn’t order right away and they extended the introductory offer for me.

I ordered this week and it only took a couple of days to arrive. I got a retail pack, so a good assortment of Hiya Hiya bamboo,steel fixed and interchangeable needles and lots of accessories. The sheep needle gauges are especially cute!

I spent 3 days writing listings and editing photos and they are now live! Join me on my Facebook page – Looking Glass Designs to enter the Giveaway on the pinned post!

Sheep needle gauge

Rice Crispie Chicken

Yup, you read it right. Rice Crispie Chicken. Sorry, there’s no marshmallows in it. It’s a baked chicken dish my son and I made for dinner tonight. We had some rice crispies that needed using, so… we coated boneless chicken thighs in the crushed rice crispies and baked them. My son did most of the work, I only boned & skinned the chicken thighs for him, but you can buy boneless, skinless ones.

It turned out better than expected, so I thought I’d pop the recipe on here for you to try. It would work with other cereal as well like cornflakes or bran flakes.

Rice Crispie Chicken

Rice Crispie Chicken

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
salt & pepper
2 cups rice crispies or other crisped puffed rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 350’F. Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl with a little salt & pepper. Put the rice crispies in a freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin- you’ll need to crush them more than you think you will, or you’ll have whole ones that won’t stick to the chicken very well.

Add a little salt & pepper to the crushed cereal, or any other spice you’d like to add and put on a plate. Dip the chicken in the egg, then into the cereal, covering the chicken, press down then flip and make sure that side’s coated well. Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, then bake for 15-20 minutes
I’d add some cayenne or paprika when we make them again, rice crispies are sweeter when baked! We had them with pesto pasta and steamed veg, but they’d be good in buns too.

I’ll add more photos when we make it again.

Close-up

Apricot Chutney Recipe

Apricot Chutney

Some years I make preserves – jams, chutneys and canned pears (we have a pear tree). This year is one of them, for chutneys, anyway. I used to make this apricot chutney when I was a chef, for adding to sandwich plates and Indian food. It’s not an Indian chutney but the flavours work well with ethnic foods. This chutney is delicious with roasted chicken or pork too. I have to confess we mostly eat chutneys on ‘nibble plates’ – what we call a ploughman’s lunch.

Apricot Chutney on Pate, Pear Chutney on Cheddar

It uses dried apricots, so can be made any time of the year and is easily doubled or tripled if you want. It only needs a few ingredients, and nothing in it is hard to find either. It’s pretty too, a chunky dark orange chutney with flecks of red onion and green rosemary.

Ingredients:

1 kg dried apricots
900g sugar
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 small red onions (or 1 large)
800ml apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Finely slice the apricots; you can use a food processor but they tend to get mangled a little. Finely chop the red onions too. Put everything in a large heavy pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The chutney will be thicker, a little syrupy and heavily smelling of vinegar. You won’t be able to tell what it tastes like until it’s cold and is even better after sitting for a couple of days.

You’ll need about 5 x 454g jars or enough other sizes to that hold much chutney. Wash and dry the jars, then place in a roasting pan and into oven on 100’C for about 20 – 30 minutes to sterilise them. Place the lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them about 5 minutes before filling the jars.

Have a clean tea towel or 2 on hand and another laid out to place the hot, filled jars on. When the chutney is ready, take out the jars from the oven and quickly fill them to 4-5mm from the top with the hot chutney. You can fill a glass measuring cup or use a soup ladle and a funnel, but try to keep the rims clean. Wipe the rims clean if needed using a clean damp sponge or paper towel. Quickly dry the lids and screw on, finger-tight. Leave on the tea towel on the counter. I usually fill a few at a time, then wipe and screw on the lids. Try to fill quickly enough that the jars are still warm/hot when you screw the lids on. Leave the jars alone for a few days. If you have a part-filled jar, put it in the fridge once it’s cool.

I’ll add in the pear chutney recipe soon too!

Lunch
Apricot and Pear Chutney

Jumper by Commission

Sept. 3:

I don’t often make clothes – by clothes meaning jumpers/sweaters, cardigans, socks, that kind of thing. (Actually I’ve never made socks!) But I got an email from a local-ish lady wanting to know if I was able to knit her a jumper – extra large, plain and using a very thick yarn. Many more emails later, we met up to talk and to get measurements.

She had picked out a yarn (Rowan Cocoon in “Clay”) and was looking for a pattern. Usually it’s the other way round, but I managed to find a pattern – plain, big, and one that I could add her requirements to – a polo neck and long cuffs that she can turn up. She had bought the yarn, so gave me that and 50% of the agreed price. (The remaining amount is due when half the work is done).

I started on the jumper – bulky yarn and 6 & 7mm needles mean it knits up quickly, but when you have to frog…. not so much fun. I knit up the front to about 2/3 done after swatching, then washed and blocked it – even without pinning it out, just laying it on a clean towel, it stretched 3″. So I took 1″ off the front and back length and started again. The front and back got done fairly easily, then I sewed the right shoulder seam together and started in on the neck to get the polo part started.

The sleeves I also started – 6″ and a 4″ cuff to check that which length she wanted and part of the sleeve as well. We met up for her to try on the pinned together jumper front and back and see how long she wanted the polo neck and the cuff length. 6″ cuffs it is, then…. 🙂

I also checked her arm length, as the shoulder seams come down over the top of the shoulder onto the upper arm. She was very happy with the partly done jumper – it will definitely keep her warm; there is going to be about 800-850g of yarn in this jumper once done and it’s thick as well. I haven’t washed it yet, so it will grow a bit. The yarn is a single ply wool and will soak up water. I’m going to wash it carefully by hand once it’s finished and all sewn together so the seams can support it.

Sep 25:

I got busy and didn’t manage to get back to this post. The jumper is completed and is waiting to be picked up. I washed it once I sewed it together and it kept its shape well. I washed it in my bathtub, keeping it flat and making sure I didn’t wring, twist or agitate it so it didn’t go out of shape or felt.

I am happy with it, and I hope my customer is too!

Here’s the finished jumper:

Jumper
Close up
Cuffs
Front close-up