29 September 2011

ikea hack - barnslig djur art

I wanted some artwork for our nursery and took inspiration from my IKEA Barnslig Djur curtains. They have some bright little cartoon animals on them.

First I traced the outlines of the animals by placing a piece of paper over the animals and holding the curtains up against the window so I could see through them. Tip: pin the paper to the curtains to hold it in place.

Then I took the paper tracings and positioned them on some watercolour paper. I went over the outlines with a sharp pencil, pressing quite hard so as to indent the design into the watercolour paper beneath.

I carefully drew in the outlines onto the watercolour paper with a pencil to make them easier to see. I didn't mind that I would see the pencil through the watercolour paint as I think this adds to the effect.

Then, I painted the animals, matching up the colours on the Barnslig curtains with paints from my watercolour palette. It didn't matter about being too exact.

Once the paint was dry, I cut the paintings down to size to fit centrally into my IKEA Ribba frames. I am pretty pleased with the results and hopefully bubba will be too (when he/she decides to make an appearance!)

The nursery is almost exclusively decorated with IKEA pieces. Our old Billy bookcase has been recycled into storage for baby clothes, bedding and toiletries using brightly coloured Barnslig Ringdans and Kusiner storage boxes and the nursing chair is a Poang armchair which has a nice little bounce to it. The ceiling light is a big yellow Smila Sol sunshine.

19 September 2011

sticky toffee pudding

I've been promising Dom that I would make him a sticky toffee pudding ever since watching the first in the BBC series of The Good Cook. In fact, I've probably been promising it long before then, but ever since Simon Hopkinson left us drooling over our TV remote, Dom hasn't let me forget my vow. A few weeks ago I teased him by buying the requisite packet of dates, but never followed through. Naughty me.

A promise is a promise. So, here in all it's sweet, stodgy, shiny glory is the sumptuous, the magnificent, sticky toffee pudding!

Simons's recipe says it serves 4 but they would be very generous portions, so I would say it's good for 6 people. As we are only 2 (2.5 if you count the bump!), we'd be making our way through the pudding over the course of a few days, so I decided I'd only make extra sauce as and when needed. Here is my shortened version of Simon's original recipe.

For the pudding: 175g/6oz dates, chopped, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 50g/2oz butter, pinch salt, 75g/2½oz demerara sugar, 75g/2½oz molasses sugar, 2 eggs, 175g/6oz self-raising flour, 1 tsp vanilla extract, butter, for greasing

For the sauce: 250ml/9fl oz double cream, 80g/3oz butter, 80g/3oz molasses sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Pour 275ml/10fl oz boiling water into a food processor and add the dates. Leave aside until lukewarm. Add all the other ingredients for the sponge to the dates and water and blend until nearly smooth, but with a few specks of date still visible. Pour the batter into a buttered baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

3. Make the topping/sauce by heating the sugar, butter and cream in a pan, whisking regularly, until they briefly boil. When you are ready to eat, pour the topping over the cooked pudding.

The pudding and sauce can be refridgerated and then portioned out and heated together in the microwave for 2 mins when you are ready to indulge. I like mine with double cream. Dom insists that ice cream is the only way to go.

11 September 2011

wedding congratulations

Finally, finally, finally, I am finding the time to make things. I was able to make my fab friends Matt and Elena this simple card to congratulate them on their wedding yesterday. My stash of beads, ribbons, buttons and bows got a long-awaited chance to shine.

03 September 2011

spanish chicken

An original recipe that has become a staple mid-week meal in the Grace household. Takes about 10 mins to prepare and about 50 mins to cook and all in one pot! Easily scaled up or down for any number of guests.

For two people...

1 onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
5-6 chicken thighs
Schwartz Piri Piri seasoning
3 good handfuls of frozen peas
1 chorizo sausage (about 15 cm long)

1. Place the frozen peas in the bottom of an oven proof casserole or roasting dish.
2. Roughly chop the onion and peppers and toss on top of the peas.
3. Chop the chorizo into 5mm thick discs (aim for each person to have 6-8 discs). Place these on top of the veg.
4. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs (you can leave it on if you like, but removing the skin makes it a bit less fatty) and place on top of the veg and chorizo.
5. Sprinkle the chicken generously with the Piri Piri seasoning.
6. Bang in the oven for 50 mins at 200°C or gas mark 6 - check the chicken is cooked through.
7. When serving, place veg and chorizo mix on the plate and the chicken pieces on top.

We usually eat this just as it is, but you could serve with plain rice, or cous cous.

The vegetable juices mix with the paprika from the chorizo and the Piri Piri spice to make a lip smacking, family favourite.