Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Come to Devon and make your own homemade Christmas

We've decided to emerge from  MIAMI Towers and run a real live event - and we hope you can come along and join us!

The lovely people at the beautiful Rill Estate in Devon have invited us to run a couple of one day workshops there.

We 're going to do live work sessions on card-making, fabulous show-stopping Christmas table dressings, gorgeous home-made Christmas decorations as well as gift ideas and wrapping.

You'll get all the materials provided, plus lunch and teas and coffees, the chance to meet the MIAMI team and other like-minded people in a convivial atmosphere and beautiful setting.

Who needs to be a couch potato and sit at home watching Kirstie Allsopp  pretend to make her homemade Christmas when you can do it for real?

What are you waiting for? We have 2 days available - Monday 15th or Tuesday 16th November.

>> Find out more here

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fred makes some chutney

My nine year old nephew Fred loves cooking and wanted to try making jam or chutney. We decided to have a go at some apple chutney.

It's a really easy recipe - we put chopped cooking apples, onions, sultanas, sugar and a few raisins in the pan along with some mixed spice, paprika, ground coriander and malt vinegar and then let it simmer for a long time.

Fred wasn't too keen on the strong smell from the vinegar but enjoyed stirring the pot and checking for doneness - by dragging the spoon across the bottom of the pan - when it doesn't immediately fill up the channel it's ready.

Fred's looking forward to taking some home for his Mum and Dad.

Making jam and chutney is surprisingly easy and very satisfying. We have loads of recipes and tips on the main website as well as a handy download calendar to show you what you can do with fruit and veg each month. Making jams, pickles and preserves

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Quilts glorious quilts

We'll have the next quilting block up for you shortly, complete with step by step instructions. We hope you'll take the opportunity to quilt along with us and share your results on our Facebook photo page 

Meanwhile I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some examples of the kind of sampler quilt we 're working on. Hilary, my very skilful "Quilting Mum" made these beauties.

Instructions for our first quilt block - Rail Fence are on the website

Clare F

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Abundance Fruit Day

On my riverside walk this morning I spotted some posters advertising the Abundance Fruit Day this weekend here in Chiswick.

When I got home I googled it and found Abundance is an movement that started out in Sheffield and now has branches here in west London, and in Brixton, Haringey, Hackney, West Ealing and Manchester. They are mapping fruit trees - in a similar way to the chaps we highlighted on the website recently who are mapping foraging locations.

The West London Abundance Fruit Day sounds fun - there's a 60 litre fruit press which will be pressing local apples all day, apple games, fruit swaps, a jam-making workshop at 2pm, craft stalls and a bicycle operated smoothie maker so you can feel virtuous when making your own! More info here

It is really heartening to see how many initiatives there are now to encourage growing and sharing produce. We also recently highlighted Crop Swap, which is building up a national fruit and veg swapping databaase. Story here

Clare F

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Additions to my quilting stash

One of our Facebook friends warned that once you get your hands on some fat quarters they become an addiction. I told myself I wouldn't let it happen but would stick to remnants. They are however strangely seductive and I felt in need of some other patterns as I build up my quilt blocks.

Not sure about the owls but I think the colours will work with what I already have. We'll see...

Join me in my efforts to learn quilting - see Join me in my first quilting lesson on the website

Clare F

Friday, 8 October 2010

Tomato Mania

Clare O has been really besotted with her tomato crop. She's made all sorts of things with them including jam, marmalade, chutney and sottolio as well as using them in salads and sauces. She's also been brightening up her kitchen with trays of them on display, so I thought they'd make a good subject for her birthday card and got my paintbox out and did this.

Least I could do after she has bestowed so many on me - not to mention runner beans and chard.

Clare F

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

My first London Grapes

They may not be huge but they taste pretty sweet - my first crop - on a vine planted 2 years ago.

Clare F

Monday, 4 October 2010

Preserving green tomatoes

I've just experimented with green tomatoes preserved in olive oil - using some of Clare O's bounteous tomato harvest and Lina Negri's recipe. I only had a few tomatoes and as this is a first attempt I've only made one small jar - but it was very easy. You can find the recipe on our website.

Here are the tomatoes after their 30 seond boil - cut into pieces and put into a bowl under a weight (I used the olive oil bottle on top of a saucer) so the excess water comes out.

When I compared notes with Clare O I discovered that she uses a different recipe  - one Lina gave us first as a footnote to Clare's earlier piece on tomatoes. Clare says it's absolutely delicious. I'll need to wait a while to find out how mine taste. I think the key difference was that in Clare's version you add vinegar to the water you boil the tomatoes in whereas mine involved a separate vinegar and wine marination stage.  Also hers uses onion and mine just garlic and fresh oregano.

Anyway I can't wait to taste them. At MIAMI we are falling in love with all forms of preserved tomatoes. Clare offered me some Tomato and Chilli jam last night which was truly scrumptious. She 's also been busy making raspberry vinegar.

>> Green tomatoes under oil (and a recipe for under vinegar) on the website

>> The other Green tomato recipe from Lina can be found in the Comments after this article What to do with Green Tomatoes