And before you ask - NO! I'm not pregnant! hahaha.
Earlier in the year I had the good fortune to come across some very lovely ladies who work at All Craft Media, the publishing company that produces such brilliant magazines as Handmade Living, Sew Hip, Knit and Inside Crochet. The link was made through the Folksy blog, as they were looking for craft writers. I sent off a quick 'hello' with some ideas, fully expecting to hear nothing in return. To my amazement I was offered a regular gig - a monthly column at Handmade Living. Yippppeeeee!
I've got a few editions under my belt now, so I wanted to share them with you. I wanted to keep this under my hat for a bit, because it didn't seem fair to share the content of my pieces with those who had not read the magazine. I'm going to use my blog to share the back story of my pieces, and to point you to the places you might buy this magazine of fabulousness. It's available from Hobbycraft, WH Smith, Morrisons, Asda, Sainsburys and Martins. Good local newsagents will order it for you if you ask them. You can download an individual digital edition by clicking here, or you can subscribe by clicking here.
Here was my first piece:
Called "Tea at Nan's" this piece reminisces about my summers as the youngest child of a gaggle of 10 cousins. We would chase each other around the vegetable patch, play hide and seek and feed our dolls with a bakelite pink plastic teaset.
Sunday tea was always a special occasion. There were loads of us crammed into my Nan's best room - twelve adults, ten children and sometimes other friends and neighbours. The adults *all* smoked - the men mainly smoked pipes, from what I recall, and I still remember it's heady scent, mixed with the tang of coal dust, fondly. After tea we were allowed a sip of sherry mixed with lemonade, if we were lucky. I don't even think that the adults were allowed undiluted sherry, and one was very definitely everyone's limit. My Nan was extremely concerned about What The Neighbours Might Say.
Whether it was winter or summer, tea was always tinned salmon sandwiches (cut into triangles; a luxury in our house), plain crisps bought from the pub, salad separated out into individual bowls and pork pie. Woe betide the person who ate the last slice of pork pie! Pudding was a community affair - my mum and most of my aunties were keen bakers, so we often had a selection of home made shortbread, chocolate cakes and - best of all - my Nan's pointy little rock buns. These delights were usually served with warm Cornish ice cream (Nan had no freezer, so someone would dash to the village cafe for the ice cream before Tea, and we would eat it semi-melted.) Strangely enough, our family would also eat bread and butter with their pudding - my Mum tells me this is a war time trick to make the good things go further. Even if it sounds weird, brown bread and butter with ice cream is delicious, believe me.
During The Tea, my Grandad's friend would always turn up with a contraption that was something important to do with racing pigeons. To this day, I'm not sure what it was. As a five or six year old, I was never allowed to accompany Grandad to talk to this man in the hall. Instead I used to stand next to the door, and push my face against it's creamy, smooth gloss paint in an effort to work out this mystery.
I thought I'd share with you the recipe for my Nan's delicious buns. The photos are ones that I took this summer, having given them a bit of a modern facelift. Nan's were always plain and, as I said earlier, always pointy. They didn't come in fancy cases either. This is a war time recipe passed down my family, and it's still just as good today as it ever was. I only need to bake a batch to be transported back to my Nan's happy, hot and slightly damp house. My sons love them too, unaware of the history behind them. Enjoy! X
225g Self Raising Flour
30g Vegetable Fat (like Trex)
110g Caster Sugar
2 eggs, mixed with milk to make 1/4 pint
1. Pre-heat the oven to 90C / 200F / Gas Mark 6
2. Rub the margarine and fat into the flour, or whizz in a food processor, until it has a breadcrumb-like texture
3. Mix in the sugar
4. Whisk the eggs and, if they measure less than a 1/4 pint, top up with milk
5. Add the egg mixture slowly (I drizzle it in whilst the food processor is whirring). The final mixture should be a dropping consistency - slowly add more milk if it's dry.
6. Spoon the mixture into greased bun tins, or paper muffin cases.
7. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown.
You can change the recipe by adding 110g of dried fruit, glace cherries or chocolate chips. You can also substitute 30g of cocoa powder for the self raising flour. Decorate with melted chocolate and brown sugar.