Monday, 9 September 2013

A rather dapper looking cat!

Meet Loki, our British Shorthair pussy cat. My husband and I picked Loki up just under a year ago and he soon became a part of our family. Loki will be celebrating his first birthday on the 15th September so as an early birthday present we decided to make him feel special by buying him a bow tie in blue to co-ordinate with his coat. Loki doesn't seem to mind his new collar at all and we were a little worried that it would irritate him, but he seems quite at ease with it and looks quite proud of himself sat at the window.

My husband and I love watching the reactions of people as they pass the window and see Loki sat there in his bow tie. Some laugh, some say awww cute and others just give a strange look as if to say the owners of that house must be insane!!

The bow tie is one of my Etsy finds and as someone who makes handmade items I like to spend that little bit extra on something that someone has taken the time to make; I just feel like it has that little extra something that mass produced products don't have. 

 The lovely lady that we purchased this from is called Chloe Griffiths and she has a little shop on Etsy called Closline

Chloe lives and makes these collars in Australia.

My husband takes all of the photographs for my blog and these are some of my favourites of our cat Loki wearing his new bow tie.

I will definitely be shopping with Chloe again when I need a Halloween themed collar and again for Christmas. They are fantastic quality, they tie tight enough so it doesn't just fall off, but if Loki was to become entangled it will loosen quite easily so that he can get free. The collar is made of a good quality cotton and comes with a little bell attached.

I love it and I think you will agree that Loki seems very pleased with it in these photographs as well

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

English Muffins

This weeks episode of The Great British Bake Off saw the contestants baking English Muffins in the technical challenge and so as part of the challenge to myself I also had a go at them this week.

You can find Paul Hollywood's recipe for English Muffins here.

If you look carefully in the photo above you can see Paul and Mary watching over my every move!!
I had never baked bread of any kind up until this point and was feeling a little skeptical as to whether I would be able to create an English Muffin to be proud of, but I decided that the worst possible outcome would either be raw dough and a husband with an upset tummy or burnt discs of dough that get to see the inside of my bin instead of my tummy, so I went for it!!

I soon discovered that English Muffins are not easy to make at all! the dough is very wet and it really takes some arm strength to knead it to the required texture. Paul's recipe says to knead for 10 minutes; however it took me a bit longer than this because I don't have much upper body strength.

It was a little worrying and throughout the kneading process I was convinced that I had messed it up somehow as the dough was just clinging to my hands and the kitchen surface, but I kept on going and it did eventually start to come together.

So once the kneading was complete it was on to the proving and the waiting game began. Eventually my dough doubled in size.  Like I said I have never made any kind of bread before and muffins probably wasn't the best thing to start with as the dough is completely different to bread due to the fact that it is a lot wetter and so harder to knead, but at least now I have developed my arm muscles.

After an hour and a half my dough looked like it had proven enough and I was able to roll it out gently and it was then left to rest on the side for 15 minutes; Paul Hollywood's recipe says that this is important as if you cut out the discs before then they may shrink in size in the second proving.

The second proving is a little less and mine only needed 45 minutes. Both my first and second proves needed a little longer and I think this was down to the temperature in my kitchen.

Second prove done and they were ready to be baked griddled.  I don't have a hot plate at home so I used my heavy frying pan and it did just as good a job in my opinion.

Baking Tip: I used a gas hob and even on the lowest heat my pan heated up quite quickly so in order to control the heat I only left it on the hob for half the time and then left the muffins to cook from the remaining heat - this prevented them from burning and allowed them to bake evenly throughout.

All baked and after a long time in the kitchen here is the final product...

I am very proud of myself for pulling this one out of the bag frying pan.