Friday, September 9, 2011

A Wooly Costume

Simple Sheep Costume
So I dressed up as a sheep one Halloween. The homemade costume went down a treat. I purchased some cushion stuffing from my local fabric shop for a small price. I then stuck it in layers to a nightdress using pva glue. This took a long time and was incredibly messy. I was lucky that my friends helped out. I also stuffed some of the left over stuffing under the nightdress to give me a more rounded shape. A friend of mine lent me her hood from her wet suit and that coupled with a lot of black facepaint transformed me into a sheep. My ears suck and should of been made of fabric or black card not corrugated cardboard painted with the face paint! I also put face paint on my arms but I'd advise wearing a long sleeve black top.  

Considering the Irish weather this would of a great costume for a kid going trick or treating as they will stay warm. However, I was indoors and burning up! There wasn't a chance I was going to nightclub in it. Also the stuffing was surprisingly heavy and gave me a sore back. But overall it was a pretty practical costume. I was happy :) Also the shaply figure I had was not intentional it was simply caused by resting my arms or holding a drink.

I'd also like to mention another fine costume from the party I attended that year. One of my friends dressed up as Duff Man from the Simpsons. Why was it such a good costume? Well if I remember it correctly her purchased it all in Pennies and took the cans from the bin so it probably didn't cost more than 20 euro to make which is what I like to hear!

Sheep and Duffman Costume

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mad Scientist!

Easy Mad Scientist Costume
This wasn't a Halloween costume but one for a school play. It was traditional each Christmas that the final year students would impersonate the teachers in funny skits. I was playing the part of a student that got covered in sut during a chemistry class! I just popped on my lab coat (which I had for actual Chemistry labs) and covered my face in charcoal I nicked from the art room par my eyes because I would have my safety glasses on of course. I back combed my hair and I think I put charcoal in it as well judging by the colour of it and blue hair spray (Why? I had it so why not?). You can't see it in the photograph but I also had LEDs through my hair that flashed during the performance as if I was being electrocuted or something. (Our Chemistry teacher was also our Physics teacher) 

More Mad Scientists
For props we had test tubes filled with lemonade and a few drops of food colouring (I think we had yellow, green, red blue etc). We stoppered the test tubes and shook them before going on stage so that during the performance they randomly popped sending the stopper flying and lemonade fizzing everywhere. It definitely provided the biggest laugh as unfortunately are jokes were appalling.

If I was to do this costume again I'd obviously use black face paint instead of charcoal and a lot less of it. (charcoal is very difficult to get off. It was very embarrassing walking home from school half covered in black. I had to wear my Santa hat to hide my hair). I would also put my safety glasses on before applying the black so that none of it gets in the space where the glasses should of protected me from the explosion. I'd put black on my lab coat too.I'd try pin my lab coat open and tie up in the air as if it was still during the explosion. I'd def bring testtubes with me :) O and put talc in my hair first before the black.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cupcakes and Yellow Yokes

Cupcakes with Chocolate and Lemon Butter Icing
These are some tasty cupcakes I made awhile back when I was learning how to make butter icing. Don't ask me what the recipe is because I don't remember :) I was experimenting. I used an angled spatula to do the icing which made it much easier than a knife. I'd love to get a small angled spatula to ice with since piping is a pain in the bun! 

Small Angled Spatula
I also made a horrific tray bake around the same time. I thought it would be a great idea to colour the icing and sponge yellow since it was lemon flavoured... well you can see for yourself. I also decided to try decorating with Jelly Tots since jellies on cupcakes seem to be all the rage these days. I was unconvinced as in order to keep the cake fresh I had it in the fridge which made the jelly tots very stiff and difficult to chew. They were alright at room temperature but I wasn't converted. Maybe I'll try some other jellies instead.

Scary Lemon Traybake with Jellytots.

Easy Cupcakes

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Gingernuts!

Mmm Biscuits
So I started making these biscuits back in the Spring and they are yummy! I got the recipe here on Delia Online. (Good Old Delia). Anyway I love ginger and I love chocolate! I hate the mess golden syrup makes though :( The recipe is easy enough and is illustrated below. Chuck the ginger powder, cocoa powder, flour and bicarbonated soda in a bowl and stir it. Then rub the butter in making a crumb. Add the sugar and chopped up dark chocolate and stir and then mix in the golden syrup with your hands. (Messy work). Squeeze the mixture into a ball, roll it out and cut it into biscuits. 

Making the biscuit dough
Pop them in the oven and hey presto. You don't have to use cookie cutters, you can simply squash balls of dough like Delia suggests as they look more rustic. Since I love ginger so much I prefer using fresh ginger grated up instead of powdered ginger. If you rather cookies than biscuits leave them in for about half the time. It is very easy to burn them so if in doubt just take them out. Better underdone than burnt says I. Also they will still be soft when you take them out. They will harden as they cool. 

Chocolate Chip Gingernuts
Chocolate Chip Gingernuts

Saucy Blackberries

Sieving the Sauce
So as I mentioned in my previous post I picked lots of wild blackberries. I made an Apple and Blackberry Tart with about half of the them and then with the rest I decided to make blackberry sauce. Easy peasy, for every 100g of blackberries you need 25g of sugar or to taste. Pop the blackberries and sugar in a saucepan with about a teaspoon of water and simmer for about 15mins. I'm showing that coincidently my nail varnish matches the colour of the mixture and I know a good cook never wears nail varnish while cooking but this varnish is extreme wear according to the bottle and was a present all the way from the US. 

Simmering the Blackberries and Sugar
Blackberries after Stewing
So once the blackberries are suitably stewed I poured them into a jug and allowed them to cool. Once they had cooled I blended them using a hand blender. Very messy work since I was too lazy to use the correct jug i.e. a tall narrow one. Anyway once the mixture was uniformly blended I passed it through a sieve to remove the pips. This took forever, since the sieve is a particularly fine one and the mixture was thick. However, with lots of squashing using a spatula I got most of the puree/sauce through the sieve. I poured the sauce into a lovely bottle I recently purchased lemonade in and gave the birds the pips. I can't wait to use the sauce. I am thinking meringue and icecream maybe??

Messy Blending
Blackberry Sauce

Who you calling a Tart?

Blackberry and Apple Tart
So the first of the blackberries have ripened here in Ireland so I decided to pick some on my way home through the woods yesterday. I picked just shy of a kilo of lovely ripe wild blackberries. Firstly I rinsed them and then let them soak for a couple of hours to kill any bugs. Then I rinsed them again to wash the bugs away. I then had to decide what to make. The obvious answer would be jam but it was late and I wanted something quick. So apple and blackberry tart as requested by my parents was chosen. 

Wild Blackberries
I made a basic all butter pastry i.e. simply butter rubbed into flour. The pastry turned out surprisingly well considering the last time I'd made pastry was 6 years ago and that was only once! Once the butter was rubbed into the flour I added a drop of water and mixed it into a ball using a knife. I think I used a too much water as the dough was a bit sticky but I still managed to roll it out. The pastry was a bit too thin but it was ok. 
Making the Pastry
So next step was filling the pie dish with the pastry, lining it with baking paper, filling it with blind baking beans and blind baking it. Blind baking helps prevent soggy pastry and allows the pastry enough time to cook as sometimes as in my case the filling does not need as long in the oven. The beans are used to help keep the shape of the pastry.So while the tart was blind baking I began preparing the apples. 

Pastry before Blind Baking
I filled the tart with a layer of about 3 sliced eating apples already coated in sugar. (I didn't have any cooking apples) I then piled on about 400g of blackberries which had been mixed with some brown sugar and flour. I really should of cooked the apples in the tart for awhile before adding the blackberries because when I took it out of the oven some of the blackberries had burned and the apple could of done with more time but hardly a disaster. 

The Tart out of the Oven
While the tart was baking I placed about 50g of  blackberries, and one sliced apple in a saucepan with some sugar and apple juice and allowed it to stew.  The juice from the black berries gave the apples a lovely red colour. I poured the juice from the saucepan over the tart and then decorated the tart with the apple slices. I was very happy with the tart. The pastry was a bit scarce. I'll know to make more the next time but over all yum yum. I decided to make blackberry sauce with the remaining blackberries.
Apple and Blackberry Tart

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