July 31, 2013

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes

What you'll need
For the cakes
- 225g | 8oz | 2 cups | Self-raising flour
- 225g | 8oz | 1 cup | Brown cane sugar
- 225g | 8oz | 1 cup | 2 sticks | Butter
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Lemons | Zest and juice

For the drizzle
- 1 Lemon | Zest and juice
- 150g | 5oz | 2/3 cup | Brown cane sugar

How it's done
Preheat oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined into a paste. You shouldn't be able to see any lumps of butter.

Beat in the eggs and lemon juice a little at a time then fold in the flour and lemon zest to fully combine until the mixture is of dropping consistency.  Equally spoon the mixture into the cases, they will be quite full and you may end up with some leftover mixture for a second round.

Bake on the middle shelf for 30 mins or a skewer poked in comes out clean.

Transfer cakes and cool for 10 mins on a wire rack.  Poke each cake approx 4 times with a skewer.  This allows the drizzle to seep into the cakes.

To make the drizzle
Combine the sugar, lemon juice and zest then spoon over the cakes immediately.

Leave to fully cool.

Perfect for afternoon tea or as I did here, lemon and cucumber water.

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July 26, 2013

The Weekly Dozen Vol.1

As if one photography challenge a month wasn't enough to take on, I've decided to participate in another.  Cyd from The Sweetest Occasion has set herself a challenge after she recently upgraded her camera.  I'm a big fan of Cyd's blog so when I saw that she was doing a photography challenge called The Weekly Dozen I thought I'd give it a go myself.  

I got a few tips last week from my yarnista friend Evi who is also a professional photographer,  so I'm carrying my camera around a lot more and practising whenever I get the chance.  The challenge only runs until September 15th but I may end up continuing as my photography interest is rapidly increasing.

I'm hoping that as the challenge progresses so will my photography skills. I'll be the first to admit that my confidence levels can be pretty low when showing people my work.  But what I like about putting a challenge like this on my blog is the fact that I (and you) can see how my skills develop.

Don't expect Max Wanger or Bonnie Tsang levels of work, I have a very, very, very long way to go before reaching their incredible ability.  But since this is the first time of shooting without just using 'auto' I'm kinda happy with the results.  

Here is the first instalment of my Weekly Dozen...

The first image is an ode to Evi as this was taken in her urban knitting store Gather.  The crocheted hat was designed by Renaissance who is the owner of Raghouse International.  The pattern will be available to purchase on Ravelry in the next few weeks.  The second image is my current yarn-a-long project: the Medano Beach Bag.  I think the photo really captures the true colours of the bag.  More images of the finished product coming soon!

I love to make a fuss over weekend brunch in our house, and it most often involves eggs in some way like a frittata or pancakes.  Last weekend, I was gutted because we only had one egg left (bad planning) so instead I rustled up a quick pasta using Farmer's Market ingredients.  

We took Mr Theo Curran and his brother out to a BBQ las weekend.  We don't have a back garden yet so when we go somewhere that does, he really likes to takes advantage.  You can see more pics of Theo on Instagram search for #theocurran.

PC and I have a weekly ritual that developed pretty much as soon as I arrived here in November.  Where every Tuesday we take a trip the local Farmers' Market.  We often stop by the fish stall to pick up some clams for linguine vongole but this week I made an East Coast special... New England Clam Chowder. Now this dish is particularly tricky because PC is originally from New England so he has had some of the best chowders you can possibly get your hands on.  As it happens the East Coast boy was pretty happy with the results, especially because it was served in a sourdough bread bowl.

I'm in a bit of a baking stint at the moment too on Sunday I made a blueberry pie.  It's ages since I've made my own pastry but I have a good recipe from one of my Mum's books that never fails her.  It tasted like flakey buttery shortbread, clearly super bad for you but comforting on a dull Sunday.

I have a friend in town next week so with a few days out, hopefully I'll be able to pick up some more good snaps for next weeks Weekly Dozen.

Happy Friday! 

You can follow more of my photography on Instagram and follow my blog with Bloglovin

July 23, 2013

Collection 18 | Unique Summer Show

1. Dress | 2. Ring | 3. Necklace | 4. Bracelet | 5. Bag

I don't often do fashion posts but this seemed fitting after my visit to Unique Summer Show the other weekend.  Unique LA is "The largest independent design show in the country, attendees get the rare chance to meet and shop directly from over 150 hand-selected designers and artists. The exciting two-day shopping event makes it easy for you to buy local and support LA’s economy, discover great design and deals, join in community, and have a blast. The products at the show are proudly made right here in the USA so you’re putting your dollars right back into our economy and local community!"

See my visit to the last Unique LA.

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July 19, 2013

Thrifting Finds

Since working on The Fig House I have been introduced to the wonderful world of thrifting.  I now have a new found love for rummaging through thrift stores, antique shops and charity parking lots (no joke).  But seriously though, there are some awesome pieces out there that are about to go to the tip | dump and if rescued could be re-upholsted | re-finished into something new and original.  I do have to thank Emily and Dean for introducing me though, they have the knack of seeing the potential in what others would see only as trash (me included, up until now).  I think I'm lucky in that L.A. does have some really good stores and ones that don't try to make you pay an arm and a leg for their goods.

It has always said in my horoscope that Capricorn's are into antiquing and I never have been. I have never had the eye for it and the idea of trolling through dusty stores that probably came from someones dead Grandmother really didn't appeal (sorry too much info there I know).  Now I'm not saying that I have an eye for it now that I like doing it but I did have a great experience the other week and saved myself over $1000, YES $1000!!!

This lamp...

For those who know me know I love anything gold, anything brass, so when I was hitting up my local thrift store this pair of 1970's brass pharmacy floor lamps caught my gold-loving eye (maybe I should change my blog name!?).  The label had them tagged at $70 for both.  Bingo!  That's more than good for a pair of stunners like this.  I noticed on the top that they had an imprinted logo 'Koch and Lowy', a company which I'd never heard of.  So as you do now in this day and age, I googled them.  The search took me to 1st dibs where they were for sale for... $1250!!! Ching ching ching!  This is possibly thee best bargain I've ever come across. The shop assistants were none-the wiser as I skipped out of there with my new lovely brass lamps, one of them even commented and said "we only put those out half an hour ago"... talk about right place, right time.

I also came back with a stash of goods for the photo styling challenge and a few things for the home including a mid-century stool and a needlework cushion...

There's a lot of hidden treasures in this place, I keep finding vintage Royal Albert china, which I absolutely adore and have since started up a mini collection.

I love this painting of a ship by W. Neudorff who I actually can't find any info on.  I think I like it because of the English flags on there :) It's still there in the store so I think it's calling out for me to buy it...

Also this shell lamp... Is it possible to own too many brass floor lamps???  Hmm, maybe I should get this for my office. :)

I went thrifting today with Dana and picked up a cute little green vase for my next photo styling challenge and some more Royal Albert china. This time I got a few pieces from the Lavender Rose collection.

I have still yet to visit the Rose Bowl and Long Beach flea market but we have it on out list of places to visit soon!  Speaking of which, the Long Beach market is this coming Sunday... :)

Happy Friday!!!

July 18, 2013

Bee Right Back

I'm having a super busy spell of working right now which is why I have ended up neglecting my beloved blog.  I am hoping to spend some QT on it this weekend but for now please don't think I've given up... I'll bee right back soon. In the meantime I was introduced to a wonderful tumblr blog today by my good friend Evi from Gather.  It has some wonderful imagery on there so I've shared the image above. It makes me even more eager to learn photography!  Thanks for the inspiration 'That Kind of Woman'

July 11, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

I still have the photo styling challenge on my mind and I have been getting even more inspired by table styling ideas.  On Tuesday I posted up a wish list of props I would like for my photo shoot but this weeks tilt really shows the overall feel that I like. I would really love to make something for the challenge like I did with the Food Styling Challenge.  I like the cute teacup DIY in image 2 and the embroidery number in image 5. I feel I can get more excited about a shoot if it's something I have created, not sure how that will work when we get further down the challenge list. :)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

July 09, 2013

Collection 17 | Table Setting

With me taking part in the Photo Styling challenge I am looking for some nice pieces for the Part 2 of the challenge: Table setting.  Here are a few things I've seen over the last week.  I literally cannot get enough of A Sunny Afternoon's new range of home wares, especially the hexagonal serving board shown below.  I also featured their picnic basket in last week's Collection.

1. Vase | 2. Plates | 3. Porcelain Spoons | 4. Hexagon serving board | 5. Napkins

If you haven't seen the photo styling challenge, please check it out here...

July 08, 2013

4th July 2013 and Recipes

It seems like such a long time since I sat at my computer to do some blogging.  The good news is that I've been knee deep in work so I just haven't had the time (totally breaking all blogging rules I know).  I thought I'd share some of my cooking photos from my first Independence Day which we celebrated here last Thursday.  We had a few friends over including my lovely friend Dana who I met at Blogshop LA and who blogs at Queen and Crumpets.  We had a BBQ and I made some festive cupcakes for the occasion.  I also made some coleslaw which I love to make and haven't done so in a while.  Recipes below.

What you'll need
1/2 Small white cabbage | finely shredded
1/4 Small red cabbage | finely shredded
2 Medium sized carrots | peeled and grated
1 Lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 dessert spoons of mayonnaise

How it's done
Combine all the shredded and grated veg in one large bowl

Using a fine grater, grate the lemon zest into the bowl and combine thoroughly

For the dressing, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar and 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Add the dressing to the veg and mix well.

I sometimes add a handful of mixed seeds (sesame, sunflower and pumpkin) or chopped walnuts but this time I kept it super easy and simple.

Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes I used a good old Delia Smith recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes.  I have converted the recipe into cups below.

What you'll need
110g | 4oz | 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
110g | 4oz | 1/2 cup caster sugar (I used brown cane sugar)
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g | 4oz |  1 cup self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk

How it's done
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases. I used silver foil ones for the occasion.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined into a paste. You shouldn't be able to see any lumps of butter.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and add the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of dropping consistency.  Spoon the mixture in the case until half full.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

I made the first batch this way but felt that the mixture should have been doubled to suit the size of my cake cases. So for the second batch I doubled the mixture but added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to make these into chocolate cupcakes.  These needed a little longer in the oven (approx 20 mins).

Chocolate Cupcakes

For the frosting I used Martha Stewart's cream cheese frosting.

What you'll need

8oz | 2 sticks | 16 tbsp Unsalted butter at room temp
12oz cream cheese (I used two packets) at room temp
1lb | 4 cups Icing/confectionsers sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 

How it's done
Beat butter and cream cheese together until combined and fluffy.  I did it by hand but Martha recommends doing it with a mixer. 

Add sugar 1 cup at a time and mix well.

Finally add the vanilla and mix until smooth.

For the decoration, I spooned the frosting on top of the cakes once they had cooled ensuring it had a smooth even coating.

For the vanilla cupcakes I topped them with one raspberry in the middle then blueberries around the raspberry.

For the chocolate I topped them with 3 blueberries in the centre with one on top and then raspberries all around the blueberries.

Using the double mixture was the best way to go for bigger cupcakes and although they were a little denser in texture than the vanilla, they still tasted great.

July 01, 2013

Photo Styling Challenge | Part 1 Food

So the day is finally here where I share my photographs for Part 1 of the Photo Styling Challenge that I'm doing with M from Redesigned by M and Anjana from At the Corner of Happy and Harried. In my true fashion I left this until the very last minute to do... i.e. yesterday morning, whilst hungover, mid June gloom heatwave (97 degrees) and before I had to leave to go to a Luau party.  The subject matter is super close to my heart as I love to eat and love to cook and love any excuse to try a new recipe.  So for this challenge I just had to make the food myself.  I chose to make roasted strawberry and black pepper scones from the Hairy Bikers

What you'll need

For the Strawberries
- 400g/14oz small strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the scones
- 500g | 1lb 2oz | 4 cups self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling
- 50g | 2oz | 1/4 cup caster sugar ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 100g | 3½oz | 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
- 300ml | 10fl oz full-fat milk
- 1 egg, beaten

How it's done

Preheat the oven to 120C | 250F | Gas 1/2

Place the strawberries on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle over the sugar and lots of freshly ground black pepper.  Roast in the oven for 1 and a half hours.  Once cooked, removed and set aside to cool.  Tip: use a couple of layers of greaseproof as I only used one layer and it stuck to the tray because of the sugar... the tray is now in the bin!

Increase the temperature to 200C | 400F | Gas 6

Put the flour, sugar, salt and butter into a large mixing bowl and add a good few grinds of black pepper.  Rub the butter into the flour until you get a breadcrumb-like consistency.

Add the strawberries and mix thoroughly.  Next add the milk and stir around with a wooden spoon or spatula until all the milk is combined and the mixture comes together to forma dough.

Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead lightly.  Flatten out to 2cm | 3/4 inch thick and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or cup like I did.

Place the scones onto a prepared baking tray and brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Best served with jam and clotted cream.  I don't like jam so I just served mine with Bonne Maman mixed berry preserve. :)

So back to the challenge... I'll be totally honest, my head was suffering from hangover hell that not even an everything bagel and veggie cream cheese with bacon could fix, so my mind was super not into the challenge. Would much rather have been vegging out on the sofa with PC and the puppies watching The Killing.  Not one to be defeated I ploughed on through to make the scones.  This was a new recipe for me and it's always tricky knowing whether it'll work out or not.  Luckily for me they actually turned out really well.  The roasted strawberries alone would be an amazing topping for cake or ice cream.

In preparation for the challenge I went out on Saturday to a few thrift stores to gather up some props for the shoot.  I picked up a few plates, teacups and fabrics for super cheap, some of which originally came from the UK so that was fun!

Throughout June, I did a couple of practice photo shoots for some brunch recipes | Pancakes and Courgette and Gorgonzola Frittata.  It was definitely good to have a go with the camera prior to this shoot and get a feel for the lighting and angles.  One of the main conditions of the challenge is to not touch up any of the photographs, so getting the lighting right is the key.  For me, I found that natural daylight gives me the best results for my photographs and I'm lucky that our apartment has double height windows and roof lights.  I'm not saying that I got the lighting spot-on at all but certainly for this shoot I felt it turned out well.

Our aim was to show a maximum of 5 images and even though I took around 400 photographs there really was only about 10 images out of them that I would have wanted to use.  I think the more I do this the pickier I get which can only be a good thing.  One thing this challenge is doing is making me appreciate the talent of all the many photographers out there. This really is a tough thing to do especially when you don't really know what you are doing :)  I'd love to take a photography course to gain a better understanding of the science behind it.  But for now I'll continue to do the challenge to help try to build my skills.

Next month, Table Setting.  I'm making a pact with myself not to leave it until the day before when I'll most likely be hungover again. :)

All comments on the photographs are welcome and please check out Redesigned by M and At the Corner of Happy and Harried posts too.

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