Pot Holders for Afternoon Tea

‘Why can’t I find pot holders any more?” This is what I was asked recently whilst on a short break in Ripon.

The hotel owner saw me crocheting in the lounge and asked me this question, so when I got home I had a look online and found that there are many around but made by, and advertised amongst craft enthusiasts. I could not find any nice ones for sale in high street stores. Always keen to take on a new challenge I scoured my computers pages for some patterns and set to work to produce…….

Trio of Pot Holders

I think that pot holders will really enhance that old fashioned english tradition of taking tea. At the The Old Deanery where we stayed in Ripon tea was wonderfully presented in silver tea pots with a pot of hot water and, yes really, sugar lumps, where do you see those today? We loved it. It was the perfect accompaniment to an hour of crafting (me) and reading (hubby) in the lounge before heading out to see the art exhibition in the Catherdral.

Morning Tea and Crochet

The hotel owner said she has lots more teapots but without the bakerlite handles so they get too hot to hold, hence the quest for pot holders. I added the loop so they could be hooked onto the lid of the teapot to be ready in place when the tea is suitably brewed and ready to pour.

Star Pot Holder on Teapot So here we have a close up of each one, starting with Daisy, this pattern is available free from many sites but I got it from Bobbles&Baubles.com we are told that the pattern originates from a dutch lady but I could not find her to give the credit deserved.

Crochet Daisy Pot Holder

Next is the Flower Petals design, I did find another pattern for this but found that I preferred using the Blooming Flower cushion version from Attic 24. I just did less rounds of course.

Crochet Flower Pot Holder

Then lastly is the Star Flower, this pattern I found here at FreecraftUnlimited.com . I think this is my favourite but then I touch the others and they all feel so nice in the hand I keep changing my mind.

Crochet Star Flower Pot HolderThese are all free patterns so go on give it a whirl, they are really quick to work up however this last one took me a while to get all the twists into position.

The only thing I have not told you is that I used Debbie Bliss Bella, 85% cotton, 10% silk, 5% cashmere so they are rather luxurious. The cotton works well as it has a nice grip to it and where the pot holder pattern twists and folds you get a double thickness for heat protection. Not sure if I should look for some better value cotton yarn, any suggestions?

Chutney and Jam Making Weekend

Chutney and Tomato Chilli JamWell what a busy weekend. I turned this basket of goodies into Mango chutney and Tomato Chilli Jam. Last year hubby made the chutney and misread the 1 teaspoon of cayenne chilli pepper for 1 tablespoon! The resulting chutney was very nice but rather spicy. Anyway lesson learned and I made sure to get the measurements right, threw it all in my lovely new jam pan and let it simmer away.

Mango ChutneyNext I moved onto the chopping of onions and tomatoes for my first batch of Tomato Chilli Jam, it was so easy (apart from all the boring chopping), literally just chop, measure, pop it all in the pan along with red wine vinegar, chillies and brown sugar, give it a stir while bringing the heat to boiling point then turn it down and leave it to simmer down to a lovely jammy texture.

Tomato Chilli Jam

I must admit it did take a lot longer than the recipe suggested. And 1 kilo of tomatoes and 500g of onions boiled down to just 2 jars of jam, but it is definitely worth it as it is delicious.

I also made 2 batches of strawberry jam so our little store cupboard is replenished once more.

Chutney and JamsI also picked the fruit from the fruit bushes, lovely blackcurrants…………….

Blackcurrant's 2013and redcurrant’s……………………

RedcurrantsThe netting over the strawberries had broken so the birds have had a field day and alas no strawberries left for us. I had to rely on bought ones to make the jam so it is no cheaper than buying from the store but it is still nicer to have homemade.

It wasn’t quite all jams and chutneys this weekend though, I did start a new crochet project too. This does feel like I am sort of cheating as I have promised myself I would finish all my WIP’s before starting anything new, I say sort of because it’s to go towards finishing something I have already started. I promise to share this with you later this week but for now I am going to have some bread and jam. See ya all later!

Vegetable Chowder Soup

We have been trying to save money and eat more healthily at work this week so instead of buying sandwiches we have been taking it in turns to make soup. On my day I decided to make a Vegetable Chowder that I have been making for years.

Someone gave me a recipe many moons ago for vegetable chowder and I made it a few times then unfortunately lost the recipe. I have been making my own version from memory for years now so I am not sure how true this is to the original version but we love it.

You will need…..

olive oil

1 large red onion finely chopped

3 Cloves of garlic finely chopped or crushed

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced

1 head of broccoli chopped

1 red pepper deseeded and chopped

1 yellow pepper deseeded and chopped

1 1/2 pints vegetable stock

1 1/2 pints milk

3 tablespoons or flour

1 pack baby corns (you can use tinned if preferred) chopped or drained

5 0z  cheddar cheese grated

good handful of fresh chopped coriander

salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pan and gently fry the onions potatoes and garlic until onions are transparent.

Potato, Garlic and Onion Frying

Add the flour and stir well continue cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes to cook the flour.

Olive Oli Flour Stock and Sweetcorn

Remove from the heat and add the stock and milk a little at a time stirring continuously to slowly let down the flour.

Add the chopped broccoli and peppers…..

Chopped Peppers and Broccoli…..and sweetcorn. I have used both fresh and tinned and either works well so it is just a matter of your preference.

Fresh Sweetcorn Or TinnedAllow to simmer gently until the potatoes and broccoli are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just as you are ready to serve remove from the heat and throw in the fresh coriander and grated cheese mix quickly and serve immediately.

Grated Cheese and Fresh Corriander

This is a really hearty soup suitable as lunch or light supper all you need to add is some nice chunky fresh bread.

Vegetable ChowderHope you enjoy!


Chocolate Orange Brownies with a Kick

Christmas Treats

If like me you don’t like the traditional Christmas cake it’s nice to find something that feels a bit festive to have instead.

Well, while I was browsing the web over the weekend and doing a bit of shopping, a birthday gift for my brother and browsing for Christmas presents, I came across this recipe and just had to try it. So the shopping went out of the window and I baked instead, ooops sorry birthday boy!

They really were deliciously soft and gooey, just how I like them.



Chocolate Orange Brownies, yum, yum!

PS, sorry to admit that the photo is not my brownies, unfortunately they were devoured by the mob that is my family before I could take a picture. Will have to do double the quantity next time!!



Fishy Visit to Corfu Town

Yes I am going to harp on about the holiday stuff again and I am not going to apologise. Well, you have to make the most of the 2 week experience because it will be at least 6 to 8 months before we get the chance again!

I mentioned before about going to Corfu Town for the day to go to the fish market, it was brrrrrrrrriliant.

I wanted to go last time we were there but we never got ourselves motivated in time in the mornings, well when I say ‘we’ I really mean the gorgeous other half! He had a reoccurring morning problem, he was stuck to the bed sheets and by the time I got him free we missed the boat taxi.

The market itself was not actually all that big but the selection of fish….WOW. We bought some tuna (my favourite) one giant slab for only 8 Euros! Like all the other produce on offer it had been caught that day, the slice was huge, there was enough for six people to have a very healthy portion. I think we would have paid more like £25-£30 for the same piece here in the UK.

What I loved so much about the experience was that it was presented as it should be, freshly caught, gutted on site and laid out for purchase. No polystyrene trays, or computer generated printed price tickets and not a piece of plastic covering in sight. Just the fishmongers themselves with their work weary hands, hardened to the familiar work of their trade.

See the Swordfish, they cut off his poor head and displayed it next to the produce for sale. It is hard to convey the actual size but if you look at the till in the background it gives you a sense of scale of this mighty fish. We  had a bit of fun with the vendor miming swashbuckling Zorro style to explain in English!

There was stall after stall with trays brimming with sardines.

Squid and Octopus, which I have to admit are not my cup of tea but when they serve it to you over there it is nothing like the tough chewy stuff you are presented with here, it is as tender as a good fillet steak. It is all about the preparation they told us but I will tell you about that another time if you are interested.

And the prawns looked fantastic, in some supermarkets they would have us believe these are King Prawns at this size but not in Corfu Town Fish Market, these babies were just your average prawn.

We got there at about 10.30 am but my plan next time is to go in the wee small hours of the morning and watch everything, from the fish being brought in and unloaded, the haggling over price the see all the preparation in the market itself.

My only problem is getting the other half there at that time, I think the trick will be to not let him go to bed at all then there can be no ‘sticky bed’ malady!


Holiday Report

Apologies that it’s been a bit quiet on the blog front for the last couple of weeks but I have been on holiday, soooooooo very relaxing and much needed for us both. We stayed in a villa nestled in the hillside between San Stefanos and Kerasia in Cofu, it was fantastic!

We had our own swimming pool, it was one of those infinity pools looking out into an endless expanse of olive grove that rambled right down to the sea.

A fabulous barbecue area overlooking the pool and beyond to the sea.

We have been to this area a few times now and  have found that wherever we have stayed there is always a resident cat but this year we had three gorgeous kittens as well, how sweet is that? We spent a fortune on cat food and the local supermarket sold out 10 days into the holiday, but never mind our little furry friends were quite happy with dog food for the last few days.

Yes there are three kittens there it’s just that the little white one is hiding at the back.

It is such a lovely place and we know many of the locals here now and everyone makes you feel so welcome it is like home from home. San Stefanos is quite small formerly a little fishing village, there are just three bars and five restaurants along the waterfront each with a seating area directly overlooking the beautiful bay and all of which serve fabulous food. The seafood is particularly fantastic as it is all caught locally each day. I love Mussels Saganaki which is very similar to Moules Mariniere but with the local Feta Cheese added as well.

Mmmmmmmmm…….. delicious. Followed by the catch of the day, grilled prawns, look at the size of the little critters and they don’t even call them King Prawns!

Finally my favourite dessert, greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. Sorry about the photo of a partly consumed pudding but you are lucky there is a photo at all!

This wonderful array of goodies was enjoyed al fresco  at our favourite of the five restaurants Taverna Kochili and complimented with a bottle of local wine at a table overlooking the bay with the moonlight reflecting on the water.

There is so much more I would like to share with you but I am afraid it may become tiresome, there is nothing worse than trawling through other folks holiday snaps is there? So I will leave it there for now and tell you about the fish market another time.

Oh, also met a fellow hooker Mrs C and spent a happy morning together with hooks and yarn while she kindly worked out a pattern that has had me baffled for ages, my grateful thanks Mrs C. More on our morning to follow………..