Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches and Salad Cream

The traditional English cucumber tea-sandwiches consist of sliced cucumber on white bread spread with butter, with the crusts cut off and salad cream!!! Salad cream is a separate post in itself, so for now I will just stick with cucumbers. So, what is the difference between an "English" cucumber and the cucumber over in the USA? First off all, there are about 100 varieties of cucumbers cultivated around the world. About a third of them are for pickling. The remainder includes varieties that are best cooked and a number that are more popular in Asia or Europe than here.

There is nothing wrong with the common slicing cucumber you find over here, if you like seeds!!! but the English cucumber in my opinion is so much better: It is usually sold wrapped in plastic, this reduces water loss, and it is usually not waxed and therefore does not need peeling. It goes by the name of an English cucumber or it is also called seedless, which is not completely true, but unlike the cucumbers I find over here the seeds are edible, they are not hard but very soft and are much smaller. The seeds in a cucumber (and especially in an aging cucumber) are what makes it bitter, so a semi-seedless English cucumber is less likely to be bitter It has been bred to be more easily digested than some other varieties (Less burps). However over here is is much more expensive than regular cucumbers.

Now I did have the grand idea of growing some English cucumbers from seed, thinking that the summer is warmer and generally longer than an English summer so this would mean that I maybe would not need to grow them in a greenhouse which is the usual way in England. I have looked everywhere for seeds and if I am correct Telegraph Cucumbers are the ones that I can remember my dad growing in his garden at home, so I think they would be OK to grow here, but alas I just cannot seem to find any English cucumber seeds in the shops around here. There are so many different varieties of cucumbers for sale but not good old English cucumbers. So if anyone reading this knows where I can buy some English Cucumber seeds then please let me know.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coffee filter seeds - into compost..................

Here are the Zinnia seeds I sowed using the coffee filter method. They now need potting on!!!!! Just take a small tooth pick/cocktail stick and gently lift the seedling from the paper, make a small hole in the compost and put the seed in it. That is basically it, just sit back and watch them grow. WARNING this is addictive, to the point that you will end up with far too many plants than you wanted!! so caution try to not sow to many of one type!!!!! I have also planted some other seeds that I started off exactly the same way: nastutium, dianthus, hollhocks, peppers, lupins,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coffee filter Seed Sowing

Take 1 regular coffee filter wet it under the tap, squeeze it slightly so that it is not soaking but just nice and wet.

Lay out the filter and place your seeds in one half of the filter.
Fold the filter in half
and half again
and again
Put in a small plastic bag, seal, label and wait ...........................

Seed Sewing

This year instead of losing loads of plastic cups for starting my seeds in, I decided to try making my own with newspaper. This is what I came up with. Cheap and cheerful!

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Spring is NOT on the way!!!!

Just when I thought spring was on the way, look what mother nature decided. I thought we had seen the last of the snow, but in my heart I knew that it would possibly snow again, I just didn't want to believe it. Oh well, that's what happens when you live in Wisconsin!!!

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Monday, March 21, 2011


Sam’s Bread

So here is my recipe that I have been using for 4 years now. It took me a while to get this right and it was only through experience that I eventually got by bread the way I like it.. So if you don’t get it right the first time then keep trying, just remember you can always add more water if it is too dry and add more flour if it is too wet.
Do not over proof your bread, this can result in bread that loses all the air when it is put in the oven, it will taste good but not as good as if you did it right.
Put the following Ingredients into your bread machine in the order shown:

2 cups hot water (not so hot that you cannot put your hand in it though)
1 table spoon of olive oil or vegetable oil
4 cups BREAD flour
3 teaspoons of bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (granulated or caster sugar is fine)

1. Turn your bread machine onto the dough cycle, my machine is a sunbeam and it takes approx 25 minutes to mix and knead the dough.

After about 10 mins you will see what the consistency of the dough is like at this point if the dough looks too wet add more flour if it is too dry add more water. Your dough should be the consistency of very soft play dough If it is too sticky your loaf can be saved by adding more flour even if the kneading cycle is finished just take it out and add more flour, enough so that you can shape it. If too dry it is best to notice before the cycle finished as it is much harder to add water out of the machine.

2. After 25 mins is up take the dough out of the machine and shape into a loaf, put into a greased pan (I use spray oil) approx size of my pan is 10x13. Open the lid of the bread machine and rest the pan on top, put a tea towel on top of the bread hanging over the sides of the tin.

3. Allow the bread to proof for a total of 1 hour and NO more. It is important that after 1 hour that you can bake your bread straight away so make sure before your hour is up that you already have your oven preheated to the correct temperature.

4. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins, 425F
5. Take the bread out of the oven and out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

If you do try this recipe, please let me know how you got on with it and if you have any questions I would be happy to answer.
I am hoping one day to actually post pictures of the process, but because its something I do every day I just keep forgetting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blog Header

You may of noticed a little change at the top!!! I just managed to make my own blog header. Now I cannot take all the credit for this, I did have some help from the lovely Kristin from My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia. You can find a link to change your own blog header right here. Thank you Kristin for such a fantastic tutorial.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Proofed and ready to go into the oven.
Straight from the oven, I wish you could smell it, it makes my mouth water just thinking about eating it, but I have to wait a couple of hours for it to cool down. Please excuse my bread pan, I do not wash it as I have found that it makes a better loaf if i don't, I just spray it with vegetable oil before baking and after give it a wipe down with a damp cloth, this way the bread does not stick to the pan.
Quick take a picture before it is all gone!!!!!! There is nothing like fresh bread with butter and jam YUM
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Treadle Singer Sewing Machine

Look what I managed to score on craigslist! I am doing a happy dance right now. It was advertised at $40 but I got it for much, much less!!! Can you believe I got it for $25 ????????

When I picked it up it was in much worse condition than this. The actual machine was all seized up and the needle wouldn't even move, some WD40 and a husband got it moving smoothly. We got the dremmel out to polish up the metal parts in certain places, and it started to shine a little bit with a good old clean.

I also applied some Old English Furniture Almond Oil and this has really helped with the cracking veneer. But it still needs a lot of attention and tender loving care.

The bobbin cover is missing so I need to hunt down one of them and as it is a treadle machine I also need to find a belt for it, so if anyone has refurbished one of these cabinets/singer machine I would really appreciate your feedback/tips/tricks.

The cabinet the sewing machine is housed in is another story, the close up shows how the wood is blistering and cracking, it looks much worse in real life.

I first thought about completely removing the veneer from the top and maybe just sanding down the wood underneath and re staining it. But, I asked Katy over at Mom and her Drill for some advice as I had seen that she refurbished a piece of furniture with a similar problem and she offered the following advice:
"put a sheet on the desk and apply a hot iron, it *may* reactivate the glue and make the veneer lay down flat. You would pile something heavy on top til it dries.
If this doesn't work there other methods, involving cutting the bubbles and squirting glue underneath.
I was too lazy for all of that, so I just refinished it how it was and I'm going to try the hot iron trick".

Any suggestions on how to repair, replace the missing pieces of veneer?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Words - Confusing

I did mention in one of my blog posts that I would tell you all about how doing DIY in the US can be confusing when it comes to the names of things, so here are some examples.

We spent ages in Home Depot looking for skirting boards, funnily enough they also come in lots of different types over here, you can get the normal plain wood skirting that you just paint or stain and varnish or there is this stuff that is like compressed chipboard (its probably made out of something completely different but i can't think of another way to describe it right now). It turns out they are called baseboards!

To repair the walls where we ripped out the cabinets in the bathroom we just needed some plain old polyfilla, now this is called something completely different and I never would have guessed in a million years Spackle!!!!! go figure!

Oh, I just remembered, I forgot to mention Taps, or faucets as they are called here.
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