{hello} Nook & Cranny!

Hello all,

A little update for you today on my presence at the wonderful Nook & Cranny, right in the heart of lovely Liverpool. I've been working with the fabulous people of Nook & Cranny for a good few months now and I must say they are a rather lovely lot!

Nook & Cranny stock a huge variety of lovely products from a whole host of independent British artists. They sell cards, homeware, gifts, stationery, and lots and lots of lovely prints. I can in fact say that lots of my goodies are available from Nook & Cranny, here is a few little snaps of my products in action {photos taken by the wonderful Leigh}.

If you happen to be in Liverpool {the shop is part of the Bluecoat Gallery} you should totes pop in and say hi to the lovely ladies you will find and I challenge you to not be persuaded to part with some precious pennies!
This happy little chappy is one of my creations...I actually made him for myself but Leigh fell in love, so I made a little batch for her to sell - currently exclusively available at Nook & Cranny, but soon to be available from my own little Etsy shop!
Here we have, once again my cheerful chap amongst a lovely big display of all of my hand illustrated ceramics. 
This little dinosaur looks pretty interested in my little notes moleskine journal!
Above are my tiny deer and lion prints also available...all of the items you've seen are also available here should you wish to treat yourself - or a friend perhaps!

I hope you love this wonderful little shop as much as I do!
xo.


p.s. you can follow Nook & Cranny on Twitter @NookandCrannyL1

{and if you don't follow me on Twitter, you can do that too! @ohnorachio}





{hello} Wilderness Festival!


Hello all,

As you most probably know, this weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy a whole three days in the glorious sunshine of Cornbury Park with my lovely boy Jack. 

Wilderness was absolutely amazing! The festival itself was set in woodlands and had THE coolest {freezing cold} swimming lake - which I definitely made the most of. I could write a massive post about how ace everything was - it was all ace - especially the food - well - the ice-cream, rhubarb crumble icecream none the less...I will need to find the recipe! Anyway, a massive long post is not what I'm going to write as for those of you not there it would totally be a massive *yawn* moment..

So, instead I'm sharing some pretty pictures of the weekend for you to enjoy! Cue many wildernessy pretty shots and several potentially vom inducing - but very cute couple shots!


If you get the chance next year - go. 
xo.


{nom} Plenty...

Yesterday was totally lovely wasn't it? I didn't actually get to enjoy much of the sun as I was at work - but it didn't matter, knowing the sun is out is enough to set me up for the day!

This sudden burst of sunshine inspired me to do a little post on the humble vegetable, well the many, many humble vegetables in season right now. 

I've always been a big fan of fruit and veg - I can't get enough of the stuff - but when the boy and I started getting really into Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "River Cottage Veg" it inspired us to also go veggie for the summer. Not because we object to eating meat but because, as Hugh put it, people tend to rely on a slab of meat to flavour a dish. When you take that meat away, you're forced to experiment with flavours and be more adventurous with your veg and your spices!

So as I had this weekend off I took the opportunity to have a flick through our new favourite book and choose a few recipes to throw together for my lovely lad on his return home from work, and here's what I made...

The recipes above are all from Yotam Ottolenghi's book 'Plenty'. Yotam isn't a vegetarian himself, like Hugh {and us} but shares the view that vegetarian dishes need not be dull and uninspirational as they often are.
This is Yotam's book by the way...sweet front cover as well I think!

Anyway, the plate above contains sweet potato cakes {super nom}, wild coconut rice, breakfast radishes and a marinated cucumber and onion salad {heaven literally}. The recipes are all pretty straight forward, but honestly, the flavours were phenomenal, so on that success story we shall be producing many, many more meals from this inspirational book in the weeks to come.

In summary then - getting your 5-a-day can be super easy and incredibly tasty and I would encourage every one of you meat lovers out there to at least try and commit to cutting out some meat and shoe horning in every imaginable kind of vegetable or piece of fruit you can get your hands on this summer because as soon as winter comes - it'll be back to parsnips and potatoes and mark my words, you'll be missing the abundant supply of fresh produce we have available right now!

Apologies for the very wordy blog today...I promise a less wordy offering tomorrow :)

xo.



{happy friday} I spy...

Hello you!

Just a little update and a sneak peek at things to come...look whose ceramics are on display at the lovely Nook & Cranny shop in Liverpool!



Yes that's right, they're my ceramics and moleskines - yay!

The lovely Leigh at Nook & Cranny has curated my bits and bobs amongst the other delights in their shop - I only wish I could pop up and see them in person!

Here's some more delights on offer...




what a lovely little shop eh?

xo.


{happy friday} it's Jubilee cake time!

Who doesn't love a good cake and what better time to get baking than to celebrate Liz's Diamond Jubilee?! Today {I've

literally

 just finished it!} I baked this 3 layered beauty! Isn't it a peach?

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I created my cake recipe using

this

 recipe as a base of reference. I'm not much of a fan of artificial colourings so for the colours I used blackberries for red and blueberries for blue. It makes an otherwise

very

 indulgent cake somewhat healthier and totally gives you one of your five-a-day!

If you'd like to know how to make it, well, read on!

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OH NO Rachio! Jubilee Red, White and Blueberry Cake

Ingredients:

{the cake}

375g Margarine

375g Caster Sugar

375g Self-raising Flour

6 Big Eggs

2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Blue and Red Food Colouring

A Splash of Milk

1 Small Punnet Blueberries

1 Small Punnet Blackberries

{the icing}

300g Caster Sugar

Pinch of Salt

5 Big Eggs Whites

500g Butter (unsalted) - cubed

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1. Preheat the oven to 180C {fan}. Grease the base and line three (if you have them, or one at a time if like me you only have one!) circular cake tins - mine are approx. 19cm.

2. Cream the sugar and the butter together in a bowl until soft and fluffy - there should be no gritty feel of sugar granules. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and add the 2 tsps of vanilla essence. Then fold in the flour a little at a time (if the mixture seems to thick add a splash of milk).

3. Divide the mixture between three bowls as equally as possible and add a punnet of each fruit to two of the bowls, leaving the last one plain - you can add a teaspoon of almond extract if you want to jazz it up a bit! Mix in the fruit and squish it about until the batter has an even colour and there are no chunks of berry left.

4. Pour the three cake mixtures into your three tins (or pour in one and cover the others until needed) and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top {tip}: stick a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked!

5.  Once the cakes are cooked, take out of the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes {this part is really important!}. Then remove from the tin and take off the paper from the bottom..place on a wire rack if you have one and allow to cool

completely.

{the icing}

1. Fill a big bowl (or the sink) with cold water. Pour 100ml of water into a pan and add 250g of the caster sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves then bring the mix to the boil. Use a damp pastry brush or silicon implement to push down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. Boil the mixture on a very high heat without stirring until it reaches 120C - use a kitchen thermometer to test.

2. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until stiff - I use an electric hand whisk, but it is do-able by hand! When the egg whites form stiff little peaks add in the last 50g of the caster sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture seems smooth.

3. As soon as the syrup reaches 120C take the pan and plunge the base of it into cold water to stop the mixture from continuing to heat - just for a few seconds.

4. Pour the syrup into the centre of the egg white mixture slowly with the electric whisk on

full

 speed and continue to whisk for 8-10 minutes {tip}: if the syrup gets to thick to pour, briefly put it back onto the hob to reheat.

{note: this making buttercream is a messy business - I managed to coat the kitchen in it so electric whisk it with some caution - oops.}

5. Gradually whisk in the butter and add the salt and vanilla essence - keep whisking - it might look a little gross or curdled but be persistent, it should soon turn to smooth buttercream!

Finally - take your three cakes and spread with a thin layer of your favourite jam to stick them together. If the cakes are a little wonky, don't worry, just try to patch them together level with buttercream {see below!}. Pop in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes and when done, take from the fridge and begin to slather on and spread evenly the buttercream icing! {I did one layer, then refrigerated it for 10 mins the did another layer}.

et voila...you have an AWESOME Jubilee cake!

xo.

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