Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Food week - Wednesday: Home-made yogurt

No more need to buy natural yogurt from the supermarket once you try this recipe. All you need is one litre milk and two tablespoons of natural yogurt to start with. Use low fat milk with low fat yogurt and normal milk with normal yogurt.
Heat up the milk until it starts to form bubbles. Then fill the milk into a plastic bowl and let it cool down to 45 degrees (if you don't have a thermometer just test with your index finger, if you can keep it in the milk for more than 20 seconds it's OK). Now mix a bit of milk and the starter yogurt in a smaller bowl and blend very well. Add the mixture to the rest of the milk. That's your yogurt mixture. All you need to do now is to keep it warm. I use a thermo bottle for that purpose (make sure that the opening is big enough so that you can get the yogurt out later on). But you can also use a thick towel and put it around the covered bowl. Leave the mixture in the warmth over night so that the yogurt cultures can do their job.
In the morning you can check the texture. It should be creamy and thick. Then it's ready for eating. Store the rest in the fridge. You can now use the new yogurt as starter for the next batch. So in the end you will get a very pure product, mainly consisting of milk and yogurt bacterias, no colourings, no artifical flavours or preservatives.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food week - Tuesday: Mango sherbet

One thing I really got to love in Asia are mangoes. Whether it's black sticky rice with mango, mango lassie or mango sherbet I love them all.
And mango sherbet is quite easy to make and once stored in your freezer it can be served whenever you need a cool impressive dessert. And the bonus is, it's fatfree.

3 mangoes
1/4 cup of creamy honey

Peel and cut the mangoes into pieces. Then use your blender to make a nice puree. Add the honey and blend everything together. The honey makes the whole thing really nice and creamy. Freeze the mixture for about two hours and then blend it again. This will avoid larger ice crystals. Then freeze again for at least two more hours.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Food week - Monday: Cantuccini cookies

This week is dedicated to food. I will cook and bake all my most loved dishes. Monday starts with the famous Italian cantuccini cookies. Which is absolutely gorgeous stuff and quick and easy to make.


3 eggs
150 g sugar
vanilla flavoured essence (or the real stuff)
250 g plain flour
1.5 Tsp baking soda
120 g whole almonds

Beat the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla essence. Then add the baking soda to the flour and mix it under the eggs. In the end add the almonds. If the dough is too creamy add a bit more flour.
Then form two rolls out of the dough and place them on a baking tray with baking paper. Bake them for 30 minutes at 160 degrees in a preheated oven.
Take the rolls out of the oven and let them cool down. Then cut them into 1 cm thick slices. Put the slices on the baking tray again and bake them again for 5-10 minutes from each side.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter projects - 7. Easter paper bunny

This little fellow was made from a sheet of paper in the same way as the cootie catcher. Just glue the upper and bottom part together. Then cut two nice bunny ears from another piece of paper. Use pink paper for the inner ears, nose, cheeks and the tongue and glue them onto the bunny. For the last bit of decoration, namely the eyes and the moustache, use a black felt pen. It's quick and easy and your toddler might enjoy helping with this project as well.
Here is the link to the cootie catcher folding instructions again:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter projects - 6. Cootie catcher

This is a cootie catcher. You can play little fun games with it or just use it as a nice Easter deco. The folding instructions can be found under this link:

The eggs were dyed with beet root juice but it doesn't work very well. Those eggs were left in the hot juice (with half a cup of vinegar added) for nearly 2 hours and still the result is very uneven. But if you like the marble effect you can try it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter projects - 5. Easter garland

This garland was made from origami paper. If you can't find it you can also use any other nice patterned paper. Just cut out some Easter shapes like eggs, rabbits and hens and then sew all the pieces together so they will make a nice garland.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter projects - 4. Quail egg deco

I finally found a bunny figurine. I had been looking for one for a long time. So now my quail eggs are in good company and the whole bunch turns into a lovely Easter decoration!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter projects - 3. Lamb cutlets

Lamb is a tradinational Easter meat. And lamb cutlets are just perfect as they don't need a lot of time for preparing and cooking. Just rub the lamb cutlets with some olive oil and then season them with salt, pepper, chopped garlic and fresh rosemary branches. Sear them in a preheated pan for about 2-4 min from each side (depends on whether you prefer it to be more rare or rather well done). Allow them to rest for another minute or two and then serve with mash and green peas or a nice green salad.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easter Projects - 2. Breakfast Rolls

The second Easter project is for the Easter Brunch. These self baked breakfast rolls in shape of rabbits and hens will make for a lovely deco as well.

Basic dough:
500 g plain white flour
250 g whole wheat flour (or plain white if you don't like whole wheat)
3 Tbsp dried yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 Tsp salt
300 ml handwarm water

Mix the plain white flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Then stirr in the water. This will give a very liquid dough. Knead  the dough until it's smooth. Then add the rest of the flour gradually and always knead in between each step. Add as much flour until the dough is still moist but doesn't stick to your hands anylonger.

Now you can divide the dough and add different flavours e.g. walnuts, dried fruits (raisins, blueberries, cranberries etc.) or olives if you like.
Shape the dough into little rabbits, hens, pretzels, bagels etc. and place on a tray covered with baking paper. Place a clean damp kitchen towel over the pieces and let it prove for at least one hour. You can also leave it to prove over night. Make sure that it doubles in size. Then bake the pieces at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes. Larger pieces will need more time (for a loaf around 40-50 min). The bread is cooked if it sounds hollow when tapping it's bottom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easter Deco - 1. Feltbunnies

This week is all about Easter projects. With two weeks left to go your Easter decoration will be smoothly ready in time if you start now. The first project are these cute Easter bunnies made from felt. Take the last image for the pattern (enlarge to at least A5 size) and cut it four times from felt. Then cut a little heart from a different coloured felt square. Sew two pieces together along the straight line. Unfold and stitch the heart onto it. Then sew the other two pieces together in the same way. To finish off put both new pieces together and stitch around the edges. Leave a little gap at the bottom so you can shove a little branch (or chop stick) into it. You could also sew a small piece of ribbon or thread onto the top so that it can be hung.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A day on the beach

It's good to live in Hong Kong because while Europe is still in the snow we already have summer like temperatures. Yesterday we spontaneously got on a ferry and set off for one of the islands. The beaches in Hong Kong are not as gorgeous as the Maledives or Thailand but still there are a few really nice ones. Like Cheung Cha beach on Lantau island. And once you get there you are already in holiday mood. To make your day perfect there is a nice restaurant directly on the beach. What else do you need...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crocheted baby booties

These were my first baby booties ever! And they were ready in no time. For the 'how to' have a look here:
I varied the pattern slightly though to make it a bit more simple. After all they were my first baby booties...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bibs and cookie cutters

This is another quick and easy DIY project for the nursery. I had a couple of pure white bibs that desperately were in need of some beautification. When I came across the animal shape cookie cutters I thought that would be a good match. So I used the cookie cutters to draw a snail and a squirrel on the bibs with fabric markers (I found those in a toys shop). I love the minimalist look and the bold colours!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring is in the house

Spring has come to my home with this gorgeous shopping tote from H&M. The pastel colours are making me happy whenever I grab the bag making grocery shopping a little more fun. And you will love the price too! It's also a lovely gift for a little flower girl...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birthday treats

Today's my hubby's birthday. And he loves muffins! So I made a muffin parade instead of the usual birthday cake. And on top he received a very special birthday card - a little deer in the forest made of a cookie jar from IKEA, some green and black gum candies and of course the little fellow itself. Well, hubby had a big smile on his face this morning...

Orange Muffins (makes 6):
75 g Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of salt
1 Egg
40 g Butter
40 g Sugar
30 g Sour cream
30 g Chopped almonds
2 Oranges, peeled and chopped into medium size pieces
6 Paper muffin cups

Mix the flour with the baking soda and the salt. Stirr the egg with the butter. Add the sugar and the sour cream. Now stirr in the flour mixture. It should give a nice pasty dough. To finish off mix in the oranges and the almonds and fill the dough into the paper baking cups (put the cups into a muffin tin or six small baking tins first). Bake for 20 min at 180 degress until golden brown.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Butterfly candle light

It's time for a little spring decoration. I found these cute silver butterflies at Spotlight. But any other craft supply shop should have similar objects. I used a bit of silver wire to turn the butterflies into a garland. Add some left over baubles and a nice candle holder. Voila. Greens and pastels are nice for spring. You could also combine it with some moss or flowers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Felted garland

Today's project is one for the nursery again. A garland made from little felt balls. For this project you need a felting needle, some red and white wool for felting, a nice ribbon and white and red cotton.
Take the white wool and form little balls. Use the felting needle to condense and shape the wool balls. They should be quite dense in the end. I have also made a fly agaric by using some red wool on top of one of the white balls.
Usually I put my prefelted objects in the washing machine at 40 degrees in order to make them denser and more durable. Afterwards you can embroider the balls and add crocheted ribbons so you can hang them from the garland.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Felt trivet

Another quick and easy DIY project. This felt trivet is ready in less than 30 min. All you need is some felt and your sewing machine. Cut out three circles in different sizes and sew them together. Then draw a little heart in the middle and stitch it with the sewing machine. Done! Makes for a fabulous give-away too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quick food

Need some inspiration for some quick bites? How about some salad, cheese and nuts? Or the grilled pineapple with ice cream for dessert? Figs grilled with bacon or Parma ham and topped with Parmegiano cheese are very delicious and served within ten minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Winter into spring (with transfer birds)

A few weeks ago I found these lovely stickers which can be used on tableware and other objects. So now spring has come into my cupboard. And whenever I hold one of those fantastic tea cups in my hand I can almost hear the little birds... chiep chiep...
The stickers are from the Dutch company Jansen&Co:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Message in a bottle

I love collecting empty jam jars but other than using them for kitchen storage I hadn't done much with them. These TAZO tea bottles can be purchased at Starbucks. The brambleberry tea is especially nice (hope Starbucks will give me a discount now). I always felt so sorry when I had to dump them into the bin afterwards. So usually they come home with me. And then they sit in the cupboard occupying precious space. But these two have a new job now. They are showcasing my beach finds in form of a nice little still life. You could also turn them into a photo gallery by placing a photo of your loved once inside.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Little friends - Owl cushion

I am a little owl and I watch over little baby while she is sleeping...

For this little cushion you need white cotton fabric, red fabric paint, a plastic sleeve, white and red thread and a cheap cushion (IKEA) for the filling.
1) Wash and iron the fabric.
2) Paint the owl onto the plastic sleeve.
3) Cover the painting with the fabric and press it firmly onto it. This will copy the pattern over onto the fabric.
4) Cut the fabric but leave 1 cm around the edges for sewing. Cut a second piece from the unpainted fabric.
5) Stitch the painting with the red thread. Use different stitches for different areas.
6) Change to white thread.
7) Put the two pieces together (back side out) and stitch along the edges. Leave a short gap open at the bottom.
8) Cut the edges again and then turn the inside out.
9) Fill the owl cushion with the filling from the cheap cushion.
10) Close the little hole at the bottom.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Little red deer

I love deers! So I just cut one from cute fabric and sew it onto a simple bag I got as a present once.
Here is the pattern that I used:
Copy the pattern onto A4 paper and print it. Then you can cut it and use it as template for the deer. Cut the deer from fabric once. And then simply use your zig-zag stitch (use a short stitch distance) and sew the deer onto whatever you want to beautify. Make sure you sew along the very edge of the pattern.

Monday, March 8, 2010

French Macarons

Yesterday I spent an hour or two in the kitchen trying to make French macarons. But the result was not as good as expected. I guess I have to practise a little bit more...
I used the following recipe:
But for the filling I simply took chocolate breakfast spread. And I didn't use cocoa powder for the dough but a liquid strawberry flavour. But that made the dough quite fluid and I couldn't form nice circles. They tended to run out and get quite flat. So next time I need to add either more almonds or a little bit of starch to make the dough stronger.
But the taste was still quite nice so not a total waste in the end and even Mr. Lebovitz had to do it a few times before they turned out right...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Origami Birds Garland

This is a little project for a rainy day. You need to fold nine origami birds (or even more). And then make three separate garlands with three birds each. It will turn out nicer if you vary the distance between the birds for each garland. Use simple thread or nylon for the garlands.

Here is the instruction how to make an origami bird:

Finish off by hanging all three garlands together.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hong Kong is crazy about dolls

Hong Kong people are crazy about dolls! Look what they installed in one of the main pedestrian walkways. And they are not intended to make kids happy. You will see loads of grown ups taking pics in front of them. Well, this time I joined in.
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