Monday, 21 January 2013

Challenge #18: Sarah vs Food

Please don't get the wrong impression about this post, it's not a 'Man vs Food' inspired excessive eating challenge, but my attempt to make something new in the kitchen. I'm not a big foodie, but I do have a sweet tooth and when I stumbled across an amazing cassette tape shaped cookie cutter it seemed the perfect excuse to spend a whopping £10 - gulp - on something I don't need but must have.

Peanut Butter Biscuits

225g margarine (plus extra for greasing)
225g smooth peanut butter
200g brown sugar
200g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
275g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)

I had planned to add some melted chocolate to them, but couldn't be arsed in the end.

The recipe also mentions 2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt, but I didn't have either of these so I just left them out.

mixing bowl
baking tray
wooden spoon shaped like a drum stick
guitar shaped spatula
awesome cassette tape cookie cutter

Additional Extras
'On the Impossible Past' by The Menzingers for singing along to.

1. Mix margarine and peanut butter together until smooth, then add the sugars.

2. Beat eggs and add to the mix along with the flour. It helps to keep the mix smooth if you do this a little at a time.

3. Make into a massive ball and put in the fridge for half an hour to chill, which leaves just enough time to make a bookend out of a 12" record (how to blog post coming soon).

4. Grease your baking tray with some margarine and pre-heat your oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4. 

5. Pull off some of the mix to roll out. Dust your surface and rolling pin with flour first to stop them sticking to the mix. Cut out some biscuits with your awesome cutter - they may stick a little even with the dusting flour, so this is where you spatula comes in handy - and put them on the tray, but not too close because they expand while cooking. I forgot so my biscuits all stuck together, but it's fine I got away with it.

6. According to the recipe you only need to bake them for 10 minutes. I don't know whether it's because my biscuits were massive or too thick, but mine took 30 minutes to bake, which is something you probably need to know if you've only allowed yourself one hour's baking time and it turns into three.

7. Once they've eventually cooked - they should be golden brown and not too squidgy to touch - take them out, allow to cool slightly and place them on a wire cooling rack (or if you don't have one a chopping board will do).

8. Stand back and admired your handy work until they're cool enough to scoff four in one go.

Tips for not destroying your kitchen
It is essential to know where your biscuit mix is at all times, something I learned the hard way. Apparently it's really easy when rolling out the mixture to accidently drop some on the floor and not realise at all until you've stuck it to the bottom of your slipper boots and managed to walk it around most of your house. Only then will you realise, once it's all been deposited and all that remains is a greasy mess on the soles, after skidding across the tiled kitchen floor at a dangerous speed.

Verdict: I took them to work, everyone had some and no-one died, so I think it's a win.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Challenge #17: Sarah vs The Sewing Project

I love butchering things with a sewing machine. I find it quite theraputic and like the feeling of satisfaction when I manage to make something wearable. I have a stack of old clothes piled up that are waiting to start a new life, so my idea behind this challenge was to start doing something with them. Originally I'd planned to transform some old trousers into a skirt, which I have wanted to try for a while, but then there was that pile of old band t-shirts that really deserved a better life than the one they were living in the bottom of the wardrobe...

I think band t-shirts are precious things that really need to be shown off, so turning them into cushion covers means they can be admired and loved as much as being worn. Plus, they look fucking ace and fit perfectly with the CD and record mountains dominating my front room.

Here's my guide to the band t-shirt cushion cover...

1. Take one lovely t-shirt that no longer fits.

2. Measure the width of your cushion. Mine was about 17", so I measured a square around the print to ensure it was kept central on the cushion cover.

3. Turn t-shirt inside out and pin the 17" by 17" square around the pattern. You can machine around it from here, but I'm a nervous sewer when I have an important bit of cloth in my hand so I like to put a rough safety stitch by hand around it first.

4. Cut off the arms to get them out of the way. To be honest you could probably cut around your square now to get rid of the excess material, but I always leave that til afterwards in case I balls it up.

5. Sew three sides, leaving the bottom open. Chop the excess material off. (Check out my amazing leopard print sock in the bottom left corner. I know. Amazing.)

6. Fold the bottom flap inwards and sew. Turn the t-shirt over and repeat on the opposite side - I do the same on both sides just to get rid of the extra material. These will create a flap like on a pillow to keep your cushion in. Originally I'd planned to give them button fastenings, but that was going to be way too much hard work though. I did manage to teach myself how to sew button holes using a YouTube tutorial, so I've learnt something extra that may come in handy one day.

7. Ta-da!

8. Repeat until your sofa looks awesome. Here's my collection so far...

Verdict: Major win for my sofa.