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Thoughts from October 2008

win a thing

Small competition...

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I bought two copies by mistake, so someone else can have the spare. Best reason posted before 9am on Monday wins it.

like mum used to make

Sundays are all about baking.

Especially when it's peeing it down outside, you can't be faffed to go to the shops and there's someone you want to impress coming to tea.

Baking

Seeing as it's the perfect time of year for steaming puds and a hearty slice of something tasty to go with your cuppa, each Friday, we'll post a recipe courtesy of the best bakers we know (our mums).

Then all you need to do is pick up the ingredients on your way home and then come Sunday, you'll be all set for baking bliss.

First up is Kat H's mum, Anne, with her infamous recipe for tealoaf.

Its best enjoyed with a generous helping of butter, a big mug of tea and keeps well if you wrap it in greaseproof paper.

Anne

Anne's Tea Loaf

Ingredients:

170ml (1/2 pint) cold tea
300g dried mixed fruit
125g muscovado sugar
300g self raising flour
1 large egg - beaten
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

What you need to do:

1. Pour the cold tea (minus tea-leaves) over the mixed fruit and sugar and leave to soak overnight (or a minimum of 4 hours).

2. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3 (325F/170C)

3. Mix in the beaten egg and add sieved flour and spices. If the mixture seems a bit dry, you can always add orange juice. And if you're feeling fancy, you can also chuck in some apricots (dried or tinned), glace cherries or nuts of your choice to the mixture before cooking.

4. When you're done mixing, spoon the mixture in a greased loaf tin and cook for about 1 hour. You’ll know it’s ready when you pop a skewer into centre of loaf and it comes out clean.

5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then eat sliced by itself or with butter.

So come Sunday, not only will your kitchen smell wonderful but your all important tea guest will think you're a natural domestic god/goddess.

More Sunday baking gems next Friday.

the final countdown

Surely we couldn't reach 500,000 hats. Could we?

It's been all hands on deck this week at fruit towers as we counted our little socks off to see if we could reach our target of half a million hats. Having all hands on deck was pretty useless really. The only decking we have is outside, and all the hats were inside. And there's not much decking anyway, and rather a lot of hands in fruit towers, so it was pretty cramped. It's also been raining these last few days.

But we soon realised the error of our ways and got back inside to continue the count.

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This picture of our expert hat unpacker Jake is for illustrative purposes only. We'd like to asssure you that our unpacking method was far more thorough and exact than this. Which is why, at 6.09pm Grenwich Mean Time yesterday evening, when we totalled up all of our unpacking, we can reveal with absolute accuracy that we cruised beyond our target of half a million hats (we're currently on 501, 423 - and still counting).

Now, if we were American, this would likely be cause for some serious high fives, a few chest bumps and plenty of butt slaps. But we're not American. We're British. And we didn't quite know how to celebrate. So I climbed into a perspex box and got covered in hats. It seemed the sensible thing to do.

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And made me rather happy.

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In fact, we're all rather happy here at fruit towers. 501, 423 hats really is a staggering amount. And we're so, so grateful for your incredible knitting efforts. So, for anyone who has knitted a hat, wherever you may be, please stand up now and take a bow. You've been amazing. And we love you all (or if there's more than one of you, why not try a little chest bump action?).

We'd also like to say that although we often showcase the more creative hats we've received here on our blog, please don't think that we're not just as impressed by all the other hats. We know that each and every one is a labour of love, and we're in awe of them all.

At the end of the day, every single hat we receive means 50p for Age Concern, and that's the main thing.

There's still a few packages to be unpacked here in the office, so we'd best get back to it. Think we'll all be quite sad when there's none left to unpack. It's been like Christmas every day these past few weeks...

And don't forget people, the hats will be on shelf in Sainsbury's stores around the country from 5th November, and they do tend to be snapped up pretty quickly, so get yourself down there pronto to avoid disappointment. And in doing so you'll be helping us raise £250,000 for Age Concern to help keep older people warm this winter.

Again, thank you.

out and about

Bedding plants. Gardening gloves. A sunny afternoon. A trowel. And a flask of hot tea.

Just the perfect components for a spot of bi-annual bedding action.

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Earlier this week, some of the ladies (and Oli) from Fruit Towers popped down to Holland Park to volunteer their green fingers to help plant the thousands of plants and bulbs that need planting now so as to be ready for spring.

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Everyone got stuck in with their trowels though planting in a straight line is apparently not as easy as it looks.

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Despite a few wiggly rows of golden yellows, things looked much neater when they left.

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The team at Holland Park are always keen for a hand with gardening, so if you fancy getting involved, just drop Head Gardener Marcus a line here

hats of the world

Linda (who looks after the innocent foundation) has been busy knitting hats that represent some of the different countries that the foundation supports projects in.

Linda

Here's a little guide to which hat is which

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From the left: A fetching pink and brown Zulu hat, a Guatemalan earflap number and a green striped hat from Ecuador.

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Next up, another Ecuadorian number next to a yellow and green striped headpiece representing Central America and a little brown hat from Lesotho

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Then there's this lovely purple and yellow turban from India, a green, purple and yellow beauty representing East Africa and the yellow conical hat from Vietnam.

And finally, the blue feathered turban from India.

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The feather was stolen from the favourite toy of Linda's cat, Cosmos. Which sort of makes it our favourite.

You can read a bit more about the projects the innocent foundation supports here.

Meanwhile, look out for these hats on a shelf near you in 17 days and counting...