On my desk this week – 28 May 2017

I was hoping to be back with a new recipe at the tail end of last week but I’ve been laid low with what might be whooping cough (how Dickensian!!), so I haven’t been cooking at all.

Instead, it’s time for a craft update.  Can’t actually show you what’s on my desk as it’s basically a heap of crap which has nowhere else to go.  Clearing it was one of my tasks for last week but have hardly moved from the sofa.  Instead, I’ll show couple of projects I have on the go at the moment.

First up is this gorgeous baby blanket from A Year of Baby Afghans (Book 4) published by Leisure Arts.  This one is for the month of March and is designed by Mary C Abadir.  It’s the first pattern I’ve done from this book and I’m a little bit in love with it.  In fact, I keep looking at the blanket as it’s so pretty.  Once downside of the book is that a few diagrams would help for reassurance, but saying that, I’ve managed fine without them.  I’m using Drops Baby Merino, which is a 4-ply yarn, in Powder, Light Turquoise, and Light Grey, with a 3.5mm hook.  That yarn is thicker than some 4-plys I’ve used and the colours are gorgeous; I’m especially fond of the Powder which is a slight pink hint to it which, when mixed with other colours, gives a gorgeous soft neutral effect.

Another crochet project I’ve just completed (with the exception of sewing in 2 ends), is this Edlothia shawl by Jasmin Rasanen, available for free on Ravelry, worked in Sheepjes Whirl in Strawberries and Scream, with a 3.5mm hook.  I am very pleased with the finished piece but the pattern was a bit challenging to understand, perhaps owing to some translation issues. On a positive note, it really made me learn how to understand crochet charts!

Finally I’m still toiling away at the necklace I’m doing, incorporating this beautiful Lost Girl bead by Soul Silver.  I have been doing this in fits and starts for about a year and at the stage now where I’d really like to get it finished this week.  The flowers are from a pattern in Spellbound’s Floral Beaded Jewellery by Julie Ashford, and the rope design from Beautiful Beaded Ropes by Jill Wiseman.

I’m also at the finishing stage of a silver and copper bangle, using some form folding, at Silversmithing classes, so will hopefully have it home to show soon.

Thanks for looking.  Hope to see you again soon..and I promise I’ll have a new recipe soon.


Woolly Bully

Just  before Christmas I treated myself to a copy of Vanessa Mooncie’s fantastic book, “Animal Heads – Trophy Heads to Crochet”.  Once I had looked through it, I wanted to make almost everything, but once I put my sensible head on and told myself I was only allowed to do one until I had some other projects finished, I decided on the bull.  It will be perfect in our bedroom, which you may recall from a previous post, will eventually have a Spanish flamenco bar feel to it.

The bull didn’t take too long to do, as he’s mainly done in chunky yarn.  Also, there weren’t too many parts to put together.  I did find my hands got a bit sore making him, especially my “holding” hand.  This is probably not helped by me being a bit hypermobile, as it’s pretty easy to overstretch fingers.

Oodles of Obliciousness - Paco

Before I added the embellishments, I had fun pretending I was Kevin Keegan with his curly hair – luckily no  photos exist. I would  have finished him last week, but I was held back a bit trying to source a wooden ring which was large enough to go in his nose.

Oodles of Obliciousness - Bull Nose


I’n not sure he’ll be to everyone’s taste, but I love him so much, in fact he’s quite possibly my favourite make to date.  At the moment he’s resting on top of one of the sofas, as he’s pretty heavy, so will need to get hold of a masonry drill to put a rawl plug in to support him.  I’d love to hear what you think of him.

OOdles of Obliciousness - Bull (finished)

As yet, he doesn’t have a name, but I’m on the case (…and open to suggestions).

New Year, same old Oblibby

Happy New Year, Oodlers.  Hope 2016 brings you everything you wish for.  I always have mixed feelings at New Year; excitement at the fresh start and all the projects I’m looking forward to undertaking in the next 12 months, mixed with sadness (and a touch of anger) at everything I’ve failed to achieve in the past year.  I know I can’t do everything, but I really, really want to structure my life so I become more productive and use my free time better this year.  We shall see…

When I’m making up my project list for this year* I’m definitely adding a couple of things from these books I got a Christmas.  Both look wonderful and have so many things I’d like to make.  I think I’ll got with the orangutan from Edward’s Menagerie and the bull from Animal Heads as the first one from each book.

Oodles of Obliciousness - Christmas 2015 Crochet Books

*Actually, I think maybe listing the projects I want to do and ticking them off as they’re complete might be the way forward for me.  Ideally I’d only like to have one large and few small projects on the go at any given time, as I’m terrible for starting larger projects and having so many on the go I become overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.  I’ll report back on the list situation and let you know if it’s working or not.

I’m also looking forward to trying out my new cooking and cocktail books.  The Nopi one will be great for dinner parties and special occasions, whilst Spuntino is full of hassle-free food to cook at weekends.  Tequila Mockingbird is full of literary based cocktails, so looking forward to posting some fab booze pics soon.

Oodles of Obliciousness - 2015 Christmas Cookbooks

On the subject of cooking, I’m definitely going to get back to posting regular recipes here.  I’m also going to slightly change the way I cook and start doing more batch cooking for midweek meals, instead of cooking something from scratch every night.  I’m hoping this will free up a bit more time to spend on my crafty projects, as I’d really like to do a fair later in the year.

One of my current makes is taking a little longer than expected.  I’m making a Fair Isle tank top, using a pattern from Debbie Bliss’ Blue Faced Leicester DK book.  I’m using Patons Merino Extra Fine DK in shades Camel (105), Wine (132), Olive (171), Chartreuse (174), Blue Nile (155), Black (199), and Cream (102).  It’s a long time since I’ve knitted anything and had forgotten just how much longer it takes to do than crochet.  I’m really enjoying making it although it has to be said it’d definitely a design which needs my full attention.  Here’s my progress so far.

Oodles of Obliciousness - Tank Top

Thanks for looking.  I would love to see what you’re making or cooking, or even projects you’d like to do at some point in 2016.


Mexican Cottage Pie

Everyone loves a cottage pie, so I thought I’d give it a nice Mexican twist.  The inspiration for the topping came from the wonderful Thomasina Myers, who is a bit of a hero of mine, not least because she won Masterchef.  The Mexican street food in her Wahaca restaurants is so, so good.  The last time we were in London, we went to the original one near Covent Garden for lunch, which was brilliant.  I thoroughly recommend her book Mexican Food Made Simple.  There are also Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home and Chilli Notes books, which are on my wishlist.

A couple of the ingredients listed in this recipe are a bit more difficult to source than the ingredients in my previous recipes, but they’re not essential; where a suitable alternative exists, I’ve also given that (or you can leave them out completely).  You’ll also notice the cooking time is a bit longer, however the meat and bean mixture can be made in advance.  Actually, the pie freezes really well; should you wish to freeze it, I recommend cutting it into individual portion sized pieces, wrapping in cling, then popping in a freezer bag.

Without further ado, I give you Mexican Cottage Pie.

Mexican Pulled Pork Cottage Pie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6-8 20 minutes
Cook Time
120 - 160 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 20 minutes
Cook Time
120 - 160 minutes
Mexican Pulled Pork Cottage Pie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6-8 20 minutes
Cook Time
120 - 160 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 20 minutes
Cook Time
120 - 160 minutes
Pie Filling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 3 bell peppers (sliced)
  • 5 or 6 red chillies (finely chopped or ground to a paste or 1 tsp chilli powder plus more to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic (grated or crushed)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika 1
  • 1 tbsp mole (or square of 80%+ dark chocolate) - optional
  • splash balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried epazote - optional
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 750 grams pork shoulder steaks
  • 500 ml passata
  • 1 or 2 cans red kidney beans (drained)
Pie Topping
  • 3 cans sweetcorn (large cans - drained)
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal (or plain flour - not cornflour)
  • 10 grams butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. If you're using an oven proof pan, preheat your oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium hot heat, add the sliced onions and peppers, salt and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. You want the vegetables to be soft and starting to brown.
  3. Add the grated/crushed garlic, cumin, coriander, epazote, tarragon, smoked paprika, and half the chillies.
  4. Add the pork, then stir well to coat the meat and vegetables with the spice mix. Now, add the passata, vinegar, and mole (or chocolate) and stir again. Taste the sauce and add the rest of the chillis if you wish. Put the lid on your pan.
  5. If using an ovenproof dish, transfer to the oven and cook for 90-120 minutes until meat is tender and falling apart. If you are not using an ovenproof dish, cook for the same amount of time on a gentle heat, stirring every now and again to stop the mixture sticking. Add the beans then transfer the filling to a large ovenproof dish.
  6. Adjust the oven temperature to 175 degrees. Put the topping ingredients into your food processor and blitz into a very course paste.
  7. Spread the topping onto your pie filling and bake for 30-40 minutes or so until the pie topping starts to form a crust.
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