Create: Pressed flowers

Create: Pressed flowers

Pressed flowers are a Simple cost effective project. They make beautiful affordable art for your home which can be changes as you wish to reflect the seasons. All that's really required is a little patience...

I gathered this bouquet in my Mum's garden a few weeks ago, Mum tells me she doesn't grow flowers but I have evidence to suggest otherwise. I've also collected further bouquets on Aylestone Meadows and along the canal path which is easily accessible instant green for a city dweller and a rather lovely way to spend a slice of the weekend, if i'm in need of escaping my kitchen!

You will need:

  • Freshly picked flowers, herbs and/or grasses
  • scissors
  • greaseproof paper
  • heavy hardback books, cookery books work particularly well here

Trim sheets of greaseproof paper to the size of your book, place the flowers onto a sheet of paper, allow plenty of space between the flowers, being careful not to overlap, else they'll stick together. Top with a further sheet of greaseproof paper and close the book.

Store in a bookshelf, preferably out of reach from marauding cats, Truffle destroyed a few stalks she found poking out of a book.

Leave the flowers for 10-14 days to dry completely. You'll see some variations on colour and texture from the drying process, this is part of their charm I think. 

Glass photo frames are available from Nkuku (Though i've actually borrowed the one on the right from Kayleigh Tarrant!) For Leicester locals Harriman and Co have a selection also.

As always, we'd love to hear from you if you have any tips and tricks for pressed flowers or affordable artwork, give us a shout in the comments!


Flashback: June

Flashback: June

It's just a little over a year since we began The Weekend Collective, but we've actually been blogging together for around 5 years!

So.... here's a little look at how the sunny month of June shaped up over the last few years...

LAST YEAR...

TWO YEARS AGO...

THREE YEARS AGO...

FOUR YEARS AGO...

FIVE YEARS AGO...


Weekend Review: One Man & His Loaf

Weekend Review: One Man & His Loaf

We LOVE our bread - not the processed long-life stuff, but the real deal.  Baker David Belcham, aka One Man and His Loaf, is Becca's regular supplier - providing a weekly hit of his delicious sesame seed sourdough. So who is the man behind the loaf?

What do you do for work?

I work as an artisan baker under the name 'One Man and His Loaf'. I use traditional techniques and locally milled organic flour to create and sculpt rustic loaves including  sourdough and Scandinavian style rye breads. These are available at The Tiny Bakery in Clarendon Park, Leicester.

What's your proudest career moment so far?

It's not one distinct moment, more the culmination of a number of years of work. I feel a sense of achievement to have learnt a skill from scratch, taking something I was passionate about and turning it into a career. When I see customers return time after time to buy my loaves I feel a sense of pride. This makes the job worthwhile.

What did I want to be growing up?

Just content and fulfilled by my work. I didn't have a clue what that would entail and that worried me. I did however have a clear sense that Monday to Friday, 9-5 was not for me. So I tried a variety of jobs to find something that I was suited to. Once I found that niche, I was motivated to follow that path. I will follow it until that changes. 

What's your favourite way to relax and unwind after work?

Plants are another of my passions and I love gardening and being outside. Alongside baking I have studied horticulture and garden design at Brooksby College (in Melton Mowbray) which has provided me with a really good understanding of plants. I have been inspired by planting designers such as Piet Oudolf and Dan Pearson. 
I also value time to exercise. It renews me in many ways. I enjoy running and I have also just started attending a yoga class.

When is your weekend?

"Monday, Tuesday is my weekend..." 
Saturday is the busiest day at the bakery so luckily I have no problem working on Saturdays... I enjoy the buzz. 
However I also do private work at a handful of local gardens maintaining planting designs I have implemented over the last few years so I often work on those gardens during my days off from baking.

What's a typical weekend look like?

I enjoy looking for bargains in charity shops and catching up with friends for coffee. I enjoy trips to garden centres, country walks or meeting up with my family who all live in Leicester. 
Due to the early starts that baking involves I often crash out by 9pm. Not rock and roll but just reality. 

Ideal weekend break?

I enjoy breaks that are a combination of city and countryside. 
I enjoy trips to Bath, Cambridge, York, places with plenty to see and do without being overly hectic. Often trips away will involve a visit to a garden or two. 

Describe your ideal Sunday  menu...

Breakfast - In bed. Cereals, milk, very strong coffee. Simple. Boring even. That's what I like. 
Lunch - Sitting in the garden, sun shining, floriferous plants doing their thing. Avocado on seeded rye, a liberal sprinkle of sea salt and chilli flakes. Simple, again, but effective. 
Evening meal - Peter's Pizzeria with my whole family. My nieces and nephews love the place. Delicious and darn effective for all. I don't go enough now I come to think of it. The Strokes playing in the background would be a nice little bonus. One day... someday. 

What's your signature dish?

A green risotto. When I bother, I do it the laborious/ traditional way, stirring, ladling stock, all that. I include peas, griddled courgettes and asparagus. I enjoy it served with a big bowl of crispy salad leaves, little gem works a treat as you can use them as a spoon to scoop up the risotto. Crusty loaves of wheat sourdough also make an appearance. 
I also make a pretty tasty Panzanella. It's a great way to use up any stale bread. It's the fresh basil that does it, it's got to be loads. 

What's in your fridge?

Apples. Cold and crisp. Yogurts. A day without yogs isn't on my agenda. Avocado. I am late, very late, to the avo party but I'm hooked. 
Salad leaves. Cherry tomatoes. I like them cold, sorry. Humous. Milk.  Jam. Bonne mamam raspberry. Innocent juice- orange, carrot, ginger thing, darn zingy.
Chicken or salmon... or both!  Stewed Apple.  Dark chocolate. Maybe with hazelnuts. 

Quick fire questions - what is your favourite...

Book - Watership Down... Book and film merge for me, but I adore the visuals in both
Film - Lars and the Real Girl
TV series - Animals of Farthing Wood. Watched as a child, but has had a profound effect on me. Much like Watership Down, it tells us a great deal about humanity. 
Holiday destination - Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour
Museum - I don't really have one, but I enjoyed Cresswell Crags. If you asked me a favourite garden, then you would have a very long list. I have learnt more from gardens than museums so far in my life. 
Word - Contentment

What's your guilty pleasure?

I get carried way with eating cereals straight from the box and handful after handful or raisins. But I'm most guilty, most ashamed by my current ritual of snapping the dark, thin chocolate off the top of Choco Leibniz biscuits, eating that and then putting the biscuit back.
I shouldn't keep doing it but I am not ready to stop...

Where can we follow you?

Twitter:  @OneMan_HisLoaf
Facebook: One Man and His Loaf
Instagram: one_man_and_ his_loaf

Recipe: Homemade Nut Butter

Recipe: Homemade Nut Butter

I know I'm late to the party here, but in recent months nut butters have become something of a staple in our house. Not only do they make a good quick snack with an apple they are great for adding to satay sauces and soups, liberally spreading on toast for breakfast and I also use them extensively in my baking.

I know that there are some amazing brands of nut butters available (and some less so, I'm looking at you Nutella!) So why bother to make your own I hear you ask?

Well, nut butters are in fact incredibly easy and quick to make in the comfort of your own home, provided you have a food processor or equivalent bit of kit, there are just one or two ingredients in the recipe and you can use any nut or seed and create any flavour you like. It would be rude not to list the virtuous qualities qualities of homemade nut butters also... vegan, gluten free and filled with healthy natural oils, proteins and nutrients.

Here follows a few of my basic recipes which are still in progress. I have many more ideas I'd like to try out, but wanted to bookmark the bare bones recipe for future reference.

For those on a budget, I recommend buying nuts from Lidl as they provide the best quality and value for money. If you're Leicester based you can also try The International Supermarket. When sourcing your nuts look for blanched ones rather than skin on nuts - taking the skins of isn't impossible, it's just a real bore!

Each recipe will make one jar of nut butter.

basic nut butter

Ingredients...

  • 300g nuts- blanched hazelnuts, almonds, cashew, brazil... any nuts will work
  • a good pinch of salt

Method...

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C/Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread over the nuts in a single layer. Roast the nuts for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Place the Nuts into the bowl of a food processor, along with a good pinch of salt. Blitz the nuts until they form crumbs, scrape down the sides of the bowl and blitz again until the nuts have completely broken down to form a smooth creamy paste. This can take around 5 minutes, depending on the power of your food processor.

Transfer the Nut Butter to a clean, sterilised jam jar and store for up to two weeks.

peanut butter

Ingredients...

  • 300g  dry roasted peanuts

Method...

1 ingredient, that's it! No need to roast these nuts either as that's already been done for you. Just blitz them down following the above method ↑

homemade "Nutella"

Ingredients...

  • 150g blanched hazelnuts 
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • A good pinch of salt

Method...

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C/Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread over the nuts in a single layer. Roast the nuts for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and place over a pan of simmering water to melt.

Place the nuts into the bowl of a food processor, along with a good pinch of salt. Blitz the nuts until they form crumbs, scrape down the sides of the bowl and blitz again until the nuts have completely broken down to form a smooth creamy paste. Add in the melted chocolate and blitz for a further 30 seconds until well combined.

Transfer the nut butter to a clean, sterilised jam jar and store for up to two weeks.

MORE IDEAS & tips

More ideas to try...

  • There's huge scope for creativity here, use a mixture of nuts to create different flavours
  • Try adding almonds or peanuts to your 'Nutella'
  • For a sweeter butter add a little maple syrup or honey in the final stages of blitzing
  • Vanilla is a lovely addition to 'Nutella' also
  • For a nut free option try using seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or a mixture of all three
  • For a savoury butter try adding spices and dry herbs. One idea I'm dying to try is dukkah butter!!

A few further thoughts...

  • Much depends on the power of your food processor, I've just acquired a new one (hence the nut butter excitement!) It's so powerful I don't even need to melt the chocolate for my "Nutella", I just whack it straight in and the mixer breaks it down. However my previous bit of kit could barely make breadcrumbs, let alone nut butter! So for cautionary reason's I've included the melting-the-chocolate step in the recipe above. With a less powerful mixer you can expect a crunchier butter, which is all the better in my book!
  • Different nuts create different results, for example peanuts and almonds deliver a more viscose butter than brazil nuts, which have a higher natural oil content. Equally, adding a sweetener such as honey or maple syrup will thicken a nut butter.
  • As always, do give us a shout if you try this recipe or if you have any brilliant ideas for nut butter flavours!

Looking forward: June

Looking forward: June

How have we reached June already?! Here's a few things we are looking forward to this month...

ELLE

BECCA

  • Watching the stage version of one of my favourite films, The Graduate at Curve
  • Seeing some beautiful blooms at RHS Chatsworth with my mum and her best friend
  • Attending my friends' son's 5th birthday party (super hero themed!)
  • Tending to our increasingly green garden...
  • And adoring our beautiful new cat!

Weekend Review: Nat Hudson

Weekend Review: Nat Hudson

 IndieTracks, a DIY pop music festival takes place every year on a Heritage railway site in Derbyshire. Though Becca has attended many times before, Elle has never been so we've decided to go together this year and are really looking forward to it! We spoke to  Nat Hudson to gain some insight into the life of a festival organiser and find out a little more about what we can expect this year...

What do you do for work?

I work in communications and project management in the NHS, which involves working with hospitals and patients across north London to provide the best possible quality of service and improve ways of doing things for patients. I really enjoy working with both patients and clinicians, and really admire everyone who works in the health sector. 

What's your proudest career moment so far?

My first job was working as a regional newspaper reporter, and it was a great feeling to have my first article printed knowing that thousands of people would be reading it that afternoon. I still have a copy somewhere in my flat! 

What's your favourite way to relax and unwind after a busy day?

I've a six month old son, Luke, so we relax together by reading 'Goodnight Moon' and 'Dear Zoo' and listening to music. And then after he's asleep, I've been watching the second series of Master of None on Netflix which is fantastic. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a journalist ever since I was small, and followed that path for several years after university. I still really enjoy writing and I'm so lucky to be able to be working on spreading the word about our music festival. 

What are your favourite pastimes outside of work?

I play the violin in an orchestra, and we've played shows with some great artists including Darren Hayman, Haiku Salut and Ralegh Long, as well as releasing our own album. I also really enjoy helping to organise the Indietracks festival, and when I'm not doing those things I really like reading, films and catching up with friends. 

When is your weekend? 

Before I started maternity leave, I worked Monday to Friday, so my weekend would start on Friday evening and run until Sunday night. My husband Andy follows the same pattern, which is nice, and I'm sure those days will still feel like the weekend when I return to work part-time in the autumn. 

How do you tend to spend the Indietracks festival weekend?

It's usually incredibly busy, but a lot of fun! I'm often on the gates meeting artists, arranging press interviews or selling t-shirts in the merchandise tent! However, I also try and make sure I see my favourite bands as well, and hang out with my friends. The Sunday often feels a bit more relaxed, especially once we know all the bands have arrived. The venue is a beautiful steam railway in the countryside, but it's a bit off the beaten track and it's a relief when all the bands follow the directions carefully and find the entrance okay! This year will be very different as I'll be bringing Luke, so I'll be mainly spending the weekend in our new indoor children's area, helping to organise activities in there.

Your ideal weekend break... 

Holidays are very different now that I have a baby, so my ideal break would be a nice cottage in a seaside town that's easy to get to, with some nice cafes, galleries, shops, a beach and ideally some music going on somewhere. I've always loved festivals, so somewhere to watch some bands in the daytime with a couple of drinks and some nice food, but with an easy walk back home afterwards! 

Your ideal Sunday menu... 

Breakfast: Ideally brought to me in bed by someone else!
Lunch: My local pub does a fantastic Sunday roast, so I'd probably head there with my husband and Luke
Dinner: I'd love to be sitting out in a lovely Italian square as the sun sets with friends and family

Do you have a signature dish you like to cook?

Looking after a small baby means I don't have much time or energy to cook at the moment, but I do like quick and easy comfort food - so fish pie and apple crumble are probably two of my favourite things to make!

What's the normal soundtrack to your weekend?

At the moment it's BBC6 Music, the Indietracks 2017 Spotify playlist, the latest Wave Pictures album and baby lullabies.

QUICK FIRE - without too much thought, name your absolute favourite...

Book: 1984
TV series: The Wire
Band: Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
Music festival (other than Indietracks!): Green Man
Museum: I don't really have one, but I went to the Museum of Brands recently and really enjoyed it!

What can we expect from Indietracks 2017?

We're a friendly festival that celebrates creative and independent pop music, and we're based at a steam railway in Derbyshire. So visitors can ride the steam trains, and watch bands playing across four different stages. We're so excited with this year's line-up, which has some internationally-known names like The Wedding Present, Cate Le Bon and Frankie Cosmos, alongside some of the most exciting new artists around, including Martha, Joanna Gruesome, The Tuts, Peaness and Shopping. We'll also have art and craft workshops, discos, real ale, fine foods, a family area for babies and toddlers and late night karaoke. 

How can people follow what you do and get in contact?

We're on all the usual social media places, and have a website as below: 
www.indietracks.co.uk
twitter.com/indietracksfest
facebook.com/indietracks
Instagram.com/indietracks