• Archive for February, 2013

    A delicious slice of cake…

    by  • 28/02/2013 • Country food • 1 Comment

    Parsnip, Cinnamon and Bran Cake with Orange Frosting

    At this time of year pearled spelt is my go-to grain in risottos, casseroles, stews and homemade bread. Its lovely grainy taste and satisfying texture makes it an indispensable ingredient in my larder. I’m a big fan of Sharpham Park, which has an unrivalled range of organic spelt produce. But what I didn’t realise until just recently is that spelt works in sweet recipes too. If you don’t believe me, just try this…

    175g Sharpham Park organic white spelt flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp bicarbonate soda
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground ginger
    ½ tsp mixed spice
    50g ground almonds
    150g light muscovado sugar
    75g Sharpham Park bran flakes, finely crushed
    225g grated parsnips
    Rind of 1 orange, grated
    30g raisins
    3 free range eggs
    150ml vegetable oil/rapeseed oil
    2-3 tbsp milk

    To make the frosting:
    100g cream cheese
    100g icing sugar
    Rind of 1 orange, grated and 1 tbsp orange juice

    1 Preheat oven to 180/350/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm deep round cake tin or springform tin and line the base with baking parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice into a mixing bowl then stir in the almonds, sugar, bran flakes, grated parsnips, orange rind and raisins. Mix well.

    2 Beat together the eggs, oil and milk and mix together with the dry ingredients. If the mixture is too stiff add more milk – it should be a soft dropping consistency. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until just firm to touch. If the cake appears to be browning too quickly turn the oven down and cover with a little greaseproof paper. When cooked, turn out and cool on a wire rack.

    3 For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and orange rind and juice, and when the cake has cooled, spread the frosting over the top and serve.

    Recipe: Rachel Green (rachelgreen.co.uk). Great British Spelt Recipes will be launched on April 1 at greatbritishspeltrecipes.com to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. There are recipes from Heston Blumenthal, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Fabulous Baker Brothers, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mark Hix, Rachel Green and Sophie Dahl.

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    Make your own slip covers

    by  • 27/02/2013 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Stripes are a staple of country style and always look fabulous. We love this stripe-themed dining room from our French ticking feature in our out-soon April issue, and especially the wonderfully simple slip covers on the chairs with their mixed and matched patterns and shades. Slip covers are a great way to add a new look without the expense of buying new furniture! Why not have a go at making them yourself? No matter what shape or design your chairs, the instructions are easy to adapt. Go on, have a go!

    Use striped fabrics in complementary designs and shades for a tailored feel in the dining room.

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try. And for more country crafts, recipes and room ideas, why not buy our new Country Home Ideas app?

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    Country home office

    by  • 26/02/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Even if you don’t  live in the countryside, you can surround yourself with country style as this beautiful home office shows. The epitome of elegance, it’s sure to inspire you.

    Here, a large Swedish-inspired desk provides plenty of space for working and has a handy drawer for storing a laptop or stationery. Positioned in front of the window, it’s in the ideal place to make the most of the natural light.  Make sure you’re sitting comfortably by teaming with a linen slip covered chair with a skirt detail.

    Oversized floral motif wallpaper emphasises the country theme  and, teamed with toning striped blinds, makes a statement. A neutral rug from Nina Campbell, inspired by a striking motif from Islamic architecture, pulls together the different elements in the scheme and evokes calmness.

    Jalousie rug, prices start at £2,250 for a 5 square metre size, Nina Campbell

    Jalousie rug, prices start at £2,250 for a 5 square metre size, Nina Campbell

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    The Winter garden at Bodnant

    by  • 25/02/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    I am desperate for Spring and all its joyful colour, but having visited the new Winter garden at Bodnant in North Wales last week even I had to admit that there is still beauty to be found even on the coldest of days. Recently planted with over 10,000 new plants that come alive in the darkest days of the year, this new section of Bodnant has recently opened and is well worth a visit. This little Iris was my favourite…

    Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ at the National Trust Garden Bodnant

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    Sunday morning make…crochet for charity

    by  • 24/02/2013 • Country craft • 6 Comments

    Due to popular demand, and to coincide with the recent launch of our Crochet Club, we’d love to share this lovely photograph showing more gorgeous ‘Granny Squares’. You can make these using our exclusive pattern and ‘How to crochet’ guide, provided by wool yarn and crochet expert Rowan.

    We are also delighted to announce that the charity we are crocheting and donating for is Mencap, the UK’s leading charity working with people with a learning disability, and their families and carers.

    If you’d like to help, please crochet and donate your Granny Squares and send them to us at Country Homes & Interiors, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU.

    Crochet Squares, featuring Granny Square patterns by Rowan for Country Homes & Interiors Crochet Club

    Crochet Squares, featuring Granny Square patterns by Rowan for Country Homes & Interiors Crochet Club

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    Country business: Emma Cowlam

    by  • 23/02/2013 • Country business, Country craft, Country style • 0 Comments

    To celebrate the launch of our Country Business of the Year 2013 competition for the fourth year running, we are touching base with some of the winners and runners-up from previous years…

    Emma Cowlam, who’s from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, was shortlisted in the first year of the competition in 2010 for her unique stitched illustrated designs…

    Emma Cowlam was shortlisted on 2010

    What did being shortlisted for the competition mean to you? Becoming a shortlisted candidate for the Country Home & Interiors competition gave me the confidence to commit to freelance illustration full time. At the time of my entry in 2010 I had been graduated from the Textile Design course at Chelsea School of Art for one year and was completing a series of internships and short spells of freelance work in various areas of the creative industry and alongside working on my illustration portfolio. These design placements have since proved to be invaluable giving me an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the workings of the creative world: the design process, product development, costs and budgets, marketing and PR and press.  There is a lot more to creative employment other than simply design (the nicest part!).

    How have you developed the brand? Hugely!  I have literally built it up from scratch achieving a lot over the past two years.  I now illustrate for many, many different projects including private commissions, galleries, international art fairs, magazine and products. In September 2011 my collection of 60 hand-stitched original illustrations was a complete sell out success at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In February 2012 I launched a collection at Liberty and in September of last year I launched my current at Somerset House, London.

    In January 2012 I co-founded the Illustrated Paper Company with by business partner Deborah Ross Mckay.  Together we produce premium paper and stationery products showcasing the work of a selected number of talented printmakers, painters, photographer and illustrators.  My own illustrated range for IPC is stocked at many independent stores throughout the UK and Eire including the Mary Portas concessions at House of Fraser which was as a result of my successful ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch to her team.  Recently we delivered our first order of 3 of the artists we represent to Paperchase – a very proud achievement for IPC within the first year of trading.

    What’s your long-term goal? It has always been my ultimate aim to design and produce illustrated products for home, fashion and lifestyle markets. Eventually I would like a shop selling beautifully illustrated products both of my own designs and those of others.  The careers of Emma Bridgewater, Cath Kidston and Lisa Stickley are those to which I aspire.

    Emma’s designs have recently been translated onto ceramics

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    Statement Homewares by Karin Akesson

    by  • 22/02/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Using feel-good graphics to decorate our interiors is a trend that continues to go from strength to strength. I recently discovered the work of Karin Akesson, a Swedish born illustrator who produces fantastic on-trend home accessories featuring memorable phrases and happy sentiments.

    Karin’s designs emphasise the sunnier side to life, from fun artwork that cheers up walls to comfy cushions featuring pick-me-up quotes.

    I love the canvas tote bag that has 10 fun excuses for shopping, I confess to being a repeat offender for using all of them – it’s as if it was made especially for me!

    Which design is your favourite?

    'Laughter is the best medicine' print, £20; 'YOU look amazing' print, £20; 'A reason to SMILE' print, £20; Compliment card, £13 set of 4, all Karin Akesson.

    ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ print, £20; ‘YOU look amazing’ print, £20; ‘A reason to SMILE’ print, £20; Compliment card, £13 set of 4, all Karin Akesson.

    1. 'Home Sweet Home' print, £25; 2. 'Love to Shop' canvas tote bag, £15; 3. 'I Adore You' cushion, £37; 4. 'Choose a Job You Love' print, £25, all Karin Akesson.

    1. ‘Home Sweet Home’ print, £25; 2. ‘Love to Shop’ canvas tote bag, £15; 3. ‘I Adore You’ cushion, £37; 4. ‘Choose a Job You Love’ print, £25, all Karin Akesson.

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    Perfectly sweet little pie pops

    by  • 21/02/2013 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Caramel Marshmallow Pie Pops: yum

    Here at Country Homes we love the ‘mini pop’ trend for bite size cakes, sweet pies and desserts. These cute bird house pie pops are packed with a gooey layer of caramel in the middle, and decorated with chocolate frosting and multi-colored sprinkles. Sounds like the perfect half-term project…

    For the pastry:
    240g plain flour plus extra for dusting
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    300g butter, diced
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons very cold milk
    1 egg, beaten, mixed with 30ml milk for egg wash

    For the pops:
    40 mini marshmallows
    20 pieces of soft caramel or toffee, chilled in the freezer
    50g margarine, melted
    50g unsweetened cocoa powder
    80ml milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    350g icing sugar
    a 7.5-cm/3-inch birdhouse-shaped cookie cutter, or similar
    a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter
    24 cake pop sticks

    Makes 20

    1 To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and mix on high for 10 seconds, or until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Beat the egg and milk and add to the flour and butter mixture. Pulse in the food processor for 20–30 seconds, until the pastry just starts to come together. It should be sticking together, not crumbly. Divide into two balls and wrap with clingfilm/plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    2 Transfer the pastry to a floured work surface and roll out to a 3mm thickness. Stamp out 40 shapes using the cookie cutter or do them freehand if preferred. Stamp out a small heart shape in 20 of them and put back in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

    3 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Take the pastry shapes from the fridge, coat with egg wash and lay on a baking sheet 2.5 cm apart. Put a cake pop stick in the middle of the shapes without the stamped out heart. Put 2 marshmallows and 1 piece of caramel on top of each pop stick, leaving a border of about 1.5 cm. Top each with one of the remaining pastry shapes and press gently to seal the edges of the pies. Brush all the pies with egg wash. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

    4 To make the chocolate frosting, beat the margarine and cocoa together in a large bowl until combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Beat in the icing sugar until the desired consistency is achieved. Add more milk or icing sugar as needed. Paint chocolate frosting around the heart-shaped hole in the middle of each pie pop and finish with sugar sprinkles. Let the frosting set before serving.

    *This recipe is taken from Pie Pops by Carol Hilker (Ryland Peters & Small, £9.99,available from www.rylandpeters.com)

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    Spring’s new colours.

    by  • 20/02/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    There’s nothing quite like seeing an old colour with a fresh eye. Perhaps the colour has been out of fashion for a while and then when we see it anew we fall in love with it all over again! In our colour trend special, (p73-83 march issue– out now!) we take a look at a gorgeous array of new spring shades from the cool blue, grey hues found on our British waterways; to the reappearance of a spicy, retro palette of cinnamon and ochre; the softest rose quartz tones, which are so soothing in a bedroom; charcoal greys teamed with indigo and as seen here, botanical brights. Take a look at the March issue for decorating inspiration using the latest country colours inspired by nature.

    We love these saturated tomato reds and lush greens, seen here, and think it quite a brave colour scheme. The effect is well worth it and is a fresh take on the classic country house look.

    Curtain and stool fabric, Strawberry Buttermilk, Sanderson. Chair, Sofa Workshop. Small footstool, The Dormy House

    Curtain and stool fabric, Strawberry Buttermilk, Sanderson. Chair, Sofa Workshop. Small footstool, The Dormy House

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    Bold country kitchen diner

    by  • 19/02/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Mixing old and new is a look that we love here at Country Homes & Interiors and this country kitchen demonstrates beautifully how to do it. A period room with its high ceilings and cornicing can be given a modern look with walls papered with dramatic rich toned stripes (horizontal stripes help a room feel wider) and a country element added with toning naive bird motifs on the blind fabric (both the wallpaper and fabric are from Scion).

    Introducing wallpaper and fabric are great ways to add pops of colour  to a white kitchen, and rich shades sit particularly well with antique furniture  such as a farmhouse table and vintage mismatched chairs. Team with wooden floorboards to emphasise the country feel and add a dramatic pendant light over the dining table for the perfect finishing touch.

    Wallpaper, Adisa 110475, £32 a roll; blind, Passaro 120205, £26 a metre; cushion, Aloha 120209, £26 a metre, all from the Wabi Sabi collection by Scion, coming very soon

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