WI.RED February Meeting – We Love To Get Crafty!

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It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago I was sitting down to write the WI.RED January blog post, and here I am, onto Febrauary already! For those of you who have recently started reading this blog, I’m part of my local Women’s Institute. You can see our Facebook page here or email hellowired@yahoo.co.uk for more information. I write a post about our meetings every month.

So, onto February!

At our WI we have a cake rota where 3-4 people every meeting make or bring something for us to sell with the teas and coffees. This month was my turn, and after a bit of deliberating (Argh! What do you take to the WI?!) I made some chocolate cupcakes with Nutella buttercream icing (recipe coming soon). We also had some Lady Grey Tea Cookies, Gingernut Tiffin and Shortbread. Yuuummmmmm.

We had a full house with lots of our members attending, plus a few guests. Back in October, we ran a competition to use a paper plate to make the most creative item. One of our members, Tia, made the most amazing flower brooch. This month she very kindly agreed to show us all how to do it. I chose a baby pink paper plate and decorated it with a grey and white polka dot ribbon… I have to confess Tia did help me quite a bit as I’m not the most patient or creative person! The ladies all got crafty and we had some very impressive efforts – see the pictures below.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to make the brooches.

— Take your paper plate and cut the rim off – this is the bit you’ll be using. You want one end to be thicker than the other, so start about 3cm in and gradually reduce it to around 1cm. For smaller flowers, use half the paper plate only.

— Start to make incisions vertically along the rim. At the 3cm end, make these about 2cm apart and 2cm down. As the rim gets thinner, make more and more incisions, until near the end they are abut 1/2cm apart. Now for the fiddly bit. Using scissors or a craft knife, shape each part into rounded ends, to make the petals – see the pictures if you’re unsure. Do this to every part of the rim.

— Wrap the plate around your fingers a few times to loosen the paper and make it more malleable.

— Take each petal and roll it outwards (so if the colour is facing you, roll it away from you), to make them more petal-like. If you don’t do this, the petals will stick upright and it won’t look right. You’ll see what I mean once you start doing it. Keep playing with them until they’re all rolled nicely.

— Starting from the smallest end, roll inwards so that the colour is on the inside. Roll the whole thing in on itself until it looks like a flower. I found that it looked best when I rolled it really tightly, then let go slightly so it loosened a little. Using a glue gun, glue the end flap onto the flower to secure it.

— That’s your flower done. You’re now free to use your imagination decorating it to make it look lovely!

I don’t think mine was great to be honest, but I’m not the best at things like this!

I can’t wait for next month’s meeting – a talk on Permaculture. For those of you who don’t know, Permaculture is a way of gardening with the minimum of effort – planting things which work well together and so on. I’m not at all green fingered, but am always interested in learning about new things so I I’m very much looking forward to it!

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Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes – A WI Special

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Everyone loves a good cupcake, don’t they? Yup. What do people love more than cupcakes?

Chocolate cupcakes.

Add Nutella to that, and, well, that’s probably my dream cupcake.

I made these cupcakes for the WI.RED February meeting (I wrote about our meeting on Thursday). Every month we serve hot drinks and cakes at our meetings, and I’m not ashamed to admit that this is one of my favourite parts of the evening – I love to see what people have made! And of course, I love to taste them! Yum.

This month, it was my turn to contribute. I wanted to make something delicious (well, you can’t take just any old cake along to the WI can you?!). But, as I’m sure is the case for most of you, I also have a day job, and so didn’t have that much time between getting home from work and going back out again to the meeting.

I needed something quick and easy but scrummy. No-one wants their cakes to be left on the table at the end of the night do they?! I wanted to make something people just couldn’t say “no” to.

This recipe is a bit of a fail-safe of mine. The cupcake recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery – you can visit their website here.

Literally EVERY recipe I’ve ever used from them has turned out amazingly well, and this one is no exception.

I made my own Nutella buttercream to go on top, and voila! Delicious, professional looking cupcakes (well I think so anyway!).

Put it this way, they all disappeared and there weren’t any complaints!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

80g unsalted butter, softened

280g caster sugar

200g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

240ml milk

2 large eggs

For the buttercream

200g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar

3-4 heaped tbsp Nutella

A drop of milk

 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. This recipe should make around 16 cupcakes.

— Measure out the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl and mix until it’s combined. It will look quite dry, like breadcrumbs. I used my KitchenAid which made the whole process easy peasy.

— Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and whisk. Then add these to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until everything is all mixed in nicely.

— Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

— To make the buttercream, beat the butter until its creamy, then add the icing sugar and Nutella and stir until combined. Again, I like to do this in the KitchenAid (make sure you cover the bowl with a towel or you’ll get icing sugar EVERYWHERE – I’ve learnt this from experience! Test the consistency – add a drop of milk if it’s a bit dry, or more icing sugar if it’s a bit wet. I like it very Nutella-y so I may have snuck in a few more spoonfuls… But have a taste. Add more if you like.

— Then, apply the buttercream to the cupcakes however you like! I used a piping nozzle, but you could just put it on with a knife and smooth it around.

There we have it! Apologies for the lack of photos but I was a bit pushed for time and forgot!

 

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Let’s Stay Together – WI. RED January Meeting

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I approached this month’s WI. RED meeting with interest. The plan was to have motivational and inspirational speech from Denise Neale Gordon, a relationship coach, followed by an input from One Billion Rising, a worldwide charity working together to end violence against women and girls.

Although I’m getting married this year and am very happy in my relationship, I thought that hearing from an expert couldn’t do any harm! Denise started off telling us her story, about how her marriage almost broke down years ago, and what she did to repair and improve it.

Her core message was: Learn about what your partner needs, and provide it!

I think a few people may have found this to possibly be a little traditional, and all about just pleasing the man, but I think I understood what Denise was trying to say. Essentially, we should treat people in the way we would like to be treated; with respect, fairness and compromise. Find out what your partner wants, and try to provide it for them. By doing something nice, maybe they will be happier and in turn do something nice for you, whether that be just making more of an effort, hoovering the house or telling you that you look nice! The message I got was that it’s all a circle. In a way, like karma. Send something good out and good will return.

Something else which stuck in my head was a comment another member made. She said that we think about the ways in which WE would like to be shown love, and then act in these ways, or do these things for our partners, trying to show them that we love them. But the way in which WE want to be loved may be different to how our partners may want to be treated. So, for example, if he took me out for a nice meal as a surprise and treated me, I would love that and it would be one way for him to show me that he loves me. But he’s not that bothered about going for meals, and maybe he would prefer for me to cook him a nice meal; that would mean more to him and show him that I love him.

So, in essence, don’t just ASSUME you know what your partner wants, ASK them!

We also had some ladies from Bristol Rise, the Bristol branch of One Billion Rising, who are a world-wide charity, working together to end violence towards women and girls. They talked to us for a while about their work and fundraising and told us about a march which will be taking place in Bristol on 14th February 2013, where there will be an organised dance/flash mob to raise awareness for the cause. You can find out more about them

We had some lovely treats on the tea and cake stall, including stollen bites and the perfect Lemon Drizzle Cake, both made by two of our committee members, and a fabulous Cappuccino Cake, which was made by Ceri Dunning, one of our members. She couldn’t make the meeting itself but trekked out in the dark and the rain to give us her cake! What a fab lady.

As of next month, we will have a new temporary WI President, Nikki Buglass, as Louise will be off, hopefully having had her baby!

Next month’s meeting will have a paper craft theme, where we will be learning to make flowers out of paper plates. I’ve seen these before and can’t wait to give them a go – think Pinterest, weddings, shabby chic!

If you’d like to know more about our WI or how to join, you can look at the Facebook page or email us at hellowired@yahoo.co.uk.

Until next month, ladies!

x

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Recipe – Gingerbread Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

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I hope you’ve had a great Christmas! I’ve been spoilt rotten with some lovely presents, a lot of which were kitchen-related. They included a gorgeous baby pink polka dot rolling pin, a glass cake stand, a new pallet knife, a couple of cook books, a cupcake stand and a KitchenAid Pasta Maker attachment – yay! I’ve had a few weeks of eating like a piggy, so now I’m trying to rein it in a little bit (although I can’t be completely good until after the new year as we have lots planned!).

This recipe doesn’t help in my quest for healthiness – it produces one of the yummiest, most flavoursome cakes I’ve made.

I promised you this a couple of weeks ago, and here it is. This is one of the best ever cupcake recipes, and they were my contribution to our December WI Christmas Feast Meeting. They went down a treat and I was so pleased to see them all disappear quickly!

I can’t take credit for this concoction, I saw this recipe on one of my favourite blogs and knew I’d have to try it. Check out the site at www.sallysbakingaddiction.com – there are some really great ideas on there for baking!

Sally originally made these cupcakes with a sweet cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t fancy that so made some white chocolate icing to top them with – for me it was the perfect pairing. I’ve got to warn you – halfway through this recipe it begins to look a bit wrong and curdled. I have to admit, I was VERY concerned. But embrace it, go with it, and it’ll turn out perfect, I promise.

You HAVE to make these cupcakes – they will make your life. Thanks to Sally for a great recipe!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes
115g unsalted softened butter
100g dark brown sugar
1 large egg
120ml milk
150g black treacle
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice

For the frosting
110g unsalted softened butter
250g icing sugar, sifted
150g white chocolate, melted

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and fill a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

— In your bowl or KitchenAid, cream together the butter and brown sugar on a medium speed. Beat in the egg, then mix in the milk, treacle and vanilla. This is the point at which the mixture will look scary and you’ll be tempted to throw it in the bin! Don’t. Have faith. It’ll all be ok!

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— Add in the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until just combined. Fill your cupcake cases to about 2/3 full, then bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean. Take the cakes out of the tin and place on a rack to cool completely.

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— For the frosting, use your stand mixer or electric whisk to beat together the butter and half of the icing sugar. Once it’s incorporated, add in the rest of the sugar. Remember to cover the bowl with tea towel to avoid a snow storm! Pour in the melted chocolate and leave the machine on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and creamy. Add a little milk if it’s too dry and a little more sugar if it’s too runny.

— Ice your cupcakes with a pallette knife or a nozzle and piping bag. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy! Yum!

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WI.RED December Meeting – A Christmas Feast

20131221-120412.jpgWednesday 18th December was the night of our WI.RED (Women’s Institute Redfield) Christmas meeting.

In the November meeting, we picked a slip out of a box which told us what to bring to December’s meeting – something sweet, savoury or sparkling (booze!), the idea being that everyone bring something along and we all dig in.

I had been looking forward to the meeting all month… The thought of having so much selection of yummy food had me all excited and I think I talked about little else in the approaching week.

The evening started off with everyone depositing their goods, and as I was helping out with serving drinks I was able to survey the offerings. There was a fantastic looking spinach and goats cheese frittata which I knew would disappear quickly so I cheekily squirreled away a small piece for myself for later! My contribution was a box of Gingerbread Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting (recipe coming soon!). I was glad to see they were snapped up quickly!

Everyone helped themselves to the food and sat down. The tables were covered with festive wrapping paper and had a cute little candy cane for each person – well done Louise!

As a WI we need to choose a local charity to support and had narrowed it down to One25, Integrate Bristol, Frenchay After Burns Unit and Bristol Drugs Project. Representatives from each charity had been invited to come and speak, but only One25 and Integrate Bristol were able to make it. Each told us a bit about their worthy causes, then members could cast their votes on who they would choose. The winner will be announced in the New Year!

A few plates of food later (oops!), we were joined by Rose Hopkins, a local singer. She ran a vocal coaching session, making us pull all sorts of funny faces and producing weird noises, before coaxing a few tunes out of us. Having had a few glasses of bubbly, everyone was feeling merry. We even sang our first ever rendition of Jerusalem! For more information about Rose, click here.

Next month’s meeting is on 15th Jan where I expect we will all be detoxing… I may have to partake in a slice of cake from the tea stand though!! Merry Christmas WI ladies!

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WI.RED – The WI With A Difference

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In my Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake post a few days ago I mentioned that I’m a member of my local Women’s Institue (WI) and today I wanted to talk to you a bit about our group. I’ll be writing a post about each meeting we have in the future and sharing a few photos with you.

My Nan has been a member of the WI for as long as I can remember (long before I was born) and I’ve always fancied joining. WIs have had a bit of a reputation for years now, and whenever I mention to my friends or family about the WI I’m generally met with a sneer or a joke. I did a bit of research into my local groups but they all seemed to have an average age in the 60’s – as a 27 year old I wanted to find a group who had interests similar to my own and who were closer to my age. I also live on the other side of the city to my friends, and thought joining a WI would be the perfect opportunity to meet more friends in my local area.

I heard through the WI that there was a new group being formed in Redfield, Bristol and that this may be a better fit for me as it was being aimed more towards people in my age group.

I registered my interest and soon got an email inviting me to the first ever meeting. The group had been named “WI. RED” – a great play on words for the Women’s Institute, Redfield. Immediately I was interested – the name straight away tells you that this group is different.

I arrived at the launch party, not knowing a single person and feeling very nervous! Luckily, everybody seemed to be in the same boat and I soon got chatting to some girls who were just as nervous as I was. There was a table of cake and tea for sale (as there is every time, and I can’t get through a meeting without sampling what the other girls have baked!), so I grabbed a slice and a cuppa and sat down to listen to what the committee had planned for the next 15 months.

After seeing the calender of events I was sold, and as soon as I was able to I parted with my cash. At £34.70 for 15 months (1 meeting per month), I think it’s a bargain! It works out at less than the price of a glass of wine each month.

The Official Formation Meeting in October was an introduction to the group and a pub quiz (our team won, yay!). At this meeting the committee told us they needed more members to help organise, so I put myself forward.

November’s meeting was a Bath Bomb Evening. Gemma from Ellie’s Delights, a company which make homemade bath bombs and body butters, came along to show us how to make our own bath bombs, then we all had a chance to try it ourselves.

Each table of ladies had a different scent for their bath bomb, and halfway through the night the scents were swapped so that everyone could have two scents each. We all went home with three bath bombs each to use at home. At a cost of £2.30 per meeting it was great to have something to take away!

You can take a closer look at Ellies Delights on her Facebook page here.

This month’s meeting is “A Christmas Feast”. At the November meeting we all picked a slip out of a box to which told us what we would take to the December meeting – something sweet, savoury, or sparkling (booze!). I chose sweet and am currently deciding what to make – any suggestions? Something made with my KitchenAid obviously!

All of our meetings are BYO alcohol so I can’t wait to dress up, and sample all of the lovely food and drink people bring with them.

Look out for my next post about the Christmas meeting in a couple of weeks’ time, and if you’re interested in finding out more about your local WI check out the WI website.

Here are a few snaps from the November meeting!

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