Don’t put a damper on my hamper

One of the guys at work is having a baby. Well, not him obviously, but his wife is. I say obviously, but there was that time when that man had a baby, so you can never be overly sure with these things. Anyway, I digress. I feel like the perfect gift in this situation is always a hamper, it can never not be a hamper. We knew the little one was going to be a girl, so I set about getting a collection going at work to get a few bits to buy them a present. I sent a card around with a ‘collection’ envelope, entitled “Ross is having a baby!”. Someone very helpfully changed my post-it note so it read “Ross’s wife is having a baby!”. Thanks pal, I’m not sure that was necessary, but I’m really glad you did that in your tiny scrawly penmanship. I’m pretty sure everyone knew what was meant, but TY bro. Not.

But whatever, let’s not put a damper on my hamper, because I LOVE choosing presents for people. It’s genuinely one of my fave things to do, and I think I am pretty good at it (most of the time, anyway). I put a fair amount of thought into these things and always try to go for something which they will like and use, rather than it just being your average gift.

So, I always prefer getting lots of little bits and pieces when it comes to a gift, so a hamper is ideal. You can fill it full of cute little bits and bobs, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth if you are on a budget. I had a browse through the likes of Tesco, Boots and Marks and Spencer and here is a list of what I ended up getting:

  • Cotton wool pleat
  • Sterilising tablets
  • Sudocrem
  • Johnsons baby powder
  • Johnsons baby bath
  • Ultra-soft baby wipes
  • 2 bibs
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • Polar bear towel
  • Dress, babygro and tights set
  • Bunny toy



The trick here is to get items of all different sizes and shapes so you can display them nicely in your basket. You need some small items to fill up gaps, some taller items to give you a bit of height and some soft items that you can use to pad out the bottom and drape here and there.

I started by draping the cute little towel over one corner of the basket, and using the rest of the towel to pad out the bottom of the basket so you would be able to see everything once it was all in there. I then spent ages fiddling about trying to display the dress set nicely. I started off by taking the hanger out and draping the outfit over the side, but it looked a bit weird. It looked a bit sad and droopy and I wasn’t a fan of that; it looked like it had given up the ghost. Kind of like when you see someone come out of a bar really drunk and they just “rest for a moment” over someone’s garden wall until 7 in the morning. So, I actually ended up putting the hanger back in and using it to support the dress so it stood up nicely.

After wrestling with the dress for a while, I got it in place and I set about adding the rest of the items in. It was pretty plain sailing from there. I put the cotton wool pleats over the other side to give a bit of height, and then popped in the wipes, the baby powder and the bath stuff. I propped up the sterilising tablets. I propped up the sterilising tablets again. Then I propped them up again, until I lost my patience and quickly shoved in the Sudocrem at the front to support everything.

All I was left with was the bunny, the bibs and the tiny little sockies. I slid the bibs in at the back and arranged the little socks at the front. Lastly was the pink bunny toy. This was harder to position than I had imagined, mainly on account of it being literally the softest toy in the entire world, and wherever I placed it, it just slithered out. I eventually managed to jam its leg behind the bath stuff to anchor it in. I felt a bit sorry for the bunny, but it was being difficult and I feel it deserved what it got in the end.


When we gave it to him, he was so pleased with it. He had such a big smile on his face and I was so happy for that. This is why I like gifts. When you give someone something they weren’t expecting, or something really thoughtful, and they have that look of pure joy on their faces; that’s what gifts are all about. I guess what I am trying to say, is that things don’t have to cost the earth, and it really is the thought that counts.

Bonnie

Advertisements

Pumpkin Pie Recipe – perfect way to use up spare Halloween pumpkin

Okay, so I made this and it is pretty damn tasty. It is the perfect way to use up some of your Halloween pumpkin, because let’s be honest, no one ever knows what to do with that. It’s nice and decadent and it’s a bit different from your usual pie fillings. I really like this, and it makes a killer photo with all your pumpkins scattered around.

Exhibit A

It doesn’t take too long to make, maybe an hour and a half all in. It would have taken me an hour and a half if I hadn’t had a major disaster in the middle of it. I had made my pastry case, and I was just getting it out of the oven having blind baked it to perfection, when my entire brain shut down and I dropped the tin on the floor.

Had it been anyone else, I am sure the tin would have sailed straight down and landed on its base with no harm done. But, obviously, that didn’t happen. The tin came crashing down on its side, making a proper racket and causing the cat to hurtle out the cat flap so fast, he nearly took it off its hinges. The perfectly baked pastry case flung out to the left-hand side and plopped unceremoniously into the cats’ water bowl. WTF. There was no saving the pastry case, so I just let it drown until I could bear to begin the clean-up operation.

This recipe is a bit of a mash up of recipes from here, there and everywhere. Plus as bit of my own, because I can never follow a recipe to the tee and I always add or change something. So, enjoy making your pie. Oh, and don’t drop your pastry.


For the pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g cold butter
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp water

 

For the filling:

  • 500g pumpkin
  • 1 (400g ish) tin condensed milk
  • 175g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

 

You will need:

  • Medium pan
  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Blender
  • 23cm deep tart tin
  • Baking beans
  • Whisk

 

Method:

To make the pastry, cut the butter into cubes and add it to a large bowl with the flour and sugar. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and combine until it forms a smooth ball. If the mixture is still too crumbly, add a tablespoon of water to bring it together. Wrap your pastry in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is in the fridge, you can make your pumpkin puree that you need for the filling. Cut 500g of pumpkin into small chunks and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.

Drain the water from the pumpkin and using a blender or a stick blender, puree the pumpkin until the lumps have gone. Set this aside to cool down.

Get your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin. Place your pastry in the tin and press the pastry into the tin, making sure you press it into the edges. Put the pastry back in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

Heat your oven to 180c. Once your pastry has chilled, line the pastry case with foil and pour in your baking beans. Blind bake your pastry case for 15 to 20 minutes, until the case is golden.

Whilst you are blind baking your pastry, you can make your filling. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, condensed milk, sugar, eggs, spices and salt. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.

Remove your baking beans and foil from the pastry case, and pour in your pumpkin mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is stable and a knife inserted comes out clean.

 

Then enjoy! I left mine to cool most of the way and then cut myself a big old slice and served it with a dollop of crème fraiche. Crème fraiche is a bit more acidic so it goes nicely with the sweetness of the pumpkin and it’s not as luxurious as cream, which I am not a major fan of.  Oh also, it was lactose free crème fraiche, because my body is not a major fan of the whole lactose thing.

Bonnie