CANADA DAY BUTTER TARTS

by Catherine on July 1, 2014

in Recipes

butter tarts

Happy Canada Day!

Butter tarts for me will forever taste like childhood summers on the dock by Lake Simcoe. Akin to pecan pie (sort of – don’t let any of my people catch me making the comparison) this iconic dessert inspires patriotic devotion among Canadians. They’re sickly sweet and totes not paleo. They are, however, tradition so on this day of flag waving I’m super excited to share my mom’s best ever recipe for the perfect butter tarts.

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Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of ready roll pastry or 24 mini tart shells, defrosted*
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup very soft butter
  • 1/2 cup corn or golden syrup
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • raisins
  • pecans (optional – I don’t include them)

* If you prefer to make your own shortcrust from scratch, my trusted recipe is over here.

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 425ºF or 175ºC

2. If you can find good quality ready made tart shells, by all means use them – this recipe makes 24 mini tarts or 12 large ones. I used defrosted pastry sheets, cutting out circles with my largest round cookie cutter and rolling them out and forming them into the well of my muffin tin.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk all the filling ingredients together until smooth, leaving aside the raisins (and nuts).

4. In the bottom of each tart shell scatter a covering of raisins (approx 5 – 10 per tart, depending on how big you make them). You can also add some chopped pecans, but that’s not the way my mamma makes them.

5. Spoon the running mixture over the raisins, filling each tart shell no more than 2/3 full as they will bubble up in the oven.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve at room temperature with a cup of tea or coffee.

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DAYBORO

by Catherine on June 30, 2014

in The Best of Brisbane

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We cram our weekend into one day – the only day we have together – and try to make it twice as good. We call it #MagicMonday. It’s the best.

That’s how we came to find ourselves in Dayboro. Nestled at the foot of Mt Mee, the sleepy 1.5 streets are self-styled as the ‘town of yesteryear’. There are plenty of cafes (all but one of which is closed on Mondays) and the very Kinfolk workshop collective Smith and Barton.

If we’d been more organized we’d have chosen a walking track in the forest reserve to tackle. Instead we just wound the windows down cruised past honesty boxes, homesteads overlooking fields and valleys, Blueridge lavender farm, and a vineyard too, stopping road side to stroll down a quiet lane and soak in the rural idyll.

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FINDERS KEEPERS

by Catherine on June 17, 2014

in The Best of Brisbane

Finders Keepers Market Autumn Winter 2014 It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Finders Keepers Autumn/Winter 2014 market is almost upon us… Mark your calendars, design loving friends, and I’ll see you there!

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TROVE

by Catherine on June 12, 2014

in The Best of Brisbane

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My new friend Jessy unveiled her Molten Store pop up TROVE this week and I couldn’t resist making a special trip down to visit the treasures she’s collected inside. The shop itself is like a jewel box – a beautiful lux bohemian dream. TROVE opens for a month only and it’ll be gone again before you know it, so be sure to make the pilgrimage while you still can.

Molten Store pop up // 60 James St // Open 11 June –  10 July, 2014.

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THE SPRING X SHOWROOM CRAFTERNOON

by Catherine on June 9, 2014

in Showroom

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On Sunday I organised a bit of an experiment.

Here’s the back story. At Showroom we’re finally in the groove of running workshops every weekend. But if Mother’s Day taught us one thing it’s that on public holidays and special occasions people make other plans; we knew trying to sell tickets to sessions on the Queen’s Birthday would simply be too big an ask for our fledging marketing machine to handle.

Still, we love hosting a room full of people who’re having a great time making things… it’s what we hang out for in the shop all week. So I wondered if I put on a free event – a crafternoon –  and invited everyone following on instagram, Facebook, and our newsletter to pop by and make things with me would anyone come?

At 2pm on Sunday – the appointed start of crafternoon –  the shop was quiet and I’d convinced myself they wouldn’t. Then a pair of girls came in, and another, and another, and before I knew it we had a little group together on the back verandah, soaking in the sun with cups of tea and getting our macrame on.

We all have metrics that we use to determine how well things have (or haven’t) gone. One of the things we’re trying to differently at Showroom is change the way we think about traditional metrics – more than sales per square meter in the shop we’re turned on by the idea of experience per square meter for everyone who comes through the door (including ourselves).

By that reckoning the experiment was a ringing success and I can’t wait to do it again. It was simple but (and) for me completely charming thanks to the bright, funny women who made it rad.

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SLOW COOKED BLACK BEANS

by Catherine on June 5, 2014

in Recipes

slow cooked black beans
Months ago, Mr. Spring won a rice cooker. I can’t quite remember how he managed it, but after one trial use we got over the novelty it ended up perched on to of our fridge, collecting just. What can I say? We’re pasta people.

Then, at the peak of the maddest week when we were just launching Showroom and I wasn’t doing very well carving out the time to cook and feed myself, this bolt of inspiration hit:

A rice cooker is basically a crockpot with less settings. And even though it seems radical, that probably means it could be used to mindlessly prepare lots of things.

Confident I was on to a good thing (but in need of some reassurance) I googled ‘rice cooker recipes’ and began scrolling through the four million, seven hundred and thirty thousand results. It’s tough to be original these days.

So far, slow cooked black beans are the best rice cooker dish I’ve discovered. Anyone who’s ever cared to look knows it’s relatively difficult to find canned black beans in Australia, and anyone who’s ever tried to cook them from scratch knows how difficult it is to keep them from burning to the bottom of the pot. With the rice cooker, though, the process is painless. You just set it and forget it! Then, just about an hour later and having paid no attention to the process at all, you’re ready to start building the perfect tacos, burritos, nachos, huevos rancheros, or vegetarian stew. Brilliant!

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Recipe:

1 cup soaked black beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 – 2 garlic cloves, diced
a pinch of salt to finish

Directions:

Pour enough boiling water into the rice cooker to cover the beans by about 3 inches. Put through one or two cycles in the rice cooker, depending on your machine, until the beans are tender.

Add straight to your favourite dish or decant into a mason jar and store in the fridge.

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MAGIC MONDAY

by Catherine on June 2, 2014

in Personal Posts

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Magic Monday is my new thing.

The adjustment hasn’t been at all difficult. Maybe it’s because I don’t work a steady 9-5. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved any chance at a new leaf. But what I do know for sure is that I’ve never had it in for Monday.

Now it’s the one day Mr. Spring and I have to spend away from computers, manuscripts, shops, studios, and meetings. It’s our day to linger over brunch, swim in the ocean, visit with friends, and walk the dogs together.

Sometimes other commitments push in, but we do out best to keep the best part of the day. It wasn’t until I fell in love with running my own businesses that I realised how easy it could be even for me to fall also into over-work. And it wasn’t until last week when we decided to make Magic Monday sacred that it occurred to us how simple it is to switch it off again.

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TERRARIUM MAKING with WILDE FLORA

by Catherine on May 28, 2014

in Projects, Showroom

showroom terrarium workshop

I’ve shown quite a few terrariums planted with cacti and succulents on The Spring blog over the past year, but getting my hands dirty in Wilde Flora’s terrarium workshop at Showroom took my skills to the next level – I’m talking delicate greens like ferns and moss – and a few weeks on I’m pleased (and slightly stunned) to report that they’re all still alive!

The secret in is the layers – it turns out a proper terrarium starts with small gravel, charcoal, sphagnum moss, soil, then the plants, a top layer of green moss and finishes with the placing of a beautiful crystal to amplify the good vibes. What’s so cool about this method is that it creates a microcosm of the natural world that regulates its own climate and stands up to the elements (even my benign neglect… I’m a chronic under-waterer) better than a pot plant could ever manage. So as far as greening the Spring Cottage goes, Wilde’s terrariums are absolute winner.

If you’d like to make your own there are a few spaces left in Showroom’s next terrarium making workshop led by Caroline this Saturday from 2-4. Tickets are $95 (that’s less than the cost of one fully finished large terrarium, and you can easily make the equivalent in the class). You can bring your own glassware (big or small) or pick something up in the shop. I’ll be on hand helping out with tea and cookies! See you there!

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CRANBERRY FLORENTINES

by Catherine on May 27, 2014

in Recipes

cranberry florentines recipe

Florentines are golden, sweet, and chewy Italian cookies that take absolutely no effort to make (read: no waiting around for butter to soften or creaming anything together…) This particular recipe is perfect right now because it takes great advantage one of the greatest autumnal flavour combinations – orange, almond, and cranberry. The little biscuits it yields look beautiful boxed or served up on a platter with afternoon tea, and most especially at the centre of our workshop table at Showroom to cap off a Sunday Crafternoon.

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Easy Cranberry Florentines Recipe

Ingredients:

butter (75g)
sugar (75g)
2 tbsp honey
plain flour (75g)
dried cranberries (100g)*
flaked almonds (100g)
1 tsp orange/tangerine zest

*Traditional Florentines include glacee cherries but I prefer using dried… mixing 50g of dried cranberries and 50g of dried cherries is delicious in this recipe!

Directions:

1. Preheat an oven to 180°C. and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a small saucepan or pan over simmering water. Stir in the flour to create the florentine batter.

3. Add the cranberries, zest, and flaked almonds into the mix well.

4. Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking trays leaving a small space apart and press lightly with a damp finger or back of the spoon to flatten.

5. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Box up into an air-tight container and share as a gift.

cranberry florentine recipe

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UNLEASH CREATIVE BRISBANE

by Catherine on May 26, 2014

in Projects, The Best of Brisbane

Unleash Creative Brisbane 2014
My love for getting crafty is well documented on this blog. Lately, though, things have been a bit quiet on the making front at The Spring Cottage. Since launching the new shop I haven’t found the time to revel in my usual creative pursuits and I’ve been missing those quiet afternoons spent in the garden studio photographing my projects for you as they come together step by step.

Then – just when I needed it most – an email from Mags at Unleash Creative landed in my inbox inviting me to guest blog at their upcoming Brisbane event. And quicker than you can say “Saturday Showroom shift swap” I was in.

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Held over a whole day, Unleash Creative is a colourful event full to the brim with absorbing new skills in an intimate workshop environment. Each attendee gets to experience four workshops led by awesome and accomplished crafty mentors who’re out to inspire, pass on their skills and give attendees a taste of something they may not have tried before.

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Fuelled by the incredibly beautiful buffets put on by Velvetier, my day of creative taste testing included string making with Alex Falkiner, calligraphy with Louise from Floral Lovely, tissue garland making with Kara from Lulu Lucky, and weaving with Maryann Talia Pau. The mentors all had a real passion for sharing their mediums in an accessible way that helped each member of our group find their own creative groove. So while calligraphy may not be where my natural talent lies (basket weaving’s my craft!) I had a far better result than I’d anticipated, and I’m determined to keep practicing with my nib and ink pot at home.

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It was energising and fun making all that cool stuff. And yet there was a clear consensus that cool stuff was only a small part of what we all took from the day. Most of us were drawn into Unleash Creative’s world by the promise of making connections and busting out some kind of rut. On that level craft really did prove itself a worthy tonic. The event’s founder Magdalena puts her finger on it best:

“Craft and creativity are powerful tools to relieve the stresses and pressures of the otherwise hectic lives which most of us lead. It allows us to disconnect and unplug from external noise, relax and use a different part of our brains. It’s a simple therapeutic tool that anyone can employ to enrich their life.”

Mags is planning more events for Melbourne, Sydney, and (fingers crossed!) Brisbane later in 2014, so to keep up with the latest dates, hop on to Unleash Creative’s newsletter list and be sure to follow along on instagram.

Unleash Creative Brisbane 2014

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