Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The September Issue

I love the month of September, I really do.  I spend the whole month crossing my fingers for an Indian Summer whilst also enjoying the thought of chunky knits and open fires.  As a child, September meant a new school term (and a new pencil case- oh the joys) and I still get that sense of ‘new beginnings’ at this time of year. 

This September I may well just get my wish as we are apparently expecting a mini Indian Summer at the end of the week.  My mother is already busy planning a picnic by the lake to wave off the summer and I am kicking myself for having packed all my summer clothes away rather prematurely.  Even my lavender is having a second wind and has re-flowered just in time for some warmer weather.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves people, after the Weather Man’s empty promise of a ‘bbq summer’, I am not holding my breath.

I am however planning one last dinner outside before we slide ever closer into winter.  Sophie thinks I am mad but I think it is wildly romantic.  Plus it is a fantastic excuse to bring out our Bahara Parasol again! It is perfect for this time of year as it not only keeps in the warmth but it creates the most beautiful atmosphere when candle lit.  Throw in a couple of Andara’s Autumnal friendly Tangerine runners and napkins and the look is complete!  


There are lots of delicious recipes to chose from for an autumnal dinner but I am most excited by this recipe for amazing Apple Crumble Ice-Cream which couldn’t be more perfect for the Summer/ Autumn transition.

      300ml full-cream milk
      284ml carton double cream
      5 large egg yolks
      120g golden caster sugar
      2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 Bramley apples (about 500g in total)
      25g unsalted butter
      50g golden granulated sugar, to taste

For the crumble
      75g plain flour
      50g butter, chilled and cubed
      50g golden caster sugar

      1. Pour the milk and cream into a small pan and bring just to the boil.
      2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl, until pale and creamy.
      3. Gradually stir the hot milk and cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return to the pan over a gentle heat and cook, stirring, until it’s thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool. Chill overnight – this will speed up the freezing process.
      4. The next day, core and peel the apples and cut into 1cm cubes. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan, add the granulated sugar and cook over a medium heat until it resembles a toffee-coloured sauce. Add the chopped apples and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the fruit is tender but not falling apart. Check the sweetness: it needs to be a little tart but add more sugar if needed. Set aside to cool.
      5. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/gas 5. Make the crumble. Sift the plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, add the chilled butter and rub in until it resembles crumbs. Add the sugar and work the mixture between your fingers until it starts to clump together. Spread over a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the crumble is biscuit-coloured. Set aside to cool.
      6. To make the ice cream, churn the custard in an ice cream maker until nearly firm. Add the cooked apple mixture and baked crumble pieces, churn to lightly mix through, then serve straightaway.

I absolutely love these beautiful Indian Kadai bowls to keep warm but we have a small issue with space so I think for now I will have settle with a cashmere throw to keep the September chill at bay.

If only we had the space on the roof terrace for this wonderful fire bowl

For a bit of extra warmth, beautiful 2 tone cashmere throw

So enjoy the last few days of September before we have to say goodbye to this exemplary month for another year.  Andara are now off to sell our wares at a MacMillan charity sale, aptly titled “the Indian Summer coffee morning”, no jokes.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Oh the joys of working with Morocco

Today we are tearing our hair out here at Andara HQ.  We have been waiting for a delivery from Morocco of our very popular Jaitun lanterns and bottle holders since the end of July.  First of all, Ramadan slowed things down considerably and then this morning, just as we had given up all hope of ever seeing our stock again, we received news from our courier (a very rare occurrence so a definite jump for joy moment)...  

Turns out the reason we have only had sporadic contact with him over the last TWO months is because he has apparently started a farm.  Yes, you read that correctly, our courrier has become a farmer and completely failed to tell us.  Oh the joys of working with Moroccans!

An ass you say?  Yes, I completely agree

So to celebrate this momentous occasion of actually making contact with Morocco and to drown our sorrows at the reality that our shipment may well have more turnips than Topi candles in it, we have decided to give you a sneak preview of our new smaller, sweeter but still seriously stylish bottle holders.  Enjoy!

Seen here on a bedside table- one each!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

We must have been barking mad!

Last week we were away in Oxfordshire working on a photo shoot for our new Christmas range.  The photos came through this morning and they look great.  We worked with a fantastic photographer Nick Smith, Nick Smith Photography, and we are looking forward to showing you the results in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, We hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend (although I am sure it feels like an age ago).  Unfortunately for us Andara girls, our long weekend was not a weekend of relaxation and sunshine but a weekend of chaos, hysterics and a lot of doggy doodoo. 

May I interest you in some table runners?? Just water, ok no problem Sir.
This bank holiday weekend, Andara packed up the car and headed to Essex for the annual Essex Dog Day at Hatfield Peverel.  Although it seems 'strike me down' obvious now, we had definitely underestimated how doggy a 'dog day' is.  We arrived and were instructed to set up our stall in between a dog leash emporium and a mother and daughter team selling wooden puzzles… for dogs.  Hmm, already quite doggy. 

hhmmm, nope nothing I can eat here
To make ourselves feel more at home we strategically placed a doggy water bowl under our parasol in order to draw in the crowds.  This was a genius move and a huge hit with the dogs and before long we had a queue of wagging tails surrounding the Andara stall.  Fantastic we thought!  Dogs have owners, owners have houses therefore owners need cushions right?  Wrong.  Not even the briefest of glances towards our wares except for one gruff voice calling out, ‘do you do any cushions with doggies on them?’ Our response of 'no' was greeted with a collective tutting of disapproval from the crowd.

No doggy cushions here- sorry!
As the afternoon progressed we got not so much as a sniff in our direction although our cushion display did prove to be THE place of choice for passing dogs to stop and squat.  We should have thought that one out- feed a dog water and you will soon get...
Kindly move on
As we were packing up, we were given business advice from our next door neighbour.  “If you put a picture of a dog on your napkins, you’ll sell way more.”  Thank you sir for your advice but we are a beautiful, decorative homeware company and we don’t do dogs, came the reply. 

All in all, a rather ‘pawful’ day.  But here at Andara, we are not one to grumble so we end on a doggy joke. 

Why did the dachshund bite the woman's ankle ?

Because he was short and couldn't reach any higher 

To honour our doggy start to September, we thought we would share our top 5 favourite dog themed accessories for the home, aptly named…


The sausage dog- an Andara favourite! 
Emily Bond, £42 

Go potty for Scottie with this hand made lamp shade
The old lamp Shed, £38

Get creative and frame these fab greetings cards
Sundae Best, £2.95 each

For the cat lovers amongst you, 99 dogs and a cat framed artwork
Peters and Janes, £25

Get ready for christmas with this Spot the Dog Bauble
Reiko and Kaneko Ltd, £14.95