Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Eve

I am really enjoying today. Really enjoying it...
We ventured out early this morning to enjoy the light snow. The woods were frozen, as was the canal & pond that we like to think of as our very own...
Everywhere had that very still, quiet atmosphere of just fallen snow. Perfect.
My home is filled with the scent of turkey stock pot is full to the brim with the turkey remains, & has been bubbling away for the last hour or so. The girls have just come in from playing with freshly fallen snow (& still falling!) in the garden. We are going to cuddle up with our quilts & enjoy a movie. Maybe The Jungle Book. I have just made Snow Cocoa, which is cooling in a huge jug in the kitchen & we have lots of treats, mince pies & cookies left over to enjoy with the movie. I will be taking full advantage & getting on with some sock knitting.
I am hoping to meditate on my new years goals this evening...have you been thinking of yours? Today has been such a restful day after all the hurly burly of christmas. I am off to knit socks & think on the following:

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

In the Bleak Midwinter

Christina Rossetti (1872)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Christmas Eve

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Isaiah 40:3

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Christmas Eve in the time to begin with Christmas lunch preparation:

Christmas eve, early morning
~ Collect the turkey, cream fresh fruit & vegetables, plus any forgotten items.
~ If making the ham in the slow cooker, begin cooking now.

Mid morning
~ Place the turkey on a sheet of greaseproof paper, remove the giblets & store, uncovered in the fridge, ‘till just before bedtime. Make sure to note the weight!
~ Defrost Stuffing, bacon & chipolata’s
~ Prepare the stock. (see recipe below)

~ Late Morning
Prepare the vegetables: brussel sprouts, carrots, potatoes.
Make the triffle

Bake Sausage rolls: gm 7 for about 30 mins
Bake Mince pies: gm 7 for 25- 30 mins
Bake cookies
Make sweetcorn pudding
Assemble Chocolate log

~ Evening
Remove turkey from fridge & dress.
prep breakfast tray
make nibbles

Christmas Eve Traditions:
~ Throughout the day, check to keep up to date with he progress of Father Christmas!
~ Deliver Christmas cards & cookies to friends & family
~ Snuggle up to watch ‘The Polar Express’
~ Our Christmas Eve gift for the girls: new pyjamas, toothbrush, a Christmas lolly pop & a Christmas book to share.
~ In the evening, snuggle up to read Luke 2:1-20 & ‘The night before Christmas’ (Tasha Tudor edition)
~ Leave a mince pie & milk for Father Christmas & a carrot for Rudolph, hang our stockings, then put out reindeer food in the front garden. Children have an early night!
~ Mulled wine, nibbles & a movie for mum & dad (a wonderful life)
Turkey Giblet Stock
turkey giblets including neck and liver
1 onion, sliced in half
1 carrot, sliced in half lengthways
a few parsley stalks
1 celery stalk (plus a few leaves)
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
First wash the giblets and put them in a saucepan with the halved onion, then cover with 1½ pints (900 ml) water and bring up to simmering point. After removing any surface scum with a slotted spoon, add the remaining ingredients, half cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 1½-2 hours. Then strain the stock and store, covered, in the fridge. I always think that it's when the giblet stock is simmering that you get the first fragrant aromas of Christmas lunch which fill you with the pleasure of anticipation!
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course.

Ham in Coca Cola recipe

Serves 8
• 2kg mild-cure gammon
• 1 onion peeled and cut in half
• 2 litre-bottle coke
The glaze
• handful cloves
• 1 heaped tablespoon black treacle
2 teasps English mustard powder
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

1.I find now that mild-cure gammon doesn't need soaking. If you know that you're dealing with a salty piece, then put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the gammon in a pan, skin side down if it fits like that, add the onion then pour over the Coke. Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2 1/2 hours. If your joint is larger or smaller work out timing by reckoning on an hour a kilo altogether, remembering that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the gammon's been in the fridge right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give a good 15 or so minutes' extra so that the interior is properly cooked. Meanwhile preheat oven to 240C/gas mark 9.
2.When the ham's had its time (and ham it is now it's cooked, though it's true Americans call it ham from its uncooked state) take it out of the pan but DO NOT THROW AWAY THE COOKING LIQUID and let cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed you can let it cool completely then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want).
3.Then remove skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each diamond with a clove. Then carefully spread the treacle over the bark-budded skin taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Then gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook, in a foil lined roasting tin for approximately 10 minutes or till the glaze is burnished and bubbly.
4.Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 180C/gas mark 4, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.
5.This is seriously fabulous with anything, but the eggily golden sweetcorn pudding that follows is perfect: ham and eggs southern style.

Sweetcorn pudding

Serves 8
• 5 eggs
• 510g can sweetcorn, drained
• 418g can creamed sweetcorn
• 300ml full fat milk
• 300ml double cream
• 60g plain flour
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat the oven to 190 C/gas 5 and butter an ovenproof dish - and I use my old, scuffed pyrex one which measures 33cm x 25cm.
2.Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then add, beating unenergetically, all the other ingredients. Pour into the buttered dish and cook for about an hour, by which time it should have set within and puffed up slightly on the top.
© Nigella Lawson, How To Eat, The pleasures and principles of good food - Chatto & Windus, 1998

Yule chocolate log

- prepare the day before

• butter , for greasing
• 5 eggs
• 140g light muscovado sugar
• 100g self-raising flour
• 25g good quality cocoa powder such as Green & Black's or Oxfam Fairtrade
• caster sugar , for dusting
• 285ml carton double cream
• 450g fondant chocolate , such as Lindt Lindor
• icing sugar , for dusting

1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter and line the base and sides of a 30 x 35cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
2. Separate the eggs, putting them into two large mixing bowls. Add the sugar and 2 tbsp water to the egg yolks. Using an electric whisk or tabletop mixer, whisk the sugar and yolks for about 5 mins until the mixture is light in colour and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk blades are lifted. Sift in the flour and cocoa, then fold in lightly, using the whisk blades or a large metal spoon.
3. Using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then fold into the cake mixture in three batches, again using the blades to preserve as much air as possible.
4. Pour the mixture evenly over the prepared tin, then carefully spread to the edges. Bake for 10-12 mins, or until the cake feels firm to the touch. Put a large sheet of baking parchment on the work surface and sprinkle lightly with caster sugar. Turn the cake out onto the parchment and peel off the lining paper. Cover with a clean tea towel, then leave to cool completely. Trim a little cake from all the edges, then score along the edge of one of the long sides of the cake and roll up from there, using the paper to help you, rolling the paper inside the cake.
5. To make the icing and filling, bring the cream to the boil in a small pan, remove from the heat, then break in 400g of the chocolate. Stir until it is melted and smooth. Leave to cool, then chill until it is spreadable, about 1 hr. Chop the remaining chocolate, spoon a third of the icing into a bowl, then stir them together to make the filling.
6. Carefully unroll the cake, then spread all the filling over to within 2cm of the edges. Roll up the cake again using the paper to help you, then set on a board.
7. Cut a thick diagonal slice off one end of the cake. Transfer the larger piece of cake to a board or flat serving plate. Spread a little icing over cut side of the small piece of cake and fix it to the large roll to make a stump (as photo). Spread remaining icing over the cake, then dust with icing sugar to serve.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Decorating Our Home For Christmas

A special day today. As this is 'the day after a birthday' we get to eat birthday cake for breakfast ;)
We had a lovely walk in the woods & I collected an armful of Holly for decorating my mantle. We had fun decorating (listening to Christmas music & eating sweets as we worked. We had a tiny tree this year, as chosen by E. 'oh, I just love it' & I had fun decorating my mantel with a sort of 'Lion will lie down with the lamb' meets 'heaven & nature sing' theme going on....
You will notice I have shoes on my Christmas tree...they are my children's first shoes...ahhh :) You may know already how sentimental I am.
Please excuse they somewhat blurred photo's...