Thursday, December 29, 2011

My happy place/ Boysenberry jam.

When someone offers you 2kg of freshly picked boysenberries in exchange for an airport pick up you throw the kids in the car with a sandwich and a toy each and drive.  My kitchen smells amazing, and the dark purple jars on my windowsill are showing off my spoils to the neighbourhood.

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Eta: changed blackberries to boysenberries!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favourite food from Christmas

It can be quite hard to pinpoint one favourite from Christmas, so I offer a selection:

 Impromptu Christmas lunch when friends from out of town turned up (thank goodness I'd been trying to perfect blackberry meringues)!
 A very op shop Christmas - the 'family silver' was a great find a couple of months ago.  The napkin rings I found a fortnight ago.  A white linen tablecloth, and lovely 'eco' crackers (I was greenwashed, there is nothing eco friendly about Christmas crackers) that contained my daughter's new favourite joke.  The centrepiece is a collection of china plates glued together with small jars in between - it comes out for high tea, royal weddings and Christmas!
Two years ago my husband learnt how to carve a turkey beautifully - these are the turkey breasts.  We brined Nigella style per usual.

Other favourites:
  • Strawberry and rhubarb fruit cobbler with Nosh brand vanilla custard
  • My friend's gift of homemade mincemeat - little pies are in my future!
  • Tiny little pecan pies (instead of mince).  So yummy - must snag that recipe!
  • Bags of hot chocolate for two from L' Affaire au Chocolat in Berhamphore, Wellington.  Each bag of top quality dark chocolate is flavoured with freshly prepared spices such as chili or cardamon.  Sooooooo good!
  • Candy cane biscotti - it seemed like a good way to use up the broken bag of candy canes I came across.  Very sticky but great for Christmas morning teas.
  • Another gift of homemade tea!  So nice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas drinks/ Virgin Mojito

It is hard to completely prep for the Christmas meal when my planned menu calls for mainly fresh food but I loathe supermarket shopping, overpriced lettuce and strawberries and the low stock that typifies the days prior to Christmas.

Our menu is fairly typical: brined turkey, new potatoes and salad. Dessert is a little crazy as I let the four year old make the selection! Marshmallows and ice cream should compliment brandy snaps and macerated fruit salad nicely!

Merry Christmas! I've been without a computer for a couple of weeks and hope to pick one up in the sales!

The other day I bought some herbs and decided to prep for the drinks I'll be serving around Christmas. I figure I can make the most of some of the fresh things I'd hoped to use for drinks.

Virgin Mojito

1 cup sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled together then cooled - I used Equal sugar replacement when I made it)
About ten large mint leaves
2 limes, zest and juice one of them, thinly slice the second*

Mix everything together then freeze in a small container (but one that will fit in a jug.) If you are freezing this mixture just use the zest and juice - freezing slices makes the mixture sour over time)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Job interview jam

I had a job interview the other day. I was so nervous (normally I'm not for interviews) and so was surprised when my blog came up! I'd mentioned food blogging as a hobby on my CV and was asked for the address! One of the interviewers looked it up on his phone. It was the first time that I'd ever heard the word 'turducken' in an interview!

Afterwards I burned off the nervous energy by walking and shopping. I found these tiny jams in Kirks. I have plenty of homemade jam in stock, I'm slightly more keen on the refill possibilities!

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Most delicious cake recipe ever: Fresh Pineapple Viennese Cake

My husband and I have been taking advantage of Wellington Library's free magazine Thursdays.  We have, on average, taken out 10 magazines a week and been feeling very well informed on current events.  In reading an old edition of the listener I came across this recipe.  I really wanted an excuse to make it, and it came in the form of an impromptu 'stich 'n' bitch' session at my house the other night. 

If you are after a cake recipe that looks and tastes amazing then this is just delicious.  I think it would also be lovely with ripe fresh peaches or nectarines.  My tips for the recipe are to cook it for five or ten minutes longer than the stated cooking time (mine was undercooked in the centre and you cannot tell until you have taken the cake out of the tins) and to make sure that you really push in the sliced almonds - otherwise many will fall off when you are assembling the cake.  The cake mixture is very sticky and hard to work with - but is much easier to work with after it has been refrigerated. 

Eaten on the day it is lovely and light; eaten the next day the meringue is chewier and like toffy - so still very delicious!

I was so happy - the cake looks just like the picture in the magazine!!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas tree

The tree is up and it is a chaotic mess of colour!  I personally have never been into the coordinated Christmas trees, but then I'm probably not organised enough to pull off the look.  I like colour and homemade decorations and over the last  few years I've really enjoyed watching little hands constantly redecorate the tree by moving the decorations around.  Our tree is groaning with decorations.

Made by Rae is one of my favourite blogs at the moment and a few weeks ago she suggested sewing felt shapes together to make a festive garland.  I made a few with felt butterflies, and I also made Christmas shaped ones by using my biscuit cutters as the guide shapes!  I've also made some with crowns, hearts and circles for the Sweetheart's room and another one with kiwis, hearts and triangles for the Poppet's room.  I've perhaps gone a little crazy sewing felt shapes together - it is just a satisfying and easy project!

Last year I went to Handmade, a craft conference held at Te Papa (there will be another one next year).  I took a class in repurposing pillowcases held by Heleen from Ruby in the Dust.  I really enjoyed her workshop, and I now have a new hobby of rummaging through op shops for funky old pillowcases.  She was selling felt heart kits at Craft 2.0 and I thought that they would look perfect on the Christmas tree.

Butterfly garlands.  So very cheerful.

My attempt at using up some spare buttons - I cut out some Christmas tree shapes with my biscuit cutters, stuffed them with cotton wool and sewed together with embroidery thread.

The tree is currently protected by a square baby safety gate (we call it the baby jail).   This has not stopped both girls from playing with the decorations - and yesterday the Poppet nearly pulled over the entire tree.    Lets hope it survives another twenty days.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Right now in the backyard: the seahorse and the bumblebee.

The weather this week has been amazing. My five year old comes home hot and bothered each day so today I set up the little ball pit in the shade and put in a couple of buckets of water.

The bumblebee escaped to pick daisies on the lawn and the seahorse dominated the ball pit quite cheerfully.

The seahorse asked if she could eat dinner in the pool.  I've had to decline - I can't imagine trying to keep track of the active little bumblebee on the lawn long enough for her to eat anything!

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