January is a month when the comfort of warming food is an important part of family life and it is a pleasure to be inside the kitchen looking out (click on the links to see previous posts on these subjects).
Butternut squash became a regular feature in my shopping basket this month.so that I could make tasty, filling soup.
I also bought red cabbage again. It’s perfect with winter meals like casserole and toad in the hole.There have been a lot of one pot meals. This one uses swede (turnip if you are from the North-East), a vegetable that is always cheap and cheerful and surprisingly sweet and fragrant when cooked Moroccan style with cumin, coriander and chick peas.
‘Tis the season for Seville oranges…to become…marmalade. This year with added sparkle.Little onions took a bath in vinegar and spices to become…pickled treats.
The oven was busy with plenty of baking…snowflake biscuits…cream sponge cake with home made jam topping…after school muffins…belated birthday treats for work colleagues (The Husband was responsible for this feast, not me)…more muffins, dairy free this time by substituting soya milk… and finally, four Christmas cakes. I said I was going to be organised, didn’t I?
Happy Christmas everyone. I hope you are still enjoying the festive season.ChtiChristmas takes a lot of organising. I think I spent most of the weekend at my table wrapping. I am eternally grateful to my brother for taking my eldest two children out on Saturday and to my Mum for entertaining them for a big part of Sunday.
It’s not all hard work though. The Husband and I were able to enjoy a proper breakfast on Sunday as I wrapped gifts while still wearing my PJ’s.
As you can see, I found a fruit cake to decorate. It’s been wrapped up in a tin for a while (not sure why we didn’t eat it) but it seems ok. On the 23rd The Husband and I had a busy night in the kitchen. Between us we made florentines, cranberry sauce, sweet pastry, special jellies and a batch of royal icing. Actually, I made the florentines, The Husband made the rest (and our supper). In my defence, florentines are very labour intensive and I did also manage to put a layer of almond paste on the cake.The next day, while I was out doing some last minute shopping with The Middle Miss, The Husband baked mince pies with Babykins and covered the cake in icing. I love a good snow scene. It’s completely in the spirit of Christmas – over the top in every way. We had so much icing left over he decided it would be a good idea to dab some on the mince pies.The jellies were made in our relatively new but very well used, tree shaped, silicon mould. I bought some lime jelly a week or two ago with this in mind… It worked well as a gluten-free pudding on Christmas day as well as treat for the children. Using the silicon mould worked really well. They all popped out easily without being dipped in hot water.
Father Christmas was good to us this year.
Our living room is still trashed from the present opening. I really should be sorting out all the piles of paper, plastic and cardboard ready for recyling. Instead it’s still stuffed into the biggest gift bag I had, cluttering up the corner of the room.
My Mum’s house is probably tidy now but on the evening of Christmas day there was a big box full of waste paper in her living room too. As you can see, my children had a great time diving in it. They kept shutting themselves in the box so we teased them that we would parcel them up and ship them off to visit their Great Aunt in Canada. You can’t beat playing in a big box at Christmas.
All families have their own favourite Christmas traditions. Here are a few of ours (NB: if you are a family member you are hereby banned from reading any further or one of your Christmas surprises may be spoiled)…
Receiving cards that the children have made at school.
Bottling up eggnog. Do you like our special, patriotic 2012 Christmas tree?
Wrapping ‘tree presents’. After Christmas dinner the fairies leave little gifts around the Christmas tree. They all come with a riddle-like clue attached and you have to try and guess what your gift is before you open it.
Making decorations for the top of the Christmas cake. I’ve been very lax with icing Christmas cakes in the last few years but tomorrow will see the creation of a full-on, traditional ‘snow-scene’.
Cranberries popping their skins in the process of becoming sauce
Baking florentine biscuits. It’s been a few years since I did this and my word, it is a faff. I think I have perfected the technique tonight after a lot of trial and error. Now I just have to dip them in chocolate and work out how to package them.
As I write this it is officially Christmas Eve. In about seven hours my children will wake up on the third most exciting day of their year (after Dec 25th and their birthdays). We have got a really busy day planned tomorrow and it will no doubt be a long one. However I think it will be a lot of fun. We’re going to the Panto, a trip that could well become another Christmas Eve tradition along with putting out a snack for Father Christmas.
I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and to all hard-working parents, may the god of deep sleep be with your children tomorrow night!