Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple." - Woody Guthrie

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Flashes of red ...

Instead of a full on Christmas post I thought I would build up to the frenzy with a smattering of red.  Plans for Christmas are just about complete here, gifts have been stashed away throughout the year and there is little more to do other than open the door to the postman and delivery van drivers;  I tend to avoid the shops in the run up to the big day.   Even though I have precision planned Christmas, and Father Christmas will not be visiting me, I can feel the excitement building in the pit of my stomach so I will probably be the first to get all hot and overwrought; somewhat like a child when it all gets too much.  I must confess, this week, I also purchased my M&S Christmas gravy, I know, I know, scandalous isn't it but even though I love experimenting with different recipes the type of cooking required for a Christmas meal doesn't fill me with joy. I like to enjoy my Christmas day and this pot of gravy, ridiculous though it may sound, is the fine line between a rabid, crazed women and a serene rational member of the household, well just about!

So dear reader, what little short-cuts do you confess to, in order to keep the peace in your household?

Welcome to The Custards, Sue at Beach Bungalow and Kylie.
Have a joyful week xxx

Friday, 16 November 2012

Moments ...

Some happy moments from the past week, include Spiderman escaping, after a celebratory afternoon spent with friends.

Cheese stars from Nigella's 'How to Eat' in readiness to bake for what was a super party food themed Baking club.

Sweet little bowls draining after lunch with a lovely work colleague.

Condiments for my weekend omelette, which I hope the omelette maker can be persuaded to produce for me.

What little moments have you enjoyed this week?
A big hello to Sheri at Red Rose Alley.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Impulse control ...

I merrily pranced round the kitchen suitably garbed for Christmas cake duties on Saturday.  Delia did not fail me.  My cake is sitting resplendent in greaseproof and foil, having had its first dowsing in brandy.  Now things are getting tough around these parts because traditional Christmas purchases are being made, whilst the price is right.  I am now living with a large bottle of Baileys which is, quite frankly, screaming 'come to mama'.  I am sure I will be able to resist but I have a confession, yes that is the inside of a Quality Street tin you see below.  I will leave it at that, shall I?

In place of a Quality Street from my tin, I shall share my mini Christmas cake recipe.   This little gem is the perfect size for a gift or if you are the only one in your family who likes fruit cake and can't stomach eating an entire family sized one over the Christmas period then this is for you.

Baked last night; sorry about the out of focus picture but it was 7am and the evidence is no longer intact for a second attempt. 

Mini Christmas Cake

175g mixed dried fruit
25g glace cherries, washed & chopped (add to dried fruit)
25g nuts (optional, add to fruit)
1tbsp orange juice, sherry, brandy* (soak your fruit, nut & cherry mixture in this overnight)
50g butter
50g soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lge beaten egg
1 tsp black treacle

  • Grease and line a tin* with a double layer of greaseproof.  Lightly grease with oil.
  • Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside
  • Light the oven, Gas mark 1-2 (150 C)
  • Cream the butter and sugar
  • Beat the egg with the black treacle and add to the creamed butter & sugar - mix thoroughly
  • Sieve flour with spices and fold into the beaten mixture
  • Stir in the fruit, nuts and cherries which have been soaked overnight
  • Tip mixture into the tin and smooth out
  • Stand on a thick pad of newspaper and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours
  • Test with skewer
  • Leave cake to cool in the tin

If you wish to ice you will need the following;

250g marzipan
1tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam

250g fondant/ready roll icing or if you wish make up your own royal icing

* I tend to use a combination of whatever I have in the cupboard but you can be a little more generous with the measurements because the fruit soaks it up

** I use a pork pie tin purchased from Lakeland but apparently, although I have never tried it, a large baked bean tin is a good substitute.

Happy Baking xxx

Welcome to Fiona at Raindrops and Daisys

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Peaceful Sunday ...

Last year the youngest member of my household had the opportunity to visit Ypres.  The school party were given the chance to look for a relative known to be buried in the area and lay a Cross or Star of David on their grave or memorial.  Having little knowledge regarding relatives that may have perished in the Great War, a decision was made to place the cross on the grave of someone near her age.  She laid it on the grave of a 16 year old.  Says it all really.
Have a peaceful Sunday xxx

Saturday, 10 November 2012

What this blog means to me ...

The picture above perfectly sums up my attitude to this little blog of mine.  A question was posed to me recently, why did you start blogging?   My answer was simple enough.  I was nagged into it, having been a follower for so long.  I do, however, wish I had started years ago.  I just love how my blog provides a means of capturing small moments in time, to me blogs are the hand-written letters of yesteryear.  Whilst there are shoe boxes full of photos of loved ones, it would have been fantastic to record the everyday throughout my life, but how honest would I have been?  If you look to the right of the soap dish you will notice a little patch of blue, this is a little morsel of my normal soap; four bars of Shield for £1.  This would probably have been 99p but for the war on the high-street being waged by the pound stores and the supermarkets or maybe even 89p prior to this retail manifestation.  However Shield wasn't good enough, and was duly replaced by a bar of pretty soap of which there are two in residence, stashed away in my knicker drawer.  Have I truly captured reality?  For me this blog is a form of escape, not because I have a difficult life but because nothing is perfect, we all have our ups and downs.  However, my Catholic sensibilities would hate for me to be written off as frivolous but neither do I want my blog to be a confessional.  That doesn't mean to say I think full-on warts and all blogs are inappropriate, it is just that there are parts of my life that I wish to keep private despite the need to share my taste in wallpaper!  It is just a question of personal choice and who am I to judge what others choose to share.  So as long as it is clear that I keep my tongue firmly in my cheek, I will continue to post what I am enjoying.   The absence from this blog of those who are truly at the heart of my life, doesn't mean that what some might might consider to be trivia outweighs the most important.  So on with the show; a few pictures of what is keeping me cheery this weekend.  

Old Lace & Bryant and May and the Invisible Code (unabridged)

A mug of coffee and a magazine
So dear reader, what does your blog mean to you?
And a big welcome to Vintage Vicki

Friday, 9 November 2012

And so it begins ...

Although I know many of you are streets ahead of me on this one, it is about time I started the annual Christmas cake bake.  Not much thought needs to go into this, most of the ingredients are already in the kitchen cupboards. The only element of Delia's precise instructions from which I stray is the amount of brandy for soaking.  Three tablespoons seems way too stingy and whilst I associate brandy with being ill as a child, hot brandy and sugar being the cure all in days gone by, and cannot stomach it to drink, the scent in my kitchen right now is quite delightful. 

So what do you think should I bake square or round?

Happy Baking xxx

Welcome to Pat26 at Pat's Simple Life and Jessica.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Happy little things ...

A pretty new thermal vest, yes an undergarment.  My mantra is layers. layers and more layers, I do not believe in feeling the cold.

A new bathroom, if you knew how long I've waited for this you would forgive the crowing.

The briefest of winter sunlight, after a morning of lashing rain and wind.

A furtive sherbet dip dab.

And finally something that doesn't make my face scream in pain, after weeks of searching; a simple, cheap product that is a life saver for my eczema.

What is making you happy right now?

Happy Sunday everyone xxx

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A Short Interlude ...

A restful few days (for some) were spent here:-

Happy Belated Halloween xxx

Welcome to Juliab at Peacockbluehandmade and Jo at Whatdoyoumakeofmycake.