Many people don’t like thinking about Christmas until the beginning of December – I know I don’t! However, there are a few things that need to be prepared well in advance for them to be at their peak for the big day. Christmas cake, sloe gin, piccalilli and home-made mincemeat are just a few.
I’m very fussy about my mincemeat; I don’t like it to be overly citrusy – so, very little orange or lemon zest & juice and no mixed candied peel. In addition, it needs to be veggie – so can only contain vegetarian suet. The only way to ensure it tastes the way I like it is to make it myself. A very easy job and well worthwhile. It works out much cheaper than the cost of ‘luxury’ jars of the stuff in supermarkets. Once made, potted up and put away correctly, it stores unopened for years!
1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored & finely diced
300g/10½oz muscovado sugar
200g/7oz vegetable suet
zest & juice of 1 lemon
3tsp mixed spice
6tbsp rum or brandy
100g/3½oz butter, cubed
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Put all the ingredients except the alcohol into a large saucepan over a low heat
Stir to ensure the contents are well combined and the suet and butter have melted (about 10 minutes)
Allow to cool completely before stirring in the alcohol
Decant into sterilised jam jars - gently bang the bottom of each jar to fit as much of the mincemeat in as possible.
Seal the jars immediately and store for at least a month before use
*To blanch almonds, put them in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes before draining through a sieve. Pat them dry on some kitchen paper or clean tea towel. You can quickly get the skin off one by one by pinching the broader, rounded end of the nut
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
When it comes to most things H is for Home, Fudge shows little or no interest in proceedings. However, the arrival of a box of tasty treats from Webbox, meant that he suddenly wanted to get involved!
We started by asking for his feedback on their premium fresh chicken with garden vegetables. He was too busy eating to talk, but we got the distinct impression that he approved. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients – easily digestible protein, vegetables, beneficial herbs, mineral rich seaweed and slow-release carbohydrate energy in the form of brown rice – a complete food that provides just about everything required for a well-balanced diet.
A sample of the little snacks followed. The flavour combinations are very exciting – for example, the healthy treat bars – chicken with pea & blueberries and chicken with duck & cranberry. Something a bit out of the ordinary for our canine cousins. Delicious was the verdict again!
We’ve held some of Fudge’s hamper back so he has something to enjoy on Christmas Day. He’s got a three bird roast turkey kibble, pork chipolatas and ‘pigs in blanket’ treats too. A glass of wine and he’ll be sorted!
It never ceases to amaze us the speed at which Fudge can demolish a bowl of food. You’d think we starve him, but we can guarantee that’s far from the case. We always get the, “is there any more please?” look. Thanks to Webbox there’ll indeed be more to follow in the coming days!
It has a natural Scandi feel – very modern, yet homely too.
You can imagine her family sitting here having their breakfast, the kids doing their homework or the grown-ups sharing a bottle of wine after the young ones have gone to bed. A space for all the family!
Silas Seandel (b. 1932) is an American sculptor and furniture designer who works mainly in metals such as steel, bronze, brass and copper. He has a huge catalogue of work in the Brutalist style, I imagine they’d look equally stunning in a mid-century modern home, vintage industrial loft apartment or minimalist hotel lobby.
In searching for an image of Seandel on the web, I came across the one below on the CNN website. In 2012, the designer’s Manhattan studio was an unfortunate casualty of Hurricane Sandy. If you look closely at the wall to the right of the open doors, you can see the tide line of where the water level reached. According to Seandel:
The surge came in and broke through the door, and knocked me down… it threw me and thousands of pounds of steel, and bronze, and sheets, all the way to the back door.
In an earlier Price Points post we compared a trio of electric blankets. Sometimes you want warming up before you actually go to bed. This is where heated throws come into the spotlight.
Working from home like we do, I spend hours at a time sitting at a computer. In the colder months, instead of turning the heating on to warm up the entire house, or going to the lengths of getting the wood-burner started, simply clicking on a throw is a better option. Not only does it get you warm quicker, it’s cheap to run – one model claims to cost as little as a penny a day.
The three that we’ve short-listed are all around the same dimensions – double bed blanket size. They’re also all machined washable (essential if you’re a snacker and tip tea down yourself like I do!). All these heated throws look as though they’d do a decent job of keeping you warm. However, I think the faux Alaskan husky example would be so snuggly and soft – like curling up with a real husky… without any of the doggy smell!
This week, we’ve watched the first in Rick Stein’s new series, Rick Stein’s Road To Mexico. His first port of call was California where he met up with Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse. While there, one of her chefs was filmed making a rhubarb galette – it looked amazing. It’s no longer rhubarb season, so I’ve made a pear galette instead.
I much prefer rustic, unfussy food like this to haute cusine with all its foams, purées and the like. A galette is just the kind of rustic dessert I crave on a cold autumn evening. A circle of sweet pastry covered with in-season fruit and roughly folded in on itself, free-form.
Instead of a pear galette (or rhubarb), you could make one with stone fruits such as peaches, plums, nectarines or apricots. How about apple & pecan, fig, blueberry or cherry?
A savoury galette with autumn & winter vegetables is also a great idea; carrots, beetroot, caramelised onion… with cheeses and/or herbs – the variations are endless!
It’s such an easy, versatile dish to prepare and cook – pastry with whatever meat, veg or fruit that you have to hand.