Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Christmas Day was beautiful with crisp snow and sunshine. We went for a walk though the woods to work up an appetite for the feasting to come. 

It meant that after an enormous lunch we still had some space left to eat chocolates!

But it was pretty exhausting. You've heard the expression, 'dog tired'.

I'm taking a chocolate torte to a New Year party in the village. It's easy to make and very rich so a little goes a long way.

Truffle Torte.

75g Amaretti biscuits 
450g plain chocolate
5 tablespoons liquid glucose
5 tablespoons rum 
570 ml double cream.

Crush the biscuits and sprinkle on the base of a 23 cm cake tin, lined with oiled greaseproof paper.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water and add the liquid glucose and rum.
Fold in the very lightly whipped double cream.
Blend together well and pour into tin. Cover with cling film and chill.
To serve loosen edge with a knife and invert onto a plate. Dust with cocoa powder.

 Lyndie and Elaine
Elaine is a wonderful cook and  hostess.

Himself dancing with She's No Plain Jane.

New Year's Day and it's another party with friends  for a get together and to celebrate a birthday

 eat Janet's famous salt beef and drink champagne.

Celebratary champers with Janet. (Janet Haigh: her
Happy Birthday Alfie!

  The artists Robert Hurdle and David Inshaw

There's that lovely time at a party when you slump down with all your good friends about you and just talk and joke. It's my favourite time in the evening. When I'm at Janet and Steve's I'm always too comfortable to go home!

The snowman has lost his buttons and mine are starting to feel the strain!
Happy New Year everyone!
 Pearce Family snowman

Friday 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

I'm ready! The presents are wrapped, the evening meal is prepared and our daughters' rooms are waiting, warm flannelette sheets on the beds, new hot water bottles bought, waiting for their arrival by train and by car.

The only present that we open on Christmas Eve is a picture book, everything else waits, in its decorated wrapping paper, for Christmas morning. I try to find a really beautiful book that is appropriate for Christmas. This Oscar Wilde edition  is a favourite from several years ago, with images very appropriate for the weather that we have been experiencing for far too many weeks now. 

It is a delight when a beautiful text is matched by equally beautiful illustrations.

This year I have bought Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales, selected and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, one of my favourite illustrators. We shall unwrap tonight. I'm being very good and haven't looked inside it yet. (Honestly, Santa.)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Mincemeat and Christmas biscuits


225g soft dark sugar
200ml apple or orange juice
1kg grated cooking apples
225g currants
225g raisins
50g chopped nuts - walnuts, almonds
rind and juice of a lemon
scant teaspoon each of allspice and

This recipe contains no fat, ideal for slimmers and vegetarians, (if you forget about the pastry!) 

Melt the sugar in the apple juice and add all the other ingredients once the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes until you have a soft mash. Put in sterilised jars while hot. I pour in a little brandy at this stage. The mincemeat will keep for a couple of months.

Julpepparkakor (Christmas gingersnaps) from Maja's Swedish cookbook.

6oz light brown sugar
2oz treacle
200g water
5oz margarine
1lb flour
1/2 tablespoon each of cinnamon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda.

Boil together the sugar, treacle and water. Add the margarine to melt and then set aside to cool. Stir in the dry ingredients and work the dough until it is smooth.
Roll very thinly and cut out.

Bake for about 8 minutes at 175c gas mark 3.

I hope that your icing skills are a whole lot better than mine. This recipe makes 150 or more biscuits, so there is plenty of  opportunity to improve! 
 Threaded with a ribbon the biscuits can be hung on the Christmas tree.

Monday 20 December 2010

Christmas cards

Here is a Christmas card for each of my followers.
Hearts for Janet Haigh who persuaded me to blog!

A 'scrumptious' apple for Willow for her scrumptious poetry 
and holly for the Hostess.

An elegant swan for Edith Hope and sensible shoes for Sensible Footwear.

Presents for Jill and
pudding for Erica.

The gateway to the Gamekeeper's Cottage for My Yellow House
and the Gardener on Sherlock Street.

A wreath for Connie Lou 
and stitching for Bozena.

Hearts for Janet at the Gardener's Cottage xxx.

How it's looking at the moment, for Jacqueline.
Urns (not Grecian) for Steve at the fabulous Urban Cottage.
A bad dog for Andy.
An enviable figure for She's no Plain Jane (she's already got one!)
A cracker for Tom.

A pink heart for Greatma 
 and ribbons and a Russian doll
 for Mariondee-designs


A snow scene for BritinTn.
Someone else working in the garden for Gary, (Himself, clearing the path.)
A robin for Kim.
Father Christmas for Bonnie.
A fox terrier in a jumper for Dash.

And best wishes for a very Happy Christmas
from me.