Saturday 31 December 2011

Going, going....

The year will soon be over, but the flowers bought for Christmas are still going strong, buds are opening and, together with the Christmas tree, bringing much-needed colour to counteract the dull, wet weather out of doors.

Some of the roses are  a lovely dusky grey-pink, just the colour that I keep trying to grow in the garden, with little success. 
It is also difficult to capture this colour on my camera, natural light is so low at this time of year that the camera tries to compensate and artificial light also distorts.
We are crossing the road to bring in the New Year with our neighbours. There will be great company, food, drink and dancing.
I'v polished my dancing shoes (and I'll be taking my camera!)

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is when we decorate the house. The tree is brought in from a corner of the garden and the boxes of ornaments carried down from the attic.  It is not the most elegant of trees, a bit bald looking in places. We have had this one for a good five years or more and by the time we have laden it with years of assorted finery  its imperfections will not be noticed.
It is always a red and green theme. The red ornaments are mostly apples and hearts.

The hearts have been handmade
 and given to me over the years as small Christmas gifts..

A window-cill is cleared to make room for the nativity,

and we are ready!


Friday 23 December 2011

A present from the neighbours

Mmm, delicious - a brace of pheasant. They were shot last weekend but I've skinned them today (see my January posting 'pheasant' for the quickest and most simple way) and put the breast and leg meat in the freezer ready to make a tasty casserole in the New Year. I normally hang them for a little longer so that the flavour can develop, but the weather is quite mild and also from tomorrow the kitchen will be full of Christmas activity. 
The Christmas tree is to decorate but I've mislaid the fairy. I hope you are all far better organized than I am!

Thursday 15 December 2011

Low-fat mincemeat


225g soft dark brown sugar
200 ml apple juice
900g cooking apples, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
225g currants
225g raisins
50g slivered almonds
grated rind and juice of a lemon.

Melt the sugar in the apple juice. When completely dissolved add everything else, bring to the boil and then simmer for half an hour until you have a soft mash.
Bottle while hot into sterilised jars. Fills about five jars. 

I like to add a splash of brandy or cointreau to each jar for a little extra flavour.

Because this recipe doesn't contain the usual suet it is not a long keeper but will be fine for a couple of months in a cool, dark place.
(The doctor phoned today and apparently I'm all but rattling with gall stones. Unless someone can give me a fat-free pastry recipe for pastry there will be no mince pies for me!)

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Flowers in the house

Fierce weather has brought down some lovely branches at the edge of the woods. Just the job for making a rather lopsided Christmas wreath.

Here is my marsh orchid for flwrjane at smallbutcharming. It is as white as the hailstones that are hammering against the window pane.

Pull down the blind!

I've rescued a few bedraggled flowers from the garden. A couple of 'Iceberg' roses that were covered in ice sit in a vase with seeded parsley, some sage and bay leaves. Another small  vase contains colourful fuchsias.

The curtains are drawn and the wood burner lit. 
Keep warm.

Thursday 8 December 2011


Earlier occupants of our home planted  a group of three silver birch trees in a corner of the garden. They grew and, fighting for space, started to lean, so, some years ago, we had one removed and reduced the height of the others. The remaining two have re-grown prodigiously and it is time to say goodbye to another and to shorten the survivor.
While we are about it we shall have the fir trees that border the road cut back a little.

The smaller birch tree branches and the cuttings from the fir trees are all chipped. It's useful stuff and at some time in the future I'll be spreading it down as a mulch.
We've also got quite a good supply of birch logs to cut and store.

Ah, that's better, we can see daylight!