Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Not Long Now...

Can you believe it!!! There's only four more sleeps until Christmas :)
I can hardly believe how quickly this year has gone by. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we brought our little boy home from hospital, scared silly with the prospect of having to take care of this tiny little baby. In reality it has been nearly seven months already and he's really not that little any more. Having T around has made Christmas feel like a really big event this year and I am planning on making everything that extra bit more special. But before I start making things for us, I have to make things for others, after all, that is what Christmas is all about.

I love the idea of baking and making sweet things for friends instead of buying something and have done just that again this year. Once a week I meet with a lovely group of mums for lunch and a chat while our little ones entertain each other. Today was our last meeting for the year and I wanted to give them something small to say thank you for keeping me sane with some adult conversation and letting me know I'm not the only one struggling with sleepless nights. Little star shaped cookies, studded with bright red cranberries and spiced with cinnamon seemed to me like just the treat. Add to this little milk chocolate lollipops sprinkled with chopped nuts and a few more cranberries and you have Christmas ready to be wrapped up in a bow. Last minute shopping and family visits meant that a few mums missed out on their gifts, but luckily nothing was wasted :)

For the next few days I will rarely be leaving my kitchen, making more edible gifts, preparing a traditional Polish Wigilia dinner and of course roasting the bird, making the trimmings and lastly getting those Yorkshire puds into the oven.

I wish you all a wonderful and happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Winter Wonderland

Winter is well and truly here. All the trees are bare, arctic winds are blowing around every corner and colds and flues are making the rounds in one and all. Warming stews and soups are our dinner time staples and Vitamin C rich fruits and veggies are being eaten in massive amounts. I'm constantly looking for the sunniest spot in our flat for me and little T to sit and I have even dusted off my crochet needles to make us each a cosy blanket to snuggle up under.

I have also been keeping the oven running with lots of pre-Christmas baking. Spiced apple cake, sticky toffee pudding, cranberry and coconut cookies and a dark chocolate and orange loaf have all come out of the kitchen this month and have all disappeared into our greedy tummies. But nothing says Christmas baking like a batch of Ginger Harrys and that's exactly what I made yesterday afternoon. With the tree decorated and all lit up, mesmerising little T for a while, I got my tin of cookie cutters out, whipped up the royal icing and soon had a small army of men and even some trees ready for munching as the evening closed in. 

If you are feeling the Christmas spirit and want to get the oven on to keep the winter out, go and make your own little gingerbread men, trees or even stars!

  • 100g butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan on a gentle heat and set aside to slightly cool. Mix together the flour, ginger and sugar in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and syrup. Lightly mix and then add in the egg, then get stuck in with your (clean) hands. Knead the mix until it comes together and is smooth. Wrap in some cling-film and put into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and lightly grease a couple of cookie sheets. Take your dough out of the fridge and give it another good knead until it feels slightly more elastic. Roll it out on a clean, flat surface to about 6mm thick. You can either use cookie cutters or your own templates and a sharp knife to cut out your cookies. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Leave on the sheet for a couple of minutes to firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating with royal icing.

Have Fun!!!!!!