Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Happy Endings

This last week has been a crazy, manic, busy and most off all productive week. After many weeks of stressful house hunting, we have finally found a place to call our new home! We are still waiting on a few administrative things to be finalised, but we are hopeful that we will be on the move just after Christmas. Relieved doesn't even begin to explain how I feel at the moment :)

I also realised with a jolt that there are very few days left until Christmas and although we have started packing up our flat, we have put up our Christmas tree. It seemed a bit silly at the time, but seeing Little T's face of pure wonderment and joy when we switched on the lights made it all worth it.

I haven't done nearly as much Christmas baking as I would have liked to though, but I fully intent to rectify that in my few spare minutes this week. I have a wonderfully spiced, citrus cake in mind for our Christmas Eve dinner...

To top off this amazing week, I managed to finish my Giant Granny Square blanket!! Using seventeen different colours of yarn, I did fifty-nine rounds of treble clusters to make a blanket big enough for all three of us to snuggle under. I had a bit of trouble choosing a border for my blanket, but in the end I just did what felt right. A few rounds of double crochet in two of my favourite colours and it's all rounded off with a gentle scallop in a girly pink (for me).

It was a very poignant moment when I finished this project as it made me realise that many things are now coming to an end for our family. Not only is it nearly the end of another year, but it's also nearly the end of my time being at home with Little T, the end of P's long employ at the wonderfully crazy workshop and of course it's the end of our time here in London! As scary as all of these things might be, we are looking forward to a New Year full of new experiences and adventures, and at least we're getting a good night's sleep under our new lovely blanket :)
I am sure to be very busy over the next few weeks and most likely won't have time to blog. So I will wish you all a very happy Christmas now, I hope that you will spend this Festive Season with the ones you love, eating plenty of good food :)
I will be back in the New Year, with plenty of stories to tell!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Back to Baking

For a little while there I had completely lost my baking mojo. I just couldn't find the inspiration or desire to bake anything and found myself buying chocolate bars and packets of biscuits for those moments we wanted something sweet. It didn't feel right though and I knew that I had to do something to get myself back into the baking spirit.

Luckily I got to spend a few wonderful hours walking around Covent Garden with a friend last week and we immersed ourselves in all things Christmas. The smells of mulled wine, gingerbread and chocolate wafted towards us from all of the beautifully decorated stalls and by the time I got home I was feeling very festive indeed. With my senses still buzzing from all of the Christmassy goodness, I headed straight to my kitchen to see if I could create my own bit of Festive cheer.

Dried cranberries always feel festive to me, and I immediately knew that I wanted to use some of these ruby red jewels to bake some cookies. There obviously had to be some chocolate involved too, and I had the perfect swirled choc-chips waiting in my cupboard still left over from my trip to Canada.
After a very joyful hour of mixing, scooping and baking I had the pleasure of eating a still slightly warm, gooey, scrumptious cookie. No store bought biscuit can hold a candle against that! Oh how happy I was to be baking again :) 

Festive Cheer Cookies
  • 175g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 175g rolled oats
  • 100g dried sweetened cranberries
  • 100g mixed choc chips (milk and white)

Preheat the oven to 180 °C/350 °F/Gas 4. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using held held beaters), cream together the butter and sugar and pale and fluffy.
Add the vanilla to the butter mixture and then beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth.
Slowly beat in the flour, mixing well and then add the oats, cranberries and chocolate chips, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
Use a small ice-cream scoop to spoon the mixture onto the baking sheets and flatten the cookies slightly using a fork.
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until they are lightly golden brown and starting to crisp around the edges.
Leave the cookies to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Of course, they are simply delicious eaten still a little bit warm.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

Winter has most definitely arrived. We are once again greeted every morning by a pale and frosty world, trees bare of all their leaves and a watery sun trying it's best to brighten up the short days. It's not all bad though, we have been blessed with a few sunny, though very cold days over the past week and I managed to take Little T to the park on just such a day.

He was very happy to run around the playground, still wet from the melted ice and in spite of the biting cold, we were both really enjoying being out of the house for a while.

When the weather turns cold, I always start craving citrus fruits. Bags of clementines, oranges, grapefruits and lemons regularly fill my shopping basket and make up most of our snacks at the moment.

They can make any winters day bearable with their brightly coloured, richly scented peels and their wonderfully juicy segmented insides. Whether I'm eating slices of fresh clementine or a slice of lemon and lime drizzle cake, they are all my perfect winter's treat.

I haven't just been eating though, I have also been making most of the long nights by adding to my colourful blanket. It has grown quite satisfactorily over the past few weeks and is already doing its job in keeping us warm. It's very nearly big enough to cover the entire sofa and therefore the entire family. I am just not ready to stop working on it yet. A few more colours should do the trick though and then the all important border will keep me going for another short while.

Right now I am off to the warmth of my kitchen to make a pan full of lemony risotto for dinner that is sure to keep us cosy and warm on this cold and frosty night :)