Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Going, going, only joking!

Yesterday I went out to feed the birds....this seems to be my main outdoor activity over the last few snowy days, and it really seemed that at last the snow was nearly gone. I could see through the prints of the birds down to the surface of the patio!

But this morning, we wake up to more snow. It is still snowing, and I really need to get out to the shops, so I keep looking out of window waiting for it to stop snowing! Mr S went out to clear the 2 inches of snow from the car, wearing his new very warm hat!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Special Presents

I did have some lovely presents from friends and a very nice 'challenge' present from Mr S. We challenged each other to find a nice gift for £5. Well we spoil each other in so many ways during the year, and this year we decided to spare our efforts and just enjoy Christmas, its festivities and the various social and cultural does which this year started at the beginning of December.

As a crafter, the types of gifts I most appreciate are normally hand made.

From Matthew and Veronica we had a handsome wicker basket filled with all manner of hand made goodies ranging from Turkish Delight, toiletries, soap, sloe gin, cider, chocolate fudge etc., all home made and beautifully packaged and presented.

From my friend Judith, a superb hand knitted bag, embellished with beaded flowers and lined with 'recycled hand-knitted socks'. There were Liz Earle toileterries in the bag...but what a bag!

Also I count this as a 'Christmas Present', from Diane, a Knitting Friend to baby W. I took it over for Baby W's Mum on Boxing Day, and she was tickled pink! I think it will fit a one year old, but I guess it will be coming out several times before that, just to be admired.

Christmas day treats

Christmas day went well. We started off with welcoming Lita to share our breakfast. Mr S kept the kitchen clean and tidy and all the washing up under control.

We had a lovely walk out towards the Castle, through the park, then home for lunch, which for us, is what most people have as a starter: Smoked Salmon salad, but followed by a big chunck of Christmas Cake. After present opening, and before the Queen's speech, in went the excellent Cockerel, which we had picked from across the field the previous day, from the Tebbys at Rouncil Farm.

The excellent dinner with all the veggies and trimmings was followed by my individual Christmas Puddings.

Where had all the Panettones gone?

Its been a Christmas tradition in the Stasher household to have a Panettone for Christmas breakfast, along with fresh fruit and good coffee. Yes I have heard all the jokes about the cake, how they are kept in boxes and passed round and round within the Italian community etc. started by people (non Italians) who I am sure have never tasted that delicious Italian delicacy.

I have even been known to stash them, to bring out a new one for New Year, and even one for Easter.

This year it was panic, when I went out to seek my panettone I could not find any. Mr S was sent out to the shops near to where he works, and we even went to Lidl in Leamington, Waitrose, Sainsbury's etc., and they had all sold out, and the message was that not many had been sent out from Italy this year!

A couple of days before Christmas when the dismal thought of our first Christmas together for over 18 years now, without Panettone, got to me. Well with my bread making skills I ought to come up with some special and suitable breakfast bread!

I had a eureka moment at 3:00 a.m.: Pumpkin rolls. Why? Well, I had been rummaging through my stash of quirky things in the freezer the night before and had come across some pumpkin puree (serendipity)and had also remembered in my sleep a recipe in Linda Collister's: Bread from Ciabatta to Rye. This book had been a Christmas present from my good friend and excellent baker Vickie, a few years back. I did not follow the recipe exactly as I used dried cranberries instead of fresh cranberries, which I soaked in warm apple juice to plump up, and added a couple of egg yolks left from the royal icing for added richness, and plenty of pecan nuts too. I decided to make up the dough and leave it to rise overnight very slowly in a very cold conservatory, probably colder than the fridge!

During the night of the 'rising' I had another eureka moment and worked out some way of cooking the dough to look more like a panettone. I used a tall cake tin, and let it rise as far above the rim as I dared before putting it in the oven. Christmas Eve afternoon I was at last a happy woman.....

Mr S has voted this our new festive bread. A later call on Christmas Eve from Lita from down the road, and a rather sad face of being on her own on Christmas morning, brought a invitation to share our breakfast....that meant we had to get up early and be showered and dressed by 9:00, but it was lovely to share our 'Panettone' with a new friend. It was sufficient for breakfast on the following two days too.

It took pride of place on the sideboard with the Christmas Cake, which was delicious.

Finished Projects

In the run up to Christmas when I ought to have been in a flap choosing or making presents, cooking etc., I seemed to have gone into the knitting zone. For a friend's new grand-daughter, I was determined to use up the whole of the two balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarn, and made up some indoor shoes and some bootees ready for the colder weather, to go with a first born and the next size up baby hat.
During the last couple of days when it has really been too cold to venture far, I have completed my big project which is a baby blanket. Some friends were amazed when I said that I would be knitting one in 3 ply pure wool baby yarn. It took a lot of planning, designing and knitting and now it is finished, I am delighted with the outcome.