Monday, 17 December 2012

Tried and Tested: Peanut Brittle

Busy weekend cleaning, baking and cooking!
Just love it.
True to tradition, I went to "carols by candlelight" last night with 3 friends. We tried out a new church this year - it was nice, although more 'happy clappy' than the more traditional places.
Time to try something new for Christmas! In addition to my regular Rocky Road,
I made Nigella's Peanut Brittle and it is super easy and super yummy (and not too much!).
Let's just hope Our Boy gets his braces off for Christmas so he can enjoy them.
If not, they are great little gifts!
Heat up gently
200 gram caster sugar
60 ml water
150 gram golden syrup
Let it boil briskly for about 10 mins!
Be aware - this is VERY hot!!!
150 gram salted peanuts
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
25 gram soft butter
1 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Stirr well and pour the mixture onto a well greased baking paper and smooth it out.
Let it cool and break into pieces.
Make the brittle up to 1 week before eating or giving. Store in airtight bags or containers in a dry, non-humid environment.
Once opened, eat within 7 to 10 days.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Not Much Time...

for keeping up with the blog these days!
I am planning to start baking and preparing for Christmas this coming weekend and thinking of making some new things this year. No point baking too soon - it won't last till Christmas then! The gingerbread cookies and biscotti I made earlier this month (twice!) are all gone, so I think it will be better for all of us if we wait for some days with the rest
So, instead I share with you a picture I took of the mailbox by our house yesterday morning.
It is really cold here.
No, I mean it.
R-e-a-l-l-y cold.
-7 is no joke with added humidity.
But the frozen spider's webs are rather magical, I think!
But the question is
- will there ever be snow?
Perhaps better not wish for it - I couldn't bike to work then!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Tried and Tested: Cranberry and Red Onion Marmalade

I bought some really nice red onion marmalade when I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair and it 'disappeared' very quickly. A friend gave me this recipe for this very nice and seasonal accompaniment to cheese/cold meat/pate/etc. and I made some last night. Judging by how it was received in our house, I will probably have to make another batch for Christmas. 

Here is how I made it:

2 tablespoons olive oil
500 grams red onions, sliced
Juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon pickling spice
150 gram dark muscavado sugar
150 ml ruby port
120 grams dried cranberries
(the original recipe called for 450 grams fresh cranberries, but I took what I had)

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onions for 5 mins.
Add the orange juice, spice, sugar, cranberries and port and simmer gently for 1 hr.
Cool and chill

Friday, 7 December 2012

In The Run Up To Christmas...

This week and next has been and will be a bit hectic around here!
In addition to all the various work projects that need to be done before Christmas, all sorts of social events are going on!
It started peacefully with a visit from a friend from Oslo and her son earlier this week! Although they came from -15 to about 0, it has been incredibly cold here this last week! This damp wet cold really is ruthless!!! But as always it was lovely seeing them and we really enjoyed being together. It was a short visit for a very specific purpose and they went back again yesterday, but we have hopes that we might see them again in January...?
Today was the Christmas lunch with a group of Scandinavian ladies I have met during this last year and tonight I am off to the office party. This year the party will start with a quiz and we are encouraged to form teams and 'dress to impress'. Each team has to have a name and I am apparently on the team are called 'The Decorations'. I have been instructed to dress up as a Christmas Decoration....
I chose an easy way out  - I will be 'The Lights'.
Two strings of battery driven LED lights will do the trick, I think!
I hope this won't be the only way I will 'shine' tonight!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On the Move...

We are selling our flat in Edinburgh!
the lounge
The Professor is taking up a new job in Durham (2.5 hours from us as opposed to 5 hrs like today!) in the spring and this means that we have to put the flat on the market and hopefully start looking for a new property for him!
Let's hope somebody nice is looking for a lovely place to live in Edinburgh! It has been an extremely useful and easy property to have, so I hope it will be possible to find something similiar again.
master bedroom
We have fallen in love with these old properties with high ceilings and big windows. As the flat is on the top floor it lets in a lot of light.
You can see the prospectus here 
main bathroom
2nd bedroom
Viewings on Sundays from 2 pm - 4 pm!
(The pictures are all taken by the estate agent)


Monday, 3 December 2012

Never Too Old...!

Never too old for an advent calendar!
Although Our Boy is 16, he insists on having one and I must admit I love making one for him. I think I am almost as excited as he is when he opens it over breakfast in the mornings. Nothing really expensive in it, but little bits and bobs that he could use or enjoy.
 I am really fond of the calendar I made years ago for him.
This is what memories and tradtions are made of!
This weekend I managed to get some of the preparations for Christmas done. The advent candles were lit yesterday, some of the gifts are bought and wrapped (don't think I have ever been this early...!) and I made gingerbread men. I used the ready made dough from Ikea and it was absolutely fine!
A small tip - when I went to find the advent calendar in our Christmas decoration box, I also found 4 purple candles and some left over Christmas napkins from last year. I always pack away any leftover seasonal candles and napkins and they come in handy now at the beginning of the season. Particularly the purple candles which are hard to find around here (I found them online last year). Purple is the traditional colour for advent and I like to stick to this tradtion, if I can. Although this year I also have put together a white one.
Can't have too many candles in the dark evenings, if you ask me!