Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tis the Season

Tis the season, 


To cook. Cakes, puddings, gingerbread, biscuits and cookies, mince pies and shortbread. 


Create a festive welcome


Put up a tree, outside 


and inside. I love my collection of red and gold baubles and birds, they sit nicely amongst the poinsettia and bows.




To decorate. In the hallway


And anywhere else you can put a decoration or two or three. 


Whilst Santa may be laid back



Christmas is never understated at my house.


To be busy crafting, the Santa production is in full swing. The prototype for this year - you will need to wait and see the finished product.


To get the Christmas shopping done, I love a well decorated public space and these sort of displays always help get me in the spirit.


To eat naughty things, like this bag of toffees


And To Party.

The Christmas get togethers and parties have begun. The first of the season - the Line Dancing Christmas Party. Les is such an inspiration, nearly 89 and still going strong as our line dancing instructor. A morning of line dancing, a formal lunch with more dancing, a lovely gift of a CD of line dances to practise over the Summer break. What more could I ask for?


And while I might dreaming of a White Christmas this is as close as it gets. Another lunch, the venue had this white and gold tree and it got me thinking. New tree, holiday in Bamff or some other cold and snowy destination.








Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Fika & Hygge

A rather delightful addition to my collection. Not that I needed another book but it caught my eye and after a quick flick through at the counter home it came.


There were some ripe bananas in the bowl perfect for That Banana Cake page 69


Cookies and biscuits are always good, Pepper Nuts page 29


Jewish Biscuits page 25


There are lots of recipes that I am looking forward to trying.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Round and Round the Mulberry Tree

 Mulberries are not a fruit that seem to be around or grown commercially but are a fantastic fruit for compotes, jam, ice creams and parfaits. They are intensely coloured and stain everything that they come in contact with, best to wear disposable gloves for picking and processing. My first experience of mulberries had me hooked.


It really has been a case of round and round the mulberry tree. My friend Nicole has a large spreading tree that is loaded with fruit. 'Pick as many as you like' she said so I did, two buckets.  


My favourite way to have them is as a compote. The mulberries hold their shape during the cooking process and are tart enough to counteract the sweetness of the syrup.  Add a splash of brandy and serve with good vanilla icecream, cream or yoghurt for a delicious dessert.


Great for breakfast with some yoghurt and granola or muesli


Or with a wedge of hazelnut and mulberry cake



Any leftover syrup is used to stew prunes or rhubarb. The syrup is also good as a topping on icecream.









Mulberry Compote
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
500 g mulberries, stalks snipped off and washed.
1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Place sugar and  water in a saucepan. I like to use a shallow pan or deep frypan.
Bring the mixture to the boil, stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved and the simmer until the mixture becomes a little thicker and syrupy.


Add prepared mulberries and simmer for five to ten minutes, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the mulberries. The syrup will become a purple colour as the mulberries release some juice.









Remove mulberries from the syrup using a slotted spoon.


Continue to simmer the syrup until it is quite thick. Add brandy if desired.

Pour the hot syrup over the mulberries. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Coconut Biscuits

 I often make these around Christmas as an alternative to shortbread. When the dough is piped and decorated with glacé cherries they look quite festive.


The finished biscuits are a little richer and softer in texture than most due to the higher proportion of butter in the dough. I like to use some nutmeg in the mixture but have made them with cinnamon and without spice. If time permits place the trays of unbaked biscuits in the fridge until the dough is firm. This helps reduce the spreading of the biscuits during baking.


The biscuits need to piped as soon as the mixture is made as the dough is softer and easier to pipe. 


Glacé cherries or nuts can be used to decorate the biscuits.



Mostly, I roll the dough into balls. 


Coconut Biscuits

Ingredients
250 g butter (soft)
1/2cup brown sugar
1/2cup caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional or spice of choice)
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups coconut
Glace cherries to decorate (optional) or blanched almonds / pistachio nuts

Method

Cream (beat) butter, sugars and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.  This can be done in a food processor.

Beat in egg then baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and nutmeg/spice if using.

Stir in flour and coconut and mix until well combined.  If using a food processor use the pulse action.

Place mixture into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Pipe the mixture directly on trays lined with baking parchment, approximately 3 cm in diameter. Allow room for biscuits to spread.  Place a quarter of a glace cherry in the middle of each biscuit

Alternatively, roll mixture into small balls and place onto lined trays. Flatten lightly with your fingers.

If time permits place trays of unbaked biscuits in the fridge to chill and set firmly. 

Bake at 170 deg C until light golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.
 
Allow the cooked biscuits to stand for a minute or two and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely store in an airtight container.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

October Theme - Tribal

The swaps for October, the Tribal theme was interpreted widely. It continues to be interesting and  to see how each person interprets the theme and then how the ideas are translated into the trading card. Stitch is a key feature of the cards, as would be expected from a challenge set up by the Embroiderers Guild. I tend towards machine stitch and a more mixed media or applique focus, however, others are very keen on hand embroidery. I look forward to getting my 'little artworks' in the mail each month.

My swap


Tribal Face Masks   1/4


Tribal Face Masks 1/4
The background is a fabric that was given to me as an 'African' fabric. The masks were from another fabric, appliquéd and machine stitched to the background.

The Swaps I received


Tribal   1/3
Painted wadding, machine embroidery with silk using solvi.


Tribal
Ndebele beading and hand stitch.


Aztec Feather Shield   1/4
Appliqué, hand and machine stitching.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Road Trip is Over


More touring around South Australia, this was the unplanned leg of the trip. Internet access was very restricted on Kangaroo Island so I spent some time on the ferry connecting everyone to the wifi system so that the search for accomodation could begin. 


We decided to head back to Adelaide through the McLarenvale region.



More wine tasting and then lunch at D'Arrys Verandah Restaurant (D'Arrenburg Wines)




There was a trip to the Adelaide Botanical Gardens


The shade from this magnificent old oak was very welcome and a good spot to have lunch.



Adelaide Botanical Gardens has this collection of old papier-mâché mache fungi and fruits, 


This restored glass conservatory that houses a collection of Madagascan plants






















Waterlillies


And some interesting bromeliads


No trip to Adelaide is complete without Glenelg Beach



Goolwa 


How could I ignore this? I'm told that I have a bit of a waddle and my son would often call me 'mother duck'


Sometimes things do not always go to plan and despite plenty of touring around Goolwa, Lake Hindmarsh, the Murray River and Coorong and the various conservation areas we were unable to find much bird life to photograph.


Next up was Robe.


Very wild weather, windy and wet so we decided that home beckoned.


A long car journey gave me enough time to finish this blanket that was my travelling project.




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