Category Archives: Crafts

Feasting, Scrooge, and a Christmas Party

It’s all over… I ache, and my hands are a sight to behold with burns, grate marks and beetroot stains…but it was all worth it!

I have been cooking since Friday.

I started with the pork pies as I knew they would give me a huge sense of pride right at the beginning of the marathon but I also knew they would be tricky, nerve wracking and time consuming. They didn’t disappoint on all fronts!

Next I tackled the sweets, late at night with a glass of wine I stuffed orange flower scented almond paste into sticky prunes and dipped them in dark 70% cocoa chocolate… my gosh they are delicious (if I do say so myself!)

I was on a roll that night and because we had decided that of course we could throw our traditional Christmas party for 30 people the next day, I made 2 batches of pastry, 1 for the sausage rolls and 1 for the mince pies.

On Saturday I made the next pork pie, the pork stock for jelly (more on that debacle later), wrapped the sweets in waxed paper squares, 50 wild boar and venison sausage rolls, 50 mince pies and the pickled beetroot slices. We had a party inbetween.
Sunday was the mega marathon. I did the Tudor mince pies, jellied the pork pies, made the pheasant main dish (to marinade overnight) and 2 almond milk  jellies. With a break in the midle to watch the 1951 Alistair Sim Scrooge with that memorable line: “Oh Peter Peter, come and hear the pudding singing in the copper!” (You thought I was going to say “Gawd bless us, everyone” didn’t you!?)

Monday was veg: I peeled and trimmed all the little carrots, scrubbed, chopped and pre-roasted the artichokes, made the pearl barley salad, de-seeded the pomegranates, poached pears in wine and spices and made a syrup, baked the vegggie main and got everything packed into a hundred and one boxes and and traveled on down to another, slightly less well equipped kitchen…to feast.

I want to say thank you to all my wonderful guests and incredible waiters. Your enthusiasm and clean plates were a joy. Thank you for making the first supper club such a magical memorable event. Watch this space for all the recipes so you can recreate the fun at home (!)

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Now for the next one….

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Filed under Baking, chocolate, Christmas, Crafts, Decorating, Kitchen Tips, Meat, Supper, Supper Club

Why I’ve been away…

…for far too long!

Well it’s December! And I get very excited in December. I never thought this blog would have stuff like this on it, but below I’m showing you why I have not been cooking… I’ve been obsessively making Christmas decorations!

There will be a couple of recipes winging their way to you very soon, but I thought I’d excuse my absence with a little bit of paper folding, and decking of halls.

Little Paper Wreaths

1. Take millions of pieces of paper (use quite sturdy paper or they fall apart)  cut into 8cm x 4cm strips (or if you want to make bigger or smaller just make sure width is half length)

2. Fold them in half lengthways, then widthways

3. Then fold down their corners so the open side is facing up

4. Now take 8 little bits and with the open side always facing up, slot the pointed ends into the open pockets of the tops (make sense? see illustration below if not!)

How they fit together…

Bauble Wreath

This was an unfinished project from last Christmas, I got so bored making decorations last year that this one sat on my desk looking mournful for a further 12 months. That is why I start so early in December!

1. Get a wire coat-hanger and bend it into a circle. Bend the hook around to form a loop.

2. Wrap the whole thing in something pretty (tape, ribbon, raffia, golden thread spun by angels?!)

3. Now make your baubles. You will work out how many you need as you go along:  I used 3 different sizes for mine and I was left with 1 spare at the end; not sure how that happened.

4. Get some circular things to use as templates (cotton reel, bracelet and jam lid were mine)…

5. …And some nice paper. I used printed out William Morris textiles, and tracing paper (translucent and sturdy, perfect!) for the white ones…

6. …And some stiff card.

7. Use your template to cut 8 circles of paper per bauble (you can do 8 at once if you stack or fold the paper, just be careful to keep all the circles the same size otherwise you’ll have to trim later… If you are American, you will probably have a fancy circle cutting stamp gadget.)

8. Cut out one circle of  the stiff card per bauble too, this will be the flat back piece .

9. Fold the paper circles in half (if you are using a coloured paper with white on the other side fold so the colour is on the inside of the fold)

10. Now get sticking. Glue an outside half of a circle and then stick 2 circles together matching up the the straight folded edge. Continue until you have all 8 circles attached but leave them open as if in a fan shape with a flat bottom.

11. Continue making your half baubles until you have enough to circle the entire wreath. Trim off any white bits from imperfect baubles as you go.

12. Now decide what order you are putting your baubles in, and attach them by gluing one half to your stiff card, slipping it over the coat-hanger, and then gluing the other half so it is attached with a flat back and a bauble fan on the front. Continue until all are attached, they will hold each other in place.

Then make a stylish 80s ribbon (or not) and ta daaaaaa! Wreath.

Garland I

This was the easiest project in the world.

1. Buy 50 felt balls on ebay

2. Thread them onto about 10ft of red embroidery silk.

3. Tie a loop at each end.

4. Hang up.

5. Brilliant.

Garland II

More paper baubles…
This one isn’t finished yet so I’ll put up better pictures later…

1. Get an old book you have read twice by mistake and were going to give to charity because it wasn’t very good either time around

2. Pull out about 12 pages and use a circular template again to cut out circles.

3. Fold each circle in half and gather all 12 together (this is important as it helps keep you stitches straight)

4. Thread a big embroidery needle (anything smaller won’t get through the paper, but make sure it isn’t a child safe embroidery needle as this will be totally blunt, you need a good sharp point) with a long piece of black thread.  Don’t measure out the total length you want to achieve or you’ll get in a tangle. Use just enough so you can get about 3 or 4 baubles on

5. Now sew along the folded middle of your 12 circles keeping to the straight folded line… when you reach the end of the circle don’t cut the thread, just leave it and then when you have made your next set of circles, just start sewing again leaving a few inches in-between each bauble. When you run out of thread, just knot the end and cut and then start again threading through the last hole.

6. Fan out the individual leaves of each bauble starting from the centre until each page is evenly spaced. They have a tendency to ‘open’ on the sewn edge.

7. Carry on until bored.

8. String up along the bannister, or across a window, or on the kitchen ceiling and relish the fact that you can never mistakenly read that book again…

I feel like these craft ‘recipes’ read a little bit like Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole when he writes his recipe for scones… “Make a tin greasy; bung it all in”

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Filed under Christmas, Crafts, Decorating