Looking back

#sadness #nostalgia #loss

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Today is tinged with sadness. Remembering loved ones lost over this year, lives changed by force of circumstance.

Hold on to those you love, hold on to everything good in your lives because you never know when it will be taken.

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It’s Saturday

Whilst many people are enjoying the festivities and celebrations of the season, this time of year is not a happy one for everyone, and it can be fraught with stress and tension.  We all need a little time out, to get some peace, to feed our souls. Remember to take time for yourself.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a happy and peaceful weekend 🙂

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The “C” Word (Part 4)

What do you do when you’ve had a long stressful week at work and only two hours sleep? You think it’s a good idea to unwrap and ice your Christmas cake! Yes, with barely a brain cell, and absolutely no artistic ability, it seemed like a very good idea.

Over the years I have tried various toppings / icing / decoration for my cake. Now I am an icing girl. Through and through.  Without icing there is usually very little point to anything.  I am a “would you like a piece of cake with your icing?” type of girl. Less is most definitely not more, when it comes to icing!

I do think a classic royal icing is the best, but we all remember the tooth-shattering hardness of this, and so the soft royal icing took over. I love this, you  need no talent, just put it on the cake, rough it up, and it looks like lovely peaks of snow. Royal icing however is made with egg, and I hate egg. Did I mention how much I hate egg? Bleurgh. And somehow I manage to smell the egg, when I have made the royal icing, with every mouthful of cake I detect that egg.  And guess what, fondant icing is made with egg too…..so this put me right off making my own fondant icing.

I don’t like to buy ready made icing, I need to feel I have actually made the effort, and succeeded. But, in this instance, reader, I caved. I gave in and bought ready made fondant icing.

And so, to the cake, which has been wrapped up tightly for weeks, just waiting for this day. A layer of apricot jam, and then a layer of marzipan:

and then topped with a layer of white fondant icing:

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This, you understand is just too plain. I must decorate it. Being completely devoid of talent doesn’t prevent me from having a wild imagination.  Past experience however has taught me to scale down my ambition, and I am determined, one day, to master a basic form of cake decoration so that it doesn’t look like a three-year old has done it. I have to admit, I am not doing very well on this front.  This year I set myself the task of making a fondant icing bow. I have watched countless YouTube videos of how to do this. I have even had a few trial runs (no photographic evidence!). Today it was now or never. I am not happy with my bow, it’s a bit rough around the edges, it’s just not quite right, but I have done worse.  I wanted to dust some edible lustre on the fondant ribbon, but it had a pinkish tinge to it, and didn’t look right. The blue one didn’t sparkle and shine, but somehow ended up making the ribbon look as if it was made from suede! Oh well. There’s always a next time! As for the snowflakes, no talent required, I have one of those marvellous stamp things that you punch into the fondant icing 🙂

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And so here is my Christmas cake, with fondant icing decoration. I just need to wait for it to dry a little bit before I cut myself a slice!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stay safe. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

The “C” Word (part 3) aka Bûche de Noël

Once again we go back to chocolate, and somehow it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Bûche de Noël – also known as Chocolate Log. I have made this a number of times, and always use the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s “Christmas”. It works, it is delicious. And, it contains no flour!  The sponge consists entirely of eggs, cocoa powder, caster sugar and vanilla essence.

Whisk the egg whites with some of the caster sugar; whisk the egg yolks with the remainder of the caster sugar until creamy and mousse-like; add the cocoa powder and vanilla, combine with egg whites and pour into baking tin.

Once baked, remove from the oven, cool slightly before turning out onto a sheet of baking paper and carefully roll up.  Leave to cool before icing.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, have a peaceful and happy weekend 🙂

 

Beef Casserole

Yes, I know.  This isn’t a cake, I haven’t baked. But, admit it, this is the weather for comfort food. It’s cold, it’s drizzly and miserable outside (drizzleable…..!!) and, to be honest I get tired of coming home after work and making supper each night.  Which means on the occasional Sunday I need to prepare the week’s meals so that all I have to do each evening is minor preparation and heating up the food.  Of course I don’t always do this (preparing ahead) because I am disorganised, or, come Sunday I can’t bear the thought of standing in the kitchen for a few hours preparing the food.

However, comfort food calls and a good hearty stew, or casserole – it sounds so much more sophisticated, doesn’t it 😉 is called for. Whilst I searched plenty of recipes on the internet I must confess in the end I just bought bits and pieces and flung them together.

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I chopped and braised the vegetables in small batches – I cannot believe I had the patience to do this, and then did the same with the meat.  I put it all in the casserole dish with herbs, chopped tomatoes, concentrated tomato puree, and stock.

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I covered the casserole dish and whacked the whole lot in the oven. Two hours later, and a house filled with the tomatoey, stewy, winter comfort food smell, it is cooked.

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I had wanted to serve it with mashed potatoes, but in the end decided on steamed new potatoes.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stay warm and safe. Have a lovely weekend.

 

A hole in my soul

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I can’t seem to shake off this sadness, and this makes me feel like a failure. I try to appear positive and somehow this makes me feel even worse. I wonder how long hearts take to heal.

Twitter tells me it is #WorldKindnessDay and what a shame it has to have just a day dedicated to it, because kindness matters. All the time. It can make the difference, all the difference.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you peace and happiness. May your days be filled with kindness.