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Archive for November, 2010

Last weekend the Christmas Hamper cooking really kicked off. Catherine and I spent all day Saturday in the kitchen (her lovely, roomy bright kitchen) as we set about making many batches of Chilli Jam, Lemon Curd, and Plum Apple Butter for the Christmas hampers we are putting together for friends and family. Last year was our first attempt, and the baskets were so well received. We sourced the wicker baskets and cellophane wrap on eBay, collected jars of all shapes and sizes during the year, and printed our own labels to stick on the jars.

Even if you only try out one of our foodie gift ideas, it will make a really personal gift! It doesn’t have to be a hamper of lots of different things – to be honest, it only works out for us because there are two of us on the task. I could never manage all the work for it on my own! But if you stick to one or two things (maybe one preserve, which you make in advance, or some easy biscotti), a food gift can be a lovely token to bring along when you visit friends and family at Christmas. Preserves especially usually work out quite cheap to make, and seem so impressive all packaged up.

We found the Plum Apple Butter recipe on Kitchen Simplicity. (Note the fab kitchen renovation on the front page)

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The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. There are many recipes for pasta frolla and different ideas about how to make it. Simona gave us two versions. They have been inspired by those in the book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911). The book was first published in 1891, and is available in English translation as Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

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Pecan Pie!

It’s almost Thanksgiving! A day that usually just passes me by here in the West of Ireland because we don’t get the day off (though I sometimes see some specials in the Uni canteen for the visiting American students 🙂 ). A look at the newspapers these days makes you feel that it’s all doom and gloom ahead, and not much to be thankful for at all.

But there’s always something to be happy about, and thankful for! 😀

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I ♡ IKEA

Don’t you just love IKEA?

I made (yet another) trip to IKEA Dublin last weekend. I truly love that place, though it does bring out the wistful part of me that wants a big empty house to decorate (using someone else’s credit card!).

Their marketing is really something. I always arrive thinking I only need a few jars, maybe a pie dish. Then after a walk around, drooling over the so-Swedish design, you get to the registers and realise you’ve picked up a duvet cover, a lamp, some house plants and some flatpack furniture. Oh and the jars you actually came for, along with an extra pie dish and some wine glasses.

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Mini Christmas Puddings

The title of this post really should be “Mini Christmas Puddings: am I crazy?”. I admit that as I greased the 22nd pudding mould, I started to doubt my plan. What was I thinking?

How was I ever going to steam them all?

Do I really have to cut out 22 pieces of foil and parchment paper? And 22 lengths of string?

Turns out that, though a bit time-consuming, it was all quite straightforward really. 🙂

This is my first time making Christmas puddings. My friend, Catherine, and I are putting some yummy Christmas foodie hampers again this year: chilli jam, lemon curd, mince pies, plum puddings, and a few more surprises. After last year’s success, we are the ultimate Christmas hamper team! 😀 I put these puddings together a few weeks ago, but don’t panic, it’s still not too late for you to get cracking. This Sunday (Nov 21) is Stir-up Sunday – the day you get your puddings ready and everyone around the house gets a chance to stir the mix and make a wish. I did all the stirring for these little puddings, so I’m expecting alot of luck to come my way 😉

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Another weekend almost gone…it feels like we’re on a landslide towards Christmas. I think all my crazy hours in college trying to push through my thesis are making the weeks just blur into each other. It feels like just yesterday all the undergrads came back on campus and started clogging up the coffee queues, and now the end-of-semester exams are just a few weeks away! Eeep! Boy am I glad that I don’t have any written exams anymore! That thought make me almost content in my thesis-writing! 😀

I made these bars earlier this week. I felt in the mood for something ‘fruity’, and remembered that bag of frozen raspberries that I have been ignoring for too long now. The recipe is from ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Baking’, a book which was also being ignored for too long! These bars, though referred to as breakfasty, are really suitable as a little snack any time of the day. Not too sugary, so the raspberry and lemon combo shine through and give a bit of a tang.

In other news, I reaquainted myself with the gym this morning. I felt creaky!

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The wind is howling outside the office today, and the River Corrib is rising.  Any more rain and the water will be edging towards us! This is comfort food weather. I made this pie last night with some leftover roast chicken, and it was so….damn…..good. Really, I surprised myself. A fabulous way to use up leftover chicken, and any veggies you have lying around could be thrown in: I used some leeks and carrots, but peas and even broccoli would work well. The addition of cream is optional, but, hey, it’s Thursday! 😛
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