another busy sunday

today: eggnog, mincemeat (both need to ripen a couple of weks prior to consumption) and was also the big jam day - strawberry, and caramelised red onion relish with balsamic (recipe from more put a lid on it) - 18 wee jars of each for coworker xmas gifts plus extra for home (i am seeing sandwich cookies in the near future). and i finished up by making gingerbread dough.

too tired to type now!


oh holidays, holidays

two more hand-made gifts scratched off the list today!

and, some frustration.

after last night's visit to the one of a kind show, i've got sleds on the mind. i've looked at photos from citizen kane, and made up a plan based on this simple design. so today i headed off to fairbank lumber on the advice of a friend. no ash! but, they recommended unicorn universal woods. would they be open on saturday? of course! or, you know, not, as i learned, crying alone in their parking lot. but at least i know whom to call now.

of all the home-made gifts on my list, this is the one most likely to end up bought.

tomorrow's home-made xmas gift project: jam!


more yay and boo

yay is starting the second skein on the biggest secret surprise holiday gift. boo is wanting to take a pic for ravelry and realising i've misplaced my cardreader. sigh.

yay is getting a head start on xmas baking last saturday! every dough that requires being put in the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight is now chilling in my freezer - pastry for tarts, cookie dough for cheese biscuits, shortbreads, pecan crescents, and viennese icebox cookies. the last three i made vegan - the viennese icebox cookies ask for an egg, which i susbstituted almond milk. i think it will work, we shall see!

also yay is ttc-ing it to work again - so i can make proper dinners (well, those that are braces-chewable). last night we had colcannon (made with locally-sourced potatoes and cabbage from our organic box), baked ham, and broccoli (also from the box). yum!


pie love

madame benoit's apple pie recipe, by request! this is from an old cookbook that my mother collected section by section out of canadian homes magazine in the 1950s, and then assembled with a weird spring binding (that i guess came with the magazine as well?). according to the open library it has a total of 1,056 pages! this one is missing a few (e.g. the index after i think "p") but is still pretty hefty.

the pastry recipe is mine - she has pages of them in her book, but this is my standard no-recipe-needed pie crust (the basic rule is twice as much flour as fat by weight, and don't forget the acid). i don't look for other pie recipes unless i'm feeling very fancy. if you are making pastry from scratch, start well ahead - preferably the day before.

hungarian apple pie

1 1/2 to 2 cups pastry flour
2 tbs sugar
a shake or 2 of salt
5 oz shortening of some kind (butter, lard, margarine, vegetable oil shortening, or some combination of any of the above - i use half-and-half butter and lard), cold and cut into bits
1 tbs vinegar or lemon juice
4 to 6 tbs ice water

2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/8ths
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine

for the pastry:
combine dry ingredients with a fork. add shortening however you prefer (a fork, a pastry cutter, two knives, your fingers) blending until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
sprinkle over the vinegar (this is essential for flaky pastry - the acid keeps the gluten from "activating") and a tablespoon of ice water, mix in with a fork. add additional ice-water as necessary until it starts to hold together in big clumps.
spread the clumps around a pie plate and press in to cover in an even crust just under 1/4" thick. take whatever pastry is left over and roll into a rope; use this to make a decorative edge. put the pie plate into the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight.

for the filling:
combine the sugar and cinnamon. use to coat the apple slices. arrange neatly in the pie crust.

for the topping:
combine flour and sugar, then rub in the shortening as for pastry. sprinkle over the apples to cover.

bake the pie for about an hour at 350F. allow to cool for a while before eating, or you'll burn yourself. we tucked into our pie hours later, and it was still warm!


full steam ahead

wow. so i knit an afghan for my mother-in-law for xmas, and didn't i feel special for finishing it early, especially when she decided to head south for the winter a full six weeks before yuletide!

problem was, while i was finished knitting, i wasn't really finished. i still had the accursed blocking to do. and, there was the question of where to block it - it's really a whole-dining-room affair, and there was the chance that she'd be staying over a night or two before it was ready. so, i arranged to block it at the house of my friend and neighbour, amylovesred.

problem was, i went to the fracture clinic (did i mention that i broke my foot seven weeks ago?) on the monday morning (after we found out about mil's travel plans) and the doc said i should start putting weight on it, and go without the cast - at home at the very least, but preferably all the time. one day of that and i was toast. so did i find the energy to make the one-minute walk down to amy's house with my pins and boards? no, i did not. and suddenly it was the very busy day before the day when mil was coming to lunch, and too late to block it anywhere.


why not, i thought, just iron it? it's briggs & little, and i find all wool to be wonderfully forgiving, and b&l the most forgiving and hardy of all, so why not give it a shot?

and you know? it worked! and i'm sure it didn't take much longer than soaking and pinning would have, not counting the days it would have taken to dry. it was certainly tedious - i started from the middle (the pattern is a rectangle, knit from the centre out to each end), pinned what would fit on my ironing board, spritzed, pressed, and moved on to the next section. but! it is done. and it looks so nice. i'm quite pleased with myself.


since last i posted...

stuffing, dishes, sweeping, mopping, mashed potatoes, carrots, kale, roast chicken, gravy, more dishes, putting everything away, and it must be naptime by now, don't you think?

sunday morning

so far today: wholewheat blueberry pancakes. so good! i used soft organic whole-wheat flour & buttermilk. buttermilk makes the best pancakes.

next, apple pie! we had two pounds of the tiniest apples in our organic box this week. here are eleven tiny apples...

... covered in cinnamon sugar...

... and streusel topping from madame benoit's encyclopedia of canadian cuisine. this is the apple my my mother always made.

now, i need to make stuffing and roast a chicken!


another one bites the dust

another xmas gift is completed! and again no pics or anything because it's a surprise. maybe i should be proactive and write a bunch of blog posts with patterns etc. scheduled to publish starting boxing day.


another xmas is nearly at our throats

i love it, i do, but so much to get done! i'm beginning to wish i had a swift, looking at the 10 skeins of yarn that needs winding for a gift i'm just about to cast on. only one gift is done so far, one is about three-quarters done, and one about a third. so far behind!

also, there is the wreath* i started last year. all i need to do is the yellow centres and the assmbly! it's just finding the time, sigh.

*mine is made out of briggs & little and white buffalo, in off-white with green leaves though


am i the only one?

i can't be the only one who is worrying about christmas cards. we need to get on it, now! my hope is to get harry to contribute something seasonal, but he may be a little bit too little. certainly the recurring theme in his artistic endeavours is less an aesthetic sense than a desire to get his canvas of choice so sodden with medium that a hole is easily worn through.

but if that leaves it up to me, then what?