Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

Christmas cooking

Posted: 08/11/2016 at 14:04

My cake is now in the oven and will gently cook for a few hours.  The smell as it bakes is awesome, which is just as well since, as I was whisking the last of the eggs into the butter and sugar, the motor on my Kenwood Chef suddenly went "clunk" and electrical smoke filled the kitchen! 

I was able to finish with the hand mixer, and all is now well.  I can't really complain about the Chef - I've had it for over 40 years, having bought it at Staff Sales price when I worked for Thorn Electrical (the parent company).  Now I have to decide if my lifestyle demands another table-top piece of equipment.  There are many more brands on the market these days, so any input about plusses and minuses would be welcome.

Off to make my mincemeat which, at least, doesn't need any serious mixing, other than a good stir or three

Christmas cooking

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 20:14

OK - panic over  Whew!!!  I was all set to make my mincemeat tomorrow and Obelixx asked for my recipe.  We moved last year, and I thought I had done the unthinkable and thrown it (the recipe) away.  But no - even I'm not that silly.  So here it is:

1 lb cooking apples

4 oz Muscovado sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 pt dry cider

1 lb mixed dried fruit

4 oz mixed candied peel, chopped

1. Peel and core apples, chop into small dice (or blitz briefly in food processor)

2. Put into saucepan with sugar, spices and cider

3. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes

4. Add dried fruit and peel; cook for a further 10 minutes (if the mixture seems too wet, cook for a further

    5 minutes)

Leave to cool.  Spoon into polybox and freeze or refrigerate for up to 6 months (though I have had some for a year, and it's still very good)

Note:  the dried fruit can be of your own choosing eg chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, chopped dried figs etc. Just keep the proportions about right.  A few chopped nuts can be added if liked:  I find walnuts work well.    Also: be generous with the spices, which are best ground in a pestle and mortar rather than ready-ground.

Tried and trusted recipe has never failed me yet.  I make a double quantity, some for mince pies and some for mincemeat Jalousie or mincemeat and apple tranche, whichever takes my fancy!

Christmas cooking

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 17:44

Chrissie - I tend to agree with you regarding  it seeming unwelcoming to expect others to bring their own food.  The article, however, was dealing with the etiquette of going to another for Christmas, and that it would be a help to the host to offer, at least, to bring one's own.  (Still not sure how it would work, though.  I could see it being a bit of a bone of contention  What if someone's nut roast took up limited oven space, for example?  Hmmmm)

There is nothing funny about real food intolerances/allergies, and a freezer must come into its own here, with things prepped in advance, limiting the workload on the day.

Good luck!

If all else fails, offer the veggie unlimited sprouts . . .

Mini greenhouse question

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 15:59

I had no option but to use a mini GH last winter (I have fixed GH now which is bubble-wrapped for the winter).  It - the mini GH - gave a bit of protection, but I did lose a few tender plants.  You can buy fleece liners, I believe, which would help, but I don't think I would rely on one, especially in the light of the current winter forecast! 

Christmas cooking

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 15:53

I have a pudding which has been retrieved from the freezer a few weeks ago, and is copiously "fed" with brandy each week (Tip:  get an eye-dropper for squeezing the brandy into holes made with a skewer or very thin knife: much easier).

I have all the dried fruit soaking in brandy ready for the cake to be made tomorrow.  It's classic Delia's recipe which never fails.  And it will, in due course, be anointed with extra brandy as per the pud.

I will make my own mincemeat:  a fatless recipe with all the dried fruits and spices gently heated through in cider, then left to cool and kept in the fridge until required.  It also freezes well, and the flavours are much better than shop-bought - and a lot less sweet, since I add only a little soft brown sugar. 

The smell of Christmas baking is a treat in itself:  cinnamon and spices say it all!  Advent Sunday is early this year (27th November) which will be a good excuse to get the Lebkuchen and Stollen out as the Advent candle is lit.  I think the run-up to Christmas is almost better than the actual thing.

btw re special diets (veggie/gluten-free etc) I don't have to cater for any of those but an article I read recently said that it was perfectly acceptable to expect those with special dietary requirements to bring their own to the table rather than expecting to be catered for.  Not sure how it would work, though - it could be more trouble than it's worth! 

Sssssssscared or what?

Posted: 06/11/2016 at 20:38

Glad I didn't see them - snakes definitely not a favourite creature of mine!

Actually gave up on the programme after about 20 minutes:  so fed up with the music - not background but foreground much of the time, and intensely irritating.

The Problems of Disability and Jobs

Posted: 01/11/2016 at 21:23

Lovely picture Oakridge.  And you have just added another dimension to my "accounts only count" mentality that seems to reign supreme:  there are good people out there who are willing and able to provide meaningful help to those who need a helping hand in life.  The withdrawal of your (and others) support cannot be quantified in financial terms alone.


The Problems of Disability and Jobs

Posted: 01/11/2016 at 20:24

I'm afraid that we are ruled by the notion that "if you can't count it - it doesn't count".  Which I take to be interpreted thus:  A person of limited ability could be given meaningful employment at what would be classified as less than 100% capacity.  In return, they would not need to be in receipt of benefits/extra care etc.  But the self-esteem that they would get from having a job, let alone the notional savings in their not being forced into total dependency, cannot be written in an accountant's ledger.  Thus it cannot be counted.  Thus it is deemed not to count ie is deemed to be worthless.

What a sad society that has allowed us to be ruled by figures in a ledger, rather than an understanding of the human condition.  No patronising is necessary to understand that some paid employment, even below the minimum (now "living") wage is better for society as a whole and the health and well-being of many an individual whose challenges of life deserve so much better

Growing up in North London, the local street market stall-holders employed sweeper-uppers, gofers and barkers.  None had what could be called full mental and/or physical capacity.  But they were employed.  They were given the dignity of employment.

Strictly is back!

Posted: 31/10/2016 at 17:45

Perhaps it's just me, but I do rather find the Halloween thing a bit of a trial.  The costumes and make-up are first class, but that seems to take over from the actual dances.  And the music is chosen for its allusion to things ghostly/creepy etc and is often out of keeping with the dances themselves.

I, for one, will be glad to get back to more normal dancing.  And, yes, I know the music choices can be a bit random at any time, but we're much more likely to get something closer to the needed rhythm.

Those blowsy, shapeless things.....

Posted: 30/10/2016 at 17:02

Mine have been spectacular this year -- a real Wow! factor.  Deep, deep burgundy (Black Velvet) alongside Tropical something-or-another:  pale lemon with bright pink edges to the cactus flowers.  A wonderful clash that has brightened dark summer days and have been going strong right into autumn.  I reluctantly put them to bed (ie cut them down and have them drying off ready for storing).  But they were still performing, although the burgundy were reverting to single flowers, and the tropical were fading.

Maybe a bit garish for some, but the days of subtle and understated are past - I want colour and zing!

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