so much food, so little time. we ate and ate and ate and listened to music and opened presents and basically hibernated in the best tradition of the holiday.
we did go to listen to carols and hear the archbishop speak in the cathedral on christmas eve so it wasn’t a totally hedonistic celebration. though you must admit the appeal of the glittering, enormous, echoing cathedral is largely sensuous.
all this eating wasn’t for naught, i’ve come away with some brilliant new recipes and techniques for all year-round. brined chicken, overnight rice pudding, scalded rye bread (recipe coming soon), overnight white bread (truly brilliant and maybe my new default bread – though i’m not totally sold, it has a very grown-up proper structure with chewy crust, which is probably a major selling point but i’m rather partial to a softer, nursery food-ish crumb in my white bread), and the best brussels sprouts i’ve ever made – and i’ve made a lot of brussels sprouts. not to mention the crispiest roast potatoes ever (thank you nigella).
the mince pies turned out perfectly, if you’ve been wondering about the fate of my experiment.
on sunday the snow finally came and we walked 12km to the electronics store to buy an alarm clock* only to find they were sold out. i’m not complaining though, after the fruitcake, mince pies, plum pudding, gravy and butter butter butter i was very happy to get a good walk in.
*not just any alarm clock! joakim’s parents gave us a gift certificate for one of those sunrise-simulator alarms which i desperately need. i’m really not one for gizmos but ugh i cannot drag myself back to consciousness without the help of sunshine – which i’ve heard is totally biologically reasonable, but impossible when the sun rises at 9 am.
merry christmas! i’m still officially on holiday until after new years & swedish christmas technically lasts until mid-january so now begins phase two of christmas: after the eating, comes reading. and playing with new presents!
i’ve decided that this year we’re having a full-on, balls to the wall english christmas with all the trimmings. (although a chicken will be playing the role of turkey in this production of english christmas because a) there’s only two of us and b) do you know how much a turkey costs in sweden?!?! it’s painted with the brush of all things glamorous and american and thus commands $$$$). i haven’t finalized the menu quite yet, but right now i have a thousand tabs open for things like bread sauce and “how to wrap & tie a pudding.” the sweets are obviously the most important things, so they’re getting made first.
i made the fruit cake on stir-up sunday. it lives in my cupboard and i feed it a little whisky every few days. tonight we’re making figgy pudding and now the mincemeat is done, so i’ll soon be all caught up on my grande tour of victorian dried fruit delicacies and ready to start planning the actual meal.
i kind of made this recipe up, based on the proportions of traditional recipes like these. i switched out dried figs and apricots for some of the raisins and used whisky instead of brandy. i won’t know how it turned out until closer to christmas since it has to sit and mature for at least two weeks. if you’re feeling daring and would also like to risk upsetting tradition, here’s the instructions:
dawn’sextra fruity mincemeat
(this makes a half recipe, two 500 ml jars. feel free to double it if you have a lot of mince lovers to feed, or a lot of dried fruit in your pantry.)
100 g currants
100 g raisins
50 g candied peel
50 g dried apricots, chopped
50 g dried figs, stems removed and chopped
150 g shredded beef or vegetarian suet, or cold shredded butter
125 g sugar
1/3 of a nutmeg, grated
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
zest and juice from half a lemon
1 small-ish sour cooking apple
50 ml whisky, whiskey or rye whisky
stir together the ingredients except for the apple and whisky, mix very well. grate the apple and stir it in, then add the whisky. pack into sterilised jars. (i sterilise mine by washing in hot soapy water and then heating them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. those in the know say it’s even easier to just run them through the dishwasher, if you have one).
allow to mature for at least two weeks. will keep 6 months unopened or in the refrigerator once opened.
i fixed my camera! okay not really, the main problem is sort of un-fixable (in technical terms, there’s a tiny chip missing from the lens screwy-ony thingy which causes it to fall off all the time). i did find the charger, and more importantly the charger cord, and reunited them in holy electronic matrimony, so now i can use my camera and take cool pictures again! (as long as i’m very very very careful with the lens).
i also fixed my laptop today?! i am just astoundingly productive when i’m avoiding doing real work. perhaps i’ll be more inclined to do some work on the road now that i have my laptop back, it’s much smaller than the one i’ve been using. it’s got a 12″ screen! it’s only 3.5 lbs! such a little baby laptop compared to the functional yet backbreaking giant i’ve been using. although now i have to go through that awkward phase again where half your stuff is on one computer and half on the other.
to keep us on sewing track: here’s an outfit i made for my nephew back when he was just a little-bitty guy, using vintage simplicity 2743. the pictures were on my cam. so cute right!
the puppy patch is a pocket!!
the rest of the pictures on this memory card are from my trip to new york! the camera broke on the way home from that trip and i’ve only used it once or twice since then. i can’t wait to look through them!*
*most of them are probably from the museum of natural history where i went three days in a row! (aka every day of my trip). nerrrrrd.
where did the snow go?? it was so snowy and beautiful, now it’s pouring ice-cold rain. nothing makes me quite so sad as a rain storm in december. it could be beautiful snowfall right now but no (climate negotiators in paris, you’d better get your darn acts together!)*
despite the gloomy view and getting the worst soakers of all time on the way here (mental note: riding a bike =/= dry feet; wear boots), i braved the weather to come work at the library for the fourth time this week! highly unusual for a confirmed homebody & home-office-lover such as myself.
i’ve discovered that i love working here even more than i love working at home. pros: no distractions (no sewing projects to glimpse out of the corner of a wandering eye here!). i sit at the same little desk on the third floor every day, my own cosy semi-private study space. and every day the same two guys show up and sit at the same desks on either side of me. we’re creatures of habit, we library-people. (further evidence: i’ve been wearing the same sweater for like two weeks** and guy-on-my-left has also been wearing the same sweater all week. routine-lovers, unite!)
and when i do want a distraction i just have to turn around because my desk is smack-dab in the middle of the egyptian archeology stacks, filled with such treasures as these old folios of various tombs, this very old encyclopedia of the egyptian language that i’m afraid to take off the shelf and this first edition of howard carter’s volumes about tutankhamun’s tomb.
ps here’s a song you can listen to on repeat if you also need to try to convince yourself that you don’t mind the fact that it’s raining right now:
*the mum of the kids i sometimes babysit is in paris right now as part of the swedish delegation, so cool right!
**my defence, should i need one: it’s winter! minimalism! etc.