I have to say, I really enjoyed Christmas Day. Not only was I spoiled completely by M, but it was a nice easy day, with no stress at all. Even making Christmas dinner went off without any problems, and everything was ready when I aimed for it to be, and needless to say, it was rather delicious.
As mentioned, I was spoiled by M with a Yamaha Electronic Baby Grand. Not only is it a Baby Grand, but it has hundreds of different “voices” (instruments), and it can teach you how to play. I learned by ear when I was a kid, but due to my father being an ass hole I was never able to take it further. My uncle taught me stuff and let me play on his piano. Two of my uncles are pipe organ tuners and restorers. Both of them told my father (their brother) that he should encourage me as I had a talent and that one of them would get a piano for me, but the ass hole said not and that was that. M to the rescue all these years later and I am giving it my best shot. I admit, when I opened it I was shocked and rather intimidated as I knew that I had not played since I was about 14/15, and being 51, that’s a long time, almost biblical. My wrists are aching a little along with my fingers from all the stretching, but at least I am giving it my all. I feel 2021 is going to be a full packed year of piano, crochet and reading.
M bought me lots of books too including The Colour Purple, Malcolm X autobiography, James Baldwins Notes of a Native Son to name a few. I also got a beautiful William Morris tea set, William Morris notebook, oh, also a Vogue Knitting Colour Work Paper book that will enable me to design and plan some Fair Isle projects. I received so much more and will keep the details for another post as and when I get to them. There were so many gifts for each other we all, including the dogs had stockings full of gifts that we kept until Boxing Day, which we have decided will be a tradition from now on.
I bought the letter off a seller on Etsy and never received them, being told they must be “lost in the post”. I question this and it turned out he had screwed up my address, but would not resend them, blaming Etsy on it. I had to order a second set in order to complete the project. It took him 5 days to actually put it in the post. Not happy as those letters cost me £10 in the end. Now I have them I will be complaining to Etsy about this as I think it was BS I was being fed. Anyway, I am very happy with the finished item.
I have never bothered knitting much for Christmas, however, this year I decided to pull out all the stops and make a Christmas Wreath. I still have to finish it with a “Merry Christmas” on it, but alas I cannot find red felt letters anywhere for love nor money, which means I may have to make them, or find a cake topper that will fit.
Christmas day was a nice quiet and astonishingly warm day, as can be seen with me in a tee shirt. We took the dogs out for a walk around the village Christmas morning, and as I was dressed as Santa being carried by an elf with the dogs wearing Christmas hats I had a lot of cars going passed beeping their horns and people waving, and lots of smiles on peoples faces.
It was quite a nice easy day, but I confess we ate far too much, but I guess most people do. The girls as always enjoyed the day, and once they opened one of their presents Mazikeen decided it was open season and kept helping herself to presents, she even passed ones over to Harper to open, who was very willing.
Each year I say that I will get a smaller turkey as it is only M, me and the girls, so we really do not need something that will feed 20 people, but when it comes to it, I just cannot help it and a big one is always bought.
We did our annual charity run, so went to the supermarket and bought a trolly full of food, personals and sweets (for the kids) and took them to the homeless shelter The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool. I know that lots of people don’t realise that there are families that are homeless and that includes kids, so we bought 30 big tubes of sweets for them in the hope that they have something to enjoy. M sponsored a few Christmas boxes for Shelter which includes a bed for the night, Christmas dinner, warm clothes, personals (toiletries) and more. He also sponsored a dog for me, funny enough also called Harper. He lives at the Dogs Trust shelter in Liverpool, so we are going to visit him in the new year which will be nice.
All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. I hope you all had a nice day too.
I do love a good mince pie, and since Christmas is on its way, I decided to start eating them this month, and today I made my own version.
Now, I know that my American readers, and, thinking on, most readers that are not it the UK may not know what the hell a mince pie is. They go by other names of Christmas Pie, Shrid Pie and Mutton Pie, and date back to Tudor times. Although we now use sweet mince and not savory fillings. Sweet mince was also a favourite of the Tudors.
Mincemeat is a sweet filling made from fruit, spices and sugars and has many veriations, but all have the same base with currents and sultanas. My version has a lemon & rose twist to it.
100g Chopped nuts (I used salted caramalised pican, almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, macadamia)
150g Golden Caster Sugar
100g Unsalted butter
½ tsp Ground clove
1 tsp Ground nutmeg
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 Lemon
Zest of 1 Orange
60ml Lemon Juice
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Rosewater
500g Short Crust Pastry
1 egg, beaten
Combine the currants, sultanas, chopped nuts, citrus zests, lemon juice, spices and salt.
Heat butter butter together with sugar in a large saucepan. When butter starts to bubble stir in fruit mixture.
Remove pan from heat. When cool add rosewater.
Roll pastry out to about 2mm thick, cut discs and fit into muffin or small tart tins. Cut discs for the tops too, or have fun and cut stars for the tops.
Place a few spoons of the filling into the pie cases and add a blob of lemon curd on top of the mixture, then add the pastry lid/star. You can use the whisked egg to bond the lid if you are not crimping the edges.
Brush with a bit of egg/eggwash.
I sprinkled the tops with some lavendar sugar that I had mad with culinary lavendar that I keep in a sealed jar.
If using disc lids cut a few little holes to allow the steam to escape.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 200°C / fan 190°C / Gas mark 5 (adjust times for your oven) or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
Allow to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar before serving.
I like to serve with a dollop of extra thick double cream.
The three on the left of the photo with the slashes in are puff pastry ones I made at the same time. For this I cut out a disc of puff pastry, added the filling to the centre, brushed the edges with egg and added a puff pastry top and pressed it down, washed with egg, slashed the top and baked at the same time, but I did not add the lemon curd to these.
I hope you enjoy this recipe if you make it. But be warned, you may put on weight if consuming too many of these delicious mince pies.