early Christmas

Today I had Christmas dinner at Kalman’s crazy converted warehouse flat in Seven Sisters. It was a very proper Christmas with a tree, two turkeys (and nut roast for the vegetarians!), crackers, presents, the works. Amazing, and I got snap-happy with all the eclectic bits and bobs in the flat too – it must help to live down the road from a flea market! I will let the photos speak for themselves:
seven sisters christmas

1. 016, 2. 012, 3. 010, 4. 009, 5. 008, 6. 006, 7. 005, 8. 003, 9. 001

Sunday night pudding

I’ve been making pudding most Sunday nights recently (indeed, last Sunday Jess and I decided to forgo dinner altogether and just skip to the pudding). Last night’s (and tonight’s) was an oldie but a goodie: profiteroles.

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Christmas Christmas Christmas

It’s all Christmas all the time chez fingersandtoes.

First up a Christmas FO:

Buffalo Slipper Socks, from the Winter 06 IK, for my aunt. Unfortunately not knit in buffalo! I knit these in RYC Cashsoft. I really hope she likes them (I also hope she doesn’t read this, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog)

Second up, I finally got myself a little Christmas tree the other day. It has fibre optic lights, which are admittedly a little tacky, but they save buying extra lights and I’m actually warming to them. If you can’t be tacky at Christmas, when can you be?

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I needed the tree in order to display my growing Christmas ornament collection. I collect them on my travels and so far have ornaments from Germany (unfortunately they are back in NZ), England, Wales, New Zealand, Italy and Spain. If you click on the picture it will take you to the flickr page where I have flagged all of the decorations with descriptions!

This is what the tree looks like with the lights off:

Other Christmas cakes

I love looking at Christmas baking traditions around the world. In Germany we had the most wonderful spiced biscuits made from pressing the biscuit dough into detailed wooden moulds. We also had Zimtsterne, which I am sure to make this year so stay tuned (does anyone know where I can buy large quantities of cheap ground almonds? I’m thinking an Indian grocery perhaps).

When I lived with Marissa, every year she would buy large quantities of dried fruit and other ingredients to take home with her to Sri Lanka for Christmas. Half of her luggage allowance would be fruit! I wondered at the size of cake it would make. She would always bring back a little chunk of Christmas cake with her, and boy was it good. One year I got her to write down the process of making a Sri Lankan Christmas cake, and you can find it over on her blog.

What is your favourite Christmas baking?

‘Tis the season

It may be cold and damp, but Christmas is in the air! And time for an annual tradition:

Baking the Christmas cake. I’m on the other side of the world from the people who usually eat it, but I’m going to take it to New York with me. I tend to depart from usual Christmas cake baking convention, and while my cake is based on the tried and true Edmonds cookbook recipe (how many expat Kiwis have this book in their kitchen library?), I tend to gourmet it up a little. Plus, I’m not that into sultanas and raisins. This year, we have:

  • a small packet of mixed fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, peel)
  • chopped Otago dried apricots (best apricots in the world, I imported these especially for my cake!)
  • dried cranberries
  • chopped dates
  • Provencal glace cherries
  • Italian mixed peel
  • I forgot the crystallised ginger, but will add some tomorrow!
  • cinnamon sticks (I will take these out when the fruit is done soaking)
  • Madagascan vanilla pod (ditto)

I tend to soak my fruit in freshly squeezed orange juice and whatever alcohol I can lay my hands on; one particularly successful cake involved Frangelico, Cointreau, and dark rum. Last year I went with the traditional brandy. This year I don’t have an extensive alcohol cabinet so I wandered around the supermarket waiting for inspiration to strike. And strike it did! I discovered Pimm’s No. 3 Winter Cup – a brandy based concoction with orange peel and spices. Smells like Christmas! Right now I am really wishing there was such a thing as Smell-o-Vision so you could all sniff along with me.

Now I’m enjoying my “one for the cook” served with warm apple juice, snuggling under my lap blanket and trying to keep warm!