We’ve been beavering away in the kitchen this week, whipping up festive treats to give as gifts. Harry is just old enough to begin to take pleasure in gift-giving, so making things together for him to give to godparents, grandparents, grown-up siblings and teachers is a source of great pleasure and pride. Our best and most explosive offering is our proprietary Christmas Cookie mix (proprietary simply because with such flamboyant measuring of ingredients and dosing of spices, no-one could ever hope to accurately replicate our secret recipe…).
We’ve measured and stirred together all of the basic dry ingredients for our cookies and packaged them up into pretty take-out boxes which I’ve customised with labels and simple instructions for how to bake the cookies. We of course road-tested these kits ourselves, to excess – so I’m about 6lb heavier and will be unable to look a cinnamon and nutmeg scented raisin cookie in the eye for at least a
The photo I used of Harry is actually of him playing with his toy BBQ back in the summer, and is one which always makes me smile. If you want to try these, download my recipe and details of how to mix and combine the dry ingredients below; it’s very simple, as you’d expect by now!
Dry ingredients for Bag 1: 80g caster sugar, 80g soft brown sugar
Dry Ingredients for Bag 2: 180g plain / all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp, nutmeg, 60g rolled oats
Dry ingredients for Bag 3: 150g of raisins or currants.
Another of Harry’s gifts are these jars of retro sweets – all current favourites of Harry’s, and designed to transport his recipients nostalgically back to their childhood and to provide them with a dippable stash of the kind of illicit, high-sugar treats that they wouldn’t dream of going into a shop and actually buying for themselves.
I added a gingham fabric top, glass candy cane and festive bell, and then pondered how much they look like shepherds (it’s the nativity week thing; I have a one-track mind at the moment…). So now they are branded as Shepherds’ Midnight Feasts; an energy-packed snack for those wintery nights tending sheep and waiting for virgin births, which is doubtless a long and chilly old business. Or perhaps just to accompany a night slumped in front of the TV, which is a tad more likely.
Remember those hyacinths and paperwhites I planted a few weeks ago? They’ve sprung into life and are at the promising, budding stage, so I’ve popped a few into inexpensive but pretty mugs, and will be taking them along to decorate the kitchen windowsills of my nearest and dearest later this month – something both beautiful to look at and useful afterwards; I do hope that William Morris would approve.
I’ve also made a couple more batches of pinecone firelighters, bagged in cellophane and tied up with ribbon. Our central heating blew up yesterday so I confess I have already delved into one of these and raided supplies to keep our own fires burning whilst we attempt to dress in every piece of clothing that we own.
I’ve wrapped red evening candles with ribbon to accompany the bottles of wine we’ll be taking to friends for dinner; another very simple project whose results outweigh the effort involved (my perfect formula for the attractiveness of a craft..)
And finally, because the holiday season is often as much about indigestion and ill-advised consumption as it is about anticipation, I’ve sourced some luxuriously highbrow peppermint teabags and added my own bauble tags before piling into pretty china cups; useful to have on hand for Christmas Day night, and then for those first few weeks in January when one’s body is a temple and your resolve to never let caffeine pass your lips again has not yet faltered (well alright; the first few days then…)
And now I must leave you; I have a feisty toddler who needs to be wrestled into his Joseph costume before we wend our chilly way through the gloaming to the church hall where his nativity play is to be held. I already have a small head wound from being accidentally bashed with his biblical wooden staff; I have impounded it until the moment critique when Joseph needs to make his entrance, and have warned Mary’s mother that Mary needs to keep her wits about her in case there’s any flamboyant gesticulating from her husband in the stable, stick in hand.
Back at the weekend; stay warm!