Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Season of Flavours

~ thawed raspberries on the stove ~
I've been watching a lot of cooking shows on TV lately...all late at night, which leads to interesting experiments in the kitchen the following day after dreaming of new flavours all night long.

Today's Kitchen Experiment: Raspberry Mustard dipping sauce.

I have a lot of raspberries in the freezer - it was a bumper year for me & I'm looking for new things to try with the berries.

~ grainy mustard ~
I got up at 5 this morning to take the raspberries out of the freezer - yup - dreamed of this recipe all night long...

Cook the raspberries with sugar (2:1 or 3:1 ratio of berries to sugar, depends on how sweet you want the end result) til mixture thickens up slightly (15 minutes).

Throw in a couple tablespoons of grainy mustard or Dijon if that's all you've got. Or a mix of the two.
~ raspberry mustard dipping sauce ~
Jar it up & let cool. It should thicken up slightly once fully cooled. Taste & adjust flavouring with hot sauce, red pepper jelly or even some honey.

This is going to be great on chicken or with roast pork (might add sage if doing it with pork). The original recipe I saw this with was as a dipping sauce for fries cooked with duck fat & served with shredded duck meat....

(we had duck for Christmas dinner & I'm craving more...)

The hubby just had some with the tourtiere turnovers we made yesterday (see recipe here) & I think he approves...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 7 (another one?!)

 Today's Challenge - what do you do with 3 pounds of cranberries & several bags of blackberries? Well, you make chutney, of course!

Bear in mind, when I make jams or jellies, I make a very large batch & this was most certainly the case with the chutney. I felt that if it was going to be as a-may-zing as I envisioned, than I better have enough to share. Plus it can be used as Christmas gifts or hostess gifts when going out to the neighbours' for dinner!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 6 (are we done yet??)

~ peace ~ joy ~ love ~
 Today's Challenge - looks very similar to yesterday's but requires a brave heart & a big chunk of wall.

I found 3 canvases in my art supplies & again, saw another idea for creating a big, bold holiday statement/wish/feeling that would take up a big chunk of wall space. In this case, this wall space will remain empty for the rest of the year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 5

~ have a holly jolly Christmas ~
 Today's Challenge - change your wall art to something seasonal!

This one might be a challenge - but the idea is to change the art you hang on your walls to something that will hang there only for the holiday season. Changes the look & feel of your space & allows you to feel like you've refreshed your living space without having to bust out the paint supplies.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 4

Sometimes don't you wish you had a clue as to how to utilize some of those amazing things you hold on to?

Today Challenge - fill the red flowerpot vase with something decorative.

Again, another easy one. I've been holding on to this amazing vase in the shape of a red flower pot for years & this year decided to fill it with twigs & hang some mini decorations from it. (it's really hard to take a decent photo of this one!)

The little Christmas balls are blue & silver - not really in with the colour theme I've been gathering over the years (red & gold), but it works. I also found some pine cones at the Dollar Store (yes, our evergreens don't give us the nice sized pine cones unless you really hunt) & they are in a nice gold colour. I have a few feathers around the house that I tucked in & think I will keep my eye out for more wild bird feathers over the year to add to the mix.

This piece is more a textural change to my leafy tree in green. Next year I might try to find a rose bush with hips on them still & use those! Mother Nature has already decorated them!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 3

Christmas Craft Challenge - create a wreath from canning jar rings.

OK, this one isn't too difficult. It's actually been on my radar for a couple years, ever since the great 'community jam jar recycling' project I did a few years back. (I got about 500 jars & had to meticulously go through all the jars, rings & lids before I could start to use them). I've held on to all these rings with a wispy image in my mind of what I wanted.

I took a length of stiff wire (I had left over from when I tied up the raspberry plants) & I looped it through the rings. After absent-mindedly fiddling around with trying to figure out how to keep the wreath from flopping in on itself, I realized that if I punched a hole through one of the top rings & brought the wire up - thus creating a loop at the top to hang the wreath! - the whole structure was relatively sturdy.

Add a bit of ribbon & a couple tacky bows & viola! A very simple, traditional looking wreath that will, over time, rust up & become more of a keepsake piece vs a noticeable recycled piece.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 2

~ construction in winter sunshine ~
 Christmas Craft Challenge - making a Christmas tree.

For years we have been on the search for the 'perfect' tree - either a real tree cut from a Christmas tree farm or a potted tree to be planted in the spring or even a (dreaded) fake tree.

I won't bore you with the ethics behind any of the choices you have made in your own personal quest for the 'perfect' tree as this is not what this post is about. The 'perfect' tree is a myth...but I just may have brought some mythical magic into my home this Christmas season!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Crafts - Challenge 1

Today's Christmas Craft Challenge: citrus honey.

This one is easy! If you are host to a gathering & find yourself with left-over wedges of lemons &/or limes, grab your honey pot & a tall clean jar.

Scoop some honey into the jar & then squeeze the citrus wedges into the jar (make sure you remove the seeds first so you don't have to deal with them later) & toss the wedges into the jar. I've put about 2 limes & probably 3 lemons into this large jar.

Top up with more honey & warm up in the microwave. Stir up the citrus juice with the melted honey, adding more to fill the jar up.

Label & date & then let it marinate anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks. The fruit juice should keep the honey from crystallizing or returning to its creamy state. If you'd like, add a touch of salt or fresh grated ginger!

You can decant into smaller jars as gifts - make sure to include a few pieces of lemon & lime for presentation. You can still use the citrus in your cooking (think: roast chicken with some honey drizzled on top & a couple wedges of citrus tucked in around the bird).

I'm looking forward to using the honey in teas during the winter (I have a jar I made last winter that is absolutely perfect right now - it has lots of ginger, a touch of lavender salt & is rich in citrus zip & zing!)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow - Yup, that's a Four Letter Word...

~ road down to dock ~
 Snow - in my dictionary is a swear word. It fits - it's four letters & it's nasty. Well - that's my opinion...

Today, it snowed. Actually, it is STILL snowing & I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring. The end of the world? A lock down in the community life? Crazy antics from people who should know better? I just might call in sick due to snow...

This was my journey home today from work. And yes, I left work early due to snow...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mother Nature Putting on Her Festive Colours

 I enjoy poinsettias. 
I prefer my poinsettias without sparkles or strange 'unnatural' colours.

 I like that these plants are tropical & grow well in the ground in other parts of the world, but that I can treat them like an annual for just the Christmas season.

I have also admitted to myself that I am not one of those people with super powers who can have their poinsettia last til Valentine's Day or even til the next holiday season. 
I kill each & every one of my poinsettias but I still love them & the sense of exotic flare that Mother Nature has at this time of year.