30 November 2008

berry good

There were some hits and misses, but the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner this year was the Cranberry Fruit Conserve from Barefoot Contessa Parties:

The conserve was so easy to make, and after just a few minutes on the stove and several hours in the fridge, it was the most gorgeous jewel-like color and perfectly set:

It was without a doubt the best cranberry sauce I've ever tasted, and I'm already looking forward to having it again next Thanksgiving!

Being in the mood for cranberries, we've also just opened our single precious jar of Stonewall Kitchen Holiday Jam:

If the holidays could be bottled, this would be it: tart cranberries, sweet pears, and orange liqueur. It's best spread thickly on toast, but the thicker we spread it, the more our supply dwindles, so we're trying our best to be sensible with it!

25 November 2008

buns in the oven

Last week I attended my second class with Trina Hahnemann at Divertimenti. This time the focus was on Scandinavian baking, using recipes from Trina's book:

The class was entirely hands-on, which was difficult for me, as I've never been able to bake (or draw or knit or sew) in a classroom situation. But my baking partner Kim very kindly put up with me (!) and we made several recipes, including spelt buns, yogurt and whole wheat bread, kransekage (almond cakes), and Danish butter cookies:

And as an aside, the spelt buns weren't the only 'buns in the oven'. Literally half the women on the course were pregnant!

Unfortunately, we ran out of time for the two recipes I was most looking forward to: cinnamon rolls and brunsviger (a soft, breadlike cake from Denmark). But Trina gave us each some fresh yeast to try the recipes at home, as well as some of her own rye bread starter. So even more yummy Scandinavian treats to look forward to...

24 November 2008


Inspired by a day of Scandinavian baking at Divertimenti last week (more details to follow) and the chilly weather, I whipped up a batch of cardamom buns yesterday afternoon:

Cardamom is a key ingredient in Scandinavian baking. In Sweden, it's more widely used than cinnamon. I absolutely adore the flavor. Rachel G. on the other hand studiously avoids it, having never recovered from eating an entire pod as a child!

While certainly Scandinavian in influence, this cardamom recipe was gleaned from one of my Rachel Allen cookbooks:

Slightly denser than the cardamom cake I usually make, these buns are perfect with a cup of really strong, dark coffee on a frosty morning (or afternoon). So fragrant and warming--mmm...

12 November 2008

more bliss

How did I miss this? Debbie Bliss launched her very own magazine on my birthday:

I only just discovered it by chance in John Lewis today, and it's truly bliss-ful

The lead article features a sleeveless turtleneck sweater, tee, beret, and knee-high socks all in pale gray. Perfect for me, as this pretty much sums up my entire wardrobe! And I think my mum would love the collared sleeveless top in Rialto. Is it too late to start a Christmas project?

I thought I was finally building up an immunity to new pattern books and yarns. Sigh...

bliss-ful blanket

There's been a sad dearth of knitting posts over the past six months. But I have been knitting, specifically the Cabled Throw from Debbie Bliss' Simple Living:

Here's the throw tucked up around the sofa cushions (a look I first saw and loved at Pebblebeach):

The yarn is Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino Aran in silver gray, which not only coordinates beautifully with Persephone books (!) but feels gorgeous and is so easy to knit with.

G thinks we now have enough blankets and throws. But I think we might need just one more--to cover the other sofa cushions of course!

10 November 2008

wonderful wellies

The weather here in Teddington has been miserable. It seems we've had nothing but gray skies and squally showers for days on end. And just when we think it's finally over, the rain starts again...

But when you know your feet will be warm and dry (and looking quite stylish!) venturing outside becomes not-so-bad.

Thank you so much, Cece, for the wonderful wellies and for being the best big sister a girl could hope for.

06 November 2008

a bird in the hand

This little cock sparrow came home with us from St. Jude's Gallery in September:

Last week he could be found perched on Caroline's ladder. But now the hall has been painted, he's settled on a chest-of-drawers to greet visitors coming through the front door. 

He was handmade by Emily Sutton, an artist originally from North Yorkshire, who recently completed her studies at Edinburgh College of Art. Her soft sculptures--whether of birds or people--are all so beautifully detailed, and each has its own unique personality. 

Now we really must think of a name for him.

02 November 2008

pumpkin pie

I love pumpkin pie and look forward all year to Pumpkin Pie Season. It must be genetic, as pumpkin pie was my dad's favorite dessert as well.

Yesterday morning, I made a Pumpkin Custard Pie using Stonewall Kitchen's Maple Pumpkin Butter:

I bought my jar at Redwood Bay in Bath, which carries a fab selection of American food and kitchen products, including some of my favorites from Barefoot Contessa and Stonewall Kitchen.

This pie is quite different from my usual pumpkin pie. It has a silkier texture, more like a custard tart, and a milder pumpkin flavor. G says he prefers it to the traditional version, and I think it makes a nice change.

I discovered Stonewall Kitchen products while living in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The company itself is based in York, Maine, and one of these days I hope to visit their Headquarters and Cooking School:

In the meantime, I'd love to try their Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Mix...

but Redwood Bay only has two left in stock, and I don't think we'll make it back to Bath in time!