Dec 192014
 

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gingerbread latte

I have a bit of a weakness for gingerbread lattes. During the rest of the year, I tend to drink flat whites or, on tired days, just plain old espresso shots, but there’s something so alluring about the gentle gingerbread spice, and on a dull wintery day, a ginger-scented coffee always lifts my spirits. Out here in the country, however, fancy coffees are few and far between. It recently occurred to me that the way forward was to devise a recipe for homemade gingerbread syrup.

After a little kitchen pottering (and one particularly disastrous batch of unintentional caramel), I found myself with a jar of spiced sweetness. Having posted a photograph over on Instagram, I was asked for the recipe, and so here it is:

Homemade Gingerbread Latte

For the gingerbread syrup:

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 a vanilla pod

1 large chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1 inch chunks

3 peppercorns

3 cloves

a couple of gratings of nutmeg

1 cup of caster sugar

1 cup of water

For the latte:

2 tablespoons of the gingerbread syrup

1 or 2 shots espresso (I usually make mine with a stovetop coffee maker)

milk

Ground cinnamon/ nutmeg (optional)

 

To make the syrup, place the water, and all the ingredients apart from the sugar into a small pan. Heat until just about to boil, then turn off the heat and allow to infuse for twenty minutes.

Add the sugar and place the pan on a low heat, gently swirling to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture up to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat.

Leave the syrup to cool. Once it is cold, remove the cinnamon stick, ginger pieces, vanilla pod, cloves and peppercorns. Pour the syrup into a jar and store in the fridge.

To make a gingerbread latte, pour a shot or two of hot espresso into a mug, and stir in two tablespoons of the gingerbread syrup. Top up with warm, frothy milk (you can whisk it in a pan if you don’t have a steam wand.)

If you want to be extra fancy, you could dust the top of your coffee with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

 

May it sweeten your Christmas!

 

 

 December 19, 2014  Christmas, recipes Tagged with: , , ,  4 Responses »
Dec 152014
 

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Last month, when I was invited to Liberty London to celebrate the launch of Katy and Charlotte’s Styling the Seasons project, I was set the challenge of using some of the gorgeous Liberty print fabric to create some Christmas decorations. During the afternoon, whilst chatting and sipping tea, I made some super simple Liberty print baubles by wrapping cheapie Pound Shop baubles in circles of fabric cut with pinking shears, and tying them with violet bakers twine (c/o The Homemakery).

Once home, replete with lovely fabric, I was ready for a little sewing project. Following the obligatory perusal of Pinterest for inspiration, I decided that what our home needs, perhaps what every home needs, is a Liberty print reindeer head! I used this pattern, choosing Poppy and Daisy, one of my favourite Liberty florals for the head, and a lovely green paisley-style Liberty print for the antlers. I did wonder, halfway through, with aching fingers, why I had thought that sewing antlers could ever be a good idea. It was worth it in the end, though, and although the resultant reindeer is a little larger than I expected (an imposing half a metre high!), he is really rather sweet, and cheers up the mantel no end.

I didn’t want to over-complicate things (a gigantic floral reindeer head is statement enough!) so other than a handful of my Meadow print fabric baubles, I just added a couple of pine twigs, and some dinky wooden reindeer cutouts, (also c/o The Homemakery), which I coloured in with Sharpies. The green, purple and pink is not a colour palette that I would usually associate with December, but I love its freshness. I’m trying to convince myself that the slightly wonky pink reindeer cutout is a crucial element of wabi-sabi

Thanks once again to Katy, Charlotte and to Hannah and Anna at Liberty, as well as to Kate from the Homemakery, for the gorgeous materials, and also for spurring me on to do a little seasonal stitching. The #stylingtheseasons project is open to all, so do join in if you fancy styling a surface in your home to reflect December. You can read more about it over on Katy’s blog, Apartment Apothecary.

 

Dec 132014
 

knittingforhim

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Since I learned to knit over a decade ago, I’ve made my fair share of knitted gifts. One year, I cast off the final rows of a hat, just moments before midnight on Christmas eve! Nowadays, with limited time, I generally tend to knit things for myself, or occasionally the children. However, when Debenhams contacted me and challenged me to knit something for the man in my life, to coincide with the launch of their new knitwear range, I was happy to take up my needles. In all the years we’ve been together, I’m not sure that I’ve made a single thing for my husband, Dan. My brother has more than once been the recipient of my knitted gifts: hand warmers, wristbands, and a rather memorable cricket jumper tea cosy. As a result, Dan may have felt that he’d had a lucky escape, but I was sure that I’d found just the right pattern to knit for him.

I have had a picture of this manly cowl pinned to my ‘Knitting’ board on Pinterest for months, and I decided that it was the perfect time to give it a whirl. The pattern is the Lovely Ribbed Cowl from the Purl Bee. I chose some yarn from Loop: Madeline Tosh Vintage in the sublimely named shade, Composition Book Grey. It was a dream to knit with, and the cowl grew apace. A good percentage of it was knitted whilst catching up on my current addiction, the Serial podcast. Knitting and podcasts are a perfect combination, and the cowl was finished in no time. If you’re a knitter, and you’re interested, you can find the project details on Ravelry.

With the final ends sewn in, the cowl was ready to be tried on. I think it must have been a success, because I had to practically wrestle it off Dan to photograph it! So much for my secret thought that he might hate it, and that I’d be able to keep it for myself. Perhaps I shall knit more things for him in the future… although I don’t think I’ll be embarking on a Christmas jumper any time soon. Maybe I’ll start by making something else from my inspiration board.


Knitting on Pinterest

{disclaimer: Debenhams provided me with the yarn for this project, and gave me a gift voucher for taking part in the challenge. All thoughts, opinions and knitting are my own.}

 

Dec 092014
 

december table

I have documented the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

December has arrived. Steadily and ineluctably, the turning of the year approaches. The days are almost at their shortest, and the house buzzes with anticipated festivities. This is a magical time of lights and laughter; wishes and wonder; feasting and family.

I am taking my tea in a bone china cup and saucer that belonged to my Granny. I miss her a good deal at Christmas:  her cheerful but wavering voice singing along to the carols, and telling us the stories behind the treasured decorations on the tree. I don’t often use her china, but the gold edging seems appropriately celebratory, and the ensuing memories are a bittersweet comfort.

I’ve already made several batches of homemade mince pies, tweaking the pastry so that its sweetness perfectly balances the rich, fruity mincemeat. I love baking at any time of year, but in December there are so many treats to share over a cup of tea. I’ve already had requests for my annual batch of Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies.

Each year, I add a decoration or two to our collection. This year, it was these hand-painted glass and gold baubles, which I picked up in a charity shop last month. The little angel is a Provençal santon, part of a set which my aunt, who lives in France, sent to the boys last year. Her plan is to add a couple each year until we have the full nativity scene. This is my favourite of the little figurines, and the toddler’s too, he loves to hold her in his chubby hands.

I’ve been writing for 91 Magazine for a little while now. It’s usually published online, but editor Caroline recently sent me a copy of the first ever print issue, which is every bit as lovely as you’d expect. I hope that there are many more print editions in its future, but in the meantime, you can buy and read the latest issue online, which includes my interview with Emma of Mabel and Bird.

The little stuffed moon was made by Sarah Buck and bought via Instagram (she still has a few left, if you’re speedy!) It’s destined to be a Christmas present for the littlest, who loves the moon. He has a moon and stars mobile in his room which he always says goodnight to before going to sleep, and on bright nights, he loves to be lifted up to peep behind his bedroom curtains at the moon in the sky. It’s always a pleasure to buy handmade gifts, particularly when they are sure to charm their recipient.

For my December flower, a dried hydrangea, one of a pair that I liberated (filched!) from a bush overhanging the pavement several months ago. They dried perfectly, retaining their rich colour. It seems appropriate to have this delicately preserved beauty on display for the final weeks of the year. Thus ends the last instalment of 2014’s kitchen stories.

White, pink and gold : the December table.

The year’s kitchen story in full:

{the January table}

{the February table}

{the March table}

{the April table}

{the May table}

{the June table}

{the July table}

{the August table}

{the September table}

{the October table}

{the November table}

{the December table}

 December 9, 2014  Christmas, on the table Tagged with: ,  9 Responses »