Saturday, 14 December 2013

Saturday Snippets (12)

The Starsong household has started its run up to Christmas.  Advent Calendars are eagerly being opened, not just by my elder grandson, but also by his mum and dad!  Christmas cards are being written and sent off. I always put some glittery stars or sparkles in mine so that when they are opened it falls out all over the place.  My poor unsuspecting friends vow they will remember this, but they never do.

The bird feeders are in place hanging from the apple trees and yesterday we had a huge flight of Goldfinches that rose like a cloud when I opened the back door.  Most of the leaves have fallen at last and wherever we walk there is a golden carpet underfoot. My Starman has been "playing" with his new toy, a LEAF BLOWER.  He says it's easier than using a leaf rake, but I think he just loves using it!  

The days are very short as we climb towards the winter solstice.  Last night was very cold for us, and today we have a clear blue sky and the sun is brittle and bright.  By the end of the week snow is predicted, and high winds with drifting.  Ha!  They are always wrong with our weather. We'll see.  

Thought my Canadian friends might like this picture someone sent me.  Think I'd stay inside!

I hope George is reading here today.  What a photograph!

I just love this joke!

This has been our internet just recently.  Drives us bananas!  But maybe we should write letters a little more than we do.  I know I love receiving them.  It's all too easy to send an email these days.

I am in a flurry of baking and freezing.  Just wish I had not been lazy and had defrosted the freezer out in the barn.  I suppose because it lives in the barn I kept putting it off, and now I know I shall have to force myself as room in it is severely limited.  Sigh! All I ever do is procrastinate.  Such a long word when it just means I am lazy at doing things I don't enjoy.

I am including two recipes this week.  One I promised you in the last 'snippets' and I thought you might enjoy to try the other as it's alcoholic!

This is the recipe I promised you. 

Tiny Cheese, Onion and Olive Scones

(Makes about 28) (Smaller than picture above)

6oz self-raising flour        1 medium onion, diced
1 tbspn olive oil               Half a teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of mustard powder
Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Freshly milled black pepper
1oz butter                        1 large egg
One and a half ounces of Parmesan cheese, grated
One and a half ounces of strong Cheddar cheese, grated
Approximately 2-3 tbspns milk
6 black olives, stoned and chopped

You will need a baking sheet, lightly greased, and a one and a quarter inch plain pastry cutter.

These are simple to make and freeze superbly once cooked, provided you defrost and re-heat them in a hot oven for about 4 minutes before serving.  If you are making them on the day of serving, split them once they've cooled and spread with a little herb cheese or a creamy blue Italian cheese like Cambazola. Warm them in a hot oven just before serving.

Believe me, you won't want to stop at one - they are very moreish!

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.

1  Fry the onion in the oil over a highish heat for about 5-6 minutes or until it's a nice brown caramel colour and darkened at the edges.  Keep it moving about so that it doesn't burn.  Now transfer it to a plate to cool.

2  While that's happening, take a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, salt, mustard powder and cayenne and add a good grinding of black pepper (the scones need to have a piquant bite).  Now rub in the butter, toss in the cooled onion, the olives and two-thirds of the grated cheeses, forking them in evenly.  

3  Beat the egg and pour this in, mixing first with a knife and finally with your hands, adding only enough milk to make a soft dough - it mustn't be too sticky. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface, knead it gently till it's smooth, then roll it out to about three quarters of an inch thick, being careful not to roll it too thinly.

4  Next, use a one and a quarter inch plain cutter for cutting: place it lightly on the dough and give a sharp tap to stamp out the scones.  Lightly knead together and re-roll  any trimmings. Then, when all the scones are cut, brush them with milk, top them with the remaining grated cheese and bake them near the top of the oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

And if you fancy a change from mulled wine, why not try mulled cider? Cat and I both have good recipes for this delicious and warming winter drink.

Hot Spiced Cider with Roasted Apples

(Makes 16 glasses)

A glass of something warm and spicy goes very well with warmed mince pies during the party season, especially when greeting guests who are rubbing frosty fingers and shaking snow off their boots!

4 pints still dry cider       8oz soft brown sugar
24 whole cloves             8 whole cinnamon sticks
16 allspice berries          Juice of 2 oranges
Half a whole nutmeg, grated
8 small Cox's apples (you need sharp-tasting eating apples if you can't et Cox's)
2oz butter

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.

1  First, using a small sharp knife, make a small slit around the 'waist' of each apple, then rub each one with butter.  Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes - they should be softened but not floppy, so test them with a skewer.  

2  Put all the other ingredients into a large saucepan and heat the mixture, stirring quite often and adding the apples halfway through.  Don't let it come right up to the boil, but serve it very hot!

3  To keep it really hot without boiling it's probably best to use a simmering mat or setting on your cooker, or even a slow cooker-crockpot.  When you are ready to serve you can always pour it into a large warmed punch bowl if you wish to be posh.  Ladle into glass beer tankards with handles (spoons in the glasses will prevent cracking).  (We use ordinary everyday wine glasses - it doesn't seem to matter!)

Finally I want to conclude with a silly seasonal story I read somewhere:

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa her mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth, and two others had jumped the fence and were out, goodness knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.  When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the rum. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa.  Isn't this a lovely day?  I have a beautiful tree for you.  Where would you like me to stick it?"

And thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Not very many people know this.


  1. Hi Ami, really enjoyed this Saturday snippet. With everything else going on lately I've barely started Christmas prep. Better get my skates on!

    Awesome pics! Thank you for the recipes too. Love the santa story LoL. I always did wonder how that tradition came about :)


    1. Don't even mention Christmas prep! I haven't even hardly started my shopping yet. Just one quick skirmish and I had to give up, come home and have a lie down! Those crowds! Horrible!

      The santa story is funny, isn't it?


  2. LOL! Ami I do miss you when we don't get the chance to talk. Love the pictures here and the two men talking - perfect. I want that to be my life. I need to get off here right now, Mollie is finally home and our decorating needs to begin. As for the cooking - do I live too far to ask you to cater?

    1. Oh I love the thought of you decorating with Molly!!! I am very jealous. The snag with having a married daughter is that she decorates her own house. Then she brings her kids over to you for the afternoon, stays to tea, leaves bedlam in her wake, and goes home leaving you ragged and in need of a double, no, make that a triple, gin! LOL!

      If I lived anywhere near I would cater only too happily. I have nearly sixty people to cater for next Sunday and I have a great deal of baking to do this week! Just buffet food, and only savoury to go with the mulled cider.


  3. Well the VERY sub-zero weather here has me doing things around here finally! Today's high I believe is -25 C with the windchill. As it is it is -30 right now. We are expecting between 15-25 cm of snow overnight ( I know could they give a bigger range?).
    Let me just say I am glad we are emailers not written cards because of the glitter! LOL.
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and even better Boxing Day Ami!
    much love

    1. Do you remember last year when I was longing for snow and you sent me some lovely pictures? Sigh.

      They have plenty in Scotland, but not down where we are. We are still benefiting from the anti-cyclone with sunny days and frosty nights. But no where near as frosty as you - we get warmed by having the sea all around us! (You are making me jealous though, just in case you wondered!)

      Oh I love glitter! The more the better! Did I tell you I got some lush glittery skin moisturiser that I put on at night? So funny! But I can't discuss that here....

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! Do you have Boxing Day or not in Canada?


    2. Yes we have Boxing Day here. I love it....I stay in my pj's and putter around. We usually have leftovers and I enjoy them because it is just our 'little' family! No pressure

  4. You truly have the magic of Christmas down pat. Would love to live in your house.

    Thanks for giving us a sneak peak of a Starsong Family Christmas.

    1. You may not say that if you saw me a week from now, Sunny! LOL! Headless turkey mode is what you will see! I well remember the run up to Christmas last year. Those were the days!


  5. I wanna come to your house for Christmas! Sounds yummy with your recipes. Great story about where the little angel on top of the tree comes from.
    We're not nearly as cold as you guys. I'm in Arizona, the desert part, and it's chilly for us with lows in the high 30's or low 40's F. A week or so ago we dropped down even further and I needed to get out the fleece jammies! Today our high will be 70 F.
    But I'll be freezing my tush off next week when I'm in Chicago for Christmas!
    Have a Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Holla! Easy recipes are the best when you are harassed! These days I seem to get harassed very easily!

      I could do with some of your heat around the end of January, beginning of February when I am fed up with all the endless cold and wet! I can't even begin to imagine 70 F at this time of year - but I am willing to try it out!

      There seem to be several people around Chicago this Christmas (she muttered darkly to herself!) Just think how beautiful it will look with all the snow and sparkle! Dan has a cousin who lives in Chicago. I shall have to wangle a visit as it's somewhere I have never been. Sigh. Never been to Arizona either......

      I hope you also have a wonderful Christmas!


  6. Ami,
    love your Saturday snippet posts though I don;t always comment on them. Its the quiet before the storm in our house, Christmas hasn't started yet. Tomorrow we will get the tree and then it'll begin.

    Thanks for the recipes.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Oh golly, Ronnie, I have to tell you, Dan got the tree on his own this year! Hmmmm. Well, all I can say on here, is that it is more than a bit lopsided! I shall have to back it right up against a wall so the back can't be seen. Giggle! It was very sweet of him. He's never offered before.


  7. Hi Ami,

    Thanks, I always wondered how the tradition of the angel on top of the Christmas tree started! LOL. Wow, that pilot sure must have had a bad day! Poor looks sad :-(

    I wish you both a very merry Christmas.

    Blessings and Hugs,

    1. George! I thought of you immediately! I can imagine that little aeroplane swishing backwards and forwards with the tide! Yet the couple on the beach seem very unconcerned, like it's an everyday occurrence!

      Have a wonderful Christmas yourselves, George!


  8. Ah the scone type recipe and the cider... I bet the house will smell lovely. Wish I could come have some with you.

    Loved the little story too. So sweet.

    Have fun opening the Advent with the grandson.


    1. I love the smell of Christmas in the house. I think it's all the little smells that add up like woodsmoke, fresh pine, mulled cider, tangerines...

      Opening Advent calendars with grandchildren is a delight. But I like opening mine as well!


      PS I hope you get that prize soon!!!

  9. Thanks for the scone recipe Ami...looks very yummy. Could I make it without the olives...not a big fan of them. ;)

    Your cider recipe looks great also but more work than mine so think I'll just stick with mine. LOL

    Thanks for sharing the Christmas tree joke...have heard it before but it never stops being funny. :D

    Hope everyone is doing well. Wish my grands were close enough that I could open Advent calendars with them. So much fun!

    Hugs and Blessings...

    1. Yes, Cat, you can certainly make it without olives. Sometimes I don't bother with them. I don't mind them in a recipe but I don't like them on their own. Dan loves them especially stuffed with garlic. Nah, that's not much work; once it's made you just keep topping it up!

      I know. I love small children around at Christmas time. I think Christmas is for them more than for adults. There is even a Santa hotline with an address for them to send their Christmas letters to. Before computers we used to get the kids to post their letters up the chimney!

      Hugs and blessings to you too, Cat!


  10. The poor angel!!! lol And I'd probably not mind the glitter, but only because we don't have carpets. If we did, I'd probably not be a fan of cards like yours. LOL Sounds like you are having fun, and hoping the defrosting of the freezer isn't as painful as it looks right now.

    {{{hugs}}} EsMay

    1. Hey Es May! I am just mad about glitter - and it hoovers up so I don't care. The defrosting of the freezer was soul destroying - and a very cold job on a cold wet day!


  11. Hey honey :) sorry very late to this, but at the moment I'm just stressed to bits and always out of time. I loved your story, I was about to shove something similar up someone's you k ow where recently regarding the same issues, except this person is no angle lol
    I only spent two whole days baking cookies only to look in the tub and realise more than half has been eaten and had to spend another two days baking and decorating the cookies :( arrrggggg moan, I love Xmas but why does there ha e to be so much to do ? Oh well another week and everything is done and we can sit back and enjoy, right??? Haha

    I'm so going to make those scones, tha is for the recipe :)

    Wish you a great Xmas, not sure if ill be back online or in blog land for a while :(

    Hugs c

    1. Hi Missy and thank you very much! I am sorry you are so stressed but you have four beautiful kids I am very envious of! I still get stressed and mine are grown up. It's just that I think if you are a good mum you are always going to get stressed!

      Wish you were near me with your cookies! My weight is zooming again - through stress eating!

      I adore Christmas, but with 60 people coming on Sunday, I haven't even decorated anywhere yet! Help!

      The scones are very easy. You don't have to put olives in if you don't like them.

      We will stay in touch via email! I am here if you should want to have a moan and the coffee (tea) is always here, and something stronger should you wish. Tell Balu I will cut him a big slice of Devil's Food Cake I just made!