Monday, December 22, 2008

Nearly there!

Hello one and all! I did intend posting days ago but the time has just flown by...that's Christmas I suppose. I hope all your preparations are going smoothly? It just gets sooo frenetic, doesn't it? It's like a warzone on the high street! It makes me laugh to see people struggling around the supermarket with teetering trolleys as if they're battening down the hatches down for a fortnight..the shops are open again on Boxing day!

So, how's this....?

Any better....? I don't know why I can't get a good picture of a Christmas tree. Although it's laden down, it actually looks really sparse on these pictures! Ho hum... I won't bore you with 'the drama of the christmas lights'. Suffice to say, not long after I took these pictures, they went out. We had to run out and buy another set just to drape over the tree until twelfth night when I can remove offending lights and local garden centre will be on the receiving end of the wrath of Deb. This is the second year in a row this has happened!

Here's a few favourite ornaments....I just love clip-on birds; getting rarer and more expensive all the time but can still be found.

These two I just adore!

This is one of several Russian ones from ebay...

I bought these knitted puddings from our local donkey sanctuary for 50p each and threaded them to make them into baubles.

This fairy is a recent find...

My favourite things of all...candles and clips. I have lit them...just for a second! They look amazing.

There are some very strange subjects for baubles....for instance, frogs...


...and even a cockerel! I'd say this tree is about 95% vintage.

And these...I made...yes ~ ME! I'm quite pleased with them...there's something very satisfying about hand sewing isn't there?

We have a second smaller tree in the breakfast room that seems to have become the kitsch/retro tree but alas, I'll have to spare you that for this year.

Unfortunately, I think the stockings will remain empty as I forgot about them until it was too late.

Never mind...there are presents under the tree and Mr.Gordon and his friend, 'tonic' have moved in, so that's me sorted. Oh, and a husband at home for nearly a fortnight. That's the best present of all.
The other thing that makes Christmas is a scrummy dinner. A question I get asked a lot is "what do you have at Christmas?" The answer is...(nearly) the same as everybody else....with this in place of the obvious. It's called 'not just a nut roast' which is a very uninspiring name for a recipe but you can blame the VegSoc for that as it's theirs. I make a lot of nut/mushroom/lentil roasts and I can definitely say this is the best. It's not something you would make every day but that's the want something special at Christmas and this is it. It's full of lovely things that all combine to make for a delicious roast. It's certainly become a firm favourite in our house...and it's (fairly) easy although you do need a food processor. Enjoy!


I med onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbs olive oil

125g veg. Halloumi cheese, sliced

50g cashews

50g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

100g walnuts

50g ground almonds

150g cooked basmati or brown rice (about 75g uncooked weight) cooled

1 sm red pepper, sm dice

2 - 3 tbs chopped fresh coriander

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground

75ml hot, light stock

50g stoned black olives, halved

salt/pepper to taste

2 large free range eggs, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 180/375/gas mark 5. Grease a 450g loaf tin. Line the base and ends with a single strip of baking paper, leaving an overhang at each end. This will help ease the roast out of the pan. Or use a silicone loaf tin and just grease it!

Saute the onion in 1 tbs oil in a frying pan until soft but not coloured. Remove and set aside.

Using remaining oil if neccessary, turn up the heat and quickly fry the halloumi cheese until brown on both sides.

Remove from the pan, allow to cool and then cut into very small dice...about 1/2cm.

Grind the cashews with HALF the walnuts until powdery and add the breadcrumbs. Process the remining walnuts until finely chopped.

In a large bowl, mix all the nuts together with the onion, halloumi and all the remaining ingredients except the eggs. Season to taste., then add the beaten eggs and mix well.

Press the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, with a slightly rounded top. Put into a bain-marie and bake for 40 minutes or until firm. Check after 30 minutes...if it appears to be browning too fast, cover with foil (I've never had this problem!)

When cooked, remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 - 20 minutes before turning out. Slice carefully using a sharp knife and wiping it after each cut.

Et voila!

I got five decent sized pieces out of this although you could cut it into six small or four large if you're a very hungry person! Leave to cool completely and then bung in the freezer until Christmas eve. Defrost overnight in the fridge and warm through in the oven for about 15 mins on Christmas day...or even heat in the microwave! Serve with all the usual lovely things...roast potatoes, parsnips, bread sauce, sprouts (I love sprouts..what's not to love!) and most importantly...yorkshire puddings... because I don't need an excuse to eat them!

I hope that whatever you're eating this year you enjoy a peaceful Christmas and I'd like to thank anybody who's made a purchase from me; either from This Vintage Life or via the blog. I appreciate each and every one. Merry Christmas!