Friday, December 26, 2008

Belated Season's Greetings...

Hope this is not too late to wish you all a lovely Christmas and happy New Year!

Thanks to all of you who've visited my humble blog over the past year. Words cannot describe how grateful I'm to have known you, even if only virtually, and even when only for a brief while...

Hope you're all enjoying the festive holiday with your loved ones. 'Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry after all :)

* * *

This year I've hosted a number of pre-Christmas dinner parties for friends at my place, as well as the big Christmas Eve dinner for my family!! (It was good that my parents were persuaded of my excuse that my oven would simply not fit a turkey big enough to feed the whole family, so that the actual Christmas Day meals were prepared by them in the end on the actual big day at the family home.)

I thus have had no time at all in the last while to blog, even though I half-started a post about all the Christmas meal-planning, etc. But finally, I guess I'd just let the photos speak for themselves :)

Edible Pressie 2.0

I finally discovered that truffle-making is simply beyond my range of culinary skills achievable by year-end, so I had to reluctantly abandon hopes of giving away truffles as gifts... which left me the problem of what I am to do with all the good quality chocolate that I have bought?

Hah! As they'd say, desperation is the mother of invention! These spicy chocolate gingerbread cookies went down a treat with friends and family :)

Christmas Decorations

Unfortunately my apartment is simply not big enough to put up a proper Christmas tree, and I really couldn't find any half-decent small Christmas tree that won't look tacky in my flat, despite the fact that this is the second Christmas running since I've begun my search for The Tree in the shops up and down Dublin.

Nevertheless, I wasn't going to let lack of space nor indeed the global financial meltdown to prevent me from attempting to inject some festive cheer to my place...

Festive Table-Setting

Last but not least, actual food preparations...

Hors D'oeuvres - Smoked Salmon and Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese on Blinis / Baked Bread Cakes; Spicy Potato Wedges with choice of Sweet-Chilli or Hot Chilli Dips (not shown)

(Pre-Dinner Drinks - Appleberry Mulled Wine (not shown); Cold drinks to be served with Raspberry-enclosed Ice-Cubes)

Starters - Cream of Winter Vegetables Soup (old version shown); and/or Goat Cheese on Pear, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Spinach / Rocket Salad (one version shown without goat cheese)

Main Courses - Festive Seafood Risotto (with Tiger-Prawns, Cherry-Tomatoes and Tips of Kale Leaves); and/or Racks of Lamb (with interlocking of cutlet bones as taught by local butcher) with special lamb seasoning, and served with Red Wine jus (version A) or with Mint Sauce (version B); or Roast Leg of Lamb served with rich meat gravy (not shown).

Side-Dishes - Citrus-Glazed Baby Carrots; Brussel Sprouts and Pancetta (partly shown in above photos); Creamy Baby Potatoes (not shown)

Dessert - Festive Trifle (Strawberry version with Creme de Frambrois; Raspberry version with Creme de Cassis); or Appleberry Crumble (not shown)

After-Dinner Sweet - Vanilla Ice-Cream in Chocolate Cups

All Photos taken from my festive dinner preparations up to and including Christmas' Eve.
Copyright Snowdrops 2008. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas wishlist - Reading...

According to Mariella Frostrup on The Book Show on SkyArts:
"Fry believes that if you can speak and read English, you can write poetry. In The Ode Less Travelled he reveals the delight to be had from metre, rhyme and verse forms and offers a step by step guide in how to turn the prosaic into the poetic."

Read the Guardian review on here, which compares it to a Delia Smith course on cooking!

I don't know how true is the Delia analogy, but I like Fry's sentiment: if you can speak and read a language, you can write poetry in that language. There is no ifs or buts about it. It is not a class thing (it is not true that only toffs write poetry), and it is not true that only effeminate men would write poems (try Rudyard Kipling), and it is not just dreamers and idealists with daisies in their hair who "do" poetry (try any number of war poets like Wilfred Owen).

Whether a particular verse is judged good or bad by others is a different matter, of course. But whilst there is something to be said for instituting appropriate scansion and verse length for a particular poetic form, it is the subjective resonances evoked by word imagery and further amplified by the cadences of a language's inherent musicality that lends poetry its emotive power.

And subjective resonances are as much dependent on the reader as the poet. Not only is there no accounting for personal taste, but there is no accounting for phenomenological empathy, either.

One should not prevent oneself from using a medium of expression simply for fear of not using the medium well. It is the expression that counts, after all. Or at least that is what I - a reluctant poet who writes poems because she can't help herself - would like to believe.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why I love him...

I was attracted to him from the very beginning -
a quiet, dignified presence
in the midst of the madding crowd.
He spoke, not to impress others of his glories,
but to find out how those around him had got on --
and he actually listened when they talked.

Maybe it was something physical
The way he carries himself with ease
A tall guy who makes you feel comfortable with his height.
Perhaps it was the cut of his jib, the way
the bridge of his nose curves to a perfect plane,
or his sympathetic brow, framing his kind, piercing eyes...

Oh how his eyes shone of understanding,
of tenderness, of a solid decency unswayed
by trendy fads or pressure from his peers
who may be physically stronger, or cleverer,
or better-looking than he is --
but he remains comfortable in his skin.

Or maybe it was to do with something more profound --
the way he gets me; the way he allows me to be me.
He is patient without trumpeting the fact as he hears me out.
He is generous to a fault, yet retains his integrity.

Whatever reasons might have been, I love the gentle pilgrim soul in him,
and willingly spread beneath his feet, the fragile remains of my dreams...

Copyright Snowdrops 2008. All rights reserved.

The last two lines of the poem are my paraphrasing of lines from two of W.B. Yeats' most famous love poems, "
When you are old" and "He wishes for the cloths of Heaven".

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Recession-busting Christmas Gifts...

Ever since I've been sent the new Oldlums Christmas baking booklet last month, I've harboured ambitions of making some home-baked goodies as Christmas presents this year. I mean, those macaroons and truffles stored in glass jars and tied up with cute bows and hand-written tags look just soooooo adorable in the photos, who wouldn't want to have them as gifts?

But whilst the recipe is very simple, getting hold of the ingredients was slightly trickier for the almond macaroons. I already have a whole jar of flaked almonds, and a whole bottle of almond oil which I have yet to use in my store cupboard. But I didn't realise that you need to have a whole bag of ground almonds to make the macaroons (actually the bag I got was only 100g so I have to halve all other ingredients' quantities to make the recipe work), and that you need almond ESSENCE and not just almond oil - I also have vanilla and lemon essence in my store cupboard, and whilst at first I had thought I could potentially substitute having vanilla macaroons rather than almond ones, but I decided finally not to experiment this time as I have no idea how adding vanilla to a whole bag of ground almonds would turn out... Oh and not forgetting ground rice as well! This is the first time I've seen ground rice mentioned as an ingredient and I'm relieved to see that it is being stocked by my local supermarket also.

So finally last weekend I've assembled all the required ingredients to make a stab at baking them...
Almond Macaroons

Ginger Stars and Hearts

And combining these together to form a centrepiece...

And to store for later.... (I am still trying to figure out the best way of giving away these as gifts - I know I need to buy glass jars or else I'd have to resort to making little cardboard boxes and despite appearances, I just Don't. Have. The. Time.)

I have to say, the almond macaroons turn out to be absolutely de-lish!!! (Even if I have to say so myself, haha). The ginger biscuits are great too, but their looks are definitely nicer than their taste.

Given how expensive ground almond were compared to the other normal baking ingredients (I mean, three euros would get you a huge bag of flour or sugar but it would only buy you a tiny 100g bag of ground almond), so no wonder the macaroons cost a euro EACH when you buy them in delis. Think I may actually bake my own from now on.

Now I just have to to tackle making my own truffles!!

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Where are you from?

Que sera sera...

Feed my pet!

Currently getting stuck in...

Have just finished...

Me, Anime...

A bunch of snowdrops by any other name...

S is for Sweet
N is for Natural
O is for Open-hearted
W is for Worldly
D is for Dedicated
R is for Romantic
O is for Original
P is for Perfectionist
S is for Special
What Does Your Name Mean?