Wednesday, December 16, 2009

babes, christmas and boy

The Bread Baking Babes have unveiled the December bread - a Viennese Striesel chosen by the Kitchen Babe of the Month, the lovely Katie from Thyme For Cooking.
I did not make the bread this month - I can't even find the time to get dressed or shower daily anymore - but it's gorgeous and sounds like a fun project and I hope to make it another time. Please head over to the list of Babes in the sidebar and check out their breads.

Last December I did a week of food related gift ideas. Again, I have little time for anything that is not baby related, but I do have 5 gift ideas for you this year -

Regular readers here may remember that at the end of last year/beginning of this year I was part of the recipe testing crew for the Urban Vegan cookbook. I recently received a copy of the book, and it is fabulous. This book is NOT only for Vegans, the recipes are awesome, easy and accessible for everyone. The recipes for Blueberry Grunt and Winter Pesto are alone worth the price of the book.

I hadn't heard of the Lee Brothers before I was offered this cookbook, and what a shame that is. This is as the title says, a book full of simple and fresh recipes. I may not have access to collard greens, but cooking with okra and making pimento cheese potatos is pretty darn fun. We enjoyed all the recipes we tried and when we had to sub ingredients in a couple of them, the end result was still tasty. My favorite was the buttermilk pudding cakes (made during the sweet tooth phase of my pregnancy) and I can't WAIT to make the buttermilk cheese!

Every year I like to make at least one homemade present. Because my due date was the beginning of December, I looked for something that I could make in advance, and would be able to sit a while. The first is this spiced salt from Nigella Lawson -
250 grams good quality sea salt
2 tsp red peppercorns
2 tsp crushed dried red chiles
4 star anise

Put the salt in a bowl with with the peppercorns, dried chiles and star anise.
Toss everything together, then pour into jars and seal tightly.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a couple of years now, I've wanted to try to make mustard at home for ages, but have been intimidated by it for some reason. This recipe from Simple Italian Sandwiches is.....simple. And wonderfully delicious. You need a week to get this ready, so you have just enough time to make a batch for this holiday season.
4 oz Colmans dry mustard
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tb vegetable oil
Combine the dry ingredients in a blender. Pulse to combine, and then add the vinegar and oil. When thoroughly blended transfer to a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. Stir daily for 7 days before serving. This keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

And you can't have Christmas or a holiday celebration without cookies. These shortbread cookies are easy and delicious and only have 4 ingredients.
Makes about 24 cookies
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup soft butter

Sift together the cornstarch, icing sugar and flour. Blend in butter until a soft smooth dough forms. Shape into 1" balls and chill 30 -60 minutes. Place 1 1/2" apart on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a floured fork. Bake 300' for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.


When Paxton was born a couple of weeks ago he spent his first 2 days in the NICU (he is fine) and so every 3 hours we headed off to visit and feed him. The first night
I was trying to figure out how to use the alarm on my ipod so I could get up at 1am for feeding time. I couldn't figure it out. I thought that maybe you had to have the ipod running, so I clicked on shuffle songs and no shit, I am not lying I swear, John Lennon's Beautiful Boy started to play. And I started to cry.


Karen Baking Soda said...

Wow great thinking ahead Sara!
I'm smiling... remembering driving to the NICU for the twins (they were fine just couldn't keep warm) and all of a sudden thinking that once they were grown they would probably leave the house. I cried. They were 3 days old.
Happy holidays dear Sara, enjoy enjoy!

natalia said...

I cried too and I have no excuses !! Have a very happy and relaxing Christmas !!

Sara said...

K - I have already told the baby he can never leave me. :P

Merry Christmas to both of you!!!

Emmy said...

Congrats again Sara. I think Rob would love it if I made that mustard recipe. I won't touch mustard but he absolutely loves the stuff.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

You're right - he is a beautiful boy. I hope all is well and you get to really enjoy your first Christmas all together.

Sara said...

Emmy - you should make the mustard, its wonderful. And easy.

Thank you Lynn!

Elizabeth said...

Wow, an actual babe in the babes. How wonderful!

Your spiced salt sounds lovely - a perfect way to introduce the flavour of star anise.


P.S. Now that you've gotten over being intimidated with mustard making, you might like to try another mustard recipe. It turns out like the grainy mustards we had in Dijon.

- mustard recipe based on one from the Royal Winter Fair

NKP said...

I am totally loving the salt and mustard. I love to make seasoned salts too, but haven't tried with star anise before. Great homemade gifts!

breadchick said...

Sara, and now I'm crying too. What a wonderful song for such a beautiful baby boy. xxoo to you and Paxton.