In the Kitchen: December

Hello. Are you tinsel free yet? Or poised with a party popper about to welcome in the new year? Our kitchen has been oh so busy this month. Somehow we managed to entertain three times before Christmas. This wasn't good planning really but it did give us the chance to try out lots of ideas before the big day. We've catered for vegetarian friends, a gluten free family member and managed to stick to a fairly tight budget.

I thought I'd show you some of the highlights from our kitchen this month.

We made Delia's roasted red onion, rocket and Parmesan salad as a starter. Twice. This worked really well as it was easy, gluten free and inexpensive. This is a 1993 recipe from Sainsbury's magazine. The only thing I changed was a liberal sprinkling of pomegranate seeds to bring it up to date (this is what happens when you watch Simply Nigella back to back). It almost looks like a Christmas wreath sparkling on its plate.

Another starter we enjoyed was a simple platter. The beetroot dip (shop bought) was a great new find and my sourdough bread made it more robust.
On Christmas Day we had a simple starter of salmon fishcakes. I had only one fishcake to suit my small appetite but the boys had three. These were cooked ahead and frozen to keep things simple on the day. The artistic smears are lemon mayonnaise and Marie Rose sauce
Two new stuffings were tried this year. Gingerbread stuffing and chestnut and cranberry stuffing. Both were good but we found the gingerbread stuffing a little sweet so we didn't bother with this on Christmas Day. 

Parsnips and carrots were coated in honey and wholegrain mustard. 
For our vegetarian friends we made mushroom and chestnut Wellington. This was gorgeous although it took a lot of prepping. I would happily have eaten this on Christmas Day. 

There was braised red cabbage aplenty. We use a recipe from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook. We made this ahead and there's still some in the freezer.

Pears in red wine were an alternative festive dessert and again gluten free. Jack Monroe's recipe is so easy and of course budget friendly. The syrupy sauce is quite addictive.
Suitably wintry and decadent was Donna Hay's whisky, marmalade and mustard glazed ham. This was great for feeding a table of seven. We served it with roast potatoes. Who doesn't like roast potatoes. 

Jamie saved the day again with his stress-free gravy recipe. I have to watch this video at Christmas (to ooh and ahh over the gravy and baby Petal). Using homemade chicken stock from the freezer (not in the original recipe) adds another dimension. 
Here's the mince pies I made early Christmas Eve morning and Tim made Mary Berry's Yule log. He lovingly makes this every year as the boys prefer this to Christmas pudding. 

So that was a little round-up of life in our kitchen this month. We didn't make everything from scratch (I've yet to make a Christmas pudding or cake myself). I've put in lots of links to help me next year and I thought you might be interested too. Cooking in our kitchen is very much a team effort, I must stress. I couldn't do this on my own! This beautiful free little cookbook was a great inspiration this year but all the recipes are on the Waitrose site too (this is not a sponsored post just in case you were wondering). 





Wishing you a very

A huge thank you for reading, following and commenting on my little blog as I sign off for a while to enjoy the festivities.

I must admit I was very tempted to compile some links for you but after reading this (good advice for anyone, not just teachers in my opinion) I decided that might not be the best way to approach the start of Christmas. You see there had to be at least one link...

Excitement is bubbling and I'm looking forward to some gatherings we have planned with family and friends. Some merriment will be good for all of us (and I will do my best to steer conversation away from work). Merriment will build good memories and I've learnt the importance of those this year. I shall be taking plenty of photos too especially of people. It'll make a change from chasing perfect images. People are far more fascinating and precious.

Right now I crave calm and peace for myself. Yesterday, I had one of those days where everything felt overwhelming and although today I'm feeling gung-ho about the lead up to Christmas I know I need to take time to renew.

So, I've signed up for some meditation, dropped my caffeine intake and decided a mini-digital-break is going to be my Christmas present to myself. 'Tis the season to go analogue. Sometimes minimalists are the worst offenders for creating information overload.

So my lack of links is my Christmas gift to you too. There's a wealth of information out there but it can wait. We'll read those brilliant posts in 2016 and we'll be amazing. But I think we'll be even more brilliant if we just follow our hearts, our curiosity and our values this holiday. 'Go with the flow' as a wise friend of ours says when life gets a bit stressy.

This Christmas I'm going to read those books, go for those walks and be grateful for the great things in my life and the basic things that I too often take for granted.

Enjoy Christmas my friends, have fun and make time to renew and be.

Claire xo



38. Happy Friday Links

Every week I like to share wonderful reads and resources to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less

With these enjoy your weekend.

Claire xo




37. Happy Friday Links

Every week I like to share wonderful reads and resources to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less.

Thank you for visiting. Have a lovely read.

Claire xo



36. Happy Friday Links

Every week I like to share wonderful reads and resources to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less. 

I hope these reads add some simplicity and joy to your weekend.

Claire xo



This Christmas

In 2015 I have a yen to enjoy December. To approach the month as a leisurely stroll rather than as record breaking laps for the Grand Prix. 

I'm going to pace myself by spreading the frenzy evenly across the weeks and cut myself some slack by having a few 'no Christmas days' each week. On these days I'll pretend it's May and make daisy chains (or the winter equivalent). I'll watch Mamma Mia! instead of White Christmas and sip rosé wine instead of mulled wine. 

Bravely, I'll knock my procrastinating perfectionist nature on the head by being adequately organised and get the essentials done early. Unfortunately, Instagram will have to wait another year for my styling sensations. 

There's still lots of Christmassy things I'm looking forward to but I'm not going to worry if I miss a few. A few less decorations, sausage rolls and renditions of Fairy Tale of New York (which used to be my favourite Christmas track before it was overplayed) won't dampen my spirits. 

A little Christmas restraint will, I hope, mean that I have the time and energy to savour the joy and quiet of the season.

Christmas Day might possibly be more meaningful for it.

December. What better month to simplify.