Category Archives: Christmas

Mistletoe and Wine…How to cook the perfect turkey and how not to… aka Mr Bean…

Join me for a Mince Pie

Come and join me for a sausage roll or a mince pie and a hot toddy…Then I will show you how to cook a turkey or not!

Christmas is nearly upon us …although it is arriving quietly here…well a few Chrismas tunes are belting out…

I have cooked more turkeys than I could count but if cooking a turkey is new to you…Let me tell you when I cooked my first turkey I was petrified…I mean it is far bigger than the chook you normally cook and you have the in-laws coming and you want it to be perfect…Don’t you?

Well stick with me and you will get the perfect turkey time after time…

Turkey.. a bird that was usually eaten mainly at Thanksgiving and Christmas but is available all year in supermarkets and butchers.

Whenever I think of turkeys I think of Mr Bean…Not generally a fan of slapstick comedy this one always makes me smile…as does the Hamlet turkey advert…

Of course, you probably know by now that there is a better way…

Now for the serious stuff…Where to Start…

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push the butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is a personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s a personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options..

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website if you need to calculate your cooking time: http://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeycookingtimecalc.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe it inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and preheat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven and how hot it runs…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Set the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes on 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer then it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

Enjoy!

After all that I think a cocktail is called for…Don’t you?

Pineapples are very plentiful here it is such a shame to waste them, the fresh juice is just amazing …A Pina Colada is almost a staple here… but for a change, this Bahama Mama makes great use of pineapple juice we also have some very good rum which is made locally here..so as to boost the awareness of the importance of our carbon footprint ..Cheers!

Bahama Mama cocktail-1191924_640

Can you take a guess where this eye-watering drink originated? The Bahamas! This drink is rumoured to be indirectly named after Dottie Lee Anderson, a Caribbean dancer and performer in the 1930s who also went by the stage name “Bahama Mama.” Another theory is that this cocktail became popular during the Prohibition when the Bahamas were used as a rum smuggling base. While there are many theories as to how this cocktail came to be, no one’s certain which is true of the origins of many a great cocktail…

This cocktail can be made with as little or as much rum as you like…It is a taste it and see cocktail… Depending on how much rum you decide to add, it can be a little more on the sweet side once you add the pineapple juice. Adding soda gives it a slight fizz, making it a great option for those who aren’t really hardened alcohol drinkers…But beware… the alcohol can easily be hidden, just to be sure pace yourself. Trust me when I say — it will eventually hit you, and when it does…It will be a Merry Christmas…

The traditional way to sip on this treat is over ice, but it can be made into an adult Slurpee by pulsing all the ingredients in a blender. I also use limes instead of lemons…

That’s all for now ..Enjoy your week and try to chill out as I remember the last minute Christmas rush…Merry Christmas xxx

Lastly, remember not everyone is fortunate, and some people dread this time of year be aware and if you can add a little cheer please share your joy but also remember the other 364 days of the year pass your smile around and be kind… xxx

 

Saturday Snippets…12th December 2020

Welcome to Saturday Snippets where I engage my whimsey and kitsch well it is that time of year…Christmas is not celebrated here and there are even fewer nods to Christmas here in the North of Thailand …I do believe Christmas is for kiddies and try to keep the magic going although this year methinks Covid has highjacked any hopes of buying anything the least bit festive …

Of course, I will bring out the Christmas kitsch and decorations when Lily arrives for Christmas…in the meantime I haven’t dispensed with the making of the cake, puddings, sweet mincemeat and pickles because we love all of those…and just in case you haven’t it is not too late…

I have decided I will make some sweeties aka Coconut ice and fudge as gifts for the neighbours alongside some mince pies and sausage rolls…

Here many of the bars and restaurants have published their Chrismas menus from the traditional as I know it… to the Italian and Indian Christmas fare…something for everyone…

My turkeys have been given a reprieve this year and I have decided that given we have hardly been out at all this year… we will opt for a traditional Britsh Christmas Dinner cooked by a lady who I will say makes Christmas dinner as close to mine as I have eaten in a restaurant…She is a great cook.

I am opting for the crab cakes and the traditional fare shared with Lily as I know there will be far too much for me although the men and Aston always help me out they love their roast tatties…

Today is National Ambrosia Day…Yes, I know …a day for everything…What immediately sprang to my mind was Ambrosia Creamed Rice which I used to love…That creamy rice loaded with sugars and preservatives …

What I didn’t know is that I couldn’t have been further from the truth it is a type of Apple…originating from British Columbia, Canada it was one of those chance seedlings that popped up on the Mennell family’s orchard…The Ambrosia Apple…

As it is low in acid it is a good apple for both the kids and the elderly…easier to digest…to retain its crispness it also is better kept in the fridge…

In Greek mythology, Ambrosia is also known as the “Food of the Gods”

What I also discovered was that in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink there is a dessert made from fruits, sugar and grated coconut which is very popular in the Southern states…

It reminds me of Eton Mess type kind of dessert…Do you have memories of eating Ambrosia Salad?

Let’s have some music…A tune or two…

Silent Night is one of my all-time favourite Christmas Carol’s  The song has been recorded by many singers across many music genres… “Silent Night” has been recorded at least 733 times over the past 36 years alone.

This weeks rendition is from Rod Stewart…

I could listen to Rod Stewart all day long I have been a fan of him since forever…Silent Night is one of my favourite Christmas Carol’s…Enjoy!

Christmas Corner:

The Christmas tree …I have seen a few magazine headings saying real or artificial? I have always had a real tree and that was that… Like many things Christmas…You don’t get a real tree here and somehow a palm or banana tree although they look very nice with lights on are a tad too big to bring inside…So it is now artificial I am also the only one for miles around who has a decorated tree in the window…

I know but I reckon that if I keep trotting it out each Christmas for the next 20 plus years that advances will be made to recycling and my tree can be safely recycled.

For me, however,, there is nothing as pretty as a tree covered in the snow such a beautiful sight.

In India however, Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, they decorate banana or mango trees.

In Southern India, Christians often put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbours that Jesus is the light of the world.

Christians in Mumbai use many Christmas traditions from Goa including the star lanterns and the stable manger scenes.

In India, Father Christmas or Santa Claus delivers presents to children from a horse and cart. He’s known as ‘Christmas Baba’ in Hindi, ‘Baba Christmas’ in Urdu (Father Christmas); ‘Christmas Thaathaa’ in Tamil and ‘Christmas Thatha’ in Telugu ( Christmas old man); and ‘Natal Bua’ (Christmas Elder Man) in Marathi. In Kerala state, he’s known as ‘Christmas Papa’.

Did you know? The Advent wreath began in Germany as a Lutheran tradition but eventually spread to other Christian denominations, including the Catholic and Episcopalian Churches. The evergreen wreath traditionally has four candles around the edge to mark the four weeks before Christmas and a white candle in the centre (to be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). It may also be adorned with berries or pinecones.

The weekly lighting of each candle may be accompanied by prayer, Christmas carols, and/or snacks such as stollen or mulled wine of which I have some fond memories of sipping while I walked around the Christmas Market a lovely tradition.

Mulled Wine.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bottle/750 mL red wine (suggestions: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot)
  • 1 orange (peeled and sliced; keep peel to add zest to taste into a cooking pot)
  • 1/4 cup brandy ish…lol
  • 8 to 10 cloves or 5-star anise
  • 1/3 cup honey (or sugar)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks.
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger

Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat (avoid boiling), for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the honey or sugar has dissolved completely. When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have been well blended it is ready to serve.

♦♦♦♦♦

Christmas Adverts:

One of the highlights of Christmas for me …

A recap of John Lewis ad’s over the years…

Conservation and recycling:

Christmas is one of the worst times for waste and the amount of packaging we need to recycle…Please think hard before you buy as much of it is either non-recyclable and will end up in landfill…

With just a little extra effort and imagination and as many of you are writers that should come extra easy this means we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season.

How can we do that? we can buy less, buy smart, think green, choose a live tree and replant it after Christmas, A homemade card will always be treasured, alternative ways of wrapping(last) weeks post, reuse and recycle.

I know that as our shopping trips have been curtailed year it has made many of us rethink and come up with alternative ways to shop and make … I think we are becoming a nation of bakers again like our ancestors…I have never really been a baker more of a savoury cook …

However, I have learnt so much this year about baking and flours, how oven temps can make an incredible difference to the end bake as does accurate measuring of ingredients and don’t get me started on the humidity.

However, a homemade Christmas gift is always the best one to receive…

But all this is great as we are now in the position to become far greener… healthier by cooking from scratch and supporting local businesses.

We waste less so the statistics tell us due to Covid...Christmas however can set us back as we naturally buy more and waste more…

Some of the statistics surrounding Christmas waste are astonishing. According to Wildlife and Countryside, around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away and not recycled in the UK over the Christmas holiday…over 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas.

Worse still, a small percentage of those (around 5%) will be thrown away – they won’t even be regifted, sold or given to charity!

And what about the food? Well over four million Christmas dinners are thrown away every year – that’s equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies, 740,000 portions of Christmas pudding and 11.3 million roast potatoes.

Fun Fact:

France is widely known for its food and delicacies. People in the Provence region even go so far as to serve a sumptuous feast of seven main courses and 13 desserts at Christmas! Among the most popular festive dishes are Fougasse (pancakes), nougat with honey and pistachios, pumpkin pie and dried fruits.

Time for a nap after all that…methinks..x

Bloggers Corner:

Hot of the press…New Book Release…Life is like a bowl of cherries…sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet…A book of short stories by Sally Cronin…

It would make a wonderful stocking filler or just because …Make sure you get your copy…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/12/12/new-book-release-shortstories-life-is-like-a-bowl-of-cherries-sometimes-bitter-sometimes-sweet-by-sally-cronin/

That’s all for this week and Saturday Snippets…I hope you have enjoyed this Christmasy post … so please if you have any favourite Christmas Tips, recipes anything please share with us xxx

Thank you for reading….enjoy your weekend, stay safe …xx

 

 

Mistletoe and Wine…Christmas Pickles 2020…

 

In the run-up to Christmas, you will find everything on my blog over the next few weeks that you need to make… today it’s pickle recipes...I pickle most things…Fruit or vegetables it gets pickled.

Christmas Pickles…

Most pickles benefit from keeping and if you start making them now they will be lovely for Christmas…we love pickles and since living here I have discovered lots of different ideas and produce for pickling…be it fruit or vegetables I pickle it!

Saturday was National Pickle Appreciation Day…I shared the recipes on Saturday Snippets so just in case you missed here is link  Pickled Onions, Pickled Pineapple and Jalapenos plus Pickled Tomatoes…

Living here in Thailand I have made many discoveries of fruits and vegetables which I would never have dreamt of pickling or putting together for example eggplants they come in all sizes shapes and colours here and are eaten raw, pickled made into dips or added to curries…

Pickled Cabbage, green onions and Eggplant…

Layer Cabbage, Green Onions, eggplants and salt in the dish add a little water. Mix it all together with your hands. I use lovely yellow eggplants on this occasion but any of the small eggplants can be used except for the pea eggplants.

We then leave the dish covered on the kitchen top or in the sun for 1 day.

Pickled cabbage with egg plants

Then drain and lightly rinse and add more salt if required. Cover and leave for 2/3 days or until it reaches your ideal taste. With pickled cabbage, it is purely down to personal taste some like it saltier or sour more than others. Just play with it and you will soon discover your ideal version.

My daughter in law who is Thai doesn’t like it as sour as we do… she doesn’t like the Winegar taste as she puts it… Once it reaches your required taste it is ready to eat.

This recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Pickled Garlic…I love garlic and always use far more than any recipe states again garlic is a popular vegetable here which belongs to the onion family and has many proven health benefits. I also think it is the reason why mosi’s don’t bite me…

It is used in curry pastes, curries, stir-fries, dips and sauces, pickled and eaten raw here …Thais eat more raw vegetables than cooked I would say at every meal…

My garlic recipe is a favourite here I always have a jar or three in the fridge and they get dipped into as and when…

Pickled Garlic…

  • 8-10 garlic bulbs
  • 500 ml white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 90 gm sugar
  • 1 tsp salt…I always use salt mined here locally or Himalayan salt.
  • 1 tsp per jar of either mustard seed or fennel seeds (optional) we prefer the mustard seeds.

2 x 250-300 ml jars with good lids

Separate the bulbs of garlic into cloves and peel.

In a saucepan bring the vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the garlic cloves to the pickling liquid. Bring it back to the boil and simmer for five minutes.

Transfer the garlic cloves to sterilised jars. Add the mustard or fennel seeds if using. We actually couldn’t decide Fennel or mustard seeds so initially, I did both we have now decided for us that our preference is the mustard seed…Carefully fill the jars with the hot pickling liquid. Seal.

pickled garlic

The garlic will be ready to use in about a week but improves over time.

Pickled Cucumbers…

Cucumbers are always plentiful here and pickle nice and quick…Lovely with some nice cheeses…

Pickled Cucumbers…

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I used 4 cucumbers ( they are short) ones here not like the ones we used to get when in the UK although I have discovered Japanese cucumbers and they are nice, crispy and very similar to the cucumber I know and love.

The cucumbers here are much smaller with larger seeds in the centre and not quite as crispy and flavoursome. In fact, I think I prefer them pickled.

Lets Pickle!

  • I peeled and sliced( quite thickly) 4 cucumbers.
  • 1 large Onion peeled and sliced.
  • 3 cups of vinegar.
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup of sugar or sweetener of your choice. I only used a 1/4 cup of sugar and some salt to season as required.
  • 1 cup of water.

Whisk vinegar, sugar and water together in a jug. Put alternative slices of cucumber and onion in pre-sterilised jars, then pour the vinegar mix over the cucumber and onion making sure to cover completely.

Screw the lid down tightly and refrigerate they will be ready to eat in 2 days in fact if you leave these too long they get too vinegary. They are really a quick pickle recipe.

My number two recipe for pickling cucumbers…

Pickled Dill cucumbers. 

  • 3 medium cucumber
  • 1 large Onion thinly sliced.
  • 85g sea salt flakes (essential- table salt will render your efforts inedible)
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tsp peppercorn
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • small bunch dill

Wash the cucumbers, split along their length and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into finger-length chunks, then cut into 5mm strips. Mix with the onion and salt in a large bowl, cover and leave to soak overnight.

Next day, drain the juices, rinse the vegetables in cold water and drain well. Put the vinegar, sugar and spices into a very large saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 mins to let the flavours infuse.

Add the vegetables and bring the pan to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring now and again. Boil for 1 min, then remove the pan from the heat. Tear in the dill, then pack into sterilised jars making sure that no air bubbles are trapped. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

in jars..pickled

 

We love pickled eggs…Do you love pickled eggs??

Jalapeno Pickled Eggs:

jalapeno pickled eggs

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 a cup of Cider Vinegar.
  • 3/4 a cup of water.
  • 1/2 cup of sugar plus 1 tbsp sugar.
  • 6 cloves.
  • 2 Jalapenos cut in half lengthwise and deseeded.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 onion sliced.
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 9 Hard-boiled eggs, peeled.

Let’s Cook!

Boil eggs for 10-15 mins until hard. Remove from heat and put into cold water.

In a medium pan, put vinegar, water( or beet juice) if using, onion, jalapenos, sugar, and spices. Bring to the boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pour vinegar over eggs making sure they are completely covered.

If using beet juice also put some beet in the jar with the eggs. You will then have pickled beets as well.

Make sure the lid is tight and refrigerate. The eggs will be ready to eat in a few days and will keep for up to a month if you haven’t already eaten them.

Curried Pickled Eggs:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cider vinegar.
  • 3/4 a cup of water.
  • 1/4 of an onion.
  • 3/4 cup white sugar.
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds( yellow or brown)
  • I tbsp yellow curry paste.

Let’s Cook!

As above bring all the ingredients to the boil until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a little and then pour the vinegar mix over the eggs making sure they are completely covered.

Allow to pickle for a few days in the fridge they are then ready to eat…

Pickled jalapenos:

Pickled Jalapenos

This recipe was given to me by a Texan friend and it has carrots in the Jalapenos something I hadn’t thought of. His mum’s recipe and they are the best ones. The carrots taste lovely pickled with the jalapenos. It is our go to recipe and I make them all the time …The current batch has some blow your head of Jalapenos isn’t it funny how they vary in heat just like chillies. But pickled they are oh so scrumptious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 large Jalapenos sliced into rings.
  • 1/2 to 1 carrot sliced into rings.
  • 3/4 cup of water.
  • 3/4 cup of distilled white vinegar.
  • 3 tbsp white sugar.
  • 1 tbsp salt.
  • 1 clove garlic crushed.
  • 1/2 tsp oregano.

Let’s Pickle!

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and oregano in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil.

Add carrots bring back to boil and lower heat slightly, cook for 5 minutes. Stir in Jalapenos and remove the pan from heat. Allow cooling for about 10 minutes.

Pack carrots and Jalapenos in sterilised jars using tongs. Cover with vinegar mix or put in a sterilised storage container and keep in the refrigerator.

Thai Pickled Cabbage ( Pak Dong)

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  • 1 white cabbage. cut or torn into pieces.
  • 8 large spring onions chopped
  • Coarse Salt.

Pickled cabbage is very easy to do and there are many variations I have seen it with fresh chillies. It can also be made with Chinese cabbage or Pak Choy..Our preference is just plain old white cabbage and spring onions it is quick, easy and very moreish it can be eaten on its own, stirred into soup or with a curry as an accompaniment. It doesn’t last long here at all as our little granddaughter loves it and just eats it on its own.

To Pickle:

Layer Cabbage, Onions and salt in the dish add a little water. Mix it all together with your hands.

We then leave the dish covered on the kitchen top or in the sun for 1 day.

Then drain and lightly rinse and add more salt if required. Cover and leave for 2/3 days or until it reaches your ideal taste. With pickled cabbage, it is purely down to personal taste some like it saltier than others. Just play with it and you will soon discover your ideal version.

Then refrigerate and enjoy!

A while ago I was having a fancy for a kebab and my thoughts turned back to the beautiful kebabs we used to get that had these wonderful pickled chillies/peppers…I found this recipe and it is delicious and goes lovely with a salad or a kebab filling…

Piperies Mikres Toursi…

  • 36 thin peppers, such as Anaheim peppers, about 3 inches long, stems trimmed to 1/4 inch long
  • 3 tablespoons coarse-grained salt
  • Water, enough to cover the peppers
  • 5 cups red wine, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or spiced vinegar (any flavour)

Add the peppers to a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and then fill the bowl with cold water until it just covers the peppers. Soak for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Drain the water after 6 hours. Lay the peppers on clean towels until the peppers dry. When the peppers are dry, stuff them into clean and sterilized 1-quart mason jars. Pour vinegar into each jar, making sure to cover the peppers. Seal the jars according to the package instructions for the Mason jars.

smart

Store the peppers in a clean, dry place for up to 3 months.

The only jar I could find was quite a big one and my peppers floated…What I did was fill 2 bags with salted water(just)in case they split and dropped them in the jar…the vinegar rose and my peppers are submerged so if you have jar wich just too big then this little tip is a godsend…

How often have you bought a watermelon and thrown away the rind?? Hands up! I have or I did until I discovered a lovely recipe for Pickled Watermelon Rind.

Now I make a lot of pickles and this one thing I hadn’t thought of pickling… you live and learn, don’t you?

Ingredients:

  • 4lb of Watermelon
  • 1 chilli thinly sliced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger finely sliced or diced
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tsp salt I use fresh mineral salt dried here
  • 1 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp ( optional)

Let’s Cook!

Using a vegetable peeler remove the outer green rind and slice the watermelon into I inch slices. Cutaway all but 1/4 inch of the flesh (it is) the white part we are pickling. The red flesh I keep for smoothies or ice cream or a nice salad with feta cheese.

Then cut the rind into 1-inch pieces.

pickled watermelon rind

Add the chilli, ginger, star anise, salt, pepper, rice vinegar and sugar plus a ½ cup of water together in a pan, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the watermelon rind and bring back to a rolling boil and then again reducing the heat to a simmer for 5 mins or until the rinds are just tender. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the liquid to cool down. You may need to weigh the watermelon down with a plate or lid, as it needs to stay submerged in the liquid until cool.

Once cooled then transfer to a container with a well-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before you eat…This will keep refrigerated for about 2/3 weeks if it lasts that long…lol

My daughter in law took some of this to her village and they loved it …I thought maybe it would be too vinegary for them but no although they did suggest that next time I made it add some tamarind which I think( as) I love Tamarind is a great idea.

Left with lots of pickle juice ????

Don’t want to waste that pickle juice???    Then have a …

Pickleback shot or cocktail…

What is a pickleback? You are about to find out!

It’s a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice and some even follow that with a beer chaser…

A popular drink in bars around the world and apparently very good….Have you tried a pickleback????

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…We all need to be aware of our home’s carbon footprints…where does our food come from? How far does it travel…Simple to do but if we all did it…Not only would we support local businesses but reduce our carbon footprint…

green foot prints eco system

 

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx

I would also ask that when you are shopping for presents, food, and decorations that you think about its origin and how it was produced…carbon footprint, child labour…Please think about the packaging can it be recycled or reused…Do you really need it? Every little helps…x

Christmas…In my house…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…How to cook the perfect turkey and gravy…

Join me for a Mince Pie

Come and join me for a mince pie and a toddy…Then I will show you how to cook a turkey and make a lovely Christmas gravy…

Christmas is nearly upon us …although it is arriving quietly here…well a few Chrismas tunes are belting out…The ham was a great success not so good to carve…I was used to purchasing nicely butchered and trimmed joints of meat and have had to get used to something different…Butchering is not a skill that many possess here…

A farmer with a few pigs or a couple of cows plus a small vegetable patch is more the norm just enough to feed the family and maybe sell a little to raise funds for the seeds or seedlings for the next crop is how it is…A small price to pay for fruit and vegetables raised with love and no chemicals and meat where the animal roams free and grazes to their heart’s content. Which means I have tasty ham just not always perfectly shaped slices…

Today I have some recipes for gravy which can be made 2-3 days in advance or frozen.

Firstly this is my easy to make tasty turkey gravy and we need a lovely tasty gravy to go with our Christmas dinner…Don’t we?

sunday roast

Turkey Gravy.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken wings halved with kitchen scissors
  • the turkey neck, if you have it, cut into pieces
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 2 onions, unpeeled and chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • small handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp  Coconut oil
  • 2 tsp golden castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5-litre fresh vegetable stock

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oven to 220C/390F/Gas 7.

Tip the chicken wings into a roomy roasting tin with the turkey neck (if using), carrots, onions, celery and thyme. Scatter over the sugar, toss in the oil and roast for 50 mins until brown and lightly charred.

Put the roasting tin on low heat, stir in the tomato purée and flour, and cook until sticky. Splash in the balsamic vinegar, pour over 1.5 litres of stock to just cover all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer. then using a potato masher to mash all the ingredients together so as to release the flavour.

Simmer everything for 20 mins until you have a tasty thickened gravy, then strain it through a sieve, pushing down hard on all the mushy veg. Cool and chill for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Heat the gravy to serve, adding roasting juices from your turkey, if you like.

Serves 8.

For more special Christmas gravy recipes please click the link…

A good gravy completes the Christmas meal and I have cooked more turkeys than I could count but if cooking a turkey is new to you…Let me tell you when I cooked my first turkey I was petrified…I mean it is far bigger than the chook you normally cook and you have the in-laws coming and you want it to be perfect…Don’t you?

Well stick with me (and) Sally and you will get the perfect turkey time after time…

Turkey.. a bird that was usually eaten mainly at Thanksgiving and Christmas but is available all year in supermarkets and butchers. Before handing over to Carol.. a look at all the health benefits this large bird brings to the table.

Meleagris Gallopavo (you can eat if you can catch it) Turkey

The wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo (something to do with the difficulty in catching it I think) is native to North America. The bird was brought into Europe, in the early part of the 16th century, by the Spaniards. The English name “Turkey” arose because of a confusion with Guinea Fowl – which were imported through Turkey, from Africa. Both birds were originally known as “Turks”. Eventually, in the 18th century, it was given its Latin name but the original name stuck.

The Native American Indian used the turkey as a staple of their diet. They introduced it to starving pilgrims, along with their native plants and seeds including corn and squash. The pilgrims were so grateful they celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 where their American Indian friends were guests of honour…To read the original post.

Whenever I think of turkeys I think of Mr Bean…Not generally a fan of slapstick comedy this one always makes me smile…as does the Hamlet turkey advert…

 

Of course, you probably know by now that not only do I love pickles but Christmas is when I love to indulge and make a cocktail or three…

Pineapples are very plentiful here and it is such a shame to waste them and the fresh juice is just amazing …A Pina Colada is almost a staple here… but for a change, this Bahama Mama makes great use of pineapple juice we also have some very good rum which is made locally here..so as to boost the awareness of the importance of our carbon footprint ..Cheers!

Bahama Mama cocktail-1191924_640

Can you take a guess where this eye-watering drink originated? The Bahamas! This drink is rumoured to be indirectly named after Dottie Lee Anderson, a Caribbean dancer and performer in the 1930s who also went by the stage name “Bahama Mama.” Another theory is that this cocktail became popular during the Prohibition when the Bahamas were used as a rum smuggling base. While there are many theories as to how this cocktail came to be, no one’s certain which is true of the origins of many a great cocktail…

This cocktail can be made with as little or as much rum as you like…It is a taste it and see cocktail… Depending on how much rum you decide to add, it can be a little more on the sweet side once you add the pineapple juice. Adding soda gives it a slight fizz, making it a great option for those who aren’t really hardened alcohol drinkers…But beware… the alcohol can easily be hidden, just to be sure pace yourself. Trust me when I say — it will eventually hit you, and when it does…It will be a Merry Christmas…

The traditional way to sip on this treat is over ice, but it can be made into an adult Slurpee by pulsing all the ingredients in a blender. I also use limes instead of lemons…

That’s all for now ..Enjoy your weekend and try to chill out as I remember the last minute Christmas rush…Merry Christmas xxx

Lastly, remember not everyone is fortunate and some people dread this time of year be aware and if you can add a little cheer please share your joy but also remember the other 364 days of the year pass your smile around and be kind… 

About Carol Taylor: Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend 🙂 xx

Christmas…’ Tis the season of love and laughter…Have you chased the Green Fairy?

The magic which is Christmas...I try although it is hard when it is sunny and no one else celebrates it…But Chrismas is in my soul and I hope that I can share some of the magic I have always felt with you and of course make you remember and smile…

It made me so happy to know I did just that for Joy…who said…What a great, warm ‘hug’ of a rich Christmas post to keep out the chill. Bravo, Carol. Jingle Bells…Being in my 80’s, those early Christmases were really memorable as we all visited each other a lot more. I always helped my mother decorate the Christmas cake with silver balls, little fir trees and the like and, of course, we made our own paper-chain decorations. Happy, memorable times.

Thank you so much Joy for that lovely comment please pop over and have a read of Joy’s lovely… Letters from Spain where she merges the now with the past…xx

Like Joy, I remember the cake decorations coming out year after year those same silver balls, fir trees, the snowman, and a Father Chrismas…

Last week I explored Father Christmas and the traditions which surrounded him around the world…I was struck by how in Britain we don’t have such lovely tales surrounding Father Christmas to tell our children and grandchildren… we left the customary carrot and mince pie which was always gone in the morning leaving just a few pastry crumbs on the plate.

This week I will be telling you about the Russian Father Christmas courtesy of Dear Dolly from koolkosherkitchen ...The tale of Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow Girl)…A beautiful ice sculpture with Snegurochka.

ice sculpture

Photo credit: Dave Siberia on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Dolly said that… Historically, it was Peter the Great who brought this holiday into Russia, the tree and all. However, in Russian tradition, Nicholas is the patron saint of thieves and smugglers, so Peter arbitrarily called him Grandfather Frost. The Snow Girl was added a bit later, to keep him company. Also, instead of deer, his sled is driven by a “troika” of snow-white horses.

troika snow white horse

Photo credit: seriykotik1970 on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Dolly also went on to tell me that ...Peter literally “dragged Russia into Europe by the beard,” i.e. he would ride around with a pair of scissors, swoop into houses of high aristocrats, grab their beards and cut them off, then stuff them into their own pockets. They had no choice but to become clean-shaven, as the European fashion demanded. Grandfather Frost was the only one allowed to have a beard.

How exciting was all that?… Thank you, Dolly xxx

Egg Nog… I really didn’t realise how popular egg nog still was…I am loving how many Christmas traditions are still being upheld…It got me thinking…dangerous I know…haha…

But as a young girl, I was taken with my friend to visit her grandmother who lived in London…in one of the old terraced houses with a parlour…While thinking about past Christmases and what I can bring to this post in the way of memories I remember Julie’s nan giving us a tincy wincy in a shot glass taster of Green Goddess…I can just remember the vibrant green colour and the bottle so off I go to Mr. Google…

As soon as I saw the images I recognised the bottle but nothing else…Can you guys remember drinking Green Goddess or still drink it…It seems to be a type of Absinthe and with fennel seeds which are also an aniseedy taste …I have also come across the French translation which means Green Fairy…Established at Pontarlier in eastern France by Henri-Louis Pernod, the first distillery produced Pernod Absinthe, a liqueur made from anise, fennel, mint, and wormwood. The drink quickly caught on in Paris and became a favourite among artists and painters.

This guy has an interesting piece of equipment…I love pieces like this I find them interesting..there are proper glasses and spoons…so cool…

absinthe glass and spoon

Photo credit: stormwarning. on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Do you remember Green Goddess or Green Fairy?

Stuck for what to give for a Christmas Present...Home Made Chutney is always well received and this one is very popular among my friends…

Chilli and Tomato Chutney is a wonderful thing.

This lovely vibrant chilli and tomato chutney gets hotter the longer you keep it if it lasts that long..but is lovely with cold meats, cheese, hot sausages, Pork Pies or just use as a glaze over your meat when you are cooking it or your prawns…Lovely with your cold meats on Boxing Day…

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm of mixed tomatoes..some can be green.
  • 4 large red chilli..deseed if you don’t want your chutney too hot or maybe just reduce the chillies.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced.
  • An inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 300 gm of sugar golden or brown.
  • 100 ml red wine vinegar or balsamic.
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce.

Let’s Cook!

Skin the tomatoes by putting in hot water. Then add to the food processor with the chilli and ginger.

Blitz…I love that word…

Then put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, fish sauce and vinegar and bring it to the boil slowly so as not to burn the mixture, keep stirring and then lower heat and let it simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the mixture has gone slightly darker and sticky.

Pour into warm sterilised jars with secure lids.

I turn my jars upside down to get rid of any airlocks until cooled.

tomato-chutney

This will get hotter the longer it is kept although it doesn’t last that long in this house and by the time my friends have begged a jar from me…They normally return the empty jars hoping I will give them a full one in return…lol

Enjoy!

Did you know? Today is National Ding-a-Ling Day…I know what you are thinking…haha…

bells-160841_640

National Ding-a-Ling Day is observed across the United States each year on December 12.

Ding-a-Lings on this day call the people they haven’t heard from in a while.  It may be an old classmate, co-worker or neighbour from years ago.  Or perhaps a call will go out to the child who used to mow the grass during the summer.  How about that couple who carpooled for soccer.  What was their name? There are all sorts of people in our lives who manage to slip out of our lives who would love to hear the ding-a-ling of a call from you or me. Sometimes it is those who are near and dear to us who maybe we don’t call as often as we should… Why don’t you join the Ding-a-ling club and call?

HOW TO OBSERVE

Call someone you haven’t heard from in a long time and use #NationalDingALingDay to post on social media.

Come on make someone happy…xxx

 

 

That’s all for today…See you tomorrow at my house for some more Christmas recipes and titbits…x

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx

Christmas…In my house…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…

As Christmas is not celebrated here our Christmas is far more low key…Not so frantic as it was in the UK…I do miss the atmosphere and the build-up but I don’t miss all the crowds and the must-have this as it does take away from the real meaning where family and friends get together and enjoy each other’s company…

However little Lily is here this weekend and so the tree will be going up, I have made the Coconut ice this morning so that is setting in the fridge and will be sampled later…At least my arms had a workout as I used fresh coconut from the drupe…Recipe and pictures tomorrow…

We are also baking the cake a little late but Lily wanted to help and there is still time to top it up before I need to ice it…

For the last two weeks, I have given you some ideas/recipes to start your Christmas Lunch today I will give some recipes for side dishes. Starting with the one dish I always make…

Spiced Red Cabbage

Red cabbage…our Christmas dinner would not be the same without it…I have been making this …Well, it seems like forever but it must be at least for the last 35 years so it is a well, tried and tested recipe and one which we absolutely love. The recipe was originally given to me by a very dear friend whom sadly is no longer with us…but every time we have this dish we remember you with much love Pauline…x

Spicy Red Cabbage (1)

The recipe has German origins where Pauline’s husband came from.

Cooked with Apples, red onion or shallots, some spices, balsamic and a tinsy, winsy drop of Red Wine….mmm…try a glassful…lol…

It is a lovely accompaniment to Roast Dinners and tastes even better when kept a day or two before eating…well if it lasts that long …and it freezes well. It wouldn’t be a Christmas Dinner without it…we love it.

• One medium-size Red Cabbage.
• One medium to large Red Onion Or about 8 shallots…
• 2/3 cloves of garlic
• One large Bramley Apple peeled, cored and roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar.
• A half to whole glass red wine.
• Salt and Pepper to season.
• 1-2 tsp Cinnamon or mixed spice.
• Cinnamon Stick ( optional)

Let’s Cook!

Chop cabbage, Onions, garlic, and Apple.

Cook Onions and garlic in butter or olive oil until onions are soft.

Add chopped cabbage and apple, half of the balsamic and half of wine.

Season and add spices.

Cook for at least 2 hours (I cook mine for 3 generally) and add more wine and balsamic to taste. If you think it is a bit dry then add a little water.

Tip: If like me the Bramley cooking apples are unavailable where you live then its trial and error. I tried green apples and it was ok but this week I used 4 dessert apples and it was the best, the same with seasoning and spices its personal taste so play with it and adjust to your taste which is what I do with all my cooking ….and especially now I live here it has taught me a totally new way of cooking, I was very recipe and measurement-driven. Now I just look inside the fridge or freezer and cook with what I have because it is about taste, taste, and taste again… or it could be just certain ingredients are unavailable here…….the only time I now measure is when I make pastry or cakes and that does have to be more precise but any other dishes then I play with ingredients and I have much more fun when I am cooking.

asparagus with bacon

Asparagus is another of our favourite vegetables they can be lightly steamed or cooked in butter and just serve with some thinly sliced parmesan cheese..so simple yet so very tasty…They are beautiful just wrapped in bacon…Very easy… Just wrap bacon slices around each prepared asparagus spear. Skewer both ends of asparagus and add 3 to 4 per skewer. Grill the asparagus on direct heat until the bacon is crispy and the asparagus tender which takes around 15 mins making sure that you turn the asparagus at least once.

Parsnips are also one of my favourite winter veggies…

parsnip-20320_640

Normally I cook in butter, olive oil, thyme, honey with some freshly cracked black pepper and salt to season…However, with some oil and maple syrup it takes the taste to another level not so sweet as honey but with the parsnips natural sweetness…Just perfect…

or baked with some potatoes au gratin…A lovely Christmas treat…

Ingredients:

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 350 gm parsnips
  • 200 ml single cream
  • 105 ml of milk
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 75 gm grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • butter or olive oil to grease the dish

Let’s Bake…

Peel your potatoes and parsnips and cut them into thin slices then steam for 5 minutes then leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, pour the milk and cream into a pan with the garlic and bring to the boil over medium heat.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand at room temp for about 10 mins to let the garlic infuse.

Lightly grease your oven baking dish and preheat your oven 180 C/350 F/Gas mark 4

Arrange the thinly sliced potatoes and parsnips in your dish sprinkling each layer with a little freshly grated nutmeg and plenty of ground black pepper and a little salt.

Pour the cream and milk mixture into the dish then lightly press the potatoes and parsnips down into the mixture.

Cover the dish with lightly buttered foil or baking parchment and cook for about 40 minutes…Remove the dish from the oven and remove the foil or paper…Sprinkle the grated cheese over then return the dish to the oven and bake for a further 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the top is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Now this time of year I absolutely love my cocktails but not everyone drinks alcohol and this video shows you some lovely healthy drinks for the Christmas season which won’t leave you feeling left out…

That’s all for now ..Enjoy your weekend xxx

Lastly, remember not everyone is fortunate and some people dread this time of year be aware and if you can add a little cheer please share your joy but also remember the other 364 days of the year pass your smile around and be kind… 

About Carol Taylor: Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend 🙂 xx

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