Welcome to this week’s round-up of Christmas celebrations Smorgasbord Magazine.
Please head over to Smorgasbord to read all about Christmas Celebrations, there is music, book fair parties which means there is still time to stock up those new kindles you got for Christmas, and of course some funnies to keep you smiling #recommended read.
I love Christmas Carol’s and when I was a choir girl it was one of my favourite times of the year…Silent Night has always been a favourite of mine sadly no recording exists of that very first performance, but the song quickly spread through Europe. In fact, “Silent Night” has been recorded at least 733 times over the past 36 years alone.
The song’s lyrics were originally written in Germany and the German version of “Stille Nacht” is still a firm favourite of mine…I also adore listening to “Silent Night” sang Acapella or just played by a lone sax…wonderful…
This six verse poem was penned by a young Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr who could have probably as he was a gifted musician have written the musical score…instead, he enlisted the aid of a friend Franz Xaver Gruber, a local schoolteacher and organist, to write the music for the six verses…The two friends then sang “Silent Night” together for the first time in front of Mohr’s congregation, with Mohr playing his guitar on Christmas Eve, in the year 1818…
The rest is history…The lyrics of “Silent Night” have always carried an important message for Christmas Eve observances in churches around the world. But the song’s lilting melody and peaceful lyrics also remind us of a universal sense of grace that transcends Christianity and unites people across cultures and faiths.
I’m sure there are many lists and that everyone has their favourite versions…
Sinead O’Connor’s version of the classic carol, which was released in the year 2000…is one of my top 6 which follow in no particular order
This man needs no introduction…
I could listen to this all day…which I have been doing same words, different singers…
I absolutely love Acapella and Andrea Bocelli is one of my favourites.
This one by Stevie Nicks is beautiful…no bells and whistles just beautiful…
I love listening to the sax it is so beautiful…this version is one I recently discovered …
Finally…I know I couldn’t keep it to 5…The most beautiful version of Silent Night …The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is an English choir. It is considered one of today’s most accomplished and renowned representatives of the great English choral tradition. It was created by King Henry VI, who founded King’s College, Cambridge, in 1441, to provide daily singing in his Chapel, which remains the main task of the choir to this day.
Thank you for joining me today I hope you have enjoyed my choices…xx I look forward to your comments as always and to hearing which version is your favourite…
Every Christmas I bring out and update my favourite Christmas posts… The naughty boys and their scary mother are one of them…What fun…We all love to regale our children and grandchildren with tales from Christmas past…most real, some imagined and we all…Come On…Admit it!
We have all stooped to bribery, corruption or just plain tall tales to make the kiddie winks BEHAVE!
Forget boring advent calendars…
Icelandic parents enthral their children (and scare) them into being good with tales of the Ogress living in the Icelandic mountains.
She is one scary Mumma, described as half-troll/animal and the mother of 13 naughty boys known as the “Yule Lads”. Grýla lives in the mountains with her husband, her thirteen children and a black cat.
And that cat is pretty scary too…
Old Icelandic folklore states that every Icelander must receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas or they will find themselves in mortal danger. An enormous black cat prowls Iceland on Christmas Eve and eats anyone who doesn’t follow this simple rule. This obnoxious feline is known as the Christmas Cat.
The legend goes that every Christmas, Grýla and her sons come down from the mountains: Grýla in search of naughty children to boil in her cauldron and the boys in search of mischief. She can only capture children who misbehave but those who say sorry must be released.
Wow….that story will get the kiddies hiding under the bed covers.
The husband is not as wicked as her… but a bone-idle, lazy slob.
The boys aka “The Yule” lads are naughty and mischievous and have wonderful names…Oh, what stories you could weave….and what fun you could inject into your stories.
And what funny names they have.. Spoon- Licker is tall and thin. He steals unwashed spoons, which he licks clean. and Door- Slammer well as the name implies… Slams doors that are kept ajar at night, keeping people awake.
Icelandic children place a shoe in their bedroom window each evening in the 13 days before Christmas. Every night one Yuletide lad visits, leaving sweets and small gifts or rotting potatoes(Yuk), depending on how a child has behaved on that day.
I think It’s much better than a boring advent calendar, just think of the tales you can weave and what fun you and the kids could have and such a cool way to keep the little darlings in check.
How about Sausage -swiperhe hidesin the rafters to snatch sausages which are hung up for smoking.
Nothing is safe from these wicked boys…
What tales do you tell your children?
I was really lucky…because my youngest believed in Santa Claus until she was about 13 years old…she was much ridiculed by her peers but stood her ground and insisted that she had seen Santa.
Well, she had….She was 3 yrs old and one of my son’s friends asked if he could ( while dressed) up as Santa take a little present upstairs and put it in Laurens stocking.
He was told by me in no uncertain terms ” Do NOT wake her up”
Well, she did wake up..but the clever boy put his fingers to his lips and told her to shhhhhh and go back to sleep or I can’t leave your presents.
Which she did, from that Christmas onwards for many years she was insistent to all and sundry when they laughed and told her Santa didn’t exist…..That she knew he did because she had seen him…so thank you, Adam.for keeping a little girls dreams alive!
I wish I had known about the 13 trolls though…x
Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments x
Regardless of your pickled preferences, it’s time to grab your favourite crunchy, vinegary snack to celebrate National Pickle Day, observed every year on November 14. The term pickle comes from the Dutch word pekel, which means salt or brine.
National Pickle Day was first celebrated in 1949, initiated and supported by the Pickle Packers Association. The founder of the day remains unknown.
Did you know?Pickle Polka is the theme song for Pickle Packers International?
But as it’s also only 41 sleeps it’s also time to make some 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!
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.
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…
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 a boil and simmer for five minutes.
Transfer the garlic cloves to sterilised jars. Add the mustard or fennel seeds if used. We actually couldn’t decide on 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.
The garlic will be ready to use in about a week but improves over time…if you can wait that long…
Cucumbers are always plentiful here and pickle nice and quick…Lovely with some nice cheeses…
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.
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.
The 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.
We love pickled eggs…Do you love pickled eggs??
Jalapeno Pickled Eggs:
3/4 a cup of Cider Vinegar.
3/4 a cup of water.
1/2 cup of sugar plus 1 tbsp sugar.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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 when pickled with 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.
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.
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)
1 white cabbage. cut or torn into pieces.
8 large spring onions chopped
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.
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.
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 a jar that is just too big then this little tip is a godsend…
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????
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
This is the first of my Christmas posts…Sorry but some things have to be made sooner rather than later if we are going to have the greenest most recyclable Christmas ever…
After all, there are only… 1,193 hours to #Christmas! 71,526 minutes to #Christmas! 4,291,535 seconds to #Christmas! at this moment in time… or quite simply put 50 sleeps.
This year I am going to make crackers and an advent calendar…My crackers could be a problem as no one ships here they are classed as explosives by customs…I have found a tutorial which means stripping down those champagne poppers which could work…I think I will enlist the help of my grandson and let you know or if you don’t hear from me he has blown us up…haha…
For those of you who can purchase cracker snaps through Amazon or Etsy here is a tutorial…
Fir cones…we used to collect lots as a child and then they were made into pretty table decorations, wreaths for the front door or decorations for the tree they look so pretty spray painted or sprayed with artificial snow, unfortunately, I cannot get them here but for those of you who can then…Have fun creating and please share your pictures…
Homemade advent calendars…again something which I cannot get here or get easily…One year I can last year I couldn’t so this year I am going to make my own…
This video has some great ideas and even for your pets…
I hope you find some good ideas here…If we all started to make our own recyclable decorations, it would save us money and so much unwanted plastic and paper ending up in landfill…The figures are horrendous…It also makes them so much more personal …Just think how much pleasure they will bring and how much fun you will have finding that special little gift…
Lastly, just in case you missed it and haven’t made your sweet mincemeat yet here is the recipe again…
Don’t forget… on the 21st of November…Stir–up Sunday‘, so put on your apron and gather family or friends to make a Christmas pudding. It’s the day when wishes are said to come true, so get stirring! Christmas is approaching, and to us, that means one thing: Stir–up Sunday.
That’s all for today I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any ideas please share ..Tomorrow it is Saturday Snippets…please join me for a touch of nostalgia…xx
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a lovely weekend xx
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..
Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.
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…..
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!
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