Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Monthly Munch: December

Cakes!  Christmas!  Snow!  Family visits!  It's been a packed month all right.

Toby

- was a very sweet shepherd in his preschool nativity play, and seems to have that part of the Christmas story pretty well sorted:

"The shepherds saw angels, they were just floating around.  They said, 'Don't be afraid.'  Then oodles more angels came and they all sang a song."


- impressed one of the preschool staff by identifying 473 as four hundred and seventy-three, rather than telling her the individual numbers.


 - loves the carol A Partridge in a Pear Tree (is that the actual title?)

- wanted an ice cream even when it was freezing cold outside


Quotes:
On seeing some Christmas lights: "Wow!  That's delicious and fabulous."

Playing doctor:  "I'm a good doctor... just sometimes I do bad things."

And a joke to finish: "Why did the chicken drink lots of coffee?  Because it had to cross the road so many times."

Theo

 - wanted some ice cream too!


 - does have a balanced diet really - in fact we haven't found much he won't eat.

Mmm, Quality Street!

 - can stand up without holding on for a few seconds, and is starting to cruise around the furniture.


- was 19 lb 9 oz at his 10 month checkup

- enjoyed his first snow!


Thankful for

 - beautiful winter sunrises, rainbows and snow!



 - time spent with family over Christmas; we got both sets of grandparents together which was great.

Family photo taken by Toby
- being able to keep up regular blogging - I have averaged one entry a week this year, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing.

Recipe of the Month - pizza

Hmm, I don't seem to have taken any photos of food this month.  But we have enjoyed making our own pizzas a couple of times, and you all know what pizza looks like, don't you?

Pizza base
12 oz strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp fast-action yeast
1/2 tsp salt
8 fl oz milk
4 tsp olive oil

Pizza toppings
1 jar pizza sauce
grated cheese (Cheddar or mozzarella)
Peppers, tomatoes, olives, ham, mushrooms or whatever you fancy

Stir together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.  Gently warm the milk and olive oil until it just feels hot.  Pour into the flour mixture and mix to form a soft dough.  Knead for ten minutes.  Cover and leave to rise for an hour or two until doubled.

Punch down and knead for a minute.  Divide into four and roll or stretch each piece into a circle or rectangle.  Spread the pizza sauce over the bases and add cheese and toppings.  Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes until crispy and golden.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

These ol' Whites

Most of you have probably been following our exploits on here anyway, but here's a quick reminder of what happened for us in 2014.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Theo, Theo, he played one, out into the world did come;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Gave us lots of sleepless nights!


Graham, Graham, he played two, bought himself a bright canoe;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Paddling it's a sheer delight!


Toby, Toby, he played three, he grew up and learned to read;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Takes a book to bed at night!


Martha, Martha, she played four, baked some cakes and then some more;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Winning prizes left and right!


Graham, Graham, he played five, loves to see those fast cars drive;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Took Toby to the race track sights!


Theo, Theo, he played six, giggles lots at Toby's tricks;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Boys together - quite a sight!


Toby and Theo, they played seven, thought that Italy's just like heaven;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Pizza, ice cream, lakes and flights!


Martha, Martha, she played eight, stayed up reading far too late;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Looks forward to her Book Club nights!


Theo, Theo, he played nine, wants to stand up all the time;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Holds on to Mum's fingers tight!


Toby, Toby, he played ten, draws with pencils or a pen;
With a knick, knack, paddy whack, what a lot of Whites - 
Forms his letters, starts to write!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Not an Advent post

I'm afraid I haven't even managed Sundays in Advent this year.  My Dad is doing an amazing job, though: rounding up all the sheep in the Bible and telling their stories through the mouth of a little girl named Emily.  So if you are starved of Advent reading material, drop by the Sheep Shelter.

Meanwhile, the reason that my writing efforts fizzled so quickly is that not one but two friends asked me to make cakes for them!  On the same weekend - eek!  Including techniques I had never tried before - aagh!  So I gulped and said yes...

Here's the "easy" one first.  My neighbours, who ordered this cake, helpfully supplied a hand-drawn template for the picture, which did make life simpler.  Then it was just a matter of carving the cake and laying out the fondant - which still takes no inconsiderable time.

Vroom!

And here's the one that took me all week and several tense moments:


Now if you consider that my previous modelling experience amounted to a few small animals, this increased the difficulty by just a few orders of magnitude.  Youtube provided a bit of technical advice and my artistic skills just about managed to stretch to the challenge.

Sorry for the fat legs, lady!
Headless mannequins
They're an 'armless pair, really

The hardest part by far was the fact that it was a couple, touching (how dare they!).  This put all the strain in the model on the arms, which made the final transfer onto the cake a breath-holding moment.  If I did it again I think I'd make the figures on a base, to keep the feet and legs rigid.


And you know your husband loves you when he does a late-night run to the supermarket for a bottle of vodka!  The painting was a last-minute decision, and apparently vodka is the best thing to dilute food colourings with (it evaporates more quickly than water, so is less likely to make the fondant soggy).  Of course I only needed a teaspoonful, so... any recommendations for what to do with the rest of the bottle?

No, drinking it while cake decorating is not a good idea!