21 December 2009

winter wonderland, part three

More Petersham love...because you can never have too many woodsy ornaments,

too many jingly bells,

or too much coffee and cake! Well, maybe too much coffee...

19 December 2009

snowy springboks

With flurries swirling outside, it's the perfect time for doing jigsaw puzzles inside.

Loved this quirky take on the country church scene:

Because after all, what would Christmas be without a pink tree?

Christmas Village didn't have a pink tree. Instead, it had heaps of nearly indistinguishable purple pieces,

which made it terribly slow going...and a very effective means of avoiding the holiday to-do list!

15 December 2009

spice and ice

While visiting my mum, I discovered a fabulous new gelato shop, Pitango Gelato:

The Fior di Latte, made from locally sourced, organic milk and cream, was pure, creamy gelato heaven. I also tried the Cinnamon, which was wonderfully spicy--perfect for the festive season.

Now back in Teddington, and longing for a scoop of Cinnamon, I whipped up a batch of David Lebovitz' Cinnamon Ice Cream:

Made using Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients cinnamon--ginormous cinnamon sticks from the Seychelles--it boasts a very deep, very spicy, very adult cinnamon flavor. If an ice cream could be described as warm, this would be it...just the thing for frosty afternoons!

14 December 2009

brontës and blessings

I was planning to read this:

But ended up reading this:

When I spied A Glass of Blessings at the library, I couldn't resist. Especially as it was a new, pristine copy...unlike the cookbook I checked out, which was terribly eeeuw!

The story follows Wilmet, a 1950s London housewife, through her days at home, in church, and around town. It was easy to feel real affection for Wilmet and her companions, while at the same time finding amusement (smiles and laughs) aplenty in their many quirks and foibles. Might just be my favorite Pym to date.

But now, back to the Brontës...

07 December 2009

bloomsbury books

It was Darlene who first told me about The Bloomsbury Group, a series of 'lost classics' from the early 20th century being reprinted by Bloomsbury Publishing.

I started with Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys:

Henrietta, a doctor's wife in Devonshire, documents the mundanities and absurdities of life on the Homefront in letters to her childhood friend Robert. While similar in tone to Diary of a Provincial Lady, it was neither as funny nor as engaging, and even the quirky illustrations (by the author herself) couldn't quite redeem it.

More successful was Mrs Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson, author of Miss Buncle's Book:

Hester Christie (Mrs Tim) starts a diary in which she records her daily doings with all the wit and verve of my favorite Provincial Lady. While I think the book rather lost its way toward the end--the entire second half is taken up by diary entries for a single holiday in June--I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

And my faith in the series was further restored by Miss Hargreaves:

Norman and Henry invent a character, Miss Hargreaves, only to have her appear on their doorstep exactly as they imagined her. Things quickly spin out of control, as Miss Hargreaves gets Norman into one sticky situation after another, and what started as a light farce takes on a more sinister edge. A completely surreal, thoroughly engaging romp right to the end.

A Kid for Two Farthings by Wolf Mankowitz was a much quieter book:

Six-year-old Joe, growing up in London's Jewish community in the 50s, buys a unicorn (a little white goat) in the Whitechapel market, hoping one day the unicorn's stubby horn will grant the humble wishes of his friends and family. This beautifully observed slice of life was warm and tender without being overly sentimental. Simply perfect.

Four down, two to go!

06 December 2009

winter wonderland, part two

On Sunday, G and I made our annual holiday visit to Petersham, and the decorations didn't disappoint. There were many more wooden ornaments this year,

as well as snowy pine cones, gathered into knobbly white bowls:

But what we really came to see were the mercury glass baubles, piled in buckets...

and baskets...

and hanging from the beams:

Amongst the woodsy whites and shimmery silvers, there were hints of green. But even the wreath forms were bare,

which somehow seemed fitting in that wintry wonderland.

03 December 2009

macaroons and moi

While I managed to fit in one last baking class before flying off to America, I've been terribly remiss in posting about it.

Back in October, Sybille Pouzet and Diane Rabaut guided 12 of us through the process of making French-style macaroons. Both Sybille and Diane trained at L’Ecole Grégoire-Ferrandi in Paris and were fantastic teachers,

taking us expertly through each and every step. We made several flavors of ganache--pistachio, raspberry, chocolate-passion fruit, and lemon-basil--before mixing, piping, baking, and filling the shells:

Perhaps not Ladurée standard yet, but for a first try, not too shabby! And we made mini financiers and fondants, too.

Now just hoping I haven't forgotten everything over the past month-and-a-bit. But if so, maybe my new book will help?