Not quite seven types of biscuits

But then I’m not Norwegian, so thankfully I’m not battling a butter shortage whilst trying to make sure I have seven types of Christmas biscuits. I really feel for those poor Norwegians, not been able to make all your normal Christmas baked goods because there is no butter, tragic.

I’ve made Loftkökur, Sugar Biscuits, Christmas Cake Pattycakes, Gingerbread, Rum Balls, Sunshine Balls (Apricots Balls with dried pineapple and mango added as well) and Vanilla Rings.

Loftkökur
This time of year the traffic to my blog goes through the roof as people come for my Loftkökur post from 2006. Four ingredients, some magic and then you have quite possibly my favourite Christmas baked good. Londoneats also made Loftkökur this year and I’ve contributed to the comments thread over there. I’m going to do an updated Loftkökur recipe post next Christmas and will provide spoonfuls of the magic ingredient to Australians who want to try making them.

Christmas Morning Tea

Christmas Cake Pattycakes
These are new this year and I’ll be making these till the Christmas before I die I do believe. All the niceness of Christmas fruit cake without the dryness or stodginess. I found the recipe in an advert for Lucky Nuts via the Coles magazine (I must say I love the Coles and Woolies magazines, they are the main place I get new recipes these days).

Christmas Cakes
Makes at least 24 muffin size cakes or 48 patty pan size cakes, I suggest halving it)

1 cup roughly chopped silvered almonds
5 cups assorted dried fruit roughly chopped into pieces about thumb nail size (I use sultanas, raisins, dates, pear, peaches, apricots – probably half sultanas and raisins and the rest other fruits)
1/2 cup (at least) of rum, I use Bundy Red and strongly recommend it for all Christmas items.
a good shake of mixed spice
250g butter, softened
250g brown sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup marmalade or citrus jam (I use my Mandarin jam and just realised that I never blogged about it or my other jam making – blame mobile uploads on Facebook, it’s so quick to take a photo on the phone, add a caption and upload it to Facebook)
500g plain flour
blanched almonds to decorate

Combine the rum, dried fruit and spice in a container and leave at least over night, making sure to give it a good shake every so often to make sure that rum is soaking the fruit nicely. You made need to add a little more rum here.

Cream the butter till pale, add the sugar and continue to mix till the sugar is dissolved. This will take some time but it makes all your baking better if you take the time to cream your butter and sugar well. Add the eggs and marmalade/jam in and continue to mix. Then add half of the fruit mix and half of remaining ingredients (flour and chopped almonds) mix it well and then add in the rest of the fruit, flour and almonds and mix till well combined.

Spoon mixture into cake papers, decorate the top with blanched almonds and bake at 150°C until a skewer comes out clean and they are lightly coloured on top (~ 15-30 minutes depending on the size you are making)

Eat with a good cup of Christmas tea

Sugar Biscuits
This is the only recipe I’ve ever used for sugar biscuits and can’t fault it. It is easy to double, freezes well and is very easy to make.

Snowflakes Christmas Trees
Baubles

Sugar Cookie Recipe number 2
Makes a heap.

1.25 cups caster sugar or white sugar
225g butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (I probably use more like 2.5 tsp of vanilla normally)
2.5 cups plain flour (sifted)
1 tsp bi-carb
1 tsp cream of tartar (If you don’t have cream of tartar don’t rush out and buy it. Over the years I’ve made these with bi-carb and baking powder as well and they are just fine)

Cream the butter till pale and then add the sugar, continue to cream it till the sugar is dissolved and it doesn’t look at all grainy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour and rising agents and beat till it comes together. Form dough into at least two discs and wrap in either glad wrap or a plastic bag and allow to cool and harden in the fridge (I normally make the mixture one night and bake the biscuits the following night). Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to warm up a little. I normally divide the each disc into about four pieces and work each piece with my hands warming it up and making it rollable. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to an even thickness (I aim for about 5mm) and cut out shapes with your cutters. For best baking results only use one shape per tray or if you must use different shapes you should make sure they have the same surface area because smaller biscuits cook quicker and you don’t want over cooked biscuits. Cook on glad bake lined trays at about 160°C for about 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven just as they start to colour. Allow to cool and then ice with your preference of icing. I’m a royal icing girl. Store in an air tight container and if you find they are a softening in the container put a slice of bread in the container to harden the biscuits back up.

Gingebread
I probably should call this Spicebread, as I do like to be quite heavy handed with the spices.

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread
150g golden syrup
110g butter
100g brown sugar
375g flour, sifted together with the bi-carb and spices
1 tsp bi-carb

Spices (the more the better but make sure the ratio is ginger heavy)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice

In a medium size pan, combine the syrup, butter and sugar, bring to a gentle boil and make sure the sugar is dissolved before removing from the heat and stirring in the flour mixture, when the mixture has come together, let the dough rest in the pan for a couple of hours. You don’t need to place this in the fridge, on the bench is fine. I made my mine in the morning before work and left the pan on the bench all day. Roll out to about 8mm thick on a floured surface and cut out your shapes. Bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes or until they spring back when touched. Cool and decorate with melted chocolate or royal icing or just leave as they are.

There we have it. Recipes for all the goods I’ve taken photos of so far. I’m yet to take photos of Rum Balls or Sunshine Balls (probably because I keep eating them!)

I’m now off to start organising the house for Christmas Eve tonight and get things sorted out for Woodford after Christmas.

A very different December

Yet again I’ve been promoting that thing called “radio silence” but I’ve been busy, very busy. I was extremely lucky to obtain a vacation work placement which for the last three weeks saw me trade my normal CBD office for another CBD office. A swisher office, closer to the river and employing a gazillion more people in their Brisbane office than are employed in the Brisbane office for my company. It was an eye opener and in some areas I learnt more about accounting in the last three weeks than I’ve learnt in the last year at uni. It was a very good experience and I’m thankful for the opportunity I was given. This week I’m back at my “normal job”.

This Christmas season has seen many, many changes in our household. A couple of months ago, after Mum had come back from exploring the bush in NSW, a conversation was resurrected from one we had had years ago about why we (really my parents) live in Brisbane. It was about Grandad of course and nothing could have taken my mother or myself away from SEQ whilst my grandfather was alive. With his passing in June and the passing of my father in May last year; that conversation could be had again as those events have changed a lot of things in our lives. I moved back home. We purchased an investment property. We’ve taken on a boarder (who may have had a Lotte bowl slip out of his hand and land on the floor in more than one piece … My Lotte is now more secure in where it is stored) and that’s just the billboard changes. Mum has had the chance to revisit that conversation we’ve had a few times over the years about leaving Brisbane and teaching somewhere else, I always used to suggest WA but that is an awfully long way a way. Mum though discovered a place closer to home though and next year she will be still be a Maths teacher but in NSW in a country town situated in the north west region. The town she is moving to is about a 7hr drive from Brisbane, luckily it is also on the Melbourne to Brisbane bus route so she will be able to hop on a bus to come home for a visit! Most importantly there is plenty of bush walking and an active club to keep her weekends occupied.

This has meant that Mum is packing up her life or perhaps I should say “culling her life”, there has been items leaving this house left, right and center. Some via Lifeline, some via Gumtree, some via Freecycle, others via the rubbish bin, some to people here and there. Some times it feels like that unless it is bolted down, it won’t be there when I get home from work!

Another change this year is that for the first time in the sixty years my mother has lived we have an artificial Christmas tree!!!! And we put it up on Dec 18!!! My father and my maternal grandmother are probably rolling in their proverbial graves (well more accurately, their ash particles are probably vibrating at a higher frequency than normal …)

However, it’s not just any artificial Christmas tree. It’s a 6ft Mistletoe Pine Aluminium Christmas Tree made by Raco. Yep, how many people do you know in Australia who are rocking an Australian made Aluminium Christmas Tree? Very few I would wager to say. I normally see two or so appear each year on Ebay and one of the ones that appeared last year made its way to me. I then gave the tree as part of my present to Mum last year (Well actually it was to both Mum and the house. Do you do that? We have often over the years had presents to the the house from the kitchen or to the fridge from the stove etc). My reading of the date codes on the box say it was made in 1964 and the price label reads £6/15/ which according to our friends at the RBA that is about $84 in the money of today.

Our tree has always been real and has always gone up around the 23rd or so and then comes down on the 6th of January or shortly there after (A major pet peeve of mine is when people talk of the twelve days of Christmas as been the twelve days leading up to Christmas, I grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. You seriously think the three kings got an early warning that Jesus was been born and started their journey twelve days before he was born ??? I’m a by no means a believer but it riles me when people talk about and use an idea that they clearly seem to have no idea what it actually means).

Moving on from that point. This is our tree. Click to see it larger of course!
Raco Mistletoe Pine Aluminium Christmas Tree

Have you seen such a beauty? It makes such a lovely sound as you brush past it and oh I love how the lights reflect off it and dance on the ceiling. I actually lay under it on Sunday night whilst on the phone to a friend like a child, watching the light dance on “the leaves” … It is so smile inducing.

Kids

Kids

I had my last exam on Thursday night so I’m at the moment I’m loving not having to open my uni books for a few months! I went out yesterday morning and took some photos of one of the ladies I work with and her family. This one was just too cute not to share 😀

Sun-day

I’m about to head off to spend the day at Uni working on a group assignment. I’m hoping though that I’ll be able to meander through the old botanic gardens this afternoon as the spring flowers in there at the moment are divine.

On spring flowers, here are mine. I planted primulas in the front bed and oh it is so lovely to have flowers in the garden again. As a kid we used pick the flowers and spin the stalks round and round between our palms pretending they were Catherine wheels.
Primulas

I didn’t plant the clover but looks almost as pretty.
Clover

When I mowed the lawn, I couldn’t stand the thought of mowing down all those pretty clover flowers so I left a square of flowering clover in the front lawn 🙂
Clover Square

Now for a collection of links and the likes.

Ten People Who Observe Birthdays on 9/11 – Whilst American based, I can certainly attest to quite a number of statements made.

I can’t stop listening to this cover of Back in Black by Will Shine
Will Shine – Back in Black (AC/DC cover) by the3penguins

The Iceland AFL team recently hosted Norway in the first ever international game in the country, my brother was of course there to capture all the action. I particularry liked how they rigged the goal posts up.

Shiney Flaggy Purse also available with more Union Jack and less stars.

Now I’m off to spend the day with my head buried in the AASBs.

Three pictures, three parts of today.

Doing laps.
Walking
Spent some time with Grandad today – we did laps round the ward, practised his exercises and of course read the paper. Hopefully he won’t be at the hospital too much longer and respite care can be found which will make it a little easier in some ways.

Spring Flowers in waiting.
Spring Flowers in waiting
A sizeable number of Primulas have been planted in the front garden beds so there will be Spring flowers again (I said to Mum just after moving back in that I wished she would put plants in the front bed again – her answer to me of course was something along the lines of “you’re old enough to plant the bed yourself” so I did).

And then there is study.

Best done with a Kit-Kat of course. The flavour pictured is Shinshu Apple. It’s a sweet slightly fake apple taste.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Excuse me while I kiss the sky

That’s right, Excuse me while I kiss the sky, I certainly don’t say it like Jimi said it oh it sounds good. Oh the sky has been glorious the last few days. That lovely blue, mostly clear with just whispers of clouds around and so crisp. Love it.

There’s been quite a few going-ons in my life recently hence the radio silence.
1) I moved back in with my mother a few days ago. I loved the location in Spring Hill but I had a few issues with one of my flat mates over what joint tenancy means … I gave a few options over Easter and my last option was that I would move out when she found a replacement.

2) Grandad is still in the hospital, he is now in the rehab unit but it doesn’t look like he will be going home to his home at the end of his stay. Mum is in the process of looking at aged care options. It’s sad. It’s also quite consuming visiting him.

3) Uni, ahh Uni. I handed in my Cost Accounting assignment on Monday night – so glad to have that finished.

4) Work, we’ve had our staffing levels reduced significantly the last few weeks with one girl resigning, one girl on leave and another two going on leave for a week each as well … It’s been non-stop at work.

Tomorrow though I’m going down the coast to pick up a very special purchase. You’ll have to wait and see what it is but I’m nearly over the moon in excitement at picking it up.