The Pudding Fairies

After the great pudding hunt, a surprise box was delivered and lay lurking on the stairs and when retrieved and opened, it contained a gorgeous Christmas pudding!

How thoughtful and what a lovely surprise!

As we can’t go out or see anyone, now at least we can have pudding!

Thank you Maria and Roger, the pudding fairies!

Queuing for meat

We set off early to pick up our Christmas chicken as we thought The Ginger Pig, our local organic butcher would be busy.

Arriving at 9:15am, the queue was doubling back on itself and was like waiting for a ride at Disneyland except a lot less fun.

The good news, it had stopped raining but with a queue stretching this long, our chances of staying dry would be slim.

At least we had pre-ordered so hopefully they wouldn’t run out.

Black Forest Trifle

Last week I made a black forest trifle for my brother-in-law’s 60th birthday. I have never seen so much sugar in one bowl!

Things started with a brownie mix. I confess to cheating and used a Betty Crocker box of brownies. The brownies were then cut in half and sandwiched with black cherry jam and the bottom of a bowl was lined with jam-filled brownies. That was probably a couple of thousand calories.

Then the brownies were supposed to be drenched in kirsch. I didn’t have any so tried a little rum but it was too medicinal so I skipped that bit and added a tin of pitted cherries, the juice soaking into the brownies nicely.

Then, on top of that was a packet of amaretti biscuits. At least that what they supposed to be. I had found sugar-encrusted Italian butter biscuits which seemed to do the job.

Next layer was chocolate custard. I melted a block of dark chocolate and added it to a tin of Ambrosia cream custard (another little helping hand). The chocolate custard was very sweet and so the layers and calories were adding up nicely.

I added a few more cherries for good measure before covering the whole lot with whipped double cream and dark chocolate shavings. The bowl was full and it was extremely heavy.

The whole thing took two days to build and had to be moved in an Uber. It was delicious but a moment on the lips and all that.

Sadly no photos exist of the most fattening dessert I’ve ever made.

Would I make it again? Only for the most special occasion I suspect!

The dog’s knee

In a week where everything seems to have gone tits, Agnes started limping and then hopping on three legs and seemed very under the weather. She was sick a couple of times and her hair seemed to be falling out. For a young and remarkably healthy dog, this was very concerning.

Agnes is only five so it seemed like a good idea to take her to the vet to find out what was going on and the news wasn’t great. Dogs have little tiny kneecaps which can slip out very easily and Agnes seems to have a slipping kneecap on her rear left leg. When she gets up, it takes a few steps before she can put the leg to the floor and get going. It’s called a Luxating Patella which sounds like a foaming Spanish rice dish.

And so here we go. The next step is to see a specialist and determine the grade of severity. Level One can be managed with pain control, hydro therapy and supplements up to Level Four which requires surgery. Cha ching, it’s going to be expensive whatever happens. Perhaps there’s a little tiny knee brace which would help.

We’ll start the follow up in the New Year and I’m pleased so say that Agnes doesn’t seem to be in pain or struggling much, just hopping a bit so perhaps she’d be ok with a swimming pool and a treadmill for Christmas.

It just keeps getting better!

Isolation

This week I received a text from the NHS Test & Trace saying I had been exposed to Covid and needed to self-isolate. I thought it was a scam.

To confess,I had met up with Big T’s siblings (four people, social distancing) to nod to a milestone birthday and while I had been cautious, I had still attended. One person tested positive the next day and suddenly the game had changed. I had to self-isolate for ten days.

We have been very careful since March, shopping locally, not socialising and when able to travel to France, we basically spent the summer in the house with a weekly shop at the supermarket (masked). With one text it seemed as though the last nine months were pointless as the virus was getting closer.

And then it was over. Two phone calls to check up on me and then a text saying the test result had been void and I was no longer expected to isolate. What a fiasco. I still don’t know if the test was negative or just void but as things have taken a turn for the worse anyway, there’ll be no more socialising even with social distancing.

The shortest day

It is, thankfully, the shortest day of the longest year. Winter Solstice of 2020 and as things have become progressively worse in the last few days, at least there’s less daylight to see it by!

This morning I went out at 7am to buy a Christmas pudding. We hadn’t left it to the last minute, we had one ordered but when our online delivery arrived last night, all the festive food seemed to be missing so no Christmas pud for us.

As luck would have it, it was raining (of course) and so I donned the old waterproofs and jumped on my trusty steed to cycle to our local Jewish deli, Panzer’s, guaranteed to have a Christmas pudding. Despite being Jewish, Panzer’s do a custom pudding but sadly all were sold out. I managed to get some smoked salmon but it was all starting to feel a little Eastern Bloc.

Cycling back from St John’s Wood, I stopped at the Tesco Local in Little Venice only to find again, bare shelves and no puddings so unless we find one lurking in the back of M&S in Paddington, we’ll have to make do with a couple of mince pies.

As we have now been banned from the rest of Europe and London is home to a super-strain of Covid (and that’s not very super), things are decidedly grim.

We have been moved into Tier 4 (which has just been invented), the festive chaos of five days off from Covid has been cancelled and people are now stockpiling food to prepare for Brexit. Given that France is refusing UK freight and the Eurotunnel is closed, we are again an island. It would appear that mutton and potatoes are not far off the menu.

What’s next?

The month of Christmas

Who needs twelve days when you can have an entire month?

That’s right, it’s officially Christmas in the UK with advertising, food, Christmas Specials and even snow forecast.

Apparently we all need something to look forward to before we have five days of chaos/freedom where the UK will go mad, and then we all get locked up again… sort of.

As Big T is optimistically off to France next week, we’re joining in and putting up the fake tree this weekend.

Hopefully he’ll make it back into the UK and in the meantime I’ll continue on with the month of Christmas!

Holiday

Having quite a few days of annual leave to take by the end of the year and it being Thanksgiving week in the US, it seemed like a good week for a staycation.

Lockdown means there are limited things to do outside but it seems there are many things to do inside.

So far I’ve washed every jumper, organised all my clothes, turned up my new trousers, done a daily yoga practise, baked and cooked, cleaned my bike, been for a cycle and done a bit of online shopping. How very productive and more fun than it probably sounds.

Of course it’s not exactly like going to the Bahamas as it’s quite Autumnal and getting dark at 4pm but as weeks go, I’ve enjoyed having a few days off the zoom calls and emails.

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, there are projects to finish and then, quiet. No work parties, lunches or drinks this year. A very different festive season ahead and I for one am looking forward to it!

Bread and bread and bread

After baking bread, it was more bread and then on to shortbread. All quite delicious and obviously disastrous.

Shortbread was a strangely easy hard thing to make with three ingredients (butter, sugar, flour) and no liquid but after a couple of attempts to roll it out, I got the hang of it and then judiciously cut each piece in half. Fifty squares of shortbread seems like a lot!

After all that I read up about intermittent fasting where one fasts for fourteen hours between dinner and the next meal. It seemed essential!