"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Switching out to Festive

Persimmons.
 It's been a cold, grey week here and I've already hauled out my parka for long walks.  Scout is a wintry dog who seems to love the cold weather and if anything we walk twice the amount in the winter.
This is a good thing as it is now the festive season and there will be eating and drinking.  I've been switching out and stocking up my house this last week, for me this is one of the best parts of the season.
Rustic star hanging in the kitchen window.
 I like to have a couple of easy recipes on hand to serve to friends or just to have available on a busy day.  Fruit desserts are probably my favourite, first of all they adapt quite easily to a gluten-free diet and they're also a lighter option in a season of plum pudding and chocolates.
I tend to have lots of blemished apples around from my organics box, and of course the Rascals won't eat them.  Never mind, they do well in a fruit dessert.
 I bought a huge bag of cranberries to work through and I started by creating a cranberry relish on the advice of our friend Stephen Andrew.
Stephen Andrew very wisely uses this relish for a cocktail involving gin and Sprite Zero, and it's basically a mixture of a 300gram package of cranberries, one cup of white sugar and an entire orange blitzed up in a food processor or blender.  I've been using mine to top off a bunch of peeled, chopped apples along with some giant pats of butter.  Bake at 325 until bubbly looking (about 20 minutes) before removing from the oven, topping with sliced almonds, and then baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
 The sliced almonds will burn if you bake them any longer, and they really do make the dessert, adding crunch and also a bit of protein, well you basically now have a health food dish:
Another easy thing to have around this time of year: buttered french lentils.
I like to saute a bit of garlic in a giant amount of butter for a couple of minutes before adding a cup and a half or so of green lentils.  
Quick saute, one clove garlic and 3 tablespoons of butter.

Add your lentils, get them covered in the buttery mixture then add 3-4 cups of water.
I can never get the amount of water right for lentils so I begin by adding less and then stirring in additional water as I go along.  I also add plenty of herbes de provence and a bit of salt and pepper.
 These lentils are a terrific side dish to any sort of baked fish, but you can also add roasted vegetables, whatever you have to hand, and serve them with some brown or wild rice.

I switched out my regular blue and white gingham checked dishes for the Christmas dishes this week:
 I have some Emile Henry baking dishes in a bright red that are ideal for cooking and serving.  My Staub pieces that I use year-round are green and they fit in especially well this time of year.  I just love these Christmas colours.

I've been trying for some increased cleaning activity around the house, cleaning the interiors of drawers and sideboards while I switch around dishes:
 That Method wood cleaner is the best, it smells of marzipan candy and has lots of good moisturizing properties.  Here in Canada our antique furniture can get very dry and splintery due to the central heating and air conditioning, a good furniture polish is key.

I set up a festive bar this week:
 I was planning to go in fairly heavy on the brandy and other festive libations but in the end I went for the basics, though I also have a couple of bottles of champagne stashed in the fridge.  I really wish Veuve Cliquot wasn't ringing up so costly these days, what's the price on a bottle where you live?  Here it's up over $70, what am I, a Rockefeller?
Le Bar
Not the bar of The Rockefellers. 
 We're going to a festive dinner tonight and I'm happily toting along one of those spendy bottles of champagne.  I'll be wearing this Brooks Brothers frock and some red shoes:
Enjoy your weekend Darling Tooties.
xoxDani

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. What do you do with the persimmons? The only way I've ever tried them is in a steamed pudding. My go-to sparkler is local (WA) favorite Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut. It has a respectable mid-range rating from Wine Spectator, yet if I keep my eye out for a sale at the local Safeway a bottle can be as low as $8.88 US (half case price). I don't have a good enough palate to appreciate wine, and it's cold, crisp, and sparkly, which is all I ask.

    I have a party to attend tonight and I will be wearing my new crazypants, i.e., the J.Crew silk wolftooth crops. I'll add a black cashmere sweater, sparkly heels, and some faux-Chanel necklaces that I beaded myself.

    Enjoy your party and have a good weekend everyone!

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    1. Hex your outfit sounds gorgeous! Love the sounds of that necklace you made yourself too. I had an idea to make a chutney type thing out of the persimmons to pair with some turkey meatballs for a little cocktail snack. I haven't tried it yet and I'm wondering if it will work because persimmons do have an odd texture. That sparkly sounds delicious and what an amazing price. For years I was buying a Hungarian sparkling at about $12 a bottle but now I can't find it. Our liquor sales here in Ontario are highly controlled and it's very annoying. When I'm the US at a wine store I want to buy everything.
      Have a great time tonight xx

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  2. Dani, Love the dress! I hope you have fun. I forget about Brooks Brothers- we had one here, but it closed. Your house looks cozy and festive. I just put out my Christmas mugs and dishes and our advent calendar. Today we have a Christmas parade in our town, so we will probably get the tree after and decorate tomorrow with the kids. Last night was an annual cookie exchange. I'll have to check out Stephen's recipe. What a nice idea to bake up apples and cranberries like this. Looks delicious! I love Veuve too.. It used to be around $45! Enjoy your weekend Dani! xx Kim

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    1. Thank you Kim, I really like Brooks Brothers for the most part, I bought some things while we were in Chicago from the spring line that are so well tailored and with great fabrics. This dress is an older one and it has a pretty print in reds and pinks.
      Your weekend sounds very festive indeed, have fun! I've thought of participating in a cookie exchange but my friend Laura does one every year and she practically has a nervous breakdown over it. I bet yours is more relaxed: California style. ;) xx

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  3. Your decorating and dress/shoes are fab! I so enjoying reading your blog as it inspires me (though on a much smaller scale).

    Veuve is a favorite in these parts (Pebble Beach - Monterey Peninsula, CA) and if it makes you feel any better or at least semi-better, it's around the same price here. Guess if it's popular, price goes up. Anyway, it's a wonderful Champagne and that's what counts!

    Happy Holidays - MMR

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    1. Thank you Margaret and it does make me feel a bit better as it always seems we are gouged here by our liquor control board, and you make a good point, Veuve is very popular and it's the old charging-what-the-market-will-pay. It does make a nice gift for a dinner party I think which is what I'm doing this evening.
      And really it's so delicious there's nothing like that first glass.
      Thank you for reading my blog, I appreciate your comment so much. Have a wonderful weekend xx

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  4. Oh I just love persimmons. One of my favorite colors, too. I don't have Christmas dishes! I really should. Hmmm..
    Love how festive you're making your house and the dessert looks fab. I'm sure the almond and cranberry work especially well together. You could probably also do ground almonds as a bottom crust layer if you wanted, right?
    My philosophy on bubbles is that they should be cheap and plentiful enough that you need not think twice about opening. Maybe it would do me good to switch to something more expensive than prosecco :)
    I really should have more lentils in my life too. I don't know why they're just not in my rotation.

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    1. Stephen Andrew that's a good philosophy on bubbly wine, I need to try some prosecco to find one that's dry enough. Taste-testing prosecco sounds like a good job right now! I could do an almond crust good idea, the cranberries, apples and almonds go so well together, I haven't tried your cocktail, I'm still a little frightened of gin. My Dad, who knows me well, once advised me to NEVER drink hard liquor, I guess he didn't like where he saw that going.
      I cannot believe you don't have Christmas dishes. You might need to remedy that! Fun too because there are so many different patterns.
      Love those lentils but they 100% have to be the french puy lentils, the little green ones. Such a good texture and practically foolproof to cook. xx

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    2. My favorite is Lamarca. Pretty blue label too.

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    3. Oh and as for gin, I totally understand. A lot of people have bad experiences with it! I can't drink vodka more than one drink but for whatever reason, gin and I are such great friends.

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    4. SAJ that is a pretty label, I just checked and the LCBO has it for $17 so a good price too, I will try thank you.
      To me gin has an unpleasant celery taste. I wish I could drink it because me friends swear it doesn't give them a hangover. Do you like a gin martini, that's MrBP's favourite. xx

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    5. Interestingly I do not like a gin martini! I prefer a dangerous dirty vodka martini. I just so love a gin and tonic and gin with fruit. It really doesn't give me a hangover! Celery? What gin have you been smelling? Maybe Beefeater? I love Bombay most of the time but in the summer I love Tanqueray with grapefruit thanks forever to Naomi.

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    6. Stephen Andrew I think the last time I had gin was in 1982 while pilfering my friend Renee's dad's bar, I think I had better give it another chance. Tanqueray Grapefruit you say, Naomi would never steer us wrong.
      Vodka Martini, well, classic! xx

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  5. Hello Dani, I enjoy your blog, as I'm a bit of an American Anglophile, but reside in hot and dry Texas. My genetic heritage is English, the York, U.K. area. Love your plans for holiday preparations. Im way behind schedule as I'm currently traveling in London. I visited Brora for the first time today! Thought of you:) Cheers!

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    1. Marguerite thank you for reading, my gosh Texas is quite a bit different from the UK but I've never met a Texan I didn't like! So lucky to be in London just now, and maybe you're behind on the festive prep at home but you can get all of your holiday shopping done. Did you love Brora? Aren't their stores so charming? I love their displays and their use of wallpaper and soothing colours.
      Safe travels to you and thank you xx

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  6. Love Love LOVE that green - saw some copy-cats at Homesense - I may just have to indulge...lentils are a staple in this house, orange for thickening all soups and green ones for side dishes. I don't do them in butter but I am definitely going to try - nothing beats it! Love your dress and shoes! Anna26

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    1. Anna my reasoning is that lentils are so healthy they counteract the butter completely ;)
      Me too love green in the kitchen, looks good any time of year but especially now xx

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  7. Such a cosy post Dani. I love it! I spent yesterday supervising tree trimming. It was a little fraught as the children like to help/fight, and I had a bit of a tension headache at the end.. Only one smashed ornament though (so far).
    I think all the cheery colours of your Christmas dishes and the hearty food are so lovely at that time of year. We have all that snow style theming here for Christmas decorations/ dishes, and it really does look a little incongruous given our heat. Veuve here is $65/ bottle and I think the Canadian/ Aussie dollar are pretty much pegged together, so we have a similar price point. The good Australian sparklings are about that price (or more) though anyway.

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    1. Heidi I remember those days of helping/fighting very well. I hope you were able to ease your tension headache maybe with a holiday cocktail. The snow style theming is a bit odd, I really like your cabbage green dishes mixed with white, appropriate to your climate but still festive, perfect for Australia.
      Yes our currency is nearly matched. I discovered this recently when I bought some Australian money to gift to a friend's son who was about to move to Melbourne. I adore the money itself, even more colourful than ours! Which makes sense, I always think of Australians as our more outgoing cousins, dressed for a party or day at the beach at all times. ;)
      xx

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    2. That's so funny re the money - I have had the reverse effect... when travelling overseas, the currency all looks the same to me and I find it tricky, as I'm so used to different colours and sizes denoting different denominations as we have here. They are pretty notes though, and the newest $5 ones released a couple of months ago have the most beautiful rainbow coloured holograms on them. My daughter was very taken with them! I hope your friends son is enjoying Melbourne.

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    3. Heidi I think other currencies would look very dull to you! I just chatted with my friend last night and his son is now in Cairns, Queensland where he is working at a youth hostel. He's only 21 and school wasn't quite for him so this is a real adventure. He is loving it apparently though he reports it is very hot and humid. I think he'll be there quite a while! xx

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  8. Hello Dani,

    Absolutely adore your pretty party outfit. You'll be the belle of the ball to be certain! Oh, and as for that bubbly, I'd be so depressed knowing how much you fork out for a bottle of widow's brew (my favorite, by the way!). It runs about $45 around these parts (before tax).

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    1. Ugh CD it's my favourite too! But the price here is ridiculous, yours is more reasonable.
      But there's nothing like showing up with that glowing orange box at a dinner or cocktail party as a gift, it instantly sets a mood.
      Thank you regarding the outfit, I was overdressed as usual! Fortunately these things don't embarrass me too terribly anymore. xx

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  9. Veuve is spendy, isnt' it! Love the outfit. Overdress, smoverdress: better to be festive! Love the Christmas plates. Very festive this time of year. xo

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    1. Jen I agree better to be festive at all times, the whole dress-down thing is dull. ;) xx

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  10. Hi, Dani, I so love holiday/festive dressing! Love your house, love your outfits. An aunt of mine even had a collection of "coat pins" - holly sprigs, elves, mistletoe, pointsettias - which was much admired. My coat pin this year is a large safety pin. 'Nuff said.

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    1. Fred I remember my Nana having a couple of holiday brooches, she loved Christmas and would pin one on her mohair coat. She made everything more festive just with her enthusiasm. A safety pin! xx

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