A December Snow Story

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas has been a good one, with time to rest, feast and spend time with your favourite people.

It has been quiet around here recently, as my time has been so full of work and school commitments since September. The rhythm of our weeks has changed, but I miss this space, and room to share and talk about my photographs and our daily adventures.

I’m not really a person to commit to resolutions, but this year I would love to spend more time with this blog, and will do my best to be around a little more.

But back to the photos; from a snow day in December, just before Christmas and amazingly coinciding with Mia’s birthday. A magical, perfect day, when all of our birthday plans were put on hold to run about in the snowflakes.

Waking Mia with news that it had snowed, and was still snowing, on her birthday morning, is one of those parenting moments I will store away in my memory for as long as possible. She was so torn between rushing outdoors in the falling snow, or opening her presents first!

A day that we had planned as a trip to Oxford for lunch and shopping, spontaneoulsy became a day of snowman building, snowball fights and sledging. Mia was around 4 years old last time it snowed, and could remember it, but Joe at 6 months old had no memory of it at all. He kept looking at the snow falling from the sky , confused as if he couldn’t work out where it was falling from.

Breakfast included a home made sno-cone, of snow and honey – in place of maple syrup!

A lovingly made snowman, who survived for most of the following week, before becoming a slushy puddle of coal, carrot nose and football scarf!

His first proper snow was quite overwhelming, and after the first novelty of it, Joe was less sure he liked it. Being pulled along on a sledge was a highlight for him, but he wasn’t too keen on the sledging down hills part, or the being so cold.

A wonderful end to 2017 and the perfect start to the whole festive season. Wishing you a very happy 2018; looking forward to an exciting new year!

 

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Whipped & Charred: The Launch Of A Cook Book

If a new cook book could be released at the perfect time of year, it would be Whipped & Charred. A collection of cosy homely recipes, from the Thomas Curtis, Head Chef of ‘The Best Traditional Pub in Oxfordshire’, the White Heart, Witney. Thomas’ recipes reflect his family roots and celebrate really good food, but in an accessible way, that home cooks can enjoy too. He describes the book in his own words:

“I have lovingly put this book together as a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. It is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef,” he says.

A wonderful idea of sharing homely and comforting recipes, whilst supporting and raising awareness of two charities; the British Heart Foundation; a charity which deals with one of the UKs biggest killers, heart disease; and secondly MIND, a charity for better mental health.

Choosing a favourite recipe from the book which includes so many favourite pub classics such as steak and onion pot pie, herby sausage rolls and an indulgent cauliflower cheese would be an almost impossible task. At this time of year, I could happily cook and enjoy one of the book’s recipes every evening! One recipe that really caught my eye though was the Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread, which sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic. Thomas has very kindly shared the recipe:


Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread and fresh raspberries

Preparation time: 4 hours 10 minutes (including cooling time) | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 6

A very quirky twist on tea and biscuits. We have substituted a small amount of the full fat milk for evaporated milk to really bring out a lovely malty flavour that goes so well with tea.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
160g plain flour
1 tbsp lavender flowers
500ml full fat milk
100ml evaporated milk
60g caster sugar
6 Earl Grey teabags
3 sheets leaf gelatine
36 fresh raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°c/170°c fan.

Beat the butter and 50g sugar together in a mixing bowl, until smooth.

Fold in the flour and lavender flowers to get a smooth and soft dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick.

Cut into 12 fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, chill and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a pale golden brown colour. Set aside to cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat up the full fat milk, evaporated milk and 60g caster sugar over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar until it just comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes then remove the teabags, giving them a little squeeze to get the maximum flavour.
    Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
  • Take them from the bowl and squeeze away any excess water, then gently stir into the warm milk and tea mixture until the gelatine fully dissolves.
  • Pour the mixture into six 100ml pudding moulds and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
    To serve, fill a shallow dish with very hot water and submerge each panna cotta in for a few seconds to loosen up. Turn each one out onto the centre of a serving dish and garnish each with six fresh raspberries and two lavender biscuits.

I think this recipe would be so much fun to make for a family gathering, and it looks pretty impressive…plus anything involving tea and biscuits has to be a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Whipped and Charred retails at £20 and to ensure your money goes towards a good cause, buy a copy from the man himself at [email protected] or pop into the restaurant. It will be also be available to purchase from Amazon, book shops including Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk.

 

 
This post is not sponsored, but I am always delighted to support exciting local businesses and good causes

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