Category Archives: Christmas

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child has been running for nineteen years and is an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, a relief and development organisation operating in Eastern Europe, Africa and Central Asia.

Every year the UK sends over a million Christmas boxes to children from ages 2-14, in seriously disadvantaged circumstances in the most desolate of places where it would be easy for them to think that the world has forgotten them.

Individuals all over the country get a shoe box, cover it in wrapping paper and fill it with small gifts of toys and sweets, educational supplies, wash kits, gloves and hats, little trinkets etc appropriate to the age and gender of your selected category.   They give you a list of the sorts of gifts that are welcome and those that are inappropriate..  A donation of £2.50 to cover the logistical expenses is popped in an envelope and placed in the box (or you can donate online) and the box is then dropped at a collection point near you such as a school, college or shop.  These are then collected and taken to major distribution points and thence to the people in need.

It’s hard to imagine how little some of these children have; many are orphaned, living in terrible poverty or in refugee camps and every day is a struggle, and the boxes full of surprises give them hope and remind them that they have not been forgotten.  I always put a Christmas card in the box addressed to ‘My dear friend’ to let them know that a family in the UK is sending love to them and sharing a bit of our own good fortune.

There is still time to do a box.  This charity operates in the United States and other European countries – it’s not just in the UK.  We get so much pleasure from choosing the things to go in – why don’t you have a go?

If you’re not sure where your local collection point is log onto their website at www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk or telephone them on 0870 011 2002 / 01392 455036 and they will give you all the information you need.

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Filed under Children, Christmas, Slider

Baked Apples stuffed with Mincemeat

Like me, I bet you have at least half a jar of mincemeat left over from Christmas.  Now’s the time to use it up.  Baked apples are a wonderfully comforting pudding and can be served with fresh cream, crème fraiche, custard made with custard powder or Creme Anglaise (made from scratch).  This recipe is dead easy and quick to make.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH MINCEMEAT

Utensils:
1 x ovenproof dish
1 x apple corer or sharp knife

Ingredients:
1oz / 30g butter
4 cooking apples
4 Tablespoons of mincemeat
2 tablespoons of honey or golden syrup

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 / 360 / 4
Grease the dish with a little butter
Remove the cores from the apples
Place the apples in the dish
Fill the centre of the apples with the mincemeat
Dribble the honey or syrup over the apples
Put a little blob of butter onto each one
Put a couple of tablespoons of water into the dish
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the apple is nice and soft
Serve

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Filed under Christmas, Food, Leftovers, Recipes

Leftover Stilton (or the cheese that broke the camel’s back)

In which is demonstrated the uses for leftover Stilton Cheese in Cauliflower or Broccoli and Stilton Soup, Leek and Stilton Soup, Cauliflower or Broccoli Cheese, Huntingdon Stuffed Pears and Stilton and Nut Mousse.

* * *

If, like me, you have been left with a chunk of Stilton large enough to set up in business as a purveyor of fine fromage, you will, by now, be staring at your cheese plate with a mixture of admiration and fear.  On Christmas Eve, I went to Welton’s in Great Bowden to collect my Christmas order of a small Pork Pie, some Black Bomber, some Brie and a modest amount of Colston Basset Stilton.

A proportion of the Stilton was consumed at Christmas Tea with a chunk remaining that was manageable by a single adult over a period of a week.  But as luck would have it, I was given a massive chunk by Sister the Second who had been over-serviced by her supermarket.  It is sitting in the fridge glowering at me like The Cheese in the Railway Carriage so evocatively described by Jerome K. Jerome.

I was going to spin this out over a couple of days, but that would be too much like the Stilton. 
This is what you can do with it. 

HUNTINGDON STUFFED PEARS  have been featured earlier.  Click on the link for the recipe

CAULIFLOWER OR BROCCOLI CHEESE  use the cheese sauce recipe in the link but substitute Stilton for Cheddar. It’s rich but gorgeous. 

CAULIFLOWER OR BROCCOLI AND STILTON SOUP  **

Utensils:
1 x medium saucepan
1 x stick blender or ordinary blender

Ingredients:
1oz / 30g butter
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower or largish head of broccoli – broken into florets
1 pint / 600ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tblspn mixed herbs or a bouquet garni
½ a medium potato – peeled, diced and cooked
½ pint milk
4oz / 120g Stilton Cheese

Method:
Melt the butter in the pan
Add the onion and fry gently until soft
Add the cauliflower or broccoli, herbs and stock and milk
Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetable is soft
Allow to cool slightly, add the potato and remove the bouquet garni if using one
Mix to a smooth puree with the blender
Stir in the cheese until it has melted
Serve

** Post post note:  Leek and Stilton also make an excellent soup.  Cook 2 large, finely sliced leeks in with the onions then add the stock and proceed as per the recipe.

STILTON AND WALNUT MOUSSE – serves 8

Utensils:
8 x ramekin dishes – greased & with a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom
1 x medium saucepan
1 x whisk

Ingredients:
1oz /30g butter
2 level tablespoons plain flour
7floz / 200ml milk
7floz / 200ml vegetable stock
1 sachet of gelatine
40z / 120g Stilton cheese
2 eggs – separated – whites whisked to form stiff peaks
¼ pint / 150ml crème fraiche
2oz / 60g walnuts – chopped

Method:
Melt the butter in the pan over a medium heat
Stir in the flour to form a thick paste
Gradually whisk in the milk and stock until it thickens and starts to bubble
Remove from the heat.
Sprinkle over the gelatine and whisk until it has dissolved and is thoroughly mixed in
Add the cheese and stir until melted
Whisk in the egg yolks and season to taste
Fold in the crème fraiche with a metal spoon
Then fold in the whisked egg whites and gently stir in the walnuts
Spoon the mixture into the prepared dishes
Chill until set
Serve with a green salad

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Filed under Christmas, Entertaining, Food, Leftovers, Recipes

Gone Walkabout

By the time you read this I will be in London.  After a lovely, relaxed and indulgent Christmas Day, we are meeting up with my family in Marlow and then staying a couple of days with the Aged Parent.   The Father of My Children brought the turkey; he was charged with obtaining said item and naturally left it to the last minute.  The last turkey in the shop (!) was brought to the house on the back of a flat-bed trailer.  Boy the Younger felt obliged to bring out a pair of crutches whilst warbling “God bless us – every one!”  It was delicious.   I will be taking food parcels to all and sundry in the South.

I am also taking our laundry as the washing machine is still frozen solid.

I hope you’re all enjoying your break, and many thanks for all your good wishes.

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Filed under Christmas, Family and Friends

Sunday Poem 68

Mr & Mrs R and the Christmas Card List – by Connie Bensley (1929 -)

Shall I cross them off?
It’s twenty years since we last met.

Of course Mr R and I once thought
we were made for each other –

Ah, that heart stopping moment
by the kitchen sink, when he took off

his spectacles and fiercely kissed me.
But all that lasted less than a week

and what I recall more vividly
is Mrs R’s good advice:

Always plunge your lemons in hot water
before you squeeze them.

One more year perhaps.

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Filed under Christmas, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art

Merry Christmas!

May I wish all my readers a

Very Merry Christmas

and a

Happy, Healthy and Prosperous

2011

May we send good wishes to all whom we love

And to those who have no one to love them

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Filed under Christmas

Free Gift Tags

When the festive season is over, don’t immediately throw away your Christmas cards or take them for recycling.  Sift through them and select ones that can be cut  up for gift tags for next year.  Cut them straight or use pinking shears (serrated edge scissors?) to make a crinkly edge.

Either put a hole in the top with a hole punch and thread a bit of glittery string or wool through them, or just put a bit of sellotape across the top side and it can be flipped up like a hinge.  Any that are not suitable can be recycled in the special card bins and the remaining cut up bits just go in with the cardboard recycling

I haven’t bought a gift tag in years.

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Filed under Christmas, Decorative, fashion, Household Hints, Re-use Recycle