At this time of year there are often not only more mouths to feed, but there’s also heaps more candy and chocolate around. We thought we’d gather up some easy, delicious recipes to see you through the holidays and to provide an alternative to the usual festive fare. Some of these dishes are bound to become family traditions, things that come to symbolise the advent of Christmas and that you make every year. Others are things to reach for when you’re time and energy-poor, or want to escape into the kitchen away from the hurly burly of Charades or tussles over the TV remote.
For taking to a friend’s house
The social calendar can get pretty hectic over the Christmas holidays, so it’s good to have a simple but delicious recipe that you can make and take over to friends for pudding. This clementine cake has become a staple in our house: it’s so easy to make, and the smell of the cooking clementines fills the house with the most gorgeous Christmassy scents. Make it the day before your social event – it tastes even better the next day. It’s moist, flourless and tastes light and fruity, unlike the traditional heavy Christmas cake. Due to the damp stickiness of this cake it’s useful to have some linen napkins on standby.
For serving on a cold day
A pot of delicious wassail or mulled cider warming gently on the stove in the background makes the perfect drink for a gathering. There’s nothing quite so welcoming as a fuggy kitchen filled with spice-scents and cupfuls of hot deliciousness. This recipe is straightforward and contains all the festive favourites: cloves, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Yum. For a non-alcoholic version just simmer apple juice with a spoonful of brown sugar, a cinnamon stick, cloves, a clementine and some allspice berries. Kids love it.
For giving as Christmas gifts
If you like to give homemade treats to friends, neighbours, the postman or teachers, whip up a batch of these fig and orange shortbread biscuits. A ball of sweet fig paste is tucked into light, nutty shortbread rounds for a melt-in-the-mouth snack with a little surprise inside. Fill a box and decorate with seasonal stamps or wrap with red and white butcher’s twine for a lovely gift.
For a stunning dinner centrepiece
(pic via seedsandstitches.com)
If you’re hosting a dinner party or having people over to lunch and you want a vegetarian alternative to counter all the turkey and sausages you’ve been eating, try this. Made with sweet garlic and celeriac encased in a flaky, cheesy pastry crust, this pie is worthy of Christmas lunch itself. Dress your table in your best linen tablecloth and napkins, decorate with greenery and seasonal, foraged leaves and place the pie proudly in the middle.
For munching in front of a festive film
When the Toblerone has all gone and you can’t face another mince pie, reach for a jar of spiced nuts. These are so tasty, and great if you don’t want all the hassle of cracking your own nuts and finding pieces of stray walnut shell down the back of the sofa for the next three weeks. They also make ideal gifts – simply pour into a Kilner jar or pop into pretty bags and and tie with a ribbon. For a vegan version make a syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, instead of using honey.
Do you have any Christmas go-to recipes? We’d love to hear what they are in the comments below.
One of the joys of this glorious summer weather is eating outdoors. And there’s nothing quite like getting friends and family together for a BBQ, whether in the garden or on the beach. If you’re planning a gathering and are bored with the usual sausages and potato salads, we’ve got 5 delicious recipes for a winning BBQ.
Need some culinary inspiration? Tie on your apron, and get those coals fired up.
We are super-thrilled to be joined this month by food stylist and cookery writer Frankie Unsworth. Frankie has worked with many cooks, photographers and writers at the top of their game, styling photographs to create a story around each object or dish that’s being photographed. She has just launched her own cook book, complete with stunning images and brilliantly useful tips for making your meals look as good as they taste.
She has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. This is a real treat: read on for inspiration about choosing to follow your passion in life, the joys of owning a dog, the love of good linen and being held at gunpoint at the age of 17.
Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
Isn’t this time of year crazy busy? There’s all the end-of-term stuff if you have children: sports days, moving on workshops, visits to colleges, exams, revision, sports team parties. If you work you can feel like you have to get everything in order before people disappear for the summer, of before you take a vacation. And if, like us, you are experiencing soaring temperatures it’s hard to get much done without wilting. Not that we’re complaining. Summer is grand and the long days mean there’s more time for being outside. It’s just that July seems frantic. So, we thought we’d look up some of the best personal organisers and diaries to help stay on top of things.
Getting organised needn’t be boring or rigid. In fact, like Mrs Miniver standing in front of a shelf of diaries, prepare to enjoy yourself. There’s something very reassuring about opening up the clean, blank pages of a diary or planner. It feels like things can be rationalised and clear, rather than just stumbling from one event to the next. As well as the inside pages, the cover and look of your organiser is important. It will be in your purse, on your kitchen table or by your side on your desk most of the time, so choose something you love to look at too. Chose carefully so that you really use it.
Whether or not you celebrate the festival of Easter there are plenty of reasons to make the next few weeks special. There’s the coming of Spring now the Equinox has passed, there’s the lengthening of the days which means more time outdoors, there’s the chance to plant seeds and see what has self-seeded in the garden over the winter months. Many of us have the urge for a Spring clean, sorting through our wardrobes and storing away winter woollies, and decluttering after a season spent mainly indoors.
Woohoo! Here’s the second instalment of our interview series, A Simple Path, which explores how inspiring, creative people are doing more with less. This month we had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Erica Lee of The Hygge Wife (@thehyggewife on Instagram) and creator of thehyggewife.com. We are huge fans of Erica’s stunning photography and admire her commitment to living a simpler, more intentional life. Sit back and enjoy – we think you are going to love this one.
If you thought doing laundry was a chore, we’ve got some fascinating historical facts about how people cared for linen before modern washing machines and Persil made an appearance. Linenbeauty.com met with textile historian and museums officer Emma O’Connor, of Sussex Past, a charity which runs several historic sites in Sussex, England, and learned some pretty eye-opening things about cleaning linen the old-school way. Here’s what she told us:
This time of year is hectic. All that time spent running around getting things for other people, finding costumes for Nativity plays, baking things, throwing parties and trying to keep the peace within our families. And whilst it is the season for goodwill towards others, it is so important to look after yourself as well. If you are feeling overwhelmed or daunted by all that Christmas and New Year brings, here are 7 ways to make sure you have the energy to keep going, and to stay happy.
Browsing for linen and baffled by words like ‘huckaback’ and ‘thread count’? Don’t know your stonewash from your garment wash? Never fear, Linenbeauty is here to set you straight and guide you through the sometimes complicated business of choosing linen products. Here are the key terms you might come across, and what you need to know to make the right choice.
Table and kitchen linens take a bit of a hammering, what with wine spills, candle wax drips, lipstick marks and food stains. If you’ve wondered about how to treat stains on your linen tablecloth, or get marks out of your napkins, here’s a handy table linens care guide.