Home and Away

The Sydney hostage situation is being reported as I sit here typing. My quiet little life continues as I cross of items on my list and looking forward to some tasks but for them, there will terror so I really hope it resolves quickly.

On Christmas Day we are all having a secret Santa game and the item needs to be homemade. As there are a few blokes and often they’re a bit trickier I thought I would knit a scarf. I know it’s summer but hey, they can put it away for winter.

We are each being given a number and we are allowed to take another person’s present rather than from the pile if you choose to. I hope mine isn’t the dud present that no-one wants!

This is a simple four row pattern that helps to make it look more blokey I think.
My scarf is going to be in this deep green shade. Also in this photo is the bowl for the Christmas pud.

I have never made a Christmas pudding before let alone one with the orange in the middle but that’s what I’m going to attempt.

Makes: 1 hidden orange Christmas pudding
For the confit l’orange
1 large orange
1L water
1kg caster sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons Cointreau® liqueur
For the pudding
175g butter
225g brown sugar
2 eggs
225g sultanas
125g dried cranberries
125g glacé cherries
125g chopped mixed peel
75ml stout
225g fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 teaspoons Cointreau® liqueur
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
150ml brandy
Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Extra time:12hr marinating  ›  Ready in:13hr20min
For the confit l’orange:
With a long pin (such as a hat pin), prick the orange all over to ensure that it is very porous. In a saucepan of boiling water, blanch the orange for 2 minutes then remove and place in cold water for 4 minutes. Repeat three times using clean water each time. This process will help to remove any bitterness from the orange.
Once the blanching step is completed, immerse the orange in a saucepan containing the 1L water, 1kg caster sugar, cinnamon stick and the 2 tablespoons Cointreau®. Bring the contents to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the orange from the syrup with a slotted spoon and prick again thoroughly all over with a long pin. Return the orange to the syrup, discard the cinnamon stick and leave covered for 12 hours.
The next day, remove the orange from the syrup and set aside.
For the pudding:
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add all remaining ingredients, except the brandy, and mix well.
Grease a large pudding basin then spoon in two thirds of the pudding mixture. Take the orange and push it firmly into the centre of the mould, taking care to make sure that the orange will be completely hidden in the pudding when turned out. Add the remaining pudding mixture on top taking care not to compact the orange too much, it needs to hold its shape.
Cover with baking parchment and tin foil and secure with string. Wrap in muslin and secure with string. Place in a large heavy bottomed pan for steaming. Add boiling water up to half the depth of the pudding mould and steam the pudding for 7 hours, topping up with water when necessary. (You can also make a water bath in a slow cooker and steam on high for 7 hours.)
Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly then slice and serve. Or if you are making in advance, you can pour brandy over the pudding, wrap in fresh muslin and store in the fridge for a month. On Christmas day, steam in the same way for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
If you are a traditionalist and add in a silver threepence or a sixpence to your puddings always warn your guests in advance to avoid Christmas Day dental emergencies!

Also today I am going to try growing basil and coriander from seed. Ours always goes to seed and someone told me it is better to grow it from seed to prevent this.



I had some fun today wrapping some individual tiles for friends that I made. One is a philosopher who had a quote on a scrappy piece of paper in his den so I asked his wife to send it to me and I have put it on a tile for him. Another friend wants photos of her children done which will be fun too. I like the idea of making person-specific tiles.


I really want to get on to some writing as well but it is already 3:30. Oh well, there is always tomorrow. Have a good week, FG


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