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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bond - Home for Christmas

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

This time, due to the Christmas season, the posting date is anytime from the 23rd to the 27th. So I'm Not early...

And now on to Bond...Home for Christmas
Bond sighed as he scratched the stubble on his face as he looked left and right at all the different shops in the mall. He hated Christmas. No, that wasn't true. He actually liked Christmas, loved it even. What he hated was all the time spent shopping for all the presents he had to buy. Time spent shopping that could be better put to use in seducing willing women.

James scrathed his chin again as he thought that Christmas was always a dry season for him as far as nubile women were concerned. Heck, it was a dry season as far as ANY women were concerned. Somehow, they just didnt seem interested in him at this time of the year. The fact that the whole spy community somehow had an unspoken pact to keep it quiet around Christmas probably had a lot to do with it. Well, he was home. Home for Christmas...and all he was doing was shopping.

James wandered into a lingerie store and perked up considerably. The sight of all that lace, ribbons and other skimpy garments brought a smile to his face. He remembered his trip to St Honore, where the women wore nothing but Aprons

"May I help you Sir?" Asked the salesgirl, fluttering her eyelids and stealing a glance at his crotch.

James smiled at her. Not bad looking he thought. He did a quick glance down, she had nice legs. His eyes quickly flashed to her cleavage. Very nice low cut blouse and showing a lot of flesh. Very nice view, very nice indeed. Suddenly he froze as he glanced at her name tag - Ginger.

"Um, Sorry Love, I just remembered I have to be somewhere... Sorry!" Bond muttered.

"Come back anytime Sir," Ginger giggled softly, "I'll be wating for you."

Bond gave her one last longing look at her shapely legs as he he quickly left the shop. Her name had reminded him of Gingerbread - the latest task he had was to make a Gingerbread House for HRH the Queen! Dammit! The first woman to show any interest in him at Chrismtas-time and he had to leave. Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!

"I get off at lunch tomorrow!" Ginger practically screamed out at the retreating Bond.

Bond quickly rushed back, it was already past 8pm when he got home. Quickly, he dug out the recipe. He decided he was going to use the Scandinavian recipe given by Y - simply because he had all the ingredients on hand as well as the fact the he always had a soft spot for Scandinavian Women.

Mixing the dough was fairly straightforward and it all came together fairly nicely. The dough wasnt as dry as he thought it may be and he was suddenly confused whether he had added in the right amount of flour - was it 4 cups of 5 that he had put in. Bond reckoned it was 5. His hand held mixed started to protest and so Bond kneaded away with his well trained hands. He was careful not to overwork the gluten and then he put the dough away to rest overnight.

The next morning, the 23rd of December, Bond awoke bright and early. He made his way downstairs and took the dough out of the fridge. It was Hard as a Rock. He left it out to thaw while he sat down and reminisced about Christmas Pasts...

He remembered one Christmas when he was snowed in at the Swiss Alps. Fortunately he had met Carol who had kept him entertained throughout Christmas and for most of the week after the New Year. She had walked down the staircase wearing absolutely nothing. He always remembered her fondly as his Christmas Carol and he smiled quietly at how they had both shared their very own version of the 12 Days of Christmas...

Bond went to check on the dough again, it was still hard although not as hard as before...

He thought about Holly, who used to Deck the Halls with all manner of decorations and branches - mostly done while she was herself naked. Then there was Joy who, while such a lovely girl, was so caught up with world peace...

James shook his head and went back to work. He checked the dough and quickly rolled it out. He cut out pieces as per the template he had designed.

Bond then realised that he had enough dough for two batches of Gingerbread houses - one each for the children of his latest conquest. So while one batch was baking, he rolled and cut out another batch and also some circles, gingerbread men, christmas trees and reindeer.

He then whipped up the Royal Icing. He wondered briefly whether he should bow before making the Royal Icing as he had been conditioned to bow before all things Royal.

Bond was getting a little more excited with each passing moment. He used the Royal Icing as glue to stick the pieces together to form a house. Bond heaved a sigh of relief as his gingerbread actually resembled a house. He had done it!

Bond decided he was going to leave the decorating to the chefs at Buckingham Palace - it was high time they did some work instead of always depending on him. With a glint in his eye, he made his way back to the mall to find Ginger. He was certainly going to teach her a thing or two and maybe even some tricks from Christmas Carol...


I have to admit, if not for this challenge, I would never, ever have attempted to make a Gingerbread House! I also have to admit, that I wasn't sure how the House would turn out so I didnt spend too much time decorating it for fear that the house would collapse - or worse still, not even assemble into a house!

I got the kids to help out with the assembly as well as with the decorating and we all had a lot of fun with it. I am just so pleased that my Gingerbread turned out! Thanks to Anna and Y for spurring me on to do this superb Challenge!

Both the kids were extremely pleased that they had one house each and like me, were thrilled to be able to decorate their houses - or at least direct me to do what they wanted. If you notice, Sarah's gingerbread Man(woman) has an S on it while Michael's house has a shield on the door. He also has a gingerbread Santa climbing down the chimney while the reindeer waits downstairs.

My only regret is that I didnt make holes for the windows and doors - I was just too petrified that the Gingerbread house wouldnt turn out well!


Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.

4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

Simple Syrup:
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Channa Dhall - Chickpea Dhall

I've realised that writing up an interesting post to go with a particular recipe isn't as easy at is looks. I've also realised that I've got a fairly large backlog of photos/recipes that have not been posted. It would be fairly easy to just post a recipe together with the photos but then that kind of defeats the purpose of blogging.

Anyway, now you know that blogging isn't that easy and you also know that I have a backlog of posts.

Recently, The Lovely Wife has developed a penchant for all things vegetarian. No, she is not becoming a vegetarian (not yet!) and neither does she shun meat. She is cutting back on her meat intake though. There are a variety of reasons for this but suffice to say that it has something to do with the latest books she has been reading although she reckons it is more healthy for her - regardless of what the books may say.

What books? Well, Total Body Makeover (Bob Greene), Fit For Life (Harvey Diamond), The Enzyme Factor (Hiromi Shinya), The China Study (Colin Campbell, Thomas Campbell) and The Jungle Effect (Daphne Miller) are just SOME of the books that she recently read that have influenced her behaviour - and eating habits.

So anyway, to cut a long story short, I made this Chickpea Dhall as a meal one day. There is some debate as to what actually constitutes Channa Dhall. Some say that Channa is the same as Chickpeas while some say that Channa is actually yellow split lentils. I've always known Channa to be Chickpeas (or Garbanzo beans) so if I'm wrong, I stand corrected.

I've only ever made this once before, but I'm very used to making Sambar that is not terribly different but at the same time not the same either as Sambar is much smoother than Channa Dhall and Sambar contains a mix of vegetables while Channa Dhall doesn't. The similarity of course is that both take a fairly long time to cook although Channa Dhall takes a bit longer to become soft due to the thickness of the lentil.

This is my take on Channa Dhall.

1 inch ginger
3 cloves garlic
sprinkle of mustard seeds
4 cloves
1 large onion - sliced
2 tomatoes - chopped roughly
2 tsp tumeric powder
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 red chilli - chopped
2 tbsp milk
coriander leaves for garnishing
grind ginger and garlic to a paste. Heat some oil and fry the mustard seeds, cloves, tumeric powder and curry powder. Add in the ginger/garlic paste and continue to fry. Add in onion and mix well then add in tomatoes and cook to a nice paste.
Add in the Dhall with lots of water. Mix well and allow to simmer for about 2 hours until the Dhall is very tender and mixture is thick. Add in some milk to thicken if required. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve with coriander

Channa Dhall is perfect as a meal on its own or as a side dish with other vegetable or meat dishes. It goes really well with Rice, Breads - like Naan, Chappati, Pita or even sliced bread. You really can't go wrong with this...!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Corn Muffins

My son has recently developed a love of corn. He loves Corn on the Cob, buttered corn kernels, basically anything with corn in it. With this in mind, I offered to make him some corn muffins. He wasn't sure whether he would like them but my little princess was game to try - and once she said she was game, my son willingly agreed.

I surfed the web for a recipe for corn muffins and I found a few but decided to try the one at Bakespace.com

The recipe is really quick and easy and produces tasty corn muffins.

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 lrg egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup corn oil
8 oz can cream style corn

Combine dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients. Combine the two mixures and blend just to eliminate the dry spots. spoon into 12 buttered muffin cups. Bake in 220C degree oven. 15-20 min until they test done.

Serve hot with butter and honey

I had made a stew to serve together with the corn muffins but the kids preferred instead to just devour them - first plain and then with honey! My son really liked these muffins and has learnt that when Daddy offers to make something, never say no. Who knows, it may turn out to be a favourite!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Just a little pictorial of the kids putting up the christmas tree. My job is always to fix the tree, check the lights and then put them up while the kids and The Lovely Wife decorate the tree...
It's certainly looking a lot like Christmas!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I just Ordered the Book!

Yes! That's Right! I just ordered the book! What Book? The BloggerAid Cookbook of course!

I can't wait to receive it. Only trouble was postage to this part of the world is expensive so I had to choose the economic shipping option. Don't know how long that will take...

The exchange rate doesn't help either so while the rest of you get to buy a relatively cheap cookbook, I don't. It's Expensive - but at least it's for a good cause and so I don't mind. I coulnd't not buy it especially when it features ME! First time I've been published in a book.

So... does that make me a cookbook writer?? LOL!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Christmas Gift Idea - for a good cause.

Okay, so like many things in life, I am late in doing this.

Late on two counts. Firstly, Advent started last Sunday, 29 November 2009 but as we all know, I was otherwise occupied that day and had more important things to post about. Christmas season starts with Advent so I should have started talking about Christmas Gift Ideas then but as we all know, I was otherwise occupied that day and had more important things to talk about. And no, you are not having double vision, I'm just trying to be funny...

Secondly, this post is long overdue simply because I should have talked about this a long time ago. I have nothing to blame it on other than procrastination. So without further delay, let me just say this.

If you are looking for a Christmas Present for your loved one(s), a friend or even yourself, why not consider this:

The BloggerAid Cookbook

Yes! Yes! It's a cookbook! Click on the image of the cookbook cover above to make your purchase. You can also click the URL listed or copy it and send it out to your friends:https://www.createspace.com/3405882

What is it exactly? Well, The members of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine have published a cookbook where 100% of the proceeds target children and education through the World Food Programme called School Meals. BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine is a collective of over 140 Food Bloggers from 60 countries and I am one of the contributors to this effort. I first spoke about my contribution to this cookbook back in January 2009.

As I mentioned, this is an effort by Food Bloggers to help make a difference to World Hunger. Remember that 100% - that's ONE HUNDRED PERCENT - of the proceeds will go to helping school children. To learn more about the group and this effort, click here

So if you want to get a Christmas Present and at the same time make a difference to a good cause, then this is a good bet. Go make your purchase now!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Apple Cinnamon muffins

One of the things that I made for Michael's 8th Birthday was Apple Cinnamon Muffins. I've made these before but never posted about them. Both my children love muffins and cupcakes. To be honest, I dont really know what the difference is between Muffins and Cupcakes. I know that cupcakes usually have icing on them but then a cake without icing is still a cake!

I also know that muffins are generally 'heavier' than cupcakes but really, is there a difference?

Anyway, rather than worry about semantics, I made these muffins simply because they are delicious and the Children love them. A few of The Lovely Wife's friends enjoyed these too a few weeks ago when they came to visit.

This is how I make my Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

250 g Butter
230 g Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
4 tbsp Milk
1 Tbsp Honey
2 tsp Vanilla
250 g Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
3 Large Apples
1 tbsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Pare the apples and cut into small squares
Mix Cinnamon, sugar and Apples together, coating well. Set Aside
Cream butter and Sugar till light and fluffy
Add eggs a little at a time and continue beating
Fold in Sifted flour and baking powder
Add in Honey, Milk and Vanilla. Mix Well
Fold in Apples ensuring it is well mixed
Fill muffin cups ¾ full and bake in 190°C oven for 20-25 minutes or till done

Very easy to make, very easy to eat and very delicious too - not to mention healthy! The kids had the leftover muffins for breakfast the next day while we also gave some away to some of our guests - who were really all family anyway!


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