Elf’s first video!

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Nostalgic Elf

As the year comes to a close, we just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, commented and supported the fledgling effort of elves about.

We’ve been to France, Portugal, Glastonbury, Spain, travelled around in and around London, Windsor, Winchester. We’ve been to the beach, city, country, churches, cathedrals. We’ve baked and cooked and we have eaten a lot of food! We walked llamas, climbed walls and learnt to knit and make ceramics. We hope you have enjoyed everything that we’ve shared and all the adventures and misadventures that we have written about.

We look forward to all the adventures and experiences that 2017 will bring and hope you will share them with us too!
Love X

Disaster in the kitchen Elf

Nougat a wonderful soft, chewy, sweet and decadent treat and the perfect homemade Christmas gift for friends and family.

So, I set about researching for a recipe that is easy enough for a first-time nougat creator and a recipe that does not insist on lots of crazy equipment.  I settle on one from Good To Know

So, I set out my ingredients, and at the start everything is going IMAG2241 (1).jpgwell.  I follow the instructions.  Bit by bit it becomes apparent that I need 2 more sets of hands.  Whilst trying to keep an eye on the temperature of the syrup, I realise the almonds are starting to burn.  I quickly whip them out of the oven.  Phew, rescuable I just take out the few almonds that are beyond it.  Then I start to separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites.

Now, I do not have a standalone mixer, just a hand held…this is where it starts to go terribly wrong.  I’m desperately multitasking, trying to watch the syrup and whisk the egg whites.  The egg whites are ending up everywhere as I resort to trying to keep whisking whilst holding the thermometer in the syrup.  The temperature does not seem to be rising at all, then suddenly its burning…I’m not even sure how, it doesn’t look like its burning but the fire alarm is now going off so it must be!  In a last ditched attempt to rescue the situation I try to gently and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites…whilst whisking.  I definitely do not have enough hands I can’t hold the heavy syrup pan and whisk…it’s not physically possible.  I imag2245am spilling boiling sugar everywhere!  EVERYWHERE! I give in and try to do it in batches.  A last minute hopefulness takes over as it seems the mixture is setting.  It’s quite brown though…that’s not right…. Anyway, I pour the mix into the trays line with rice paper (oh, yes, forgot to mention I miss-clicked and ended up with a garish green rice paper rather than the pale green Christmas colour I had hopped for).

The mix sort of sets, we try it.  It is horrible, genuinely I have never baked anything that tastes more like the scrapings of a fire place.  It goes in the bin.

I try again… because I am mad.  I haven’t yet gotten the sugar syrup off the benches!

The second attempt is mildly less manic and terrifying, helped by enlisting Mr Elf.  This time however, the mix just stays like a rather melty ice cream looking smuch between garish green paper.  It tastes good this time, which is something…. I think.  In any case, it too goes in the bin and I make shortbread instead.

I recommend buying your nougat at the supermarket and enjoying as a treat that does not leave you wondering how you got egg whites in the toaster!

 

Elf about the Christmas Markets!

We’ve been spending our time at Christmas markets working out which ones we think are the best.

Our three favourites in no particular order are:

Southbank Christmas Market

Little wooden German market huts stack up down the Southbank, there are all the usual stalls, jewellery, candles, sweets, bratwurst and mulled wine.  Its glory is in the wonderful setting.  The lights glint of the river and the whole area smells like cinnamon and sausage, which is a surprisingly wonderful mix of smells.  It is busy but it feels more spread out than a lot of the Christmas markets.  Lovely and quaint and also close to the Southbank food market round the back of the Royal Festival Hall, in case you fancy something other than bratwurst.

https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/winter-festival

Winter Wonderland

The Christmas market that has popped straight out of an over excited child’s imagination.  This place is crazy, its busy, full, there are rides that you can buy tickets in advance for.  The beer hall is a must, but do expect to stand.  The food here is good, and has a much wider variety than you can expect at most Christmas markets…. but don’t expect to sit down…and do expect tantrums and ques.  Is it worth it…yes! Don’t be a Grinch give it a go.

http://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/#TfrvaiYcRfyyb0kR.97

Camden Christmas Market

We all love Camden Markets for the unusual and fun atmosphere, the Christmas markets here are just as quirky.  The mulled cider here is wonderful, this market has some of the normal Christmas stalls interspersed with the more unusual things, its only on a Thursday evening, so make sure you plan for this.  There is usually live music and its more of adult option for the Christmas market scene.

https://www.camdenmarket.com/journal/oi-to-the-world

Christmas poetry

In thinking about all the different Christmas celebrations and all the our friends and family across the world, this lovely poem holds some lovely images from our other home.

 

Christmas where the gum trees grow  –  By Val Donlon and Lesley Sabogal 

 

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

From England came our Christmas fare
They even said what Santa should wear
But here down under for summers cool
Santa should dip in a swimming pool

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

Santa rides in a sleigh on snow
But down here where the gum trees grow
Santa should wear some water ski’s
And glide around Australia with ease

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

To ride around the bush where its dry
To cart all the presents piled so high
A red nosed reindeer would never do
Santa should jump on a kangaroo

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near