On mince pies and cheesy trees

Line the tins with pastry circles
..and fill with mincemeat
Cut out circles...
..and trees
Brush the lids with egg
Sprinkle sugar on top - I like the crunchy granulated stuff, but caster's fine too


Et voila!


Leftover pastry
Coated in Parmesan cheese and baked, then coated with a gouda tree and baked again..


On making mincemeat of it – part 1

Every year, I make a load of mincemeat, for myself, my family, and anyone else who wants some.

Every year, I make it up as I go along, and no one’s complained yet.

This is part 1 of the recipe – insofar as it can be called a recipe – for 2015.


A word of caution to anyone who wants to actually use this recipe:
Please wait until I’ve finished and got it into jars, BEFORE starting. I tweak recipes as I go, and that’s probably annoying for people who follow instructions… (or who live further away from shops than I do).


Take one huge saucepan…


…the rind and juice from 8 oranges (ca 2kg) and 8 lemons (ca. 1kg)…


…16 grated apples (or half grated, half chopped) (ca.3kg). I took the cores out, but I suppose you could leave them in…


…6-8 packets (ca.1,5kg) of raisins/sultanas, checking for bits of twig first…


….a tub of chopped prunes/dried plums…


…a tray of dried figs…

…4/3 cup of soft light brown sugar and 4/3 cup of soft dark brown sugar. (It probably doesn’t matter what kind of sugar, and I might add more tomorrow)…

…and a lot of allspice (2-3 tablespoons).

Stir well, and leave to sit overnight.
(A couple of pictures are missing – I’ll add them later)

On white Toblerone

Awesome stuff.


DB’s folks came back from their holiday this week*.

They are firm believers in bringing back presents.

I am apparently difficult to buy I’ve-been-on-holiday presents for. I don’t drink (much), smoke or wear perfume (much).

Last time, I got a fridge magnet with very small photos of the island on – like a miniature magnetic postcard.

This time however, they brought me chocolate πŸ™‚ much better than fridge magnet postcards πŸ™‚ :). Not just any chocolate either, Toblerone chocolate. TWO bars (the huge ones you pretty much only see at airports), one normal and one white.

The pile of ordinary Toblerone was apparently 3 miles high, whereas the white bars were almost all taken. DB’s mum had never seen white ones before, but decided that they must be ok if everyone else had bought them, and picked one up for me. Then she went back for a normal one as well in case it wasn’t good after all….

I think that was a good decision πŸ™‚
Two good decisions, really.


Haven’t eaten Toblerone in aaaaaages, but am finding that a chunk – and they really are HUGE chunks – is enough, I don’t keep going back to the packet for “just one more” tiny square, like I usually do.

Having said that, I suppose I ought to admit that one chunk is the equivalent to almost a third of the bars I usually buy and that’s quite a few mini squares.

But hey! Who’s counting!



DB got a bottle of whiskey, and we both got a pepper mill and a salad spoon-and-fork to share.

*no, I haven’t mopped the mud/sand off the floor yet, but DB swept up the worst of it, so I think it can wait until the weekend πŸ™‚

On blisters (and carrots)

I’m used to getting blisters at work. The sort caused by touching glass before its had a chance to cool down properly.

I’m not used to getting blisters from washing carrots…


Edit (3rd Nov):
Squeaky clean πŸ™‚

On getting fitter from the outside in


I’ve been drinking this herbal fitness tea for a while now, and I don’t seem to be much fitter yet..

Yesterday I poured most of a cup onto my leg instead of into my mouth, maybe it has more potency that way! I can hope, right?!

On compost heaps and Peruvian chickens

“Wherever you go, you can collect all kinds of plants to take home for your compost heap, unless you’re really busy doing other stuff – like looking after Peruvian chickens* for example.”
– The Voice of Authority in my dream.

Apparently dreams are your brain’s way of processing what happens during the day.

Sometimes, when I wake up from such a bizzarre dream, I wonder just what part of my day/life needs sorting out.


A dream with such a distinctive message has to be good for something, however weird, so I asked Google.

The only Peruvian chickens Google offered me were either roasted or fighting. The chickens in my dream were more alive and less spicy than in the pictures, but totally uninterested in fighting.

I didn’t find that particularly helpful. On the other hand, I had no idea Peruvian Chicken were a thing at all until I looked it up.

To be honest, I didn’t know Peruvian was a word either, so I suppose overall it was an informative dream.

Now to bring back armfuls of exotic plants for my compost heap…

On life, post-Elimination…

So. It’s about time I wrote about what happened.

I spent 4 weeks semi-religiously following The Rules, writing down what I ate and waiting for the magic moment when I felt full of energy and free from problems. I also spent an inordinate amount of time upsetting people with my presence. I’m not sure what part of me not eating bread or cheese or sugar was most upsetting, I just remember permanently trying to ward off the comments (and occasionally the commenters). (You can’t just eat apples, grapes and bananas for lunch, look, I’ll make you a sandwich, you’re wasting away, didn’t you bring any real food? Do you want to share mine?, please eat more, here – have some bread with that, DB, don’t you think she should stop being so awkward and just eat everything again?).

The next 3-4 weeks consisted of trying things out, and trying to notice the difference.

Most notably: nothing.

The bloating was stiΔΊl there, albeit certainly reduced. The stomach cramps were less intensive and occasionally nonexistent. I mostly had more energy, but still not so much that it overflowed. I got cold a lot more quickly than usual, occasionally so much that I wrapped myself up in blankets while the rest sat in T-shirts.

Overall I suppose I felt better at the end of the trial weeks than at the beginning, but I was looking for symptoms and still finding them.


I ate a lot of good lamb steaks, and bucket loads of rice and veggies. I doubt I ate as many bananas in the previous year as I did in those 2months. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t detrimental, although I suspect I could’ve made it more exciting.


Over the 2 months I lost 6 or 7kg.

The pile waiting for the clothes bank grew, while I shrank.

I didn’t go clothes shopping, because I hate that, and besides, new clothes every couple of weeks is a game I didn’t want to play. Instead, I dug old favourites out of the cupboards and wore them a week or 10 days before they were baggy. Another few days and I needed a belt. Then I’d retrieve the next old favourite.

The post that floated round my head most, without making its way to screen-paper, would’ve been called “shrinking out of my clothes”…


Then barbecue season began properly. We’d barbecued by ourselves until then, but being the one people have to cater for specially doesn’t appeal unless it’s really really necessary, so I stopped eliminating and began including. I figured I’d be better off not stressing about food, which meant I ate everything I wanted to eat and didn’t bother about writing it down (who takes notes at a party?!!) or watching for symptoms.

I gained 3 1/2 Kilos in the following month.

That was the first time I’d ever subjected my body to the yoyo effect.


I am slowly working towards getting rid of them again. Besides being fatter, I’m also unfitter. The changes are so incremental that I can’t say what triggers them, I just know that I am back to feeling tired all the time and my stomach’s back to cramps and queasiness. I’m coughing more often and apparently my breath smells bad in the morning (thanks DB).

I am contemplating going back and doing it again, maybe for longer before adding foods back this time round. The barbecue season is pretty much over, and the Christmas partys still belong a good way off in the future. On the other hand, next week is a big meet-up of most of DB’s friends at our house, and a wedding at the weekend, the week after that, my brother is here. Then I’m in England, followed by a glassblowing meeting, which brings us to the second week of October already….

Maybe I’ll try the better-than-nothing approach and stick to it when nothing else is going on… πŸ™‚ I probably won’t leave out as many foods this time round either, maybe just sugar, bread and milk products.

DB suggested he eliminates with me, so we don’t have to cook twice, but secretly because he thinks he needs to lose a kilo or three…

On birthday food

This is the cake from the inside:


This is the tray of potatoes, carrots, onions and, most importantly, parsnips ready for roasting:


They were SO very good, the steak was a little bit unnecessary – but who turns down a steak when they’re offered one??! It was a very good steak too.

Here are the posh new christmassy tablemats (plus flowers and my new clock):


– It goes anticlockwise, because the Brits drive on the ‘wrong’ (!?) side of the road…

On improvisations on a swede

I found a swede in my local supermarket last week.
That is a big deal here in Berlin where people generally don’t eat them.

A picture for RosieSmrtiePants (Stolen from http://mkalty.org/swede/)

Anyway, I didn’t eat it last week because I wasn’t home in time to peel, chop, boil and mash it before my DB died of starvation.

Yesterday was my chance.

I spent almost 10 minutes noisily looking for the peeler (and sorting out the drawer it should have been in but which was full of Schneebesen* instead) before DB came and dug it out of a different drawer so he could go back to watching TV in peace.

It only occurred to me once I’d strained the water (and reopened and messed up the schneebesen drawer) that my masher was still in a box marked ‘kitchen’ in the depths of my in-laws’ cellar.

I like to think I’m open minded and easy going. Sometimes I convince other people to think so too. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I assume one can eat swede cubes without mashing them. I can only assume because I always eat mine mashed and I wasn’t prepared to change my swede eating experience just because I hadn’t got round to unpacking yet.

I armed myself with a spatula and set upon the arduous task of squishing 3 million cubes against the side of the saucepan.

I was approximately a third of the way through when DB started prowling. He has a special kind of prowl reserved for when he’s hungry and I haven’t finished cooking yet, and this was that kind of prowl.

He asked if he could help so I pushed the saucepan in his direction.

This is what happened next:


I was speechless.

I’ve seen (and participated in) a lot of improvisation, but I’ve never seen (or thought about) anyone mashing a swede with a cup.

It worked though, so I was also very impressed.

I truly have a man of many talents

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

* Schneebesen literally means snow brooms but physically means handwhisks… And DB says English is a silly language πŸ˜‰

On hot water bottles and heroism

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man getteth out of bed at 3am and refilleth the hot water bottle for his girlfriend

– Slightly adjusted from John 15:13
King James Version (KJV)


On winning and losing

I used to cook a lot. When I lived in a shared house I often cooked for everyone. When I lived by myself I lost some of my motivation, but when i cooked, it was with increased creativity and of a more experimental nature.

Then I moved here.

The DB is more a traditional than experimental eater.

I don’t really cook anymore. We eat a lot of bread with cheese and salami, like respectable Germans are supposed to, and we get invited to DB’s parents’ once or twice a week. None of them are into ‘foreign food’ (apart from Chinese duck).

On Saturday, the DB painted the part of the boat that would be under water if it wasn’t on a trailer. I was put in charge of 2 frozen pizzas.

Once upon a time I made my own pizzas, these days I don’t bother. I don’t get home early enough for the dough to rise before DB starves, and he’s not convinced that they’re any better. Ho hum.

So anyway, there I was with the task of ‘cooking’ 2 frozen pizzas.

I turned the oven on, got the pizzas out of the freezer, unwrapped them, placed them carefully onto 2 baking trays and slid them into the oven remembering to set and check the timer.

I went to sort the freezers out, going back and forth between kitchen and garage. After a while DB said I ought to check on the pizzas. The timer hadn’t done it’s thing yet, but in I went to check.

It was a good thing I did. Smoke was billowing out of creeping round the sides of the oven door.

The pizzas looked fine.

I looked closer and figured out the bottom of one was burnt, although the top wasn’t even nearly ready.

I rescued the burnt pizza and went to tell the DB that his oven sucks.

He looked up at me from beneath the boat and said I’d probably set it wrong.

Gee thanks, as if there were multiple options for turning an oven on!

I went back inside and studied the oven. Apparently you can either set the oven to a specific heat, or choose where the heat comes from. I played with the dials a bit, put the pizzas back in the oven and promptly burned the top of the previously unscathed pizza. I swapped them round and waited until the second one had reached a suitable degree of bubbly and took both of them out.

I tried scraping some of the burn off the bottom of the pizza, but called it quits when the topping fell off.

I chopped them both up, and arranged the pieces on 2 plates, trying to ensure DB got not only the least burnt pieces, but also the least uncooked, and summoned the good man.

He was very polite, considering.

Afterwards, he suggested we go out for dinner. Even offering to invite his parents to try the local Indian restaurant with us…….

On patience and pizza dough

I’m kneading pizza dough when DB walks into the kitchen…

DB: Did you put herbs in that?
Me: Yes
DB: Then it’s not dirt after all…
Me: ??!!

– 2 minutes later –

DB: Shall I turn the oven on?
Me: Not yet, I haven’t finished kneading, and then it’s got to rise and I still have to cut the toppings up and…
DB: How long’s it gunna be?
Me: Dunno. Maybe an hour?
DB: Don’t take this the wrong way, but can we buy ready made dough next time?
Me: ?!!!

It’s a jolly good thing I wasn’t making scones.