Tag Archives: special

Spring flowers at Christmas

Grape hyacinthsWhen the days are short and the weather is dull it’s lovely to have some Spring bulbs in the house,  blooming and filling the air with their sweet scent to remind us that the warmer weather is really just around the corner.  If you’d like some hyacinths in your hallway or daffodils on your dining table for Christmas then now is the time to think about exactly what you’d like to have and how you will display them.

Once you have decided on what flowers you’d like, think about the containers to put them in.  Baskets, of all sizes, lined with thick plastic to make them waterproof are the most obvious but any container given a similar treatment would look equally beautiful.

You will need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs for Christmas flowering – bulbs that have been specially treated to speed up their growth.  I’d recommend using commercially prepared bulb fibre for potting, especially for containers where there are no drainage holes.  (If you want to use regular potting compost make sure that it is open textured and free draining).

Pink HyacinthPut some well soaked bulb fibre (or potting compost) into your pot or container, leaving enough space to allow the bulbs to be placed inside with the tips just below the rim of the container.  The bulbs can be placed close together but should not be touching.  Cover with bulb fibre and water well.  The container should then be placed in a cool spot such as a shed, or in a shady corner of the garden.  Darkness is not essential but a cool temperature is. Do not put in a black plastic sack as this only encourages mould.

After 10-12 weeks young green shoots should start to appear (these will be paler if the pot has been kept in the dark).  When the shoots have reached about 5cm (2 ins) in height, bring the pot into a cool room and they should flower in time for Christmas.  Spring flowering bulbs at Christmas, planted in pretty containers, make a lovely gift.

Caution: The bulbs of Daffodil, Hyacinth and Narcissus are poisonous so please practise basic care by washing your hands when you have handled them.

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JK Wedding Entrance Dance

I saw a link to this video at my friend Bonnie’s site yesterday.  I  wanted to include this in my internet scrapbook because, well  – I love it!

This has to be a link because understandably embedding has been disabled – it’s a wedding video with a new and wonderful twist.  If you haven’t seen this already, I urge you to click on the YouTube link.  If you’re anything like me it’ll make your day …Definitely something to smile about.

I hope Jill and Kevin have a very long and happy future together.

JK Wedding

JK Wedding Entrance – YouTube Video

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Filed under media, modern life, Things to make you smile, web memorabilia

Chocolate Tart

Choccie eggsWe’re turning ourselves inside out this weekend, preparing for the invasion of workmen in this coming week. It was all to be very organised and properly scheduled but rather typically events have conspired to make several things happen all at once. Never mind – I keep telling myself it will all look fabulous when it’s done!

I’m just dropping by to tell you that I’ve posted the recipe for Rachel Allen’s yummy Chocolate (Easter) Tart over at Voix Douce. If you have more time on your hands than me, it’s well worth doing!

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Chocolate Tart

choc-eggsThis tart is perfect to celebrate Easter but when it comes to chocolate I think most of us agree that anytime is the right time to eat this! 

This recipe (only very slightly adaped) is from Rachel Allen’s excellent book ‘Bake’.

INGREDIENTS

For the sweet pastry:

200g (7oz) plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

100g (3-1/2 oz) chilled butter, cubed

1/2 – 1 medium egg, beaten

For the tart:

1 x quantity of sweet pastry (using the above)

175 ml (6 fl oz) double cream

125 ml (4 fl oz) milk

125g (4 -1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped

175g (6 oz) good quality dark chocolate, chopped

2 eggs, well beaten

Optional decoration (for Easter) …

250g (9 oz) sugar-coated chocolate eggs, to decorate

Otherwise … a handful of toasted almonds or chopped pecan or pistachio nuts.  

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You will also need a 23cm (9 in) diameter tart tin

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Method:

First, make the pastry …  Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly.  Add half the beaten egg and continue to whiz.  You can add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.  (If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together).

Then, with your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm (3/4 in) thick.  Wrap it in cling film or place in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (‘Resting’ the pastry like this is important because it stops it becoming too sticky and reduces shrinking during cooking).

Once the pastry is rested, preheat the oven to 180C  / 350F / Gas mark 4.  Roll out the pastry to no more than 1/4 inch thick (Rachel recommends placing the pastry between two sheets of cling film to do this) making it big enough to line the tart tin.  Bake the tart blind at the above temperature for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry.

To make the filling …

1.  Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan to boiling point then immediately take off the heat and stir in the chocolate to melt.  Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then stir in the beaten eggs.

2.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked pastry case and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until just softly set.

3.  Allow the tart to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin.

If serving at Easter time, you can decorate with sugar-coated chocolate eggs.  Alternatively at other times of the year add a handful of toasted hazlenuts to the chocolate mixture and bake as step 2.

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