Wednesday, 28 December 2011

2nd day of Christmas

Over coffee time on 2nd day of Christmas, we experienced our first cracker session.  ´Shape your future before other shape yours` was the message in my cracker.  Our second family christmas time was more complete with Dirk and Carola around.  MIL and hubby was a bit down that day but it they tried their best to bring in the festivity mood.  Dirk and Carola were chirpy so I suspected they have not gotten the news yet.  We spent a bit of time opening our presents - thanks Dirk and Carola for the gorgeous Auerhahn Salad Bowl set and HOME grill set in a nice metal case.  Thank you Mama and Papa for the sensational 68 pc WMF Kult range cutlery set, and also the cash.  Thank you hubby for the wonderful Diana Krall and Ella Fitzgerald CD plus a Beurer Massage Matt.  All of them found their way to pamper me on this special occassion ... thank you so much.

It is wonderful to be showered with wonderful gift which we all had prepared in advance but, this year´s Christmas I felt was made even more meaningful with the presence of all.  My aunt passed away on Christmas Day and Frank, hubby´s cousin passed away on the second day of Christmas.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Lets enjoy Michael Bublé - Grown Up Christmas List

As I am typing this, my first aunt (my dad´s elder sister) back in Malaysia is battling with Lung Cancer.  Doctor gave her 4 months to live after she got diagnose and that was back in June.  Right now, she is not able to speak anymore.  My FIL´s only sister Tante Anna called us few days ago.  One of  her son (she has two) was admitted to hospital and got escalated immediately within the same day to Münster Hospital.  He is 35 years old, not married and is diagnosed with Leukemia just last Monday and at the same time, had a blood clog in his brain.  The specialist performed the brain surgery on Tuesday morning at 5am.  They said, if he wait any longer, he will not make it.  His chemotheraphy is suppose to start  right after the brain surgery.  The surgery went well but the after effect was unforseen.  Pressure kept on appearing in his brain and what the specialist can do reactively is to remove the pressure whenever it appears.  Nothing more can be done.  To make matters worst, the blood cancer (Leukemia) is all over his body including his bones.  We are all praying for him dearly.  He and my aunt needs miracle ...

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lebkuchen (Gingerbread House)

I am trying not to bake that much this year after last year´s experience.  More so when Chinese New Year falls on 23rd January and there would be a lot of eating going on again.  Last year too, we unexpectedly received a lot of cookies as gifts.  Hubby reminded me again and again, try not to bake more than 2 assorted trays so as to minimize wastages.  Its a busy day in the kitchen yesterday and today.  While I got the lebkuchen baked yesterday, it was only today that I finally sat down to icing them.  Nothing too fancy and complicated, but a readily available icing pen from Dr. Oetker will do.  I made 3 batches, the first being the best but I ate 3 pieces from the 6 houses so I decided to make another batch. Second batch however got a bit burned because instead of taking the dough out from the form to be baked, the cookie dough stayed within.  It must have gotten too hot I reckon.  The third batch thankfully turned out well and its the one I am holding here.  Later, I moved on to making a cookie premix to be given away to a friend who will be stopping over tomorrow morning. She´s making me a bottle of Eier Liquor or Egg Nog as how its known in England.  Her Eierliquor rocks! Its soo good and its nothing compared to the bottled, branded ones we get at the store but the thing about her recipe is, you need a 1,300 Euro machine call Thermomix to make it.  The most expensive kitchen machine we have in our kitchen in Kitchen Aid and sadly, there is limitation to it too.  So being her generous self as usual, she offered to make me a bottle and will drop it off my place tomorrow. As a thank you, I thought cowgirl cookie premix is nice. 

Will show you a photo of it when its here :-) Stay tune!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Making Weissglühwein

I was told that the standard Glühwein sold in most Christmas market comes ready in huge cartons from manufacturers.  The Glühwein vendor would adjust the recipe a bit by adding their secret spices from this base or simple using a specific cooking process .  I love Glühwein and its one of those drinks I would never fail to drink whenever Christmas is around the corner.  I usually have them plain or with Ameretto.  But that was before I had my first sip of Glühwein made from white wine.  And thats it! I found my new love.  The thing about Weissglühwein is, it is not easy available in the Christmas Market as the vendor has to cook them from scratch versus buying the ready made cartoon from supplier to be reheated.  But since its not an entirely difficult thing to make at home, I decided to give it a try.  Fairly easy.  Rule number one is, do not boil the wine.  Always keep them in light simmer temperature when making it.  After that, it is entirely up to you to adjust and add in the spices you want.  After pouring a bottle of white wine into the pot, I added in sugar, raisins, slices of clementine, apples, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamon and clove.  Some calls for the recipe to be diluted with a cup or two of standard hot tea.  I think I will give that a try next.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Celebrating Nikolaus

Santa Claus is a myth figure that got more famous and commercialise than the humble bischop St. Nikolaus whom goes around giving to the poor and needy during Christmas. Before moving here, I did not even knew he existed.  It is great that some countries still honour him on 6th December every year.  Unlike Santa Claus culture where kids get to receive from adults, my MIL told me its okay for any parents to extend their love to their children irregardless of their age.  To her, we are still her baby she said :-)

Wanna see what we got from her this year?  It came complete with an original sack used traditionally here and I thought, wow ... how authentic can that get :-)

My MIL it seems had also signed up for Dr. Oetker´s Club membership and had filled up the sack with his goodies!  It came with 3 assorted size Dr. Oetker´s Backen range tin and in it were ...

Assorted sachets containing baking powder, yeast, powdered gelatine, vanilla sugar, cream stiffener and such ... what a lovely gift just before the baking season starts :-)

Lebkuchen and chocolates were inevitable every year :-) of which BTW, I am going to attempt baking Lebkuchen this week and I can´t wait to share you THIS GORGEOUS lebkuchen form I just bought from Strauss Innovation.

The largest tin were stuffed to the brim, so much so she had to use a gummi band (big rubber band) to hold them together! (that is my MIL .. we had a good laugh about it because she is cute and ungerman that way).  There´s lots going on in this tin.  A box of cake mix, a few assorted cake pudding and jelly mixture, chocolate icing and a colourful muffin papercup.  How well thought out gift isn´t it?

I guess the time is right and I have to get back into baking action again.  Happy Nikolaus!

Monday, 5 December 2011

How to Draw Names for Christmas Gift Exchange ...

Today, I would like to share you a pretty brilliant idea on how to draw names offline and online for your next gift exchange activity.  Gift exchanging is of course common as festive season is around the corner.  It is something my stammtisch group does every year but I personally felt this year´s organiser did a brilliant job getting the preparation work done.

First, allow me to explain that this method works in a reasonable size group not exceeding 10?  Beyond that would prove to be hardwork for the chair person to get getting the materials and such done.  So here´s what my stammtisch member did. 

Since we are an 8 member group, she prepared 8 uniformed packaged box for us.  To make it festive, she chose one with Christmas print on it, added a simple greetings message and a ribbon to hold them together.

We then each picked a box.  A name has already been allocated inside the box (seen here, its written on a star cut out but her name is blocked) so what we need to do is to ensure its not our own name we picked up. 

Fill up the goodies according to the amount/rules that had been agreed by your group/colleagues etc. And thats about it! Easy isn´t it?  If finding these ready made boxes is near to impossible where you live, I reckon a bit of creativity will not harm.  Templates of box making can be found abundantly online and all you need to do is decorate them as you wish.  A lot of work I know, which comes back to what I earlier mentioned - only for small groups.

If there is an upcoming gathering whom you want to exchange gift with but are unable to meet up prior, there´s an online method you can adopt.  Draw Names is a popular online generator which we are currently using.  Get the email addresses ready, sent them out with rules stipulated and voila! The system will shoot you the assigned name on the date you wish and the rest is history.  Very friendly site to use and so far, its proven to be very handy.

So happy drawing names to you all and have fun!!!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas Tree Ornaments aside, our Forest Theme Christmas Decor is UP!

My husband has been a procrastinator lately.  It was only two nights ago when he finally brought our Christmas ornament box down from our attic.  I quickly got the tree assembled, the other decorative ornaments arranged and a gentle cleaning session here and there around the house.  We will probably wait till Nikolaus which is coming Monday to complete the rest of the task.  I always look forward to putting up the christmas balls and setting up the Icicle lights outside our windows so waiting for the right time to do it is worth it.

Forest theme is something I have been eyeing on since I saw them in Depot store last Christmas.  I find this theme pretty versatile to do as I not only have lots of store options to buy the bits and pieces from, I also have the choice of re-using our old ornament pieces.  If all else fails, there is always the nature outside to give one some inspiration and its free.  Twigs and branches, fern cones and leaves, berries, stones and whatever you can find outside.  But with the exception you can´t get any substitute for animal figurines. 

This year, I decided to go along winter wonderland colour scheme again, just to jive in with our livingroom interior a bit. I bought quite a few new items this year - which I should not BUT its just so hard to resist clicking on the order when the voucher I got from groupon cost only a small fraction of the original price.  I am a sucker liddat, which I wonder if its a good or bad thing at times.  Believe it or not, my head was already filled with images on how to spike up this look with some burgundy shades next Christmas!  Oh yes, that would be nice.  But as of now, I am happy with the whitewash gingerbread house, the grey owl, whitewash deer, grey horse and whitewash/silver fern trees to give our place a nice Christmacy feel. 

There is one corner filled with colour though and its the kitchen,  The area is spiced with RED and its kinda nice to escape to this corner from time to time.