in my kitchen…….
……. I’m loving Ruby’s excitement as she jumps out of bed every morning and comes downstairs to look in a pocket of her advent calendar. In the pockets are a mixture of little gifts and notes. On weekend mornings there may be an “Ask Mummy to make Christmas biscuits note” or “Make decorations with lots of glitter.” Maybe a tiny tube of red icing for decorating; on others there’s a little chocolate or a glitzy festive hair-slide. Pegged to the pocket for Christmas Eve is the reindeer food Ruby made. This morning it was a big treat from Daddy that went down particularly well: a note directing her to a gaudy set of lights for the den she’s made with a shelf and a blanket.
What’s really lovely this year is that Ruby decided it wasn’t fair having just one thing in each pocket, so she’s crammed in some gifts (mainly items found around the house or chocolate bars saved from party bags – my daughter’s a hoarder!) for Mummy and Daddy too.
The advent calendar is also reminding me of the mix of home-made/natural and the outright gaudy that my kitchen inevitably ends up with at this time of year. I make Christmas granola and cranberry breakfast cookies, gather holly and have ideas of home-made gifts and decorations while admiring the simplicity of Scandinavian Christmas style.
My daughter, meanwhile, is craving tinsel and foil-wrapped novelty chocolates and of course would prefer this:
Obviously we end up with a chaotic mixture of the lot.
in my kitchen…..
… it’s starting to smell like Christmas. The quince-meat oatie slices include a mix of booze-soaked dried fruit that can’t help but remind you of the spicy fug of festive baking, whether they’re cooking or being eaten.
There have been quinces simmering slowly for Jelly, the Christmas Cake cooking at a low heat for several hours and the Christmas pudding steaming slowly on top of the wood-burning oven. As there are storms outside, it all feels very comforting. As I write, a gale is whipping leaves up into a frenzied dance outside the kitchen window and I can see our cat trying to chase them. Not sure who’s more entertained, Mog or me.
But back to the Quince-meat Oatie slices. I used the home-made mince-meat including my quinces here, but you can obviously use any preferred mince-meat, bought or home-made. I was going to use Quince-meat in the Oatie slices I made here with greengage but as my vegan friend Chava was visiting (she took the lovely pics in this post and has a lovely piece here on advents for grown-ups I thought I’d experiment with a Little Leon bar recipe which doesn’t have fat. I substituted the dried fruit and nuts in the original Leon recipe for Quince-meat and it was so quick and easy to make. Even easier than my fruity Oatie slices, these are perfect to rustle up if you’re in the midst of a busy mix of work, Nativity plays, Christmas shopping and school runs.
Quince-Meat Oatie Slices
450g quince-meat or mince-meat
60g wholemeal flour
120g rolled oats
Preheat oven to 190C. Mix mince-meat with oats and flour and a drizzle of honey depending on how sweet your taste/mince-meat is. Smooth the mixture into a 25 X 30cm baking tray lined with baking parchment. Drizzle with a little extra honey. Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely golden. Allow to cool before cutting into bars/slices.
They will keep for a week in an airtight container. A parcel of these Quince-meat slices could make a simple festive gift, so would love to include them in the Teatime Treats challenge, hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
These are lovely warm as a pudding too with a little cream or thick Greek yoghurt. We ate some with the wonderful cream I brought back from Woefuldane Dairy and the combination of boozy, nutty, fruit and rich cream reminded us of Christmas pudding with brandy cream.
in my kitchen….
……my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are based on traditional recipes but with a twist. Not always intentional. My Christmas pudding does have dried fruit soaked in alcohol but, inspired by Sarah of the Garden Deli, I substituted some of the bought dried fruit for the boozy sloes from my sloe gin. While the Christmas pudding had a generous drizzle of my home-made Quince Ratafia from Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar, Smoke while it was still warm from the oven. And I have to admit that it’s also heart-shaped. This wasn’t planned, more a result of my shoddiness.
Basically, I’d soaked the fruit in alcohol, taken the butter from the fridge and knew that I had a full school day working at the kitchen table; it was a perfect day to have the cake baking for several hours while I worked. Obviously I’d already mixed the cake before I attempted to line the cake tin and realised I didn’t have greaseproof paper. In a rash mood I decided to use my Ikea heart-shaped silicone mould. Very luckily it didn’t burn. Not sure how I’m going to ice it though!
in my kitchen…..
……some of the home-made booze is ready and offering double treats. As I said, the sloe gin has contributed to the Christmas cake, I’d also like to try the boozy sloes in a cake with almonds and orange. The blackberries from the blackberry whisky are also great with vanilla ice-cream for an extremely easy pud – drizzle over a little of the blackberry whisky too and it’s delicious. I’m still looking for inspiration for the sweetened and brandy soaked quinces from the Quince Ratafia. Any ideas very welcome.
I’m enjoying preparing a little of the food for Christmas feasting ahead – the red cabbage to go with the turkey is in the freezer, Scandinavian pickled beetroot to go with gravlax is in jars and labneh is preserved in oil to do with leftover meat and flatbreads. When it all starts to get busier and I’m more frazzled later in the month, a tipple of my home-made booze may be just the job though!
Would love to join in once again with Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s fab In My Kitchen, enjoying a nosy peep at kitchens around the world.
I can imagine how excited Ruby is – I used to love my advent calendar and the build up to Christmas
I know, I think that 6 is such a lovely age for Christmas – such excitement and belief in it all but not the toddler melt-downs (well, not too often anyway!). Mind you, I still get excited and can’t get to sleep on Christmas Eve!
I can definitely recommend the Quince-meat slices – they are delicious and such an easy recipe too! As for those boozy blackberries…. mhhhhh, yes please
I think it’s all a bit boozy in this post isn’t it – Guy tried the oatie slices with cream and thought I’d started on the brandy butter already! But it is Christmas…. Thanks so much for lovely pics. x
I love the sound of the Oatie slices. That really is sliding into Christmas in a very decadent way!
I know, was going to suggest that the oats and lack of butter made them a healthy treat – then I remembered the quince-meat!
What I’m really in love with is that cute plate with the skier on it. Thanks for the tour and enjoy Christmas with Ruby – she’s sure going to!
It’s a Cath Kidston cake-tin and I love bringing it out at this time of year. Thank you and yes, I think 6 is such a brilliant age for the excitement of Christmas.
Andrea, your kitchen is so full of happiness, thank you for sharing it all with us! I love that Ruby is putting gifts in for Mum and Dad, what a sweet and kindhearted child she is! It all looks delicious and boozy, can’t wait to see how you ice a heart shaped fruit cake though!
Thanks Celia and I’m wondering if I should top my cake with fruit and nuts and glaze it instead of icing – I’m not sure Ruby will let me get away with such an easy option though! She’s probably got far more elaborate plans!
Love the sound of these quince meat slices even though I can’t cook quinces as I don’t like the smell of them cooking!
You could make these with normal, quince-free mincemeat. I love the smell of quinces cooking though, a bit sad in fact as I look at my fast-dwindling supply.
What a lovely story, wish I was also in your kitchen!
Thanks Caroline, I’ll soon need more people in here otherwise there’ll be a dangerous amount of booze and booze macerated food for us to quaff/scoff!
Andrea, thank you for the idea to steam plum pudding on the wood stove. (Wish I’d thought of that earlier.) Next year… Loved peeking into your holiday kitchen!
You have a wood-burning stove too? They’re so cosy at this time of year aren’t they. If ours is lit on a weekend day it just seems very satisfying to make use of it for any long cooking – making use of it to the full and free cooking!
What a GREAT recipe and as an avid quince cooker, if that makes sense, this is just the kind of mincemeat that I would love to make and have in my pantry! Karen
Thanks lots Karen and for including me in your tea-time challenge too. Have been loving my first good Quince harvest but just a precious few left now.
Christmas is so much fun with little people about! Enjoy each and every moment as they grow up so fast! Quince is often overlooked as a winter fruit. I am pleased to you have your very own tree to enjoy!
I know, I’m loving all the 6 year old Christmas excitement at the moment, definitely need to treasure it. And so glad we planted a Quince tree when we moved here, worth it just for the smell when there’s a bowl of them around.
Lovely reading about Ruby and her advent calendar. I have always loved Christmas (of course!) but enjoy it all the more now that I have children – it makes all so exciting once again. Agree though that a drop of sloe gin may be required as we get closer and the excitement levels get higher!
I know, it’s a crazy mixture of trying to hang onto that brilliant childish excitement and not end up too frazzled by it all isn’t it!
G’day Andrea! Love your advent calender, true!
Brings back many childhood memories too!
Stunning photos and wish could try some of your Quince-Meat Oatie Slices right now!
Viewed as part of Celia’s In My Kitchen
Thanks lots Joanne, I have my friend Chava to thank for the pics in this post – she’s very clever, they’re lovely aren’t they.
How lovely that Ruby wants to share her advent joy! I haven’t started my Christmas baking yet, but you’ve got me wanting to!
She’s just shared her Terry’s chocolate orange with us that she won at upside down bingo at her Rainbows Christmas party! I was touched by that too.
Thank you very much for entering TTT and Happy Christmas!
Thanks for including me and Happy Christmas to you too!