Monday, December 23, 2013

The Magic of Christmas Gingerbread

This was the state of my kitchen for much of the weekend and it was all Tara's fault. 

All the cool people congregated at Tara's on Saturday for our Not The Farmer's Wife Sewing Group. There was lots of yummy food , laughter, story telling and show and tell. Among the things being showcased was this magnificent gingerbread house that Tara made. This is a prize winning gingerbread house (for real). Tara wins prizes for her creative genius all the time.  I've come to accept that I'm mediocre at absolutely everything, except swearing. If there was an Olympic Gold for having a vocabulary like a sailor, I'd take that out for sure. 

I have a piss poor track record with making gingerbread houses. I completely lack the manual dexterity, patience and imagination required to make something fiddly that turns out to be pretty. Plus I'm a Virgo and we like things to turn out exactly like the visions in our head and when it isn't we call it a complete failure and avoid it ever after. 

Case in point- in 2006 I decided I was going to make a gingerbread house. This was the vision in my head. 

image credit 
And instead , somehow I ended up with this. 

It took me 5 years to recover enough from the experience to want to do it again as if somehow in the intervening 5 years my skills would have magically honed themselves into making me a master gingerbread house maker with absolutely no practice.

This was the result 

Im going to confess this effort got pitched out the back door with this parting shot except I did it with an Aussie accent.

I also wrote a blog post vowing never to make another gingerbread house again as long as I lived. 

But when I saw Tara's gorgeous house, I just knew I could make one almost as good. And I verbally lamented the fact that I hadn't gone to Ikea to buy a gingerbread kit and that I didn't have time to do it before Christmas.

And Tara, that little sweetheart, presented me with this, there and then, straight out of her own cupboard. Oh Happy Day ! 

On the way home I stopped in at the shops and bought a few lollies for the decorating process.

When I walked in carrying the gingerbread house kit Mr. P muttered "oh shit" and put his head in his hands. But I smiled and reassured him that I had it under control and this gingerbread house was going to be fabulous. On Saturday night I made a shitload (thats Aussie for a lot) of royal icing and set to work decorating my little heart out. And I left it all overnight to set nice and hard, planning to put it together on Sunday.

When I woke up Sunday morning my gingerbread was soft and pliable and one of the house bits had cracked right across the centre. Then the bottom fell off my chimney. And when I picked up my sides some of the balls fell off. Mr. P helpfully suggested that perhaps the cat had spent half the night licking the gingerbread thereby rendering it soft.

Undeterred I fixed the cracks and stuck the balls back on with more icing and started making a sugar glue to put my gorgeous house together. It takes along time to make sugar glue. Mine burned the bottom of my best saucepan and formed little clumps which looked a lot like crystal meth. On to the back up plan. I tried to stick that thing together with icing. That didn't work either....

But I had a secret weapon to get that house to stick together because by this time I was bloody well determined to have a gingerbread house.  I sent Mr. P out to the store on a mission and he came back with this. 

Stop laughing. I didn't care by that point that we wouldn't be able to eat it. I just wanted a gingerbread house to show off. 

So I started gluing and putting bits together , and gluing more bits and holding them until they bonded , all the while congratulating myself on my brilliance and debating internally about whether I was going to confess it was in fact held together with a toxic substance. 

What they don't tell you on the superglue tube is that while you can use it on porous items- that doesn't include gingerbread. And in fact, superglue is evil shit and while it will stick your gingerbread house together  - after about 5 minutes it starts to eat your gingerbread away.

So I was sticking the roof on when my lovely gingerbread house did this. 

Yep- my gingerbread house imploded. And at that point - so did I. 

Lessons Learned :

Gingerbread Houses are evil
I found something Superglue cant stick
I really mean it when I say I am never making another gingerbread house ever again  

Now if you'll excuse me, some of those bits of gingerbread are superglued to my cake plate and I have to go and chisel them off....

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday (on Friday)

Mother Nature has been having a hard time deciding whether she was going to actually let us have Summer this year. This week she finally came through after I wished really hard and gave us just a little bit too much sun all at once. 44 C is ridiculous.  I really need to learn to modulate this wishing business...I did the same thing with boobs when I was 15. I wished for them and ended up with mine and someone elses. Sorry to whoever is running round with 12 AA boobs, but I assure you it isn't any fun running round with DD's either. In point of fact I rarely run, because you cant do that when you have huge hooters without a world of pain.

Thank Goodness the delectable Rachael from Blue Mountain Daisy had picked a lovely summery cocktail this week. I was craving something to cool me down (it seems the air conditioner is slowly working it's way into Summer too ) and this cocktail was perfect.

So let me introduce you to the Cucumber Collins  (click the link for the original recipe) 

You're going to need a bunch of stuff that looks like this stuff . You should probably go buy a lemon since the recipe calls for one. I thought I had one and didn't and it was too hot to leave the house so I just substituted lime instead. 

This recipe calls for simple syrup which is really simple to make. Just equal quantities of sugar and water. I chucked in a 1/4 cup of each and brought it to the boil, then let it cool right down . 

The recipe calls for you to "muddle" your simple syrup, cucumber and lemon /lime juice. Muddle is just a polite way of saying smash the crap out everything you just put in your cocktail shaker so it releases all the cucumber juice. I used a wooden spoon. It was at this point that I was thinking "this cocktail is actually healthy - it has salad and fruit in it. I'm so good to my body"

I crushed my ice (which means I whacked the crap out of it when it was encased in a tea towel. This cocktail is great for releasing tension) and chucked that into the cocktail shaker, along with the rest of the ingredients aside from the soda. Then I merrily shook away. Violently. 

Strain it into a glass and top with soda water. I had tonic water so that's what I used. And top with a mint leaf or two. Or coriander if that's what floats your boat. I have it on good authority that you can drop strawberries into your glass and that'll taste fab too. 

Rachael put a cucumber finger in hers but I didn't want to shock my system with too much salady goodness .Pop over to see her post because honestly she went all out making this cocktail. Her pictures are gorgeous. 

I really liked this and think it would be the perfect cocktail for a summer picnic. Mainly because you could chuck a cucumber stick in there and nobody would think you were drinking booze. It looks more like a health drink from Boost Juice. 

Definite 4 out of 5 for me.  Thanks for the cocktail for this week Rach! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

Yep- I've been absent for a week. I came down with super evil gastro on Saturday and and crawled off to bed to die. I pretty much remained there with intermittent gallops to the bathroom until Monday lunchtime. Further intimate details are probably unnecessary but I just want to put it out there that there's nothing classy about pooping in your own pants or throwing up on yourself. 

There's nothing better to kill off the last vestiges of any germs that may be lurking than a cocktail though right? Alcohol is a natural internal antiseptic. And this week I decided to go with a cranberry raspberry concoction as a homage to the  rapidly approaching Christmas season. 

The original inspiration for this cocktail can be found here . While faffing round in my booze cabinet I found some raspberry vodka and thought that would be a perfect substitute for regular vodka. I'm sometimes quite amazed by what I find in my cupboards when I go looking...I cant even recall buying raspberry vodka. 

Grab yourself some crushed ice, ginger beer, vodka, cranberry juice and  lime. Add 30 mls of vodka to a glass full of crushed ice , fill the glass to 3/4 full with cranberry juice and add a generous splash of ginger beer and squeeze of fresh lime juice and there you have it. Easy , simple and no bacon or maple syrup in sight. Im calling this a Raspberry Crantini. 

My cocktail was kind of anemic looking so I added a splash of raspberry cordial to the mix to give it this lovely deep red colour. Plus who doesn't need a bit more sugar in their diet?

I would like to point out I didn't drink all four of these myself. Mother and Father of Pyjamas are visiting at the moment and so we all sat down last night like civilised grown ups for cocktail hour. MOP liked this so much she asked for a refill, and who am I to let her drink alone? 

Comments: A raging success in my book. I giving this a 4/5 and a big thumbs up! Too bad you cant get real cranberries here because they would have looked pretty in the glass. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday -It's a Doozy

What do all these ingredients plus bacon have in common?

I bet your first thought is Alcoholic Breakfast. 

This week it was Thea's turn to choose the cocktail of the week and on Tuesday morning she surprised us with an email containing this cocktail gem. My immediate thought was that perhaps she'd been giving the crack pipe a little toke.

"The Bacon Maple Syrup by Tyler Voelker, Urban Farmer

If you took a pancake breakfast, removed the pancakes, and then added 1.5oz of rum and 1oz of Calisaya liqueur, you'd have this drink, which combines that boozy pair with .75oz of maple syrup (sticky!), tops with coffee, floats with frothed milk, and garnished with a cured bacon skewer. Naturally." 

There was quite a bit of furious emailing back and forth between Little Miss Sunshine and myself. Who the F*** has ever heard of Calisaya? While I went to work to save the world , LMS googled furiously for a while longer to find out what it was (turns out it's unheard of Down Under) and whether we could find a proper substitute (there isn't one) so we had to improvise with Angostura. 

I did wonder at one point whether Thea was having a bit of a lend of us ...that this was a sucker cocktail where we'd make it and drink and she'd email and say "Bazinga- got you-I'm not drinking that, you cray cray biatches" But I'm game for anything really so it was duly made.  I had also warned my boss that there was every possibility I could die overnight from cocktail poisoning and in preparation for that eventuality I left her a list of things that had to be followed up if I didn't turn up to work Thursday. 

I've put a lot of weird things in my gob over the years (lets not get into details) but this was one of the most unusual. Let's just say I was not a fan ....cold booze, hot coffee, frothy milk, maple syrup with a bacon chaser... It's like someone put a ton of leftover bits and pieces into a glass and called it a cocktail....

Im going to confess I took one swig....that was enough. The best part ? The bacon chaser. That was good. Because it got the taste of the rest of it out of my mouth. (The Midori Cosmopolitan I made immediately after also helped) 

I think the challenge has now been set for Little Miss Sunshine and I to find a cocktail that equals this for payback!

Blerk. Try this at your own risk. And don't blame me. 

P.S. Despite it all I still love Thea. We all make mistakes...

P.P.S. Have just decided my payback cocktail may include vegemite and frothed kangaroo milk...

Monday, December 02, 2013

Out With The Old & In With The New

The last week has been all about changes at Maison Pyjamas. Improvements have been needed for some time and it appears I've decided to tackle them all at once. I started with myself. 

This was me at our Not The Farmer's Wife Get Together last week at Lozs' place. (pic stolen from Loz's blog!) 

I've been thinking about a drastic hair change for a few months. A mohawk seemed too extreme. I've done purple and pink hair before, and its sooooo 2009. The only thing that was left was to go longer. So all of you who go to the bother of growing your hair for months or even years are doing it wrong cos it only took me two hours to "grow" mine.    

This was my sewing machine last week 

In with the new- I've had this home since Saturday and so far it's beeped angrily and told me off about 587 times. 

I really have to work out what all those buttons do. I'm currently shit scared to touch them because I don't know which one works the ejector seat. 

More renovations are in process at Maison Pyjamas. This was our linen cupboard last week.

And while technically its not in with the new yet because we have a gaping hole there - the new built ins are being custom made ready to be installed in a couple of weeks. And the hole is new... 

The great sewing room clean out continues and I'm being ruthless.....For the first time ever I binned a WIP . The recycled shirt blocks have gone to the great quilt graveyard in the sky. And I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought this fabric - because it really isn't me. It's time to own that this one isn't getting finished either.

My last foray into pastels ended in disaster too.  If you think you'd like to finish it (or pull it apart and make something new from those huge pinwheels) let me know and I'll send it to you. The fabric range is Paris Flea Market and there's a layer cake worth of pinwheels waiting for someone to love them.