Christmas madness and almost perfect gingerbreads

   The Christmas is probably busiest time to lots. I always end up running around trying to make everything perfect, like there is no opportunities after the 25th of December. I have grand plans how I will be super organised and start to get ready weeks before the big day. The truth is I do everything few days before Christmas Day, hoping that I will get everything done on time.

The gingerbreads were ready on time but got decorated few days after the Christmas, which means I’ve eaten most of them as guests, who they were meant to, were gone and I like them too much. I have lot’s of gingerbread recipes but I think those are the closest as they should be by Estonian standards and would pass Mary Berry test to snap properly, even after the few days they are still crispy.

Old Style Gingerbreads

2 dl sugar

3/4 dl dark syrup ( I used treacle, but you can also use Golden Syrup or make your own by melting the sugar on high heat until it ‘s desired colour)

1sp cardamom

1sp cinnamon

1tsp cloves

1sp mixed spice

150g butter

2 eggs

7dl flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Measure sugar, syrup and spices to the saucepan. Cut the butter in to the small pieces and add to the saucepan. Heat it up to the boiling point until the house is filled with the divine smell. Mix it well. Take it from the cooker and put the saucepan in the bowl filled with the cold water so it will cool down quickly.

Add slightly beaten eggs

Mix flour and bicarbonate of soda  and mix well. Cover the saucepan or wrap the dough to the cling film. Keep it in the fridge 3-4 hours or even better, overnight.

Next day roll it out thinly on the floured table. Cut out the gingerbreads with cutters and place them on the baking sheet, which is covered with baking paper.

Bake them on Gas mark 4 (175C) about 10  minutes.

Cool them and decorate.

 I have to say, that they have disappeared rather quickly from the plate, while enjoying all the Christmas lights – gone bit mad this year, but I really hate this December darkness and it really cheers our house up.

33 days Paleo done – what next? Salad with gravlax.

So my challenge is over. I was healthy for all 33 days. And you know, I enjoyed it. I haven’t felt so great a very long time – full of energy and  happy. My knees don’t hurt most of the time, but my elbow does 🙁 seems I got the tennis player elbow now 🙁

I don’t feel bloated, I don’t crave for chocolate and sweets. I don’t feel like falling asleep middle of the day at the office. So everything is better, but I know that it’s so easy to go back to your old ways. Some reason we forget so quickly about benefits of being healthy.

Easter

On Easter Friday we had grand dinner with leg of lamb and roast potatoes and my homemade cheesecake, but I don’t have any pictures as we were busy eating and enjoying ourselves.
Easter3

Now on I will try to continue Paleo way and occasionally treat myself with homemade cake and glass of wine. I will have some grains when testing new recipes, but generally I will try to stay off the bread, pasta and rice.

Easter2

I made this salad one evening, when I didn’t’ t have to cook for the rest of the family. Unfortunately my children are not very keen of big plates of salad and fish. My husband will eat a bit as he knows it is good for him, but I love it!

You need to make gravlax 2-3 days before you plan to eat it. And yes, this version includes some sugar, but it’s lovely and it’s my treat – I could eat this with one go – no problem.

For Gravlax:

  • Chop one big punch of dill finely and mix half of it with 4 tbsp. of sea salt and 4 tbsp. of sugar.
  • Take a half of the 1 kg salmon fillet and put skinside-down on the container (lined with big piece of  cling film and leave the cling film drop over the edges), which base is covered with another half of the chopped dill.
  • Take half of the salt-sugar mixture and rub into the salmon, sprinkle with freshly grinded pepper, little mustard seeds and allspice.
  • Do same with another half of the salmon and then fold it top of the another piece of salmon (leave skin-side out)
  • Wrap the cling film tightly around it and place to the fridge for next 3 days.
  • When ready slice salmon very finely and enjoy!
  • Don’t forget to lick your fingers 🙂

Gravalax

 For Salad:

1 tomato, quartered

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

thorn iceberg leaves

big red or black grapes, halved

1 slice of lemon, finely chopped

3 walnuts, chopped

homemade mayonnaise

dill

sea salt

black pepper

 

Another step towards the dream, or is it?

I haven’t written about fantastic workshop I attended at Kent Invicta Chamber – Starting in Business Workshop.

Even I have started  already as a sole trader and done lots of reading and research, it is still good to go somewhere and get assurance you done everything you need.  I found this course by chance as I read some blog from Estonia and they have there so called mentor clubs, which will advice you to get your business running and give you support and inspiration long the way. So I started look around, can I find something similar here. And there was – Kent Invicta Chamber does workshops about starting the business, getting loan, how to go about marketing and social media and lots more.

The workshop I went was brilliant, I loved the style of Alex Knight, it was straight forward and no nonsense, easy to understand and lots of useful info about resources and where you should go for the help. The group of people itself was interesting from lady who started interior design business or Portuguese guy, who has come up with the idea how to use your crop in the farm to recycle yor waste water to the women who makes cribs for gypsy babies. Definitely colourful crowd, but I came back with so many ideas and were buzzing with enthusiasm afterwards.

One thing I realized there, that I have to really try to find the niche for my catering-food business. I do like to do everything but I should really concentrate on bit narrower area and make it wonderful and maybe later expand idea to the other areas.

Last month I did 2 dinner parties, which I put up in auction at my daughters’ school to raise funds. One of them was Russian and another one was Scandinavian and I think this is what I’m good at – pampering people with my food and give them something they maybe never tasted before. I have vast amount cookbooks at home and I wouldn’t give away any of them, they are all well used and most difficult part for me is deciding, which one to use.

The feedback from the dinner parties was fantastic:

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We just wanted to thank you for serving us with such lovely food last night. Each dish was so delicious and everybody had their own favourite. You really ensured we were truly spoilt. 

You are a very talented cook and thank you for making our evening so wonderful.

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I just wanted to thank you for a stunning meal. It was amazing and everyone loved it. Please let me know if you ever want a ‘review’ if you do decide to go into a catering business. You would be brilliant.

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It just made me feel over the moon.

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Some props from the Russian dinner party – love my blue scarf, I was wearing at the evening 🙂

I’m still wary about advertising myself, as I still don’t have proper base for my business, I need someone 🙂 (like me) to clear up my annex kitchen and set it all up properly. But the evenings and weekends just disappearing from hand and I really need to spend some quality time with my family and our lovely puppy 🙂

My mind works best afternoon and Iwould probably achieve quite a bit, but unfortunately those are my office hours and once I get home and done dinner and cleared up there aren’t much energy left in me. But I will try to concentrate to positive and one day I’ll be doing what I love most 🙂