Thank goodness the past week has been slightly less eventful than the previous one! the “lull” between Christmas Day and New Year’s is always the cosiest week of the year when people in cold climates hunker down and try to create Hygge. This year, with all the lockdown restrictions, there has been little choice but to stay home.
Early in the week I received a lovely email from one of my former Boarders. Maria lived with me during term time for 3 years while attending McGill University and she is now the Conductor of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra! She sent me links to three beautiful videos she and the orchestra members have created. Here is one.
Tuesday afternoon I was able to “meet” (via Skype) baby Sean for the first time. He is the baby for whom I knitted stripy overalls and he is now just over 2 months old. Yesterday his Auntie Jillian came to visit me in person, which was very special. She was actually on her way to take Christmas gifts to her family and to meet Sean for the first time, so she was pretty excited too! Jillian is another of my former Boarders and she and her husband Victor will soon be celebrating their third wedding anniversary so I’ve been busy crafting a gift that includes leather, as that is the material designated for the third anniversary!
One other delightful surprise came Wednesday in the shape of a parcel from my dearest friend, Michelle who lives with her husband, four children and a puppy! in Exeter England. Michelle and I have a longstanding love of all things Moomin and several Christmases she has sent me Moomin-themed gifts. This time is was a wonderful 1000 piece Moomin jigsaw puzzle. The parcel also came with a card, specially drawn for me by Michelle’s youngest, Maria (age 6). It is entitled “Christmas Dogs” and is illustrated with a marvellous drawing of four canines wearing Christmas stocking caps 😊 I am somewhat nervous about setting out a puzzle anywhere as, judging by past experience of furry friends, my own “Christmas Dog” is very likely to enjoy stealing and eating pieces. I might try setting it out on the dining room table, we shall see. With no one coming for meals my main use for that space is for crafting projects but sadly my sewing machine is currently out of order so crafting has been curtailed until I save up enough to get it repaired. I have been studying YouTube and may have a go at fixing it myself but am rather nervous about damaging a part if I take the plate off the bottom.
Today I’m getting some baking done as Sue needs her gluten free loaves so I’m also making a whole wheat Miche and a batch of shortbread fingers. There is a small pumpkin, which needs roasting too, so the oven will be full.
We are in the middle of the first major snowstorm of the season and I’m praying the power doesn’t go off or my baking will be ruined. It looks as if a good portion of tomorrow will need to be spent shovelling. Yuck!!!
Before closing off I thought I would share the recipe for Soft Pretzels. I made them just before Christmas as they are a winter treat in several northern European countries and are quite yummy!
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsps. yeast
¾ cup Turbinado Sugar
6 ½ cups unbleached four
3 Tbsps. Coarse sea salt
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup baking soda
Combine the water, ½ cup of the sugar and the yeast, leave until foamy. Place the flour and salt in a large mixer bowl, add the butter, cut into small pieces Blend well with an electric mixer then pour in the yeast mixture and beat until a shaggy dough forms. Grease your hands and gather the dough into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Return to a clean bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to shape the pretzels heat 12 cups of water to a simmer and stir in the remaining sugar. Preheat the oven to 450º. While the water heats roll the dough out into a 12”x14” rectangle and cut into 12 strips. Form strips into pretzel shapes and place on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
When the water is about to boil stir in the baking soda. With a slotted spoon place 1 or 2 pretzels at a time into the water and hold under the surface for about 30 seconds, return to the baking sheets and sprinkle with additional salt or sesame seeds.
Bake for 5 minutes then rotate the pans and continue baking for another 5 minutes or until a dark rich brown.
Makes 1 dozen, they freeze well!