Tag Archives: Mince Pies

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February Over.

Habitat Angel,Rocking Dog

Habitat Angel

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February is indeed over! Saturday saw us host a special Burn’s Night at the kennel to pay tribute to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. Guests were asked to bring nothing but empty tummies and donations for Young Carer’s (Christmas in A Box 2017).

The evening started with Careless Whisper cocktails served in retro Babycham glasses. There were freshly baked haggis sausage rolls and Christmassy flavour crisps.

Guests arrived, some gallantly attired in 1980’s ski chalet wear. There was a very dodgy wig or two and leg warmers aplenty! It was time for music. The lounge was filled to the gunnels with RockPipe musicians who played a half hour set of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, Abba Medley, “Don’t Stop Believin'” etc..

The Haggis was piped in and addressed. It was hot in the kitchen- turning out turkey and all the trimmings for 50 was no mean feat! There were so many comments (mainly women!) that it was so lovely to be eating a Christmas meal without having had to cook it.

Menu- Free range bronze turkey, Bourbon glazed ham, Bacon wrapped sausages, Homemade white nut roast, Vegetarian and non veg’ haggis. Sprouts with chestnuts & pancetta, peas, Buttered baby carrots, Roast potatoes, Cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pud’s (SO sorry son Alex not homemade versions!), gravy and homemade spiced apple jelly.

People found places to perch, we even made one of the bedrooms into a fairy-lit
private dining space. Meanwhile back in the culinary HQ it was time to clear the decks and get puddings underway.

RockPipes noisily restarted and the set included “Last Christmas” and a wonderful rendition of “Careless Whisper”. Thank you Simon for your amazing Sax’ playing… tremendous. There was also the unforgettable YMCA complete with false moustaches. Great fun.

Puddings were served.

Menu- Black Forest inspired trifles, Hazelnut Macaroon with homemade lemon curd & Mascarpone, Mince pies, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake. The Christmas cake was made especially for the event and given a retro snow scene.

Thank you to all who lent chairs, cutlery, lanterns, and to all those who took a turn in the kitchen sink. Thanks to cocktail shakers and all those who entered the spirit with singing and dancing.

A million thanks to those who so generously donated to our chosen charity. An incredible £515 (plus Gift Aid) will be used for making up “Christmas in the Box” for Young Carer families in particular need Christmas 2017 ( breakfast, full turkey roast with all the trimmings, tea and treats)

The £5 Ikea clearance tree is down and decorations boxed, Billy the boar who graced us with his snowbally presence is leaving Bristol for the sunnier climes of Umbria, Bon Voyage Billy! A sense of normality is gradually returning, though there is still a rather large drum kit to trip over!

Enough. Enough now!

£5 Ikea Tree,Rocking Dog

£5 Ikea Tree

Sprouty Chains,Rocking Dog

Sprouty Chains

Italy Bound Billy,Rocking Dog

Italy Bound Billy

Private Dining,Rocking Dog

Private Dining

RockPipes & Sax',Rocking Dog

RockPipes & Sax’

Cake Anyone?,Rocking Dog

Cake Anyone?

Come To The Next Rocking Dog Huddle!

The Dogs' Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

The Dogs’ Haberdashery

Yes indeedy! This is a call out for the huddlers to gather on Wednesday (22nd Feb’ 7-9 pm) for the second Rocking Dog huddle. Bring knitting, crochet, a button to sew on, or simply nothing at all! A Rocking Dog mini project can be tackled or just come to laugh and chat. Perhaps i’ll get on with my long forgotten Kaffe Fassett needlepoint, those peas have been SO patient! Needless to say new huddlers will be warmly welcomed into the fold.

There will be delicious cake. I will probably be offering freshly baked Christmas cake, mince pies and double choc’ brownie. Sorry about the slightly festive unseasonal offerings but we do have the Last Christmas themed Burn’s Night going on this weekend. I never thought Christmas decorations would make me feel quite so nauseous! I hope by Wednesday all traces of the tree, paper chains, holly and ivy will have been well and truly banished.

Today I have mint syrup to make in readiness for the “Careless Whisper” cocktails. I’m ever hopeful Tom Cruise will put in an appearance on Saturday night to shake those old cocktail shakers! I am such a fantasist. Truth be known my crush has always been Bill Turnbull (strange but very true!) I can’t really imagine Billy shaking a good “Careless Whisper” can you? I can feel a good “who is your crush?” huddler conversation coming on when Wednesday comes about.

Back to the huddle, donations into the teapot for refreshments & materials. A proportion of donations will go to Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to learn embroidery and other sewing skills.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, hope it’s a lovely one for you.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!. Ok Michael… you can come out for one night only..after all this Christmas nonsense in February is for a good cause. (“Christmas in a Box 2017” for Young Carer’s)

Material Mountain,Rocking Dog

Material Mountain

Bookish Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Bookish Inspiration

Patient Peas,Rocking Dog

Patient Peas

Bygone Age Buttons,Rocking Dog

Bygone Age Buttons

Festive Cake,Rocking Dog

Festive Cake

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!,Rocking Dog

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!

 

A Massive Rocking Dog Thank You!

Rocking Dog Tree, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tree

A massive Rocking Dog thank you to all who supported my Rocking Dog winter events. Young Carers and BUST each have a cheque winging its way to them for £132.

Very special thanks to all who came and donated so generously for munching Rocking Dog Mince Pies, Sloe Gin Rocky Road and Alex’s Billionaire’s Shortbread etc… Eating such delicious fare is such a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Massive thanks too for the boys at Hambrook House for their stash of single variety apple juices. All proceeds from their orchard crop went to the charities. Thank you Graeme and Scott.

As ever thanks to my family for stepping in to bake, brew, socialise and tot up.

Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my creaky old heart for your generosity, support, love and friendship x

In The Pink, Rocking Dog

In The Pink

Kitchen Stars,Rocking Dog

Kitchen Stars

New Shoots,Rocking Dog

New Shoots

Readying The Kennel For St Andrews Night

Homage To Rudolph!, Rocking Dog

Homage To Rudolph!

Where is the tartan (love this link by the way) you may ask, and if the truth be known i’m asking myself the same question! The trouble is that I spotted these giant carrots in Paperchase on Sunday and I couldn’t resist coming up with a cunning plan for them. As you probably already know Andyman has put a complete embargo on any more Christmas decorations coming into the house (11 boxes are absolutely and utterly enough as the sermon from Andyman doth go!) I guessed that these carrots could be smuggled into the house under a non Christmas guise.

My kitchen chandelier thingy provided the perfect place to deal with these giant sparkly carrots. Despite their size and subtle blingy glamour Andyman chose not to pass comment at breakfast time. During the day further frouing occurred. There’s a handsome reindeer minus the red nose, and some twiggy pencils which have scribbled child like notes. How difficult I found it to write like a five year old! Some glowing strands have arrived and I plan to add some hanging mince pies. This is my homage to Santa Claus and Rudolph. The poor old gnomes who normally hang out on the chandelier thingy together with their spotty mushrooms are now gnomeless, oops homeless!

Rocking Dog has indeed been making the kennel look glamorous in readiness for the rapidly approaching St Andrews Night sale. Tomorrow I will make a conscious attempt to tartanise the place as I don’t want to be accused of Christmasfying rather than Andrewfying!

Wee Tam together with Toby and Mrs Mac (the present from Fleetwood) are ready and waiting on their mantlepiece perch. Bagpiping, haggis sausage rolls, ginger shortbread and a wee dram are eagerly awaited. Toby will need his drams restricted for abomomnable gout the poor fellow does have. Enough of this utter nonsense, even though i’m very fond of my toby jug talk!

Shopping, labelling, pricing, baking, making, and boo hoo cleaning will make the next couple of days busy. There is also the small matter of taking poor Real Live Rocking Dog for a haircut…poor boy, on the coldest day of the year so far. No worries he does have a splendid tartan coat ..he can be a walking, barking homage to St Andrew on Wednesday evening. Result!

Sowing The Seed, Rocking Dog

Sowing The Seed

Happy Wee Tam', Rocking Dog

Happy Wee Tam’

Festive Sewing,Rocking Dog

Festive Sewing

Flying Christmas Trees,Rocking Dog

Flying Christmas Trees

Edible Table!,Rocking Dog

Edible Table!

Rocking Dog "Let's Make..",Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog “Let’s Make..”

A Lost Rocking Dog Fortnight In Pictures.

The Rabbit, Rocking Dog & The Wardrobe, Rocking Dog

The Rabbit, Rocking Dog & The Wardrobe

Where have you been Rocking Dog? Chasing my tail, yes chasing my tail! Broken sleep has meant writing my blog has been difficult to contemplate. That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t been busy, I have managed to find some creative fuel! So this post is dedicated to the lost Rocking Dog fortnight.

Last week I took my 86 year old neighbour clothes shopping in Bath. I hope I have as much style and verve for life as Molly if I’m still around at 80 plus! In between octogenarian Gok styling, I managed to nip into “Anthropologie”. I left Molly downstairs with a VERY patient and friendly member of staff whilst I legged it upstairs for knobs. Sale knobs were quickly chosen, Bloomsbury inspired ones for my Bloomsbury inspired painted doors and whimsical porcelain rabbits for a wardrobe (more on that later!) We ended our trip in Waterstone’s. Molly was so happy…with her bags of clothes and books. Good job!

Another morning was spent with another friend in Tetbury. We made a beeline for “Domestic Science” where we drank coffee and ate cake before perusing four or five floors of vintage loveliness. If I ever win money Andyman can head to the car showroom (isn’t that what every man would do? excuse the stereotype) and I would head to Tetbury for antiques. I spied a particularly lovely set of Swedish chairs, but didn’t even bother to glance at the price tag!

Other vintage moments included chancing upon “Rag and Bone” in Bristol. This just could very well be my new favourite shop. I bought a lovely set of bobbly brass curtain rings for £10, whether they’ll be used for curtains or incorporated into Christmas decorations remains to be seen. After “Rag and Bone” Liv and I headed to River station for eats. The previous evening we had eaten the first mince pie of the season, a little Harrod’s number. Sorry and excuse my boastfulness I still think Rocking Dog’s mince pies win hands down! No Michael, no, it really isn’t time yet.

Talking of pies I made chicken pies in traditional enamel dishes for a night with friends. A retro 70’s dessert followed, Chestnut Turinois. The wood burner was stoked and we celebrated the start of autumn and enjoyed the joys of friendship and the circle of life.

The daily walks with Real Live Rocking Dog have been wonderful with blue skies and a plethora of wildlife. Deer, the heron, kingfishers, moorhens and ducks intermingle with the joy of observing leaves turning to rust and copper hues. Just as Real Live Rocking Dog begins to enjoy his warm woolly coat he is destined for the dog groomers later this morning. He’ll need a sleeker cooler coat ready for his road trip to Italy later this week.

Poor Andyman is getting rather perturbed by the amount of stuff destined for Umbria. I seem to think his car is like a Tardis. Of course unlike Dr Who’s iconic Tardis, our car is not deceptively spacious! Included in the haul are oak shelves and paint, together with the rabbit handles to make a wardrobe into a larder cupboard. Is this genius or madness, only time will tell!

This week I am expecting 300 jars to arrive. At some point these will need to be filled with delicious things. Is it too ambitious to pickle and preserve this week, somehow I think so. Perhaps I can bring back prized Capri lemons to marmalade, preserve and pickle. I am enjoying the brilliant book “The Land Where The Lemons Grow” by Helena Attlee. I always thought a lemon was simply a lemon…..but it is simply not.

In December I am momentarily coming out of Heaven’s Cake retirement and am rustling up a vintage wedding for a lovely couple. Stupendous cakes, vintage china, steaming mugs of cranberry zinger and of course the obligatory pots of tea. It will be perfectly lovely, especially if there is a dusting of snow.

One of the loveliest tasks over the last week or two has been to work on a quilt with my brave friend. She gallantly cross stitched and embroidered panels to insert into a play mat. It now resides across the pond with her new scrummy little grandson. So much strength, so much love, so much care to behold. x

So there it is a potted history of the last two weeks- well the nicer bits. A John Lewis member of staff and I fleetingly talked about tasks such as laundry, cleaning, shopping etc.. being so damned time consuming and yet so annoyingly unconstructive. It always feels feeble describing how you have spent a few hours just doing domestic dross! However I am not complaining, hallelujah for automatic washing machines, dish washers and cordless vacuum cleaners, yes absolutely blooming hallelujah!

Have a great week and hope there is not too much domestic dross to deal with in your household.

Bloomsbury Knobs, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Knobs

Bloomsbury Door, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Door

New Haunt, Rocking Dog

New Haunt

Bobbly Brass, Rocking Dog

Bobbly Brass

Lovely Lunch, Rocking Dog

Lovely Lunch

Mince Pie Tasting!,Rocking Dog

Mince Pie Tasting!

Prefer Mine!, Rocking Dog

Prefer Mine!

Chicken Pie, Rocking Dog

Chicken Pie

Autumnal Daily Walk, Rocking Dog

Autumnal Daily Walk

Creative Hub, Rocking Dog

Creative Hub

Domestic Science, Rocking Dog

Domestic Science

Jars To Fill, Rocking Dog

Jars To Fill

Wedding Food, Rocking Dog

Wedding Food

Stoking The Fire, Rocking Dog

Stoking The Fire

Sewing Something Special, Rocking Dog

Sewing Something Special

Rocking Dog Despising Pies!

Sugar Plum Fairy, Rocking Dog

Sugar Plum Fairy

Yes, it’s true i’m truly despising pies, mince pies in particular! Having baked about 23 dozen this festive season I am determinedly hanging up my mince pie making apron!

So.. if you want to make your own pies here are some Rocking Dog pointers…

I make my own pastry (by hand rather than processor) using half the quantity of fat to plain flour (ie.. 400g flour, 200g fat). I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 Cookeen straight from the fridge, grating the fat into the flour before rubbing it in. Use egg and freshly squeezed orange juice to bind. Alternatively use a shop bought pastry– there are some good ones out there.

Handle the dough lightly and roll out carefully.

After rolling out and lining the tartlet tins use mincemeat which has been mixed in a bowl with some luxury dried fruit and a good lug of Brandy (Cointreau,Rum etc..). Top the mincemeat with some cream cheese combined with orange zest and a little caster sugar.

After brushing the open tarts with a little milk or egg, top the tarts with their tops. Use scissors to cut three V shapes into the pastry ( My Mum did this, telling me that the three cuts represented the three wise men). Brush with egg and a sprinkling of caster sugar. Bake at 180 for approx 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

I have just had a horrible thought that I will need to put my apron back on- I need to leave out a mince pie for Santa’!

Who Made All The Pies, Rocking Dog

Who Made All The Pies

Tarts With Tops On, Rocking Dog

Tarts With Tops On

Cooling, Rocking Dog

Cooling

Tinned, Rocking Dog

Tinned

Christmassed!, Rocking Dog

Christmassed!

Spiced Orange, Rocking Dog

Spiced Orange

Thank you Presents For Going The Extra Mile

Heavenly Sweet Stash, Rocking Dog

Heavenly Sweet Stash

A massive thank you to all who came to my Rocking Dog Christmas Sale on Sunday. It was great to see so many of you and thank you to those who came from Wiltshire and Dorset together with those who organised babysitters (feel very honoured)! Truly appreciate your support. Thank you too for those who gave so generously for refreshments, I was able to write out a cheque for £104.50 for “Young Carer’s “. A million thanks.

The house is looking relatively calm after the mayhem of yesterday. Monday dawned with an early start, I was writing Christmas cards at 4 am… I apologise to any card recipients who can’t read my gobbledy gook! Later, I gathered cake together for Andyman’s work colleagues. A little chocolatey thank you never goes amiss.

Dorset Apple Cake, Sour Cherry Amaretti (Ottolenghi), Billionaire’s Shortbread (absolutely none for Donald Trump), Sticky Sloe Gin Rocky Road (based on Nigella’s Rocky Road) and Dark & White Chocolate Brownie (Nigella) made up this cake tray. I could not bring myself to make any mince pies. Having made 16 dozen so far this year, I am getting a bit teeny weeny bit tired of these traditional festive delicacies.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well. I haven’t written any lists and I feel a bit out of control! One of Andyman’s favourite sayings is ” Fail to plan, plan to fail” but there again it’s not life threatening if we forget to pick up a turkey!

I Love Dorset!, Rocking Dog

I Love Dorset!

Are You Driving?, Rocking Dog

Are You Driving?

Gilded & Gorgeous!, Rocking Dog

Gilded & Gorgeous!

Gluten & Dairy Free, Rocking Dog

Gluten & Dairy Free

Ready To Wrap, Rocking Dog

Ready To Wrap

Just The Job., Rocking Dog

Just The Job.

Sorry I’ve Been So Silent, Love Rocking Dog.

Sorry I’ve been SO silent! I’ve been a bit under the weather. I wanted to test drive the Accident and Emergency Department at the local new super hospital myself! Back home, I have been snuggly and relatively painlessly holed up, and somewhat ashamedly have let little penetrate my peacedom.

Today I tentatively stepped outside for the first time in nearly a week, and was amazed how Autumn has swept in so confidently with her capacious metallic coppery cloak. My usual riverside walk was so different to the ramble I took there last week. My earthy path was swathed with a rich carpet of rusts, coppers and bronzes. The Frome was afloat with a veritable Armada of curled mystical leafy sailing craft, whilst in the stream a log was docked together with its delicate fungi passengers. It all felt quite surreal.

Autumn had touched the leaves of the Sycamore with her magical welding tool. The metallic weld had dripped sporadically and artistically on to the citric yellow base layer. Nature’s painterly beauty, competition indeed for Jackson Pollock!

Everything was really so deliciously quiet, sun-beamed and glorious.

Nearly at my door, there was raucous cawing. A Murder of Crows (how I love that word for a grouping of crows!) were in my neighbours orchard. Such fights for the plentiful crop of ripe rosy fruit. “Listen here you Murder, there really are plenty for everyone!” “Mind, can you leave me a few apples, i’d love some to make mincemeat….. when i’m feeling a little more energetic!”

Leafy Islands In The Stream, Rocking Dog

Leafy Islands In The Stream

Hanging On, Rocking Dog

Hanging On

Autumn's Metallic Weld, Rocking Dog

Autumn’s Metallic Weld

Leafy Trail, Rocking Dog

Leafy Trail

Firewood, Rocking Dog

Firewood

The Apples Are Ripe!, Rocking Dog

The Apples Are Ripe!


 

The Night Before Christmas…….

diamond star, rocking dog

Diamond Star

Can you believe just how quickly Christmas comes and goes after all the weeks of present shopping, supermarket trawls, card writing etc… etc..?! I hope your days of festivities have been enjoyable and that you have loved spending time with friends and family, together with vegging in front of “Call the Midwife” and “Downton Abbey”!

This post celebrates an all together different occasion. Our son Alex’ is now a fiancee. On Christmas Eve he proposed to Kylie at Ashton Court and we are delighted she said yes! For the last month I have been biting my lip knowing that a proposal was imminent, and if I say so myself my level of discretion surprised even me! Though I do have to apologise to random strangers (mostly shop staff) that I imparted the news to, and I thank them for nodding politely.

Alex like Black Adder’s Baldrick came up with a cunning plan, and needed a little bit of help to execute it. One of the priorities was to involve Kylie’s very lovely dog, a big chocolate labrador. Alex ordered a glass star for Cass’ to wear around her neck with THE ring. First rule Alex get your tape measure out, for the star did indeed arrive but was of a weight and size that would have strangled Kylie’s faithful canine companion. The plan had to be quickly rethought. Alex decided Ashton Court would make a lovely place to propose and a good ruse was to get out walking with Cass’ and Real Live Rocking Dog.

Sorry for all the white lies Kylie. The car mysteriously needed to be collected from the garage on the 23rd December and Alex was needed to go and helpfully collect it with Andyman. The actual mission was to do a quick recognisance mission to choose a spot for a proposal and a picnic.

My allocated mission was to try and make the spot just a little bit romantic- we are talking grey winter in Bristol and not Venetian Gondola’s or palm tree’d silver sand beach! Ikea… the list… lanterns, tea lights, chairs, Christmas tree panels, throws, and M & S….. the list….chocolates, strawberries, antipasti..Percy Pigs (!)…

There followed a secretive strategic planning offensive to sort out the detail of carrying out Code -name Diamond Star! Although I wanted to set up the picnic etc.. for Alex I absolutely did not want to be caught there… the pushy prospective Mother in Law and all that!

Thankfully on the afternoon itself I had recruited a willing infantryman -my lovely neighbour Symon to help with carrying and frou’ing, (frou’ing is my word for styling). Symon and I are good frou’ers! In between texts from Alex we had a VERY short time to set up and we didn’t even have time to put up the lovely 6ft Christmas Tree panels – but then the aged brick wall was rather gorgeous. We legged it up to near the house itself, spying from a distance and just wanted to ensure that Alex and Kylie arrived there rather than an opportunist wanting to steal a ring suspended in a glass, moss lined star! We didn’t see the boy and girl but we did see the two dogs snaffling mince pies and olive ciabatta! It was our cue to sneak away and leave the couple to their wintry picnic and their words of commitment to each other.

Congratulations Kylie and Alex. You are truly loved by your family and friends.

slightly Narnia, rocking dog

Slightly Narnia!

champagne picnic, rocking dog

Champagne Picnic

lantern light, rocking dog

Lantern Light

Take A Peek In The Larder!

in a pickle, rocking dog

In A Pickle!

Yes, please take a peek in the larder!
Liz and daughter Sorrel have been busy concocting delicious things for the fast approaching festive season. Pickled limes and lemons, Stem Ginger, Spiced Orange Slices (delicious with gammon) are just a few of the wonders on sale this Sunday (Please contact Rocking Dog for timings). Sorrel’s Jewelled Quince Paste is a wonderful accompaniment on a cheese board and makes a great stocking filler whilst Cherry and Pistachio Biscotti make for posh coffee dunking!
There’ll be a range of freshly baked mince pies and cakes on sale together with gorgeous hand sewn gift items. Liz’s very talented friend Stephanie will be offering a cornucopia of wonderful and unique pieces for sale (that’s if Liz hasn’t purchased it all!).

The house will look jubilant in its eclectic festive splendour and there’ll be warming festive punch and Michael Buble, together with gorgeous things to nibble on (but not Michael unfortunately!) Profits from refreshments are going to the charity AFRIpads with £90 having already been donated. Thank you.

Now for the massive task ahead…emptying eleven boxes of Christmas decorations and prettying a tree that was destined for compost! I felt so sad for this little tree that I elected to give it a home, thus giving it an albeit transient moment of twinkling glory. You can put the tissues away now!

spice up christmas, rocking dog

Spice Up Christmas!

sublime lime, rocking dog

Sublime Lime!

jewelled quince paste, rocking dog

Jewelled Quince Paste