Saturday, 31 December 2016

Easy New Years Eve Cocktails

Looking for the perfect drink to help bring the year to a close? I've chose a few cocktails to share that are easy to make at home and don't require a lot of ingredients. Hopefully this collection of cocktails will help you to keep your party going until midnight or block out the horrors of 2016... it's been a tough year, right? 

This is a picture of a mixture of spirits including gin and rum

This is a picture of a whiskey sour cocktail in short glass

Clermont Whiskey Sour

The Clermont Whiskey Sour is a variation on the classic Whiskey Sour and doesn't need to be served with egg white which I'm not fond of putting in drinks. The sour evolved from the practice of adding lime juice to rum rations to prevent scurvy among sailors in the British Navy in the 1700s.  You will need sugar syrup for this cocktail but it is simple to make yourself. Just add equal quantities of sugar and warm water to a jar and shake until dissolved. This syrup mixture will keep for up to one month if kept in the fridge. 

50ml parts Jim Beam
15ml part fresh lemon juice
25ml part fresh orange juice
15ml part sugar syrup
Orange wedge for garnish

Add ice, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, sugar syrup and Jim Beam Bourbon to a shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange wedge and serve.

This is a picture of a bramble cocktail in short glass

Bramble

The Bramble is the first cocktail I opt for on a night out, gin is my tipple of choice and the bramble is light and refreshing. The Bramble is the brainchild of Dick Bradsell, aka ‘The Cocktail King.’ The blackberry drink is the most famous of his creations from his time at Fred’s Club Soho in the 1980’s. The name is said to be taken from the winding nature that the liqueur takes when it’s poured from the top to the bottom of the glass, as though it were winding through brambles.

25ml Chambord
25ml Gin
20ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemon wedge
Crushed Ice

Take a short glass and fill to the top, with crushed ice. Pour in the gin and lemon juice. Stir, add the Chambord. Finish with a lemon wedge. If the drink is a little sour for your taste you can add a little sugar syrup. The drink is traditionally made with creme de mure but I've substituted it with Chambord because I already had some at home. 

This is a picture of a dark and stormy  cocktail in long glass

The Perfect Storm

This is another drink with sailor origins and is also the national drink of Bermuda.

50ml Rum
Ginger beer
Lime wedges

It doesn't get easier than this, just add all the ingredients to a glass and stir. Et voila!

I'm going to be having a night in this year with a good movie, board games, nibbles and a few cocktails. I hope you have a wonderful New Years Eve and here's hoping 2017 is brighter and less tumultuous that 2016. Onwards and upwards! 

Gemma
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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

First Christmas in the new house

I didn't leave the house for three days over Christmas and it was absolute bliss. Martyn and I don't have a large family to dash around and visit or who expect us to eat separate dinners with them on Christmas Day. We did the rounds on Christmas Eve, delivering presents and visiting Sookie so we were able to have a relaxed Christmas and Boxing Day on our own in our new home for the first time. 

As we were't expecting any visitors I didn't get up until about 9am and didn't feel the need to get really dressed up. As is traditional in my house we had a full fry up for brunch and a late dinner at around 4/5pm. It's tiring enough just cooking a Christmas dinner, I don't know some of you cope driving around all day visiting relatives. 



I was so pleased with how festive the house felt and I felt really content in my home, pottering about, making dinner and celebrating Christmas with the one I love in a really low key way. The only thing that would have made it better would be a little fur baby, I'm dying to get a puppy to complete my little family. 



The only real extravagance of the day was prosecco with Chambord (I had a few glasses whilst cooking dinner) and goose fat roasties instead of my regular Aunt Bessies.  I was spoilt rotten by friends and family and received some gifts that I know I will treasure. I didn't spend my Christmas Day online shopping for sale items as I was far too engrossed in watching Harry Potter and Star Wars but I do have my eye on this bar cart and I'm going to treat myself to it with some vouchers I received. 


I had lots of brilliant new board games for Christmas including The Great Game of Britain which compliments my other railway game Ticket to Ride really well. The Great Game of Britain is a nostalgic race around the historic railway networks of Britain. The aim is to be the first commuter to travel from London to each of your mystery destinations and back again. Watching out for station closures and hazards along the way. I highly recommend this game, it is great for a family or just two players and may result in a few tantrums and tears like all the best games do.



I've enjoyed relaxing in my fluffy robe and drinking chocolate Baileys like it's going out of fashion but I'm back in work now and so sad it's all over for another year... I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have amazing plans for 2017, make it your best one yet!

Gemma
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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Have a pet safe Christmas

My fur baby Sookie is seven years old now and she is spoilt rotten by everyone in the family. I always try to buy her love by giving her the most treats so she will come and sit by me and give me cuddles. I think most dog owners are tempted to treat our furry loved ones to whatever we’ve been indulging on but beware! Not all human foods are safe for you dog and what you think might be a nice treat for them may make them ill. 


There are quite a few human foods to avoid feeding to your dog but there are some Christmas staples  that your dog can safely eat in moderation.

Doggy dinner approved

Turkey - Your dog can eat turkey but make sure you remove the bones.

Potatoes - Dogs can have a little potato but don't give them any with added salt or butter. 

Vegetables - Your dog can eat vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, sprouts, peas and cauliflower etc

Fruit - These can be high in sugar and acidic, which can upset your dog's stomach. Give this in moderation with stones removed. The fruit to avoid is rhubarb as the stalks and also its leaves are toxic to canines.



Don’t feed to your dog

Chocolate - AVOID AT ALL COSTS. It contains Theobromine which can be deadly to canines, even in small amounts. Keep it well out of their reach at all times.

Turkey or chicken skin - This contains a lot of fat which can cause inflammation of the pancreas.

Gravy - Very tasty poured over the dogs dried food but gravy made with animal fat and stock is far to fatty and salty for your dog.

Onions and garlic - Onions are a definite no no as they are poisonous to dogs. A little bit of garlic is not toxic to your dog it can have a dangerous cumulative effect so best to avoid sneaking your dog a stuffing ball.

Turkey bones - They are hollow and can easily splinter and get stuck in your dogs throat. 

Grapes and dried fruits such as raisins, currants, sultanas - These can be fatal to dogs, even in small amounts. It's best to avoid giving your dog any mince pies or Christmas cake as these contain a lot of dried fruit. 

Milk and dairy products - My dog LOVES cheese but research has shown that dogs are lactose intolerant. 


If you want more tips for keeping your dogs in tip top shape over Christmas head over the RSPCA guide here which includes more info including how to make your own treats and how to dog proof your home.

I hope you and your furry loved ones have a lovely Christmas, if you're dressing them up in cute jumpers feel free to sent me a photo on twitter because I love nothing more than wasting hours of my life looking at photos and videos of dogs on the internet. 

Gemma
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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Easy cheese fondue

I had my first ever cheese fondue whilst on holiday in Grenoble over three years ago and it's been a long wait to have one again. Grenoble is known as the Capital of the Alps and a popular ski resort so fondue can be found in many restaurants across the city. Fondue is great served after a long day on the slopes but you can enjoy it at home too so I'm sharing my recipe for a Swiss/French fondue. 



Serves 4

You will need


225g chopped or grated gruyere cheese
225g chopped camembert (remove the rind)
225g emmental cheese, grated
300 millilitres white wine
2 tsp cornflour
3 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
1 clove garlic (peeled)
Pinch of black pepper

To serve
Cubed bread
Potatoes
Charcuterie
Whatever vegetables you have - tomatoes, peppers etc

Method


Rub the fondue pot with the garlic clove, you can either discard the garlic or leave it in the pot for some extra flavour.

Put the chopped and grated cheese into the fondue pot with the wine and heat until boiling on the hob, by which time the cheese should have melted. 

Turn the pot down to a simmer. Mix the cornflour with the Kirsch in a small bowl, and add to the fondue pot.  I used wine instead of Kirsch which is just as tasty but less traditional. 

Season with the pepper, stir well and place the fondue pot over a flame at the table. 



Once everyone is at the table tuck in and prepare to enter a CHEESE COMA. Cheese fondue is the best but you may need a little nap after consuming this amount of cheese. I think as long as you have gruyere in the mix you can add whatever cheese you have at home and create your own fondue mix. It might not be typically Swiss if you add cheddar but who cares?



A cheese fondue mixture should be kept warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot that it burns. When the fondue is finished there will be a thin crust of toasted cheese at the bottom of the pot. This is called la religieuse (French for the nun). It has the texture of a cracker and this can be lifted out and eaten. Martyn bought us a fondue pot but you could keep a pan and your cheesy mix warm by popping it on a grill rack or wire cake cooling rack with some tea light candles underneath.

Remember, don't drop your bread in the fondue because if you're a woman you kiss your neighbours around the pot and if you're a man you buy a round of drinks for everyone at the table. 

Gemma
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