The Hampering

Happy New Year, readers! I hope you've celebrated in style. Ladies of taste and distinction that we are, Tara and I ushered in the new year with fascinators, passion pop and a lot of rather terrible dancing. I drank, I ate, I took my shoes off and ran around outdoors, and now that those last few fateful swigs of cheap champagne are leaving my system I'm finally feeling capable of blogging again.

So, Christmas hey? Well that's done and dusted for another year. My Christmas was the usual exhausting, lovely, talk-politely-to-that-distant-relative-you-hate kind of affair. My sister, my man and I combined our vegetarian super powers to make Jamie Oliver's delicious nut roast (otherwise known as "the best stuffing my Pop has ever tasted" *sigh*) and of course we had pudding, salads, daggy christmas hats and wine. So. Much. Wine.

What else happened this Christmas? Well... I totally made hampers you guys! I gave them to people, and they were well received, and people ate and drank and were merry. You have no idea how relieved I am that the hampers were well received. Baking, jamming, truffling, macaroning, turkish delighting... I held my breath when people first tasted what I'd made, and I swear to Dawkins had someone looked unimpressed, I would've staged an almighty Christmas meltdown. I'm not saying homicide, but I have a feeling the fallout would've attracted the attention of the local media... the words "crazed" and "rampage" come to mind.

So above is a photo of my completed hamper. Chris, my tolerant and talented partner (fiancee, boyfriend, guy I like to kiss on the mouth) did all of the design work, I did all of the cooking, and together we hot-glued and folded and tied bows until what you see above was finished. Rather naively I had assumed that preparing eight odd Christmas hampers would be relatively straightforward. Hah. Flash forward a month and I was stuck in my kitchen at 2am on a wednesday night, microwaving vegan gelatine alternative and scraping almond meal from the walls. Nonetheless... I'll do it all again next year. I'm just proud as punch at how everything turned out:

Lime Jelly from here. I didn't modify this recipe at all, except to leave the lime pulp in (but not the peel).

Chocolate Truffles from here. I prepared half with the milk chocolate and sea salt, and rolled the other half in a combination of cocoa powder and cayenne pepper. The salted truffles tasted a little like caramel, and the chilli chocolate ones were warm, rich and slightly spicy.

Turkish Delight from here. I substituted gelatine for agar-agar, a nifty vegan seaweed derivative that works just like gelatine but without all of the snouts and trotters and beef skin. I'm pretty sure Turkish Delight is one of those inherently difficult to enjoy sweets. It's sickly, it smells like grandma's potpourri, and the powdered sugar it's rolled in is a choking hazard. But I got it in my head that I needed to make a Turkish Delight with the White Witch quote from Narnia printed on it. So: Turkish Delight for all!

Pfeffern├╝sse. I made these using this basic recipe, but I doubled the spice quantities. Apparently these babies develop their flavour over time, but given that I was baking them a day or two before Christmas I thought it best to flavour them heavily to start with.

Oh, and I made Macarons. Boy did I make macarons. I made three failed batches of Macarons, two average batches, I made a great batch really early on and then promptly ate the lot, and I made the macarons seen above in the few days before Christmas. I'll blog about the delicate art of macaroning some time soon. I'll need an entire post to dedicate to my macaron saga...

So, hampers! Burns and spills and hot glue everywhere but hampers got done, bitch. Please let me know what you think of our lovely goods! New year, new goals... I'm toying with the idea of attempting a market stall this easter.

Realistic New Year's Resolutions

Happy new year, guys! I hope you're recovering from your hangovers better than I am. In the spirit of said hangover, I've decided to start the new year by setting the bar achievably low. The best part of new year's resolutions is achieving them, right? But how often does that happen?

Not often. If you're, you know, me. That whole going to the gym thing? Hmmm. Maintaining multiple blogs? Ooops. Not falling down the stairs of the Sydney Opera House and flashing the special guests of a graphic novel conference? Dang.

So this year I've decided to set some more realistic resolutions.

1. Go to Japan in April.
Flights are already booked, bitches. Soon it'll be me being carried around by robots!

2. Eat a delicious breakfast of mushrooms cooked in butter and rosemary, with pesto and avocado on sourdough toast.
WTF, I did that this morning! I'm pretty good at this.

3. Stop watching that Oprah special about Justin Beiber.
That was pretty easy.

4. Paint galaxies on my nails like this awesome chick.
I might be overreaching here...

5. Evolve my bulbasaur.
I promise not to press b.

6. Write a blog post about New Year's Resolutions
Guys, I am killing this.

I am feeling pretty good about 2011. Anyone else setting some delightfully achievable goals?