Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

I hope everyone who is celebrating is having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! There’s lots going on at my main site, so do click on the links and go visit!
Just in time for Black Friday and all that Christmas shopping, there’s my first article for the excellent new website Miss Simplee, How to Survive Holiday Shopping.
There’s also a healthy pasta dish, Cauliflower Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon.

Plus another A Dickens of A Christmas post. Remember I blogged about how to make your own Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding? Well, I’ve just done my first post about Serving Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding. There's another post to follow soon!

And if you haven't already, do check out this week's Monday Musings vlog and visit my new Facebook page.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An American Thanksgiving in England

There is no official Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom which I think is rather sad. Gratitude is something that we need to teach our children. In the modern world, assailed by advertising and the media, it’s easy to be swallowed up by the culture of “I want” or “I need” where our day to day blessings are simply ignored. Without some sort of official corporate non-denominational celebration of gratitude for our blessings, there is a risk that people rush through their lives completely oblivious of all the things we have to be grateful for.

For this reason and for the sake of tradition, we have always kept Canadian Thanksgiving in our house. Although I am a naturalised British citizen, I am Canadian by birth and it is a festival my family have come to enjoy. I can never get a turkey in England in October, but we have the largest chicken I can find, and all the other trimmings, including pumpkin pie. Until recently, you couldn’t get a whole fresh turkey anywhere in this country until the last weeks of December, but the influx of American ex-pats has led to a very welcome, if limited, availability of turkeys in late November. I have always made it a point to get one around that time, in part to encourage supermarkets and butchers to keep stocking the focal point of the Thanksgiving meal at this time - and also in the vain hope they might start to have them in October too.

And so it was that once again this year I ordered a turkey during the fourth week in November, intending to cook it at some point during the week. On seeing the large bird in the fridge, my son turned to me and asked when we would have it. When I said sometime in the next few days, he looked me straight in the eye and said,

“Why don’t we celebrate American Thanksgiving on Thursday too?”

I consider myself to be both Canadian and British, so it never occurred to me to celebrate the US Thanksgiving. So I gave my standard reply,

“Why, because we are not American, darling.”

My son looked at me quizzically,

“But didn’t your ancestors come over on the Mayflower?”

This gave me pause. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that my maternal great grandmother’s family was related to Francis Eaton, one of the passengers on that great ship, and we did visit both Plymouths (in England and the US) to teach our son about this over the years. And then he put the icing on the cake.

“And how can we not celebrate Thanksgiving when we are related to the ninth president of the United States?”

Okay, he had me here. During the war of 1812, when the British and Canadians were fighting the US, one of our ancestors, Isaac Corman, was captured by the Americans. He managed to escape with his life after convincing them (truthfully) that he was a cousin of American General William Henry Harrison.

After the war was over, William Henry Harrison was elected President in 1840. Sadly, his was the shortest presidential tenure in the history of American politics - he died 32 days into his first term. But yes, we are related and yes, it is very likely we are related to one of the pilgrims who was at the first Thanksgiving.

And so it is that for the first time ever, I am preparing a Thanksgiving feast on the fourth Thursday in November. I’m all for celebrations of gratitude, particularly as we do have so much to be grateful for, and this is a great way to celebrate our family history too. So as well as giving thanks, we’ll raise a glass to Francis Eaton, Isaac Corman and William Henry Harrison - and to the wonderful tapestry of nationalities that makes up our very happy family.

Wishing you and yours the Happiest of Thanksgivings!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday and Tuesday on The 21st Century Housewife

There's already lots happening this week on The 21st Century Housewife!  

Please click here for the latest edition of Monday Musings.

And here is another yummy recipe.

Grandma's Garlic Bread

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Delicious New Bread Recipe

To see the yummy Apple Cinnamon Raisin bread recipe I shared with many of the Friday blog hops and recipe exchanges, please click here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Happening Back At The 21st Century Housewife

You can catch up with what's been happening on my main site by clicking on the links below.

Enter my latest CSN Stores Giveaway for an $85 (or £60) Gift Certificate - Hurry, closing date for entries is Thursday! 

For a yummy Meatless Monday Recipe, please click on the link below the picture.

My Vegetarian Chili

And to see the latest Monday Musings vlog, please click here.

For a recipe for a British classic, please click on the link below.

Shepherd's Pie
And check out the last few days of Autumn in my garden by clicking here.

Hope you are having a great week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Dickens of a Christmas CSN Stores Giveaway

The holiday season is fast approaching and CSN Stores can help you to have your home ready for all the wonderful celebrations to come. From ceiling lights to furniture, home improvement to kitchen equipment, CSN Stores have everything you need to be sure that you and your home are ready for the festive season.

The lovely folks at CSN Stores are sponsoring a giveaway here on The 21st Century Housewife in honour of A Dickens of A Christmas, giving away an $85 gift certificate (or £60 gift certificate for a UK winner) to be used on any of their online stores. That could be a great help towards getting your home ready for the holidays, or even to give you a head start on your Christmas shopping!

It’s easy to enter. You can follow me on Twitter or “Like” the new 21st Century Housewife page on Facebook by clicking on the buttons over on the right or comment on this post. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have followed on Twitter or ‘Liked’ on Facebook as each counts as a separate entry. In other words, you can enter up to three times.

Hurry and get your entries in as the contest closes this Thursday 19th November. The winner will be announced on Friday, in plenty of time for the winner to get a head start on all that holiday shopping!

Don’t forget to check out the other A Dickens of a Christmas links below and kick off your holiday season in classic Victorian style!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's Been Happening At The 21st Century Housewife

Meanwhile, back at the main site...there's been lots going on. Here's some links to help you catch up but before I share them, I've got some news. The 21st Century Housewife now has it's own Facebook page.  It just went up yesterday, and I'd love it if you'd "Like" it :)

Plus, there's Monday Musings Volume 3 

Click here for links to all the sites and links I mentioned.

I wrote a post for Remembrance Day called Lest We Forget.

I published my first post for A Dickens of a Christmas - Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding.

There's also a recipe for 
Easy Spanish Chicken
And a review of the beautiful and historic

Breadsall Priory
Hope you are having a great week! Watch this space for a review of my visit to the Country Living Christmas Fair and Masterchef Live as well as more recipes and inspiration!

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Dickens of a Christmas

"...Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course-and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurray!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't at it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone - too nervous to bear witness-to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose-a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered-flushed, but smiling proudly-with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly struck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
At last dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put on the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed:
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"
Which all the family re-echoed.
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
This holiday season a group of us are planning a Dickens of a Christmas blog hop:
April of21st Century Housewife
Ken of Ken Albala's Food Rant and many, many books about food which you should check out
Heather of Mama O Knits, Craft Lit and the upcoming book What Would Madame Defarge Knit.
Margo of Hat Shadows, a professional milliner for film, theater, opera and ballet. She teaches hatmaking courses so check out her blog!
Sarah of Toronto Tasting Notes
Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Annette of Sustainable Eats
There will be recipes for the traditional foods Dickens wrote of in A Christmas Carol, or found in Victorian England around the holidays. There will be a professional reading of the book. There will be giveaways, themed knitting patterns and quite possibly hats! There may be smoking bishop and suet cooked in organs. And there will certainly be much making of merry.
The blog entries will be rolling out starting this week and culminating Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your holidays in Victorian style.
So please do bookmark all our blogs and add them to your rss feeders. We'll be using the linky below to link all the blog entries for the entire shebang so that you don't miss a single one. We hope you enjoy this as much as we know we will! And we hope that you have a DICKENS OF A CHRISTMAS!

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Busy Friday

There's a lot happening on The 21st Century Housewife today, so please click on the links below the pictures to go and visit.

And if you haven't already, please do check out this week's vlog

Wonderful Monegasque Food
Mediterranean Chicken Casserole
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Caramel Croissant Pudding

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Ecover's New Laundry Range

Ecover’s new laundry range makes it easier and more affordable than ever to be green in the laundry room. Using only sustainable plant-based and mineral ingredients, this new range still delivers great cleaning results - but with some wonderful improvements.

Ecover’s Non-Bio and Bio Powders now have a more concentrated formula, which means a smaller box size and less packaging - but it still delivers the same number of washes because you don’t need to use as much of it. It also performs better, even at 30. Plus, this concentrated formula reduces your cost per wash by twenty-five percent. 
Ecover’s Concentrated Laundry Liquids now offer more washes per 750ml bottle. Presented in a new pearlescent bottle, they still offer exceptional washing results, even at low temperatures.
Created using only plant-based ingredients, Ecover’s gorgeously fragrant fabric softeners are being re-launched in larger 750ml bottles.

The lovely folks at Ecover sent me some of their new laundry range to try for myself, and I was really impressed. I don’t normally use washing powder, preferring to use a liquid, but Ecover’s bio powder performed really well and I was particularly happy with by how little you need to use for great results.

I loved their non-bio concentrated laundry liquid. It has a light lavender fragrance and offers exceptional washing power, even on day to day stains. 

I’m already a fan of Ecover’s fabric softener (particularly the Under the Sun fragrance), so I was very pleased to receive a complimentary bottle. It gives our clothes a lovely fragrance and keeps them nice and soft. I also found the new larger bottle so much more convenient to use.

Even better, prices start at just £1.79 for these new products, making it easy to be green, even on a budget. With their new laundry range, Ecover have definitely taken a good thing and made it even better!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Great Tips from Love Cooking

Tuesday I headed to the Royal Festival Hall in London for the Love Cooking Festival. There was a great lineup of celebrity chefs, I had a front row seat, and I was ready to be inspired.

The Festival was structured so that each hour long demonstration was interspersed with an hour or hour and a half break, with book signings and things in between. It was seriously cool to watch the demonstrations at such close quarters. Although the Royal Festival Hall theatre is quite big, the way it is designed makes it fairly intimate and I was so close I ended up with an aching neck from looking up at the stage!

Presenters included Ainsley Harriott, Gino D’Acampo, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, Rick Stein, Oz Clark, Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix. All the demonstrations were excellent, and I learned so much.

Highlights included:-

Richard Corrigan of Corrigans Mayfair highlighting the wonderful vegetables available this time of year and saying, “A great meal doesn’t have to involve meat”. Yay!! Finally a mainstream restauranteur from a top notch restaurant acknowledging that vegetables can and should take centre stage!

Learning how to cook grouse - although I am unlikely to eat it, knowing how to cook a game bird is a handy skill to have here in England.

Gino D’Acampo’s demonstration of how to make homemade pasta which convinced me that it is something I might actually be able to do. His recipe was so straight forward - for every 100 grams of flour, you need one egg and a bit (looked like just short of a tablespoon to me) of olive oil. That’s it. He then effortlessly forked it all together and kneaded it, put it in the fridge for half an hour and ran it through the pasta machine to make mezza luna pasta. I only just restrained myself from buying a pasta machine during the break.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Spade! Fork! Spoon! presentation, using seasonal, ethical, local meat and produce.

Ainsley Harriott’s fantastic Soul Food demonstration, using many of his late mother’s recipes, interspersed with his memories of her. He made five wonderful tropical recipes, including a hot fruit dessert with coconut rum. Oh, and there was a bit of singing too...

Rick Stein’s demonstration not only of how to cook seafood, but how to prepare it as well. Although I’m unlikely to buy a whole squid, at least if I am confronted with one I do know how to prepare it - and I think I might actually be able to skin a fish fillet now too!

My only complaint was that, despite many of us being on ‘day tickets’ which included all the demonstrations, the organisers structured all the warm ups and advertisements for each demonstration as a single entity. After seeing the advertising tape for the fifth time before the last show, the apple expert and the prawn expert twice each, I was more than a little bored and could have recited the sponsor list by myself. The actual demonstrations made up for it though.

It was an excellent day out, and I’m looking forward to using my new skills in the kitchen. Now I just have to buy me a pasta machine...

Elle Magazine's Website Makeover

Elle Magazine in the UK have given their website a makeover, with new Fashion, Style and Shop sections. Fashion features Elle’s take on What to Wear, Style provides lots of inspiration on How to Wear It and Shop makes it easy to source the latest fashions. These three new sections are in addition to the already rich library of regularly updated content on Elle’s UK site.  There’s also loads of interesting video content on the Elle TV link including a behind the scenes look at Alexa Chung’s latest cover shoot.

The site is well laid out, easy to navigate and a great way to find out what’s new in the world of fashion. It’s a wonderful free resource for both established and wannabe fashionistas, and even if you are only window shopping the latest trends, it’s well worth a look.

Catching Up Again on the 21st Century Housewife

Delicious Blueberry Squares
For my contribution to some of this week's recipe swaps, please click here to go to my main site.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Meatless Monday and Marriage Monday

Please do click on the links below the photographs to visit my main site for my the Meatless Monday recipe for this week (which I have linked up to three great Meatless Monday recipe carnivals) 

Yorkshire Puddings
and my contribution to Marriage Monday at Chrysalis Cafe

My Marriage Monday post