Monday, 15 January 2018

Winter Drinks

I've done a couple of posts on summer drinks in the past, so I thought it would be good to do one on winter drinks. :)

Summer is my favourite seasons and I love iced coffee (and drink it year round!) but hot drinks are good too. Winter will last for a couple of months or so yet and then the nights still tend to be chilly during spring, so these drinks will also be nice for early spring. (I do still like them in summer if it's not too hot).

As I mentioned in my post on getting ready for winter, I'm not a big fan of this time of year, but I do always hope that we'll get some snow because we don't get it very often here in South East England. All we've had in my area so far was some light snow one morning that had melted by the afternoon. It has been warmer latelly but colder weather and Arctic winds are on their way! Weirdly I saw some daisies in the park last week and thought I saw some daffodils today! I don't think they will last though because it's  getting cold. Daffodils normally come out around my birthday at the beginning of March, so it's really quite early for them. Anyway, here are the drinks. :)


Cocoa

My favourite type of cocoa currently is Cadbury's Bournville cocoa (I'm also really into the bars as well!). It's dark chocolate, so more bitter than milk choc, but with milk and sugar it can still taste quite sweet. I get mixed up between cocoa and drinking chocolate sometimes, but I think the difference is that cocoa is a powder whereas hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate that's blended with milk etc. You can read more about the difference here: https://www.thespruce.com/hot-cocoa-vs-drinking-chocolate-3971361

It does get confusing though because Cadbury's drinking chocolate which I also like, is a powder as well. Maybe it varies depending on the country? Anyway, I'll do separate entries for them here. :)

If you fancy making your own cocoa, here's a recipe: http://afiremanswife.com/2016/11/23/homemade-hot-cocoa/

It's saved on my Pinterest Recipes To Make board and I haven't got round to making it yet, but it looks good. It's made with Nesquik.




Hot chocolate

As I mention above, Cadbury's is my fave hot chocolate. I also really like Hans Sloane drinking chocolate which I discovered the other year. That is different to cocoa because it's chocolate beads that melt when you mix them with hot milk.

Starbucks do hot chocolates. I haven't tried one but it's going on my list of things to try! Here's their menu: https://www.starbucks.co.uk/menu/drinks/hot-chocolates-and-other-drinks

And so does McDonalds. I had one before Christmas as and although it wasn't as nice as others I've had, I did like it.You can find it on their McCafe menu: https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/menu/mccafe.html

If you'd prefer to make your own hot chocolate, here are a few recipes:

Sam Stern's recipe for hot chocolate I made in 2014: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/chocolate-drinks.html

Ellie from Nashville Wife's crockpot hot chocolate that I made a year ago (if you don't have a crockpot slow cooker like me, you can put the chocolate mix in a Pyrex dish on top of a saucepan or something similar): http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/hot-chocolate.html

French hot chocolate (haven't made this but it looks good, it's dark chocolate): https://www.wellplated.com/french-hot-chocolate/




White hot chocolate
 

I first made this nearly 4 years ago bu it didn't come out that well for me. It was probably because I don't have a slow cooker, so just made it it the pan. If I did it again I'd probably use the method I did for the crockpot hot chocolate (see above). Here's a link to my post about it: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/white-hot-chocolate.html


At the weekend I made some more white hot chocolate and it came out a lot better. It was simpler for me because you don't need a slow cooker and there's no whippng cream, so it's less ingredients (just milk, white chocolate chips and vanilla essence). Find the recipe here: https://lusciousmeals.blogspot.com/2017/01/homemade-white-hot-chocolate.html


And here's a pic:


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

White Chocolate Christmas Cake + New Year Biscuits

I normally post on Sundays or Mondays but since this year those days were New Year's Eve and New Years Day, I'm posting today instead. :)

For Christmas I made a white chocolate Wonderland cake. The recipe is from British blogger and YouTuber Tanya Burr's book Tanya's Christmas. The recipe was featured in OK! magazine. I can't actually find the recipe online but here are a couple of other white chocolate cake ones:

http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/easiest-ever-white-chocolate-fudge-cake/

 http://www.bakewithstork.com/recipes/white-chocolate-cake-with-strawberries

The Wonderland cake has white chocolate in the sponge but not in the icing itself, that's just buttercream. I think the second recipe is a bit more similar to it than the first one. The recipe has white chocolate stars on top but I just grated some on top and added hundreds and thousands. It was quite nice, although I think it got better a couple of days later. I baked it on Christmas Eve and did the icing on Christmas Day. Here's a picture:


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Yule 2017

It was Yule last Thursday (21st Dec). As I said in my Yule Celebrations Ideas post, I had a chocolate Yule log. It was from Sainsbury's this year and was nicer than it was the last time I had it. Last year's was from Asda. Here's a picture:



Sunday, 17 December 2017

Yule Celebration ideas




For Samhain last year I started a series of posts of sabbat celebration ideas. I thought I'd done one for Yule but it seems I haven't! Never mind, since Yule is coming up on Thursday (21st Dec) I'll do one this year. :) In 2016 I included some information about the origins of  Father Christmas in my Yule post. You can read that here: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yule-2016-origins-of-father-christmas.html

Yule aka the Winter Solstice or Midwinter comes during the "dark time" of the year but it's also a turning point, because after the shortest day and longest night on Yule itself, the days gradually get longer and lighter again. (We won't see much of a difference for a few weeks though). Solstice literally means "Sun stands still". It's about the rebirth of light and is a fire festival. Its counterpoint is Litha aka the Summer Solstice or Midsummer and if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, your Litha is coming up. In that case you might like this post on Litha celebration ideas: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/baking-no-yeast-dinner-rolls-and.html

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Getting Ready for Winter




We're now moving out of autumn and into winter. Although winter doesn't "officially" begin until Yule/the Winter Solstice around 22nd December (it's the 21st this year) the seasons do run together and it's starting to feel more wintry. It's definitely gone colder, especially at night and some parts of the UK have had snow. (None in Sussex yet!). It was 9 degrees Celsius (48F) here today and at the end of the week and next weekend it's supposed to drop to 1 and 0 degrees at night. It gets a bit confusing though because 1st December is thought of as "meteorological winter" while around 21st Dec is called "astronomical winter". You can read more here: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/is-december-1-the-first-day-of-winter/

Monday, 13 November 2017

Bonfire Night Parkin + Fireworks

The weekend before last was Bonfire Night (Sunday 5th November) and as I mentioned in my Hallowe'en/Samhain 2017 post I was planning to make parkin. It's a traditional Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night recipe (it's more popular in the north of England) and I'd been intending to make it for several years! lol. I used a recipe that I normally pin on my Pinterest Seasonal board at this time of year. Here's the link: http://www.chocolateandbeyond.co.uk/2012/10/yorkshire-parkin.html

It's a vegan recipe so doesn't have any eggs. (I'm not vegan but I thought this recipe was good, so used it). I only remembered the day before about making this on Bonfire Night itself and luckily I already had all the ingredients in, so didn't have to rush out and get any, lol. I used ordinary milk instead of soya, so my version is not actually vegan. Here's a pic:




Sunday, 5 November 2017

Hallowe'en/Samhain 2017

For Hallowe'en/Samhain last Tuesday (31st Oct) I celebrated by making some food and drink. I did my usual Demon's Blood drink and the potato salad I've made the past two years (the recipe is from The Kitchen Witch book by Soraya but I did it with chives and spring onion instead of rosemary). I also made a Mexican milk drink called horchata, the recipe is from my Llewellyn Sabbats Almanac book.

I had a pumpkin, some pumpkin candles, the pumpkin container/lantern with a tealight in from other years and knitted ghost decorations. There were also orange and green candle and I lit a white one for my girl cat who died in January. (A Samhain tradition you can do is light a candle for any relatives, friends or pets that have passed away in the past year. :) Here's a picture of the pumpkin:

This year's pumpkin.