Tuesday, 8 December 2009

a country mouse makes gingerbread men

At last I have finished the garland of gingerbread men I embarked on two weeks ago. I'm really happy with them, despite the various lumps and bumps and the fact that they do not bear close examination from behind, but then who does. They were easy to make and although it did get a little old by gingerbread man number 3, I thought of Delia and her wise words when making christmas pudding crackers out of filo pastry, "Yes, it is fiddly. But look, it's done now." The cute little robin decoration beside them was a present from a good friend who knows my weakness for robins. We went to two Christmas fairs at the weekend and Little R visited two of Santa's Helper Santas (bit of quick thinking required there). I found a really great bag on one of the craft stalls. The lady who made it makes all kinds of things out of vintage interior designers' fabric. I had never heard of her work but I think I'll be buying more. If you like the look of it, her website is http://www.refashionedwithlove.com/. My bag was only £5 and it is really special in its provenance and is very well made. You can also see Little R's new bag and sweetie watch in the photo. Her bag is so cute. It has a furry ponyskin patterned fleece on the back and was only £1 in the good old charity shop. She carries her wee purse in it and these days there is considerably more money in her purse than there is in mine.
Today we had another of those cosy kitchen afternoons that I love so much. This time we made soda bread with spelt flour from a recipe on the Cottage Smallholder blog at http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/. It's real, proper soda bread with a good hard crust. It's delicious and I'll definitely be making it again. My usual recipe uses natural yoghurt but this one used buttermilk and cream of tartar.
Even Little R ate it. Next time I will put less salt in though, so that I can feel happier about her eating it. These days all she will eat for dinner is plain pasta with parmesan. I put corn or peas or sprouts in as well and she'll usually eat that without comment, and she does eat lots of fruit, but there is very little protein going in other than the odd egg for breakfast. She's even saying yuck to the homemade chicken nuggets. I think it may be a reaction to all the cooking I've been doing over the last few months. She did one day say to me, very firmly, "No more recipes for dinners, please." Perhaps this is the direct action approach now, the talks having failed.
Below is Little R's play dough version of the soda bread. Play dough is such great stuff and it's very easy to make. We got this recipe at her playgroup. Each week a different mum would be responsible for making and bringing the playdough and on more than one occasion a forgetful mum (me) had to run round to the shops for the ingredients and whip up a quick batch in the playgroup kitchen. You need 2 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of salt (to stop the little savages eating it), 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and some food colouring. Boil it all together, stirring all the time, until it makes a ball. It takes about 2 minutes of stirring at the most. Store in clingfilm in the fridge. Other than the perennial favourite, the cardboard box, it has to be one of the cheapest and most fun toys there can be. We're all about the value for money here at Country Mouse Towers.
I'll leave you with a happy thought: Kirstie's Homemade Christmas, Wednesdays, 8pm, Ch4.


  1. How cute are those gingerbread men! Adorable!

  2. Great new bag. What a fun idea with the gingerbread men. Enjoyed todays read.

  3. Your gingerbread men have turned out well. Love the bag, brilliant for a fiver. I also love soda bread - any left? I bet it's delicious toasted and coated with a nice thick layer of salted butter mmmmm!

  4. Your bag is wonderful and I love the gingerbread men. Thank you for you lovely comments on my blog! suzie. xxx

  5. Your gingerbread men are very cute along with Little R's bag. As for the homemade play dough, well, I remember that as a child, it was smelly stuff!

  6. I love cosy kitchen afternoons; we baked two kinds of biscuits yesterday - so much fun; little one made a ferrari and a giant (Willy, Wolly ? from the Mickey mouse playhouse). He ate them both as soon as they were out of the oven!
    Your gingerbread men look great!
    Thanks for the kind words on my blog!

  7. I've had a kitchen cosy day today. My Niece comes home from uni today and have made some of her favourites, including fudge and baked a loaf.

    Your loaf by the way looks gorgeous.

  8. Hello Country Mouse, found you by way of the Blogland Christmas party... I've been meaning to make the Playdoh for my gkids, but havne't had the chance yet! As for your blurry top photo, I've had the same problem and wondered if it's the camera (Kodak 4.0 Mega Pixel). I think it's me--found that if you don't have the proper light-- flash not on--the pics tend to be blurry, or else getting too close with the 'close-up' setting. I also understand that 4.0 is very outdated, but no $ at the moment to purchase another, higher pixel. Someday! Anyway, nice to visit your blog, will take a snoop around!