Festive Indulgence

Christina here. The holidays are over for most of us and it’s time to return to normal and go back to work. It can be hard at first to get into our everyday routines, but it helps if we can still allow ourselves a little festive indulgence now and then. It wouldn’t have been Christmas without lots of candy and sweets, and perhaps, like me, you have some left over? My favourites are always of the chocolate variety, and this year I was lucky enough to receive several gorgeous boxes, which I haven’t quite emptied yet.

The most beautiful ones were these praline and ganache selection boxes from Fortnum & Mason in London. I would have bought those for the boxes alone! (And I’ll be keeping them once they are empty). Another gorgeous treat was a gift from a friend – Christmassy chocolates that tasted as good as they looked! I’m not usually one for complicated chocolates though, and it wouldn’t be the festive season for me without some Ferrero Rochers. I don’t need them stacked into a fancy pyramid, the way they’re shown in adverts on TV, but I do insist on them being kept in the fridge as they taste much better cold! Finally, in our family it’s tradition to eat Terry’s Chocolate Orange this time of year, and I confess that several of those were consumed during the last two weeks. Simple, but oh so delicious!

I used to make chocolate toffee every year, following a recipe handed down from my grandmother, but I didn’t have time so it will have to wait for next Christmas. Probably just as well as I think I have enough to be getting on with – this lot will fuel my writing for the next few weeks!

Do you have any favourite chocolates or other sweets that you just have to have this time of year? And are there any left for you to enjoy now? Recipes welcome if they are home made!

A Grand Adventure

Brussels streetChristina here. Have you ever travelled somewhere without any expectations whatsoever, just willing to go with the flow, explore and see what you find? That’s exactly what I did the weekend before last. Yes, I have been out travelling yet again – lately it feels as if I live out of suitcase permanently! – but this time it wasn’t for research or family purposes. My husband, elder daughter and I wanted to go to a specific concert which happened to be held in Brussels in Belgium. So we decided to take the opportunity to have a long weekend there to see the sights. Who wouldn’t?

I had never been there, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was kind of freeing to not have an agenda or a lot of “must-see” items on the itinerary. I speak passable French and wasn’t worried about making myself understood, but I had no idea whether it would just feel like being in France or if Brussels was very different. It turns out it’s fairly unique.

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Ask A Wench About Chocolate!

Stencil.default (1)Nicola here, with this month's Ask A Wench. It’s US National Choose your Chocolate Day (but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t join in, right?) So here on the Wenches, we decided to chat about our relationship with chocolate. Is it a love story or a break up story? How long have we known chocolate for and how has our relationship with chocolate developed? 

Christina: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know what chocolate was – it’s my main vice, the one thing I don’t think I could give up! As a child, I Guldnougat remember eating something called ‘Guldnougat’, which was basically a chocolate bar that was a mixture of milk chocolate and hazelnut paste (this is usually called Gianduja in the UK). It was incredibly messy to eat as it tended to melt when clutched in a small warm hand, but I adored it. Swedish chocolate on the whole is delicious, especially anything made by the most famous brand Marabou. Personally, I prefer the types without anything added other than nuts, but they have just about every flavour under the sun.

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Ask A Wench – Easter Traditions

Christina here with this month’s Ask A Wench. As it’s Good Friday today, I thought I would ask the Wenches what their favourite Easter tradition is, or whether they have any favourite Easter ornaments or decorations? Turns out they have quite a few of both!

Easter+bonnetPat:  When I was a kid, hats were a big deal on Easter. I LOVE hats. I have difficult hair and hats covered a multitude of sins. I could make a statement with hats. Of course, as a kid, it was my mother’s statement, but hats were cool. These days, I wear hats anytime I like, and I don’t need to take them to church on Easter.

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Comfort Food!

by Mary Jo

Baklava 2In complicated times, we need our comfort foods!  What foods and drinks do you reach for when you need soothing?

Nicola is first:

I’ve been a comfort eater ever since I was a teen and over the last couple of years my eating did rather spiral out of control as a result of all the stresses in the world, macro-sized ones and personal challenges. One bag of crisps became an entire family sized bag I had to myself and the same went for chocolate. When I realised that I needed an entirely new set of clothes to accommodate me and my eating habit, I realised I had to stop.

So I signed up for a programme to help me change my mindset towards food. It wasn’t a diet because it didn’t need willpower, which was good because I don’t have any when it comes to eating. Instead it sort of reset my attitude towards food. So the brilliant thing about it is that I can still eat all the lovely comfort foods I enjoy – cheese and onion crisps, chocolate mini-eggs, hot buttered toast – but as treats rather than in huge quantities. And I’ve discovered the comfort of eating stuff that’s actually good for me: luxury jacket potatoes, lovely rich casseroles in winter.

But when it comes to the ultimate in comfort food then I seek out baklava. For those who haven’t yet discovered it, baklava is a layered filo pastry dessert filled with chopped nuts (my favourite being pistachios), sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. When it’s warm the filo pastry is all soft and gooey with the honey mixture, and the spices are subtle and delicious. You can cut it into square pieces to eat as sweet treats – as large or small as you like. It’s scrumptious and there’s a wonderful recipe for it here:

 

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