Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sugar & Spice

Since moving to Finland, I think I understand the importance of Christmas much better. I'm not talking about religious references and meaning now, rather about the fact, that in the midst of this dark and cold wintertime we all need something to look forward to. At least for me, it's energizing and motivating to plan for Christmas, or even just dream about what kind of food we could have, how to decorate the apartment and what kinds of crafts to make and Christmas cards to send.

One of my favourite companions during these daydreams has been this:

(picture via

It really is a great book packed full of food, Nigella's cooking philosophy, decorating ideas and beautiful pictures. I'm aware that not every body is a great fan of Nigella's, but I am and I think this book is one of her best. Although I love the sparseness and simple photography of Feast, this one is just perfect for Christmas with all its eye candy. (The cover shown above makes me wonder if its digitally remastered, though ... On my version Nigella is holding a tray of oven potatoes, much more fitting, I think ...)

One of my favourite sections of the book is the one about edible presents. So this year I decided to follow some of the instructions. First, I made the Christmas-Spiced Salt, because it is easy to prepare, looks pretty and will last long.

I added some ribbon and some cute Cath Kidston stickers and it looks really cute, I think. I made five jars of this. The great thing about this is also, that one could easily come up with recipes of one's own and mix in spices according to one's own taste (or cupboard contents ...).

I also made the Vanilla Sugar, for the same reasons as above.

These jars are a bit bigger, I made three of them and because they are so pretty already, kept the decoration to a minimum. Now I'm thinking about what I could make next. I'd like to try some steeped fruits and also spiced olive oil. Some biscotti presented with a bottle of dessert wine would also be a nice present, I think. What I like about these presents is that I can prepare them in advance at my own pace at home. I think the preparation for Christmas is more than half the fun and this year these presents are part of it.

Another part, of course, is decorating. In our house the rule is that the Christmas decorations can come out on the first Advent Sunday, so this Sunday we started to decorate and will add the rest of our ornaments little by little.

I'm also working on adding to our inventory by making these. So much fun, but really slow going!

The village above was a present to us by my father-in-law some years ago. I think it's this one. Anyway, the manufacturer is Konstsmide. It has two light settings, one is a dim glow and the other a technicolor blinking riot. It rocks!


The Muse of The Day said...

For us, Christmas is all about the getting ready for it. It is when the magic happens. There are times when it all overwhelms me and exhausts me, but I just don't pay much attention to the overload feelings. I just keep right on trekking because I know this preparing time is what Christmas memories are made of. I like the idea of the Christmas salts. This is a great gift idea that I could make no matter what else is going on. We have only just begun decorating. All the "smokers" are out and so are my girl's shoes. If the sun comes out, I will photograph them and post about it so that you can see. I enjoyed the post. Carolina

Kirsty@Bonjour said...

You're right, by the time you've built up to and enjoyed Christmas/New Year, you've made it through a good chunk of winter. The decorating is great fun, we have the tree up and a few houses (not a village like you, sadly) which light up. Had to put everything up high this year though, destructo-baby is trying his best to get at it all. I won't be surprised if I find glitter in his diapers for the next few weeks! Enjoy your preparations!