Onion Jam

Onion Jam (or relish or marmalade or whatever you would like to call it) is a staple in our house. We get a bit panicky when we look in the cupboard to find there’s a only a couple of jars left. It’s slathered on everything from toasties and pizzas to dainty canapes and cheese platters. Onion jam is decidedly ugly but if you can get someone to try it, they never look back. Jars of this sticky brown goodness are given to close friends only. The reason being that the recipe requires slicing an absolute shitload of onions. And I could never do that for someone I only liked a little bit.

image

The following is a basic guide to making six jars for your nearest and dearest this Christmas. You can tweak it to your own taste and add extra things like ginger or other spices. Up to you. One hot tip: if you don’t have a wide-mouthed funnel suitable for filling jam jars, then get one. Without it, spooning warm onion jam into glass jars and not making a huge mess, is impossible. You’ve been warned. Maybe ask Santa for one.

Ingredients  (makes 6x 500g jars)

4 kg brown onions (peeled, halved and sliced)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups brown sugar
Small bunch fresh thyme (or one tablespoon dried thyme)
4 cloves
10 ground pepper corns
1 teaspoon salt
Wine – red or white – to drink while you stir and also to top up liquid levels if they get a bit low

To make

There’s no getting around this: you have to peel, halve and slice 4 kilos of brown onions. Just do it and get it over with. Listen to some music. It won’t take as long as you think. Keep the slices on the thickish side. Say around 1cm. No need to get too fussy, you just want some of them to retain a little shape when they’re cooked.

image

Heat the olive oil on a medium-high heat in a thick bottomed stock pot. Add enough onions to fill a quarter of the pot. Fry the onions for about fifteen minutes or until softened and then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir for another ten minutes and then as the mixture collapses and makes more room in the pot, you can start to add the rest of the onions slices. Stir constantly until all the onions have softened. There should be plenty of liquid at this point. Turn the heat down and simmer for the next 2 hours. Stir every now and then and check that there’s enough liquid. This is where you can add some wine if it looks like it’s getting dry.

After 2 hours the onions should be dark, sticky and jammy.

image

Divide into your six sterilised jars (hopefully you’ve been collecting jars for this very reason all year). Tie some tags on them with cute string. And then decide who has been good enough to get one. Merry Christmas.

image

Advertisements

How to: Make a Driftwood Christmas Garland

Festive christmas styling
Christmas styling

This Driftwood Christmas Garland is a simple, elegant decoration included in my Last Minute Christmas Styling ideas for TasMagazine. Here’s how to put together your own…

You’ll need:
2 Star shaped cookie cutters
2 bundles Copper embroidery thread
1 A3 sheet copper cardboard
Needle
Scissors
Ruler
Strong beading thread
4 Pine cones with stems (preferably sun bleached like your driftwood)
A mix of gold beads with matt finish and clear deep green shaped beads
A medium sized piece of driftwood
Sage coloured flat knitting thread

Using found objects and everyday cookie cutters
Using found objects and everyday cookie cutters

Cookie cutter decorations
Wind the copper thread around the sides of the cookie cutter, twisting the thread as you go so it unwinds and lays flat against the cutter. Continue until the whole cutter is covered and tie off the thread. Tie beading thread in a length suitable for your hanging. Repeat for the second star.

Before and after
After and before
Wrap the thread around the cookie cutter
Wrap the thread around the cookie cutter
Completely wrap the cookie cutter until it has a new finish
Completely wrap the cookie cutter until it has a new finish

Paper flowers
Cut the copper cardboard into strips 2cm x 29.7cm (the short length of an A3 sheet). Fold the ends of a strip to meet in the middle. Pierce through the 4 layers of card about a cm off the folded end and thread onto the needle. Keep adding the folded pieces of card onto the needle until you have 7 strips of card (all folded) and then pull the thread through and tie in a knot. Cut the thread off, leaving enough attached to the flower so you can hang it. Fan out the folds until you have a looped circle. Repeat for the rest of the paper strips, each flower will have 7 strips.

Fold the paper strip over
Fold the paper strip over
Thread the folds onto the needle
Thread the folds onto the needle
Fan the folded paper out into the flower shape
Fan the folded paper out into the flower shape

Pine cones
Cut a length of beading thread long enough to suit the hanging length. Tie off one end of the beading thread to the stem of the pine cone. Thread on the first bead and loop it back through to hold it in position down close the pine cone steam. I’ve chosen a semi-random pattern to place my bead in, so add the next beads as you like, remembering to loop back through the first bead after the gaps. Repeat for the remaining pine cones.

Driftwood
Wind the sage thread around sections of driftwood. Tie off each section so the knot is hidden to the back of the branch.

Assembly
You’ll need two hanging points to hang your garland from. Tie 2 lengths of beading thread to each end of your drift wood to suit the distance of the hanging points.

Lay your driftwood on the floor as though it would against the wall. Arrange the decorations in position then tie off to the driftwood, looping the beading thread so the decorations can be repositioned once hung up.

Carefully lift the driftwood with the decorations attached and tie off to your hanging points on the wall. Adjust the positioning of each decoration and when you’re happy with them, tie off and trim the excess thread.

Space the shapes out to suit your driftwood
Space the shapes out to suit your driftwood
Hange the shapes at different lengths
Hang the shapes at different lengths
w_driftwood stars pine cone
When you wish upon a star…

 

Last minute Christmas styling – Featured in TasWeekend Magazine!

Pip's Christmas styling in TasWeekend
Last minute Christmas styling in TasWeekend

I’ve been a little in denial, but it’s well and truly Christmas time. I’m back at my Interior Architecture position, and now with two small children and my own children’s accessory business to manage, Christmas this year has had to be organized on the run.  I love to make sure I’ve selected decor that can be set up the night before and a menu easily prepped ahead of time, leaving me a moment to hang about with Dave and the girls before the excitement of the big day begins. If you missed getting your hands on a copy of TasWeekend Magazine to read about my concepts for last minute Christmas styling in Sally Glaetzer’s article – here’s the low down…

Simple succulents make for an exquisite Christmas centrepiece – Photo by Sam Rosewarne (courtesy of TasMagazine)

Table Styling
Metallics are stunning either as the table feature or accent pieces. I’m especially in love with the metallic paired with soft pastels. For this table setting I’ve brought together classic décor and dinnerware I have at home, with a couple of key feature items.

Classic white damask table cloth layered with a soft grey linen table runner and deep  grey cloth napkins. White dinner plates dressed with a succulent bouquet. Antique silver and bone cutlery and elegant vintage champagne glasses. Keeping it simple but beautiful works for me like including this living wreath as a statement centrepiece. The wreath is created from succulents by Botanical’s Kate Sice and accent table pieces including geometric wire decorations and candles in copper holders from Deb at Grey and Felt.

Christmas Decorations
Found objects and papers are fantastic for creating your own Christmas decorations with. Sparkly metallic papers and card can be used to make simple yet striking ornaments and brighten the soft weathered timbers which add that warmth and texture to any room. This driftwood Christmas wall hanging is an elegant way of using found objects from our local beach with the house hold cookie cutter and some craft supplies. Make your own with the details in my How: to make a driftwood Christmas wall hanging.

Festive christmas styling
Festive christmas styling
Gentle pastels with a hint of metallics make a stunning combination for Christmas decorations Photo by Same Rosewarne (courtesy of TasWeekend)

 

Another contemporary take on the traditonal decorations is Botanical's artichoke and holly wreath. Photo credit Sam Rosewarne
Another contemporary take on the traditonal decorations is Botanical’s artichoke and holly wreath. Photo credit Sam Rosewarne (courtesy of TasWeekend)

w_christmas styling posters

Living Wreath supplied by:
Botanical | 139 Macquarie St Hobart Tasmania | T: +61 03 6223 4445 | enquiry@botanicalhobart.com.au

Copper holders supplied by:
Grey and Felt | 169 Sandy Bay Rd Hobart Tasmania | T: +61 03 6224 9929 | greyandfelt@internode.on.net

Christmas Stockings supplied by:
Pipla | pipla.bigcartel.com | piplastudio@gmail.com | Instagram piplastudio

Gingerbread Men

Nothing screams Christmas like a gingerbread man. They’re a consistently charming and amusing thing to make (and eat) and although I can just about deal with not getting a stocking anymore, I would be heartbroken to have a Christmas without gingerbread.

These ones are not fancy. They’re not even symmetrical. For some reason our family G-man cutter has always had one leg longer than the other and I believe it just adds to their charm.

simple currants and cherry mouth are the cutest
simple currants and cherry mouth are the cutest

We’ve been making this same simple recipe since we were children. Back in the day, decorations were always just glacé cherries and currants. Occasionally some would be hung in the tree and forgotten about but they would still taste good long after Santa had been and gone.

 

If placed into small cellophane bags and sealed tightly with knotted ribbon - these guys will last a couple of weeks at least.
If placed into small cellophane bags and sealed tightly with knotted ribbon – these guys will last a couple of weeks at least.

In more recent years we’ve let our own kids have a go at decorating them which ends up being a bit more… elaborate. They like to add extra eyes and accidental genitals. But for me it will always just be currant eyes, cherry mouth and currant buttons. Simple and sweet. You can pop them into cellophane bags and give them away. Or take a tin of them to work to spread some gingerbread love. They’re charming and they’re easy. I’m not just saying that. They really are.

unnamed (11)

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1 pinch salt

4 tablespoon cinnamon

4 cups plain flour

4 teaspoon ginger powder

 

Method

Cream the butter and sugar

Beat in the eggs

Add golden syrup and mix well

Add dry ingredients and mix well

Roll into three large discs, wrap in cling film then pop in fridge for half an hour to get cold

Roll each disc out to 1/2 inch thickness and use your cutter to cut out the G -men

Place on a baking tray and decorate with whatever you like (joking – you must use glace cherries and currants!)

Bake in a moderate oven for 10 – 12 minutes

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Gingerbread creatures made by G.
Gingerbread creatures made by G.

 

 

The spider-faced G-Man. By Bubby. I feel this is excellent.
The spider-faced G-Man. By Bubby. I feel this is excellent.

Pistachio and Cranberry Christmas Marshmallows

 Its Christmas time!
Pistachio and cranberry christmas marshmallow
d
Its Christmas time!

I love marshmallows. Soft and gooey. Light and fluffy. Melted or baked. Their sickly sweetness is heaven to me. This recipe falls into the firmer, stickier category but the pretty red, white and green colours and subtle infused flavour of minty citrus are are ingrained in my idea of ‘Its Christmas time!’ and is a perfect one for making ahead of time to wow the family with on Christmas day or to include in your gift hampers.

Ingredients
½ cup heavy or thickened cream
2 mint leaves
Zest of one large lemon
4 cups white marshmallows
2 Tbsp pistachios
2 Tbsp cranberries

x
Delicious ingredients

Once the marshmallows are melted, they cool quickly and become very sticky to work with so a few things to prepare before you start the heating process:

Line a 8x8inch container with grease proof paper including up the sides.
Place the pistachios into a food processor and grind to a mix of dust and fine chunks and set aside. Finely chop cranberries and set aside.
Roughly chop the marshmallows and place in a medium saucepan.

Once these things are ready, place the cream, mint leaves and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat gently to a simmer. Immediately turn in down and leave to infuse for a few minutes before straining into the saucepan with the marshmallows. Gently heat stirring constantly until the marshmallows have melted and combined with the cream.

Pour half the mixture into the container. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over, then carefully spoon on the remaining marshmallow mixture. Scatter the cranberries across the top and pop in the fridge to set.

x
Its a great one to do with the kids
x
Sprinkle over the pistachios

Once set, use a knife to help prise the top edge from grease proof paper. Once the top has come unstuck the rest will pull away easily. Slice into squares to serve. Store in an air tight container and cut when ready to serve.

x
Serve on your prettiest plates!
x
Someone’s excited about marshamallows!

In the Guest House: A Festive Christmas Punch

Here is our dear friend, Lozzie, with her deliciously deadly version of a festive Christmas punch. Innocently pink and prettily topped with strawberries. Drink at entirely your own risk – Lex.

A very festive tipple
A very festive tipple

 

I have recently acquired a love of punch – the alcoholic fruit drink popularised by 70’s cocktail parties, usually served in an ugly glass bowl.

It could be a summer love affair, brought on by the warm weather and long days that make me want to conjure up a jug of fruity goodness. Designed for a crowd, it’s like a convenient cocktail, with an element of virtue (you know the antioxidants, of course…) that’s perfect for justifying an afternoon tipple with friends.

Packed with antioxidants (ha)
Packed with antioxidants (ha)

I thought Lex’s recent birthday would be a good opportunity to debut a punch that I’m planning to make Christmas day. Lex was initially quite reluctant to try the punch, however with a little (very little) arm-twisting, she eventually agreed.

A jug was made and glasses were poured.  The tart, fruity and refreshing punch was delicious and deceptively alcoholic.

The following morning Lex described it as “not so much a punch, as a punch in the face”…and I had to agree that splashing the remainder of the 50% Absolut vodka bottle in the jug was probably not the best idea. Maybe don’t drink the punch if you have to be a sensible parent the next morning. Maybe only drink it if your responsibilities are limited to lying around on the couch calling feebly for water and cheese on toast.

It was while watching Room on the Broom with the boys, after a yummy breakfast of turkey and cranberry jaffles, that we decided: for future events involving alcohol this festive season, we would partake of coconut water, vitamins and hydra light powder prior to drinking. Surely, this would serve to balance the health scales and result in no painful hangover effects such as we were currently suffering?

A good plan until Lex tasted the coconut water and declared it to taste like ‘water that has been in someone’s mouth who has been eating coconuts’.

Without further adieu…

Festive Christmas Punch (or Punch in the Face)

1 bottle sparkling rose

1 cup grapefruit juice

½ cup vodka

¼ cup red wine

2 oranges (juiced)

1 cup strawberries

1 cup soda water

Mix liquids in a big jug or other vessel, add orange juice and sliced strawberries. Stir and pour.

Please note:       * If you don’t want a punch in the face, omit the vodka.

* For a tamer version, add more soda water.

Cheers dears
Cheers dears

Be merry!

If you enjoyed this post and want to see more of our daily life then you may want to follow Two Houses on Instagram or Facebook. Subscribe via email (see the side bar) to save you missing out on new posts. Because let’s be honest our website is not very organised and it takes years to find anything. Have a nice day!