I absolutely adore the harvest season holidays: Halloween and El Dia de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) always play a huge part of my life in Ireland. We decorate the house, I make a spooky party for my little Irish niece and nephew and I go crazy with the trick or treat bowl, so the few kids that knock on our door (we live in a very settled old area) go home with real treats, not just shop bought ones!
My back and neck are a little better, the kitchen finally got a good clean and I'm back on my feet after a couple of tough weeks with my neck injury flaring up, my back giving up and the anniversary of my friend John's death all within a few days. I am still not driving, but I am able to type for short periods of time without pain, so to throw some much needed cheer in my life, I decided to finish this post, which was on draft for a few weeks.
This post comes with an apology to my best mate Kate, form The Wild Flour Bakery. Kate really hates cupcakes and if you have been lucky enough to taste her creations, you'll understand why she sees cupcakes as the archenemy of all cakes; I agree with Kate on principle, I find them a bit 1990's and generally uninspiring (with very few exceptions).
I love Christmas, it is my favourite time of the year. Growing up our house was filled with the Christmas spirit: colourful decorations everywhere, a big Christmas tree in the hall full of red, green, gold and silver ornaments and multicoloured lights. The whole house lit up and dressed to spread joy and happiness. Nothing said Christmas as much as mam's kitchen though: full of aromas from all the dishes that she would serve up for family and friends.
Until a couple of years ago, I was totally oblivious to the whole Cinco de Mayo festivities. In most parts of Mexico, it is a day like any other, no big deal. Children in Primary Schools mark the day with a ceremony and secondary schools across the country would have a mention of the day or an assembly, but all in all, it was to me a pretty obscure date on our civic calendar. A couple of years ago I started getting 'happy Cinco de Mayo' cards on the post from my American friends, and that got me thinking...
The very first thing I ever baked as a child was brownies. Mam had gotten the latest gadget in the kitchen at the time: a microwave oven. I can't remember which brand it was but I do remember it was a huge yoke and it came with a recipe booklet. We were all so excited about the oven (don't laugh, this is probably 1981 and the thing could cook/heat food in minutes!). The booklet had a recipe for brownies and although both, booklet and microwave oven are long gone, the brownie recipe remains my favorite.
I know it is a bit too early to be using the big C word, but this year we had winter snow so early that I can't help but feel a little Christmas cheer creeping up into my kitchen! I baked the first batch of mince pies last week. Most of the 12 little jewls are now safetly tucked away in my freezer... I say mostly because a few had to go through my in house quality control check, i.e. Alan had to taste some and make sure they were up to our high standards!
We are building a porch and the front wall at home. It has been four weeks of hell: dust, debris, plaster stains, cement powder, dirty builders' boot marks everywhere, the house is cold and dirty and my kitchen completely uninviting! Everything is covered with a fine layer of dust! Living, or attempting to live, while builders are in your house is a nightmare! One thing I can't get over, is the amount of tea breaks our builders take!