::taking a figurative hammer and hitting the holiday project:: Get! Into! Shape!
I should do that to myself. I haven’t worked out in 2 weeks. I haven’t walked either. It is super crappy. It’s like Portland, Oregon weather over here, grey and dull and depressing.
We mostly have two seasons: awful heat and gloom. We are in the gloom phase. At least when there is snow on the ground, it helps. There is no snow. There is no cold. We have windrows open and I’m wearing bike shorts.
However! Mod R sent me a holiday parcel and there was Fortnum and Mason Holiday Tea in it. I’m drinking it right now. Yes, I opened a Christmas present early. Leave me alone, it’s been a hard couple of weeks.
I am supposed to report on the condition of the stained cutting board.
You probably can’t see it in the pic, because the light isn’t great, but it’s still stained in the top right corner. After trying anything and everything, I was going to throw it away, but it’s my battle buddy. I kept it.
Somebody asked about the cranberry sauce recipe. It’s basic and no big whoop. 1 lb of cranberries, washed, 1/4 cup apple juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, grate a bit of zest in there, and add about 1/2 cup of sugar and a splash of honey. I’m trying to watch my sugar intake, so this sauce is a bit more sour. If you want to sweeten it, increase sugar to 1 cup. Bring everything except cranberries to boil, cook until stuff has dissolved and formed a uniform solution, add cranberries, turn the heat to low, simmer for 15 minutes. Don’t cook longer than that or it won’t gel.
Now for Christmas, I stick frozen cherries and blue berries in there, increase everything a little bit to account for additional berries, and serve that.
Well, I am going to vacate the premises, because Mod R has actual substantial post and updates to go. Also, I am supposed to remind you to please haunt the blog during the week of 16th, when the Innkeeper releases. We have stuff we want to show you, and we don’t want you to miss it. Stay tuned.
Ahhh! Holiday tea! My favorite is Stash Christmas in Paris.
I hope your weather improves and if it doesn’t, I hope the tea helps! Tea helps everything!
Ooo I love several Stash teas. Will look for this one to try.
Kat in NJ says
My daughter loves Stash Breakfast in Paris…I’m going to have to find their Christmas in Paris for her! Thank you, I didn’t know they made that!
Dear Ilona. Thanks for the recipe. Looking forward to tasting it.
Cutting boards are supposed to look battle scarred, so fight on!
We always haunt the blog. Always.
Lol! Same here. But now I’m really excited. 🙂
Seriously, my immediate reaction was: When do we *not* haunt the blog?
Amy R says
Martha Christina says
So very true…
Mary Kate Birge says
Thanks, Ilona! I will try out your cranberry sauce recipe this Christmas! Best wishes for a better day tomorrow!
Colleen Whitley says
a splash of red wine or port when cooking the cranberries down is very good too.
Fortnum and Mason! One of my favourite stores!!! The other one is Marriages Frere but I don’t know if they have holiday teas. (I’m partial to Wedding Imperial which is a chocolate black tea).
Haunt? I thought we were only mostly dead, not completely dead?
Sorry, couldn’t help myself. 🙂
I preferred to minor stalking the blog page, in a clearly non-creepy way.
Click Blog Link – scans – anything new? No? whimpers and checks back throughout the day.
If yes, like right now, squeees loudly (except today as the college kiddo is still sleeping in the next room) and speed reads the post!
Enjoy your holiday tea!
+1. It’s the first place I go when I boot up my computer, and again when I get up to get a drink, or go to the WC, or …. you get the picture. In a clearly non-stalkery way. 😍
It’s the last place I go before I log off, as a reward for getting all the other stuff done.
Re: sweetners. I drink straight cranberry juice (when needed) and add liquid Stevia instead of sugar. Works really well. You’d probably have to experiment but might be worth a shot. I’m going to try the version you posted with cherries and blueberries. Sounds delicious.
Being told to Haunt? Aye Aye! We’ll be here – of that I’ve no doubt!
Hope you have a change in the weather soon. We’re into the dark driving to work, dark driving home from work stage, if it wasn’t for break time duty outside, I’m not sure I’d see the Sun (North facing Lab, so no sun comes in, just general light!)
Thomas Coakley says
I think Portland is delightful even when a bit damp and foggy.
Cannot wait for the next innkeeper novel. Reread all the books, then purchased all the graphic audio and listened. Didn’t time it well as I finished two days ago and have a week before the release.
Of course we will blog haunt, it’s a basic requirement for any member of the BDH!
BDH- Blog Haunt Devotees!
I left Austin TX for Washington state, near Seattle. There’s snow on the ground and the only exercise I can motivate myself to do is shovel enough to get the car out. I miss the gloom of Texas, where at least you can wear shorts during it. So… trade ya!
And yes, we always always haunt the blog. Keep up the good work.
I hear you on the gloom. I’ve been lethargic for weeks now. I could never move to the pacific northwest. I’m so happy I took the time to walk yesterday during our short splash of sunshine!
I think you are allowed to enjoy your tea!! And the cutting board doesn’t look too bad, given your previous description of the stain at any rate. Since I stalk the blog daily ( just in case!), you can count on me next week hehe!
I`m never far from this blog 🙂 . Thank you for all the good you bring into my life!
<3 looking forward to it! Glad you kept the battle buddy cutting boards. Sometimes nice things make gloomy times easier.
Thanks for sharing! Recipe sounds yummy! Battle buddy!
Even stained – I’d keep the board. It’s come too far with you! The stain adds character 🙂
You’re Cranberry Sauce isn’t too far off from mine. 12 oz fresh cranberries (rinsed), 1/2 cup of juice (apple, orange or combo depending on what I have on hand – pineapple would likely be fine as well), 1/4 c. of maple syrup or honey, 2 cinnamon sticks & 6 cloves (put cinnamon sticks & cloves in cheesecloth or tea bag – which I have on hand for loose leaf tea). Simmer until most of the berries are burst. Cool and refrigerate. I like mine with a bite – if you like it sweeter, add some sugar, agave, or more honey\maple syrup.
I’ll sometimes put some citrus zest in if I have some on hand. It’s really versatile!
Patricia Schlorke says
Enjoy the tea.
I know all about the gloom. At least the DFW area is getting peeks of sunlight. However, the clouds will come back with rain (which we desperately need right now).
After the lake affect snow I drove through going to northern Indiana at Thanksgiving, the gloom is fine with me even though it doesn’t feel like the holidays weather wise. 🙂
*Peeking at the blog to see if there are new posts.*
Portland had snow this week!
Debbie B. says
Am anticipating something wonderful for my Dec. 16th B-Day from The Author Royalty …The teasers, all but have me mentally drooling! GRIN
Judy Schultheis says
I’m a nativeborn Oregonian, so I don’t think our weather is gloomy. On the other hand, I spent 25 years in Los Angeles, so I do understand how other people would.
I hope the tea makes you feel better. And I’m glad you kept the cutting board.
Tea is always a fine, relaxing break.
Will try your recipe; mine is simpler (no cooking): 1 lb cranberries (chopped up), 10-12 oz rasberries (fresh or frozen), 1 lg granny smith apple (peeled and chopped small); 1/3 cup orange marmalde; 4-6 packets of artificial sweetner.
Mix well (easiest done in a 1-gallon sealable bag). Refridgerate until served. Also goes well over icecream, apply pie, and in hot cereal.
Debbie B. says
Oh! Wanted to suggest Ceylon Cinnamon, to aid in ‘sweetening’: some attribute cinnamon to reducing sugar impact on the body, and Ceylon type is the best, least amount of coumarin content.
Enjoy the tea. I have been making lists and just getting things done in bite sized chunks. We got a break from the much appreciated rain and the sky is just beautiful. We get a lot of blue sky but not always that crisp clean blue.
Gaëlle from France says
Is that a yellow pepper in a bouquet of dried flowers ? Is that a thing that exists, lol ?
Moderator R says
That’s a pumpkin 😀
Gaëlle from France says
Thank you, Mod R, it makes so more much sense… huh, well…
Yes, there are bell peppers that ripen yellow and orange as well as red.
However, ModR is correct – that is a pumpkin. (Though it’s also probably plastic, since the surface looks shiny.)
Gaëlle from France says
Oooh no, I did not mean the yellow pepper, I eat enough of it to be familiar with it. It is the place it was places upon that seems peculiar. But it is cute. Weird, but cute. So weirdly cute.
Steph D says
I use orange juice and vanilla to help cut the sour in my cranberry sauce, despite cutting the sugar called for in half. Don’t forget a teensy, tiny pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt to bring it all together.
As I am sharing the Texas weather here in Houston, I can affirm the description.
Gloomy – for weeks it’s been gloomy. A half-day of partly cloudy here and there, but I’m about 150 miles from central Texas. We get incursions of wind off the Gulf that have given us some respite from the clouds.
And warm – I’m not wearing shorts, because I’m 73 years old and *don’t* wears shorts any more. I am running the AC, because it’s good to keep the machinery lubricated and the cats will leave if I open the windows. (They are indoor cats, but nosy about what’s on the other side of those doors. And, no I don’t have screens. The HOA has banned them for some reason.)
Thank you for the update on the cutting board. I have always felt like a certain amount of wear adds to the interest of wood pieces. As long as it won’t be health hazard, a stain that one has to look for seems, if not a plus, at least not a big minus.*
Heading to ModR’s post now. Thanks for letting us know how things are going.
*Opinion – worth every penny you paid for it.
That is so strange that they banned screens. I like to have my windows open, when weather permits, but couldn’t do it without screens. I’m usually amazed by some of the things that I hear about HOA@ls though.
🤦♀️ That was supposed to be HOAs. I didn’t proofread. Kiddo needed attention.
Christine Hunt Blouke says
Please consider using a sander/ sanding block on your bamboo board. That will get rid of the knife marks and the stain. Because, Bacteria can linger in the grooves. Advise from my Son The Nurse. Joyful Holidays!
So there is a stain on it. So what. Sooner or later it happens. It is a like a battle scar. It shows you are really cooking and not ordering food every day.
Though once every year or two (less when I’m cooking for other people, but I’m living alone so my gear is getting less of a work out) I have a spa day for all of my wood things, and rub them heavily with beeswax and mineral oil, leave them to soak it in for some time, and then wipe off the excess.
And once I sanded a bamboo cutting board down (because someone *put it through the dishwasher*). Oh, and once I, uh, strongly encouraged a friend to sand down, rub with steel wool, and then wax my freestanding maple bread board. It was new. I’d told her not to cut things on it. She did anyway, and left marks. So, it was kind of mean, I guess? But… well. It was a resolution that worked.
I recently fell in love with raspberry blossom honey. It has a different sweetness that I enjoy adding to recipes. If you have never tried different honeys to discover how differently they taste, it might be fun for you to do so.
Moderator R says
Oh that sounds YUM! I’m a big honaficionado (I’m sure that’s a word).
Recently tried Yucatan honey for the first time and got completely hooked, but I now have a new target! Bzzzzt
Haunt the blog?!? Of COURSE I/we BDHers haunt the blog! Daily, if not hourly. And thanks not only for a great recipe, but wise cooking advice.
Well, I understand the gloomy yuck feel but I will trade you in a heart bit since in Alberta we have gloomy, light snow and frigid weather🥶 (-22oC=-7.6F right now), so definitely no short weather. And yes, a cup of tea or more will do help in these conditions 😉☕
I will not forget to haunt the blog the week of the release (I do anyhow almost every day, after all I am part of the BDH🤣) Thank you Ilona, onto ModR’s entry
Sometimes a gift opened early does wonders. Enjoy, we have cold and wet in Seattle. Hot cocoa and a nice fire and cozy blankets do wonders to enjoying the weather!
Not cranberries today for me. Canning pickles. (6# cukes, 2# onions, 4 1/2c cider vinegar, 3c sugar, 2t turmeric, 2t celery seed, 3T mustard seed.) I’ve been enjoying Yorkshire Gold.
Kat in NJ says
Oooooooh, cherries and blueberries added to cranberry sauce? That sounds amazing!!!!!! I sometimes add a bit of cinnamon and/or allspice to give it a little extra zing for the holidays, but I’m definitely going to have to try the extra berries…thank you for sharing that recipe! 🥰
Joy of Cooking has a killer cranberry sauce recipe. Adore the stuff.
Portlander here. I miss the “typical” winter weather we used to have when I was in high school – bright overcast and at least 0.1 inch of rain spread over the whole day, every day for three months. Now it is unpredictable.
For fun here are the 11 seasons of Portland, Oregon, defined:
Winter (cold rain)
Fool’s Spring (warm rain)
Second Winter (cold rain again)
Spring of Deception (warm dry)
Mud Season (heavy rain)
Wet Spring (intermittent rain)
Dry Spring (warm dry)
Summer (warm to hot, dry)
False Fall (warm rain)
Second Summer (1 week, dry and warm)
Actual Fall (cool rain)
Judy Schultheis says
We have the usual four seasons for the area: Rainy, cold and rainy, warm and rainy, roadwork. It’s been that since I moved to Portland in 1996.+++
Re: cutting board
Pretty sure chef sister told me mayo for some reason?
I tend to check in on the blog once or twice a day, so I look forward to the week of the 16th. We are gray and gloomy today too, but yesterday was sunny and lovely. Maryland has moderate weather (and I say that despite the fact that I hate the heat and humidity of our summers) and we do have a nice change of seasons.
It is full-on gloom season in the Chicago area, too. No snow.
Raspberries are also good in cranberry sauce. The DH started with a recipe from allrecipes, though he’s tweaked it over the years.
New trick this year: he made it in the crock pot. He dumped everything in and turned it on high, keeping it covered. He went down a couple of times to check it and give it a stir. When it was mostly done, but highly watery, I suggested he leave it on warm and uncovered for several hours. That did the trick and it thickened up nicely.
Gloomy and semi-warm for the season here too, though definitely not shorts weather for most people. It’s the kind of day that makes you debate the relative merits of mud vs. ice. At least it’s not windy.
The Gloom has been pervasive in Wisconsin this week, too, and it’s getting to me. While I don’t mind the snow, the days and days of no sun are a real bummer. I’m so excited for the 16th!
We made the cranberry sauce recipe from Kikkoman soy sauce for Thanksgiving. I have always made sweet sauce before, but this was weird and delicious.
Are you familiar with the Cultured Cup in Dallas? It’s a great tea shop. they have proprietary blends and they carry Mariages Freres from Paris. I highly recommend checking out their online store
Heather Bowman-Tomlinson says
Try Lemon Juice and Salt on the cutting board. Worked magic on my old wood floors.
I hope you enjoy your tea! I just got myself more Dragon Pearls Jasmine tea today and I am enjoying getting to drink it again.
I think most of us haunt the blog anyway! Going to make something with cranberries. Your recipe sounds delicious and easy!
Shari Rich-Smith says
I can’t wait for your new book to come out. I already pre-ordered it from Amazon.
ps If you ever want to thrill your fans, tell us what happened to Dina’s parents INN. That would be very exciting.
waves from Portland, Oregon.
Bill G says
“please haunt the blog during the week of 16th” Is this a suggestion that there are some who fail to do so? Heavens to Murgatroyd! Gracious, even!!
Diane E Wilson says
I’m not familiar with Stash teas, but I’m currently enjoying Harney and Sons’ Indian Nimbu. It’s a grapefruit-flavored Darjeeling.
Happy book release and holidays! Looking forward to Sweep of the Heart!
Mmmm! I hear you on the projects. Mine just keep coming, and they are paperworky, bureaucratic un-fun. So yes, I ping the blog multiple times throughout the day.
We’ve actually got rain and cold to go with our gloom, punctuated by blue sky intermissions. Such a relief after relentless drought and sun over the past few years.
Got my Christmas tree today and sent off gift cards to son’s school. Relaxing with Republic of Tea’s Downton Abbey Premium English Rose tea. Hot or cold, it’s sovereign.
Looking forward to book release and other HA treats – thank you!
“Haunt the blog the week of the 16th…” And that is different from my regular haunting of the blog how? 🤣🤣
It has also been gray and depressing here in NC for the past few days. Sigh. but we are at least a little chilly.
I have been burning beeswax candles and enjoying the chilly… though both the gloom and the cold must make being in Moore County, where so many don’t have power right now, extra uncomfortable. (I’m in Chatham.)
oh House Andrews, you are too. Haunt the blog, more than we already do? Is that possible?
M Ellis says
Don’t beat yourself up there is a time for everything.
M Ellis says
Temperatures are warming up in my part of the world Queensland.
Sydney girl says
Yummmm, tea. I grew up in Australia before coffee became the beverage of choice – I think per capita Australians consume more coffee than anywhere else in the world.
My first tea drink was at 6 months old, when I drank the dregs from my mum’s cup (poor mum couldn’t even drink tea in peace).
In our house it was black tea brewed in a pot with tea leaves in the cup. Breakfast – boil the kettle, make a pot. Morning tea – boil the kettle, make a pot. Lunch – boil the kettle, make a pot. Visitors – boil the kettle, make a pot. Always make the assumption that visitors want tea and cake.
These days I love a good chai but I pair it with T2’s Irish breakfast ’cause I still love a good strong cup of tea – loose leaf and brewed in a pot of course.
Sorry for the gray weather. Even in winter, Sydney is usually sunny with vivid blue skies – but today is lovely with highs of 31 degrees C – yes I know, I’m skiting.
Thanks for all the lovely early christmas presents arriving next week, plus the receipt for the cranberry sauce. Will definitely try that out with the turkey this year.
Thank you so much for answering about the cutting board! 🤗 I was really wondering and I’m glad you kept it. Battle scars are worthy scars indeed.
I think you were wise to indulge in the tea early. I’m sure you need it pre-release week! If I thought there might be tea inside a present that I got in the mail, I don’t think I could’ve waited either. 😄
I am trapped in the snow and cold so I envy your rain…and your F&M parcel.
Wishing for happy holidays for all of us.
You never need to tell the BDH to haunt the blog as we are known to refresh multiple times a day… okay maybe that’s just me. 😄
Enjoy your tea and may your holiday project behave!
Joe Ellett says
Fortum and Mason is the best, but hard to get Stateside, especially loose. Williams Sonoma has a few selections, but less every year. I hear London calling.
Peggy Berg says
Try a little Cointreau in your cranberries. Adds a nice flavor, makes it special. Gels less, but lovely.
I hate gloomy weather so I moved to Denver.
We have four seasons: sunny and hot with cool nights, sunny and mild with cold nights, sunny and cold, and then cold/mild/hot/freezing/hot totally at random and changing everyday, but still sunny.
I have a cutting board. it is large enough to put my largest frying pan on and cut a head of cabbage on with no cabbage getting off the board. I have had it for years. It gets slightly warped. I flip it over. It gets stained, I clean it with lemon juice. I got a scotch from a hot pan. That side is down when company is over. My sons find it amusing. They should the eldest is responsible for the scorch. It has history. It still works great.
Maria M. OToole says
So…now we are the HBDH? The Haunting Book Devouring Horde??
REMIND us to haunt the blog! Who do you think you’re talking to, Ilona? LOL! Don’t you know that we track you like wolves after wounded deer?
Sorry, that sounded way less creepy in my head!
It is nearly five in the morning here. I got up to use the bathroom and discovered I don’t feel incredibly crappy for the first time in days (the cough is still annoying, though) and I realized there are (gasp) posts on the blog I haven’t read. Well, sleep can wait for a few minutes as I go to remedy that!
The BDH won’t ever let you be lonely. I’m talking only ONLINE stalking though.
Seasonal depression is a thing. Make sure you care for yourself when you are looking after everyone else.
Love your books!
As for the cutting board, refinish it.
Very easy to do and it’ll look brand new.