Sunday 29 December 2013

Feel Good Food - December 2013 Cranberries Round Up

At the beginning of the month (which seems an age away now!) I asked you to come up with something that was made with cranberries which would fit in with the Feel Good Food philosophy. Thank you to all of you who contributed and commented. Whilst dried cranberries are available all year round remember fresh cranberries can be frozen for some treats later in the year or you may want to bookmark some recipes for making next year.

We kicked off with self-confessed fresh cranberries addict Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes. Taking advantage of a night to herself she whipped up a gorgeous winter salad of Roast Beetroot, Squash, Feta, Lentil and Cranberries. Proving that salads can be for all year round she even had enough for a tasty lunch the next day.
Roast Beetroot, Squash, Feta, Lentil and Cranberry Salad
There was a touch of far away lands in Deena Kakaya's fabulous Christmas gift creation of Plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon. Deena was inspired by some plantain given to her from neighbours and memories of India and St. Lucia.
Plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon
There is a wonderful range of flours and ingredients now for people who are gluten intolerant but as Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary has found not all recipes work. However she has created a winner with her Gluten-free Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Cookies. Very thoughtfully she made these especially for dance instructor to save him from his shop bought 'cardboardy' snacks.
Gluten-free Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Cookies
A fruit bowl raid by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families resulted in her Festive Fruit Pies. A great way of using up some fresh fruit and a terrific alternative to traditional mince pies.
Festive Fruit Pies
I asked you at the beginning of the month for a great Cranberry Sauce and Jean from Delightful Repast presented me with her Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner table favourite. She has infused it with mace and orange.
Cranberry Sauce
Christmas is an expensive time of year for just about everybody and Vanesther of Bangers & Mash gave us a reminder of the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent message about Christmas with her White Chocolate, Cardamon and Cranberry Cookies. Giving presents is still OK but think about what you could make for someone and the love that goes into that effort rather than buying the most expensive item in the shops.
White Chocolate, Cardamon and Cranberry Cookies
If you are looking for an indulgent festive treat but without the fat then look no further than this Cranberry and Cinnamon Swiss Roll. Another wonderful offering from the Cranberry Queen that is Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes, it is a fatless spiced sponge filled with juicy, fresh cranberries.
Cranberry and Cinnamon Swiss Roll
If I told you the recipe title was Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log you probably wouldn't expect a vegan recipe but Janet from The Taste Space did achieve this. Her adapted recipe takes a couple of days to make but well worth it at this time of year.
Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log
I love Christmas food and yes I love a Brussels sprout or two as well on my Christmas dinner plate. To sway non-believers of their goodness Louisa from Eat Your Veg has added a few tasty but healthy extras in her Orange & Cranberry Roasted Sprouts.
Orange & Cranberry Roasted Sprouts
There was also another recipe from Janet from The Taste Space with her Holiday Salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette. She was challenged to come up with something for her work colleagues that was nut-free, no eggs, gluten-free and vegetarian but managed to please everyone with her refreshing multi-use dressing.
Holiday Salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette
If you've not planned your New Year's Eve nibbles menu yet then take a look at Caroline's Festive Cheese Ball with Nuts and Cranberries on Caroline Makes.... Full of flavour they also contain red onion, mango chutney, garlic and Worcestershire sauce.
Festive Cheese Ball with Nuts and Cranberries
As your hostess this month I thought it was only right I should give you recipes with both fresh and dried cranberries. My first creation was inspired by an apple and cranberry crumble recipe in the Leon Friends & Family Cookbook but I changed the topping to my own oats and ground almonds for a Spiced Cranberry and Apple Oaty Crumble.
Spiced Cranberry and Apple Oaty Crumble
My second offering was a Christmas Cranberry and Orange Stollen made with dried cranberries but given an extra festive flavour with the zest and juice of an orange. To give it a bit of a feel good factor I reduced the butter and sugar in it and made it alcohol free. It took a time to make but didn't seem to last very long in our house!
Cranberry and Orange Stollen

Thank you to everyone who contributed this month with their wonderful selection of Feel Good Food cranberry recipes and to Victoria for letting me guest host. That's it for December and indeed for 2013 so head over to Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door in 2014 for the start of another year of Feel Good Food.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Z is for...Zzzz

It's all over for another year and time to finally relax. Enjoy what you have been given and the people around you. Before you know it Christmas will be here again so enjoy the rest of this year while you can.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Y is for...Yuletide

The presents are wrapped (and probably now unwrapped), dinner is cooking and the crackers are ready to be pulled. So, as that great Surbiton resident Margo Leadbetter of The Good Life said, “Yuletide Felicitations” to you. Thank you for reading the blog over the past year, posting your comments and entering the challenges and giveaways. I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

X is for...Xmas

It's simply a modern lazy way of writing Christmas and a way to take the 'Christ' out of Christmas. Or is it? The origin of the 'X' in Xmas does have a significant link back to Jesus. At first glance the 'X' is the symbol of a cross which needs no further explanation. The New Testament was written in Greek and Christ is written XPIΣTOΣ . Clearly the first two letters are X and P. Put together the Greek letters chi (c or C) and rho (r or R) form the chi-rho monogram of ☧. Over the years this has been shortened to just X.

The use of X as an abbreviation for Christ spread over the years. Once Johannes Gutenberg had invented the printing press with moveable type in the 15th Century the abbreviation to Xmas became a necessity as typesetting was a very long and expensive process. This was approved by the Church for use in religious books and pamphlets and soon this was also used in newspapers and other publications. However, just like the abbreviation Mr is still pronounced Mister, Xmas should be said as Christmas and not X-mas.

Monday 23 December 2013

W is for...Wreath

A Christmas wreath is a symbol of a welcoming home and therefore is most commonly found on the front door of a house. As with many Christian rituals it pre-dates the birth of Jesus and has it origins in pagan and Roman times. A light surrounded by a circle of evergreens was made in the hope that the dark days would end and the light and life of spring would soon come. The Romans used wreaths as a sign of victory to be worn on the head. Sometimes afterwards they would be hung on a door.

In Christianity a wreath was first used to start the Advent period and the coming of Christ. The evergreen plant and leaves used symbolise the natural world and the everlasting life. A circular shape is used to represent God as stated in Revelation 22:13, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first & the last.” A candle is lit at least each Sunday in the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day with the final white candle, representing the birth and purity of Jesus, is lit on Christmas Day.

As with many Christmas customs wreaths were thought to be too pagan and also too Catholic for the Puritans during Oliver Cromwell's reign and were banned. Once the monarchy was restored wreaths were allowed again at all times of the year. The hanging a wreath on a front door is still popular today. While evergreens are still used, either fresh or artificial, other designs with baubles or pompoms have also become fashionable.

Sunday 22 December 2013

V is for...Victorians

It maybe 2013 but the way Christmas is celebrated owes very much to the traditions and customs that were popularized in the 19th Century. The establishment of a nationwide postal service and higher literacy rates meant that sending letters became much easier and much cheaper. The first commercial Christmas card is credited to Henry Cole in 1843. Once printing technology improved and the introduction of the halfpenny postage rate the sending of Christmas cards became accessible to everyone.

It is often thought that it was Prince Albert who introduced the Christmas tree to Britain but it is more correct to say that he popularized them. The Georgian monarchs of the 18th and early 19th Century had Christmas trees but their German ancestry meant they were not universally popular in Britain and so their customs were not copied among their subjects. Prince Albert would have had Christmas tree when he was a child back in Germany as was the norm. It was an illustration published in 1846 showing him with Queen Victoria and some of their children by a fir tree adorned with candles and decorations that made a Christmas tree a must for every home both in Britain and on the East coast of America.

Giving presents at one time was reserved for New Year but with the Victorians making Christmas more of a celebration gifts started to be exchanged earlier. At first they were just tokens of appreciation, such as fruit, nuts and homemade trinkets, and they were hung on the tree. As the age of commercialization took hold shops started promoting goods especially for giving as Christmas presents which could be wrapped and placed under the tree.

Other Christmas traditions that the Victorians popularized were crackers, mince pies made with fruit rather than meat, eating of turkey rather than goose or beef, singing of carols, Father Christmas, Boxing Day – indeed having any time off at Christmas, and entertaining a large number of relatives. Many people over the next couple of days will probably be blaming the Victorians for these customs rather thanking them.

Saturday 21 December 2013

U is for...Unexpected Guests

You think you have got everything sorted, presents wrapped, cards written and posted, and then comes the knock at the door. Who can it be? You open the door to find them on your the doorstep – they are the Unexpected, Uninvited Guests. So you remembered to send them a card but for some reason they have turned up at your house and worse of all they are banishing a gift and you have nothing to give back in return. Awkward.

Now you could spend the Christmas period with the lights off and car parked round the corner to try and fool people you have gone away but such extreme measures are not required. The solution to this easy – have a couple of spare presents to hand to offer and a selection of gift bags to put them in if needed. Select some items you would be happy to eat, drink or use yourself if nobody turns up. If they come do just pop the bottle of wine or box of biscuits into the gift bag and everything is sorted. No waste and no panic. You don't have to spend a fortune if you don't want to. If you have a stash of homemade jam, jelly or chutney these make perfect little gifts and actually one made with love. If you haven't got time to whip up a batch of preserves perhaps try this recipe for handmade hot chocolate mix from Victoria at A Kick at The Pantry Door.

Remember though, just because Christmas Day may have passed you still may not be safe. Unexpected, Uninvited Guests have nothing better to do between Boxing Day and New Year's Day. This is a particularly dangerous period as they will be on lookout for victims to try and offload their unwanted tat they got given. You have been warned...

Friday 20 December 2013

Hot Coronation Turkey - T is for...Turkey

Hot Coronation Turkey
The fresh turkeys should be starting to appear in the shops in the next couple of days. It's often thought that eating turkey for Christmas dinner is a relatively new trend in the UK and one adapted from the American custom of having a turkey at Thanksgiving. It is true that turkey is far better suited to mass rearing as they can bred in a similar way to chickens while geese need far more freedom and land. However, there are reports of Henry VIII being the first British monarch to have had turkey as part of his Christmas feast.

Of course one of the attractions of turkey is that it can feed a houseful but there always seems to be leftovers no matter how well you judge the size. For this purpose we like to have this Hot Coronation Turkey which works equally as well with leftover chicken as well.

Serves 4


1 Onion, finely chopped
½oz (15g) Butter
1tbsp (15ml) Mild Korma curry powder
8oz (225g) Mango Chutney (My preferred variety is Sharwoods)
10oz (300g) Greek yoghurt
2tbsp (30ml) Mayonnaise
1½tsp (7.5ml) Tomato purée
About 10oz (300g) Cooked turkey/chicken, diced
Cooked rice to serve


1. In a large saucepan cook the onion in the butter until soft.
2. Add the curry powder, stirring for one minute.
3. Add the chutney and heat through.
4. Stir in the yoghurt, mayonnaise and tomato purée and heat until almost boiling.
5. Add the turkey or chicken and cook gently for about 15 minutes.
6. Serve with the cooked rice.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Cranberry and Orange Stollen - S is for...Stollen

Cranberry and Orange Stollen
Is it a cake or is it a bread? Whatever classification you want to put it in Stollen is full of lovely Christmasy flavours such as dried fruits, nuts, marzipan and mixed spices. Stollen is of course German in origin and there are mentions of it from the 15th Century. The first Stollen were very unexciting and quite bland tasting. At that time in Germany the Advent period was a time of fasting similar to Lent. No butter was allowed and the recipe of the time contained no fruit or marzipan. Over the years this has developed into the Stollen we like to eat today.

Most Stollen recipes require the fruit to be soaked in rum overnight. Not being a drinker I wasn't sure we had any rum in the house (apparently we do so I've been told) so in order to plump up the fruit a bit I decided to use the juice and zest from the orange we had brought back from a Christingle service. I've also cut down on the amount of butter and sugar used. 

Click here for a printable recipe.


Juice and zest of 1 Orange
2oz (55g) Dried Cranberries
2oz (55g) Candied peel
2oz (55g) Sultanas
14oz (400g) Strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
½ tsp (2.5ml) Salt
½ tsp (2.5ml) Mixed spice
2oz (55g) Unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 tbsp (30ml) Caster sugar
½ oz (10g) Easy-blend dried yeast
7 fl oz (200ml) Lukewarm milk (1 minute in the microwave)
1 Large egg
1oz (28g) Blanched almonds, chopped finely
5oz (140g) Marzipan


1. Put the dried fruit in a bowl along with the orange juice and zest. Stir and then set aside.
2. Sift the flour, salt and mixed spice into a large bowl and then rub in the butter.
3. Add the sugar and the yeast and stir all the ingredients together.
4. In a separate bowl or jug add the egg to the milk and beat well.
5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk and egg. With a spoon (I use a soup spoon!) stir all the ingredients until it comes together to form a dough.
6. Flour a smooth surface well and start to knead the dough. The idea is to stretch the dough so don't worry being too heavy-handed. Do this for about 10 minutes – put the radio on or listen to some music as this will make the 10 minutes seem much shorter.
7. Once it is smooth form the dough into a ball and put back into the bowl. Cover and and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise – I use a warm, damp tea towel and put it in my airing cupboard. You can also lightly oil some cling film and put it next to a window with the sun coming through, next to a warm radiator or next to a pre-heated oven.
8. Meanwhile prepare the marzipan by rolling it out into a sausage shape about 8 inches (20cm) long.
9. When the dough has doubled in size give it a couple of punches to release any air bubbles.
10. Flour the work surface again and knead the dough again.
11. Spread it out on the floured surface and the scatter the dried fruit, orange juice and almonds along it.
12. Fold it in and then knead again so all the fruit is equally distributed. It will be very sticky so keep flouring the surface.
13. Stretch the dough out so it measures about 9 x 7 inches (23x18 cm). Lay the marzipan in the middle and fold over each side to enclose it.
14. Press down lightly on the seam then turn over and place a greased baking tray.
15. Cover again with a tea towel or cling film and return to the warm place for about an hour until it has doubled in size again.
16. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 190°C/Gas mark 5.
17. Once the Stollen has risen bake for 25-30 minutes until it is golden and sounds hollow underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
18. Once cool cover with foil and leave at least a day to mature. Before serving dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Thomas the Tank Engine 2 in 1 Balance Bike Review

We're quite an outdoorsy family and in particular we have a love of of cycling. I'm not one for riding on the road but we lucky to have various large parks with cycle trails very close to where we live. Now the youngest member of the family has just turned 3 we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to get him his first proper bike for Christmas this year.

My son is quite small for his age so I didn't want to get him a bike with pedals on just yet as I thought it would be too big for it. Studies have also shown that balance bike have proved to be a better way of teaching a child to ride a bike opposed to putting stabilisers on. Since I am with my son all day long it proves a little tricky to do any shopping let alone Christmas present shopping for him. In such times I reach for the Argos catalogue or as is the case these days I look at their website. They have a store near me that I can walk to but when trying to keep a three-year-old under control and hide their Christmas present from him the home delivery service is a lifesaver.

As many boys of his age my son loves fire engines and trains so I decided to see if there was anything in the Thomas the Tank Engine section and found Argos have quite a range of items. Many people think that by buying a branded item you'll be paying more for something of lesser quality. I beg to differ. My daughter went through two scooters (first lasted just two weeks) before we bought her a Hello Kitty one from Argos. To date this is still going and has been the best quality one of all three. She also had a High School Musical bicycle which was in such good nick when she grew out of it we were able to sell it afterwards.

I found just the thing I was looking with this Thomas and Friends 2 in 1 10 inch Trainer Bike. It's suitable from age 2 so should be the right size for my little chappie. As you can see it starts off as a balance bike and once they have got the hang of it you can add pedals and if required it also comes with stabilisers.It came in a box and there is a little bit of putting it together required but my husband was able to do this with just a simple spanner and no cursing.

There is also a selection of stickers to put on the wheels and frame. The front logo plate snaps onto the handlebars. If you don't want to add all these items you don't have to. A nice touch is the cushioned seat as quite often on children's bikes they can be just hard plastic.

As my son is starting nursery next month I can see him going there and back on it. Another important consideration for me therefore is the weight. Thankfully it is very light at under 3kg (I'm a bit of a weakling) and isn't awkward to carry at all. With the adjustable seat height and the pedals option I'm hoping this could last my son for about two years before he grows out of it. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with it and I hope my son is too when he opens it on Christmas Day.

This post is in association with Argos. I was sent the item to review and no payment has been made. The thoughts, words, photographs and opinions are my own. I was not obliged to write a positive review.

R is for...Reindeer

If it wasn't for Father Christmas' magical team of flying reindeer there wouldn't be any presents delivered. The original team of eight reindeer were named by Clement C. Moore in A Visit from St. Nicholas (better known as The Night Before Christmas) as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. In 1939 a story was written by Robert L. May for the American department store Montgomery Ward. It was a tale written in verse about a reindeer named Rudolph who was mocked due to him having a bright red nose. However, one foggy Christmas Eve Santa is unable to fly his sleigh but thankfully he finds Rudolph who is able to guide them. The story is now more famous thanks to it being turned into a song that was originally released in 1949.

This is the poem I wrote to leave out for when Father Christmas comes, leaving the reindeer waiting outside. You can put it in a clear cellophane bag or write it on an envelope but don't forget to put some oats and glitter in. The glitter is very important otherwise the the reindeer won't leave any sparkly trail in the sky!
A flash of silver across a starry sky.
Could it be Santa, his sleigh and reindeer?
It's been a long night and it's not over yet.
More toys to deliver and presents to give.

Have you been good?
Will your stocking be filled?
You've left a mince pie for Santa or a cookie or two.
But what about Rudolph and his reindeer friends?

Please leave them this food with a magical sparkle and help them keep flying until Christmas Eve ends.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Q is for...Queen's Christmas Speech

The Royal Family can be seen by many observers as antiqued and out of touch with the ordinary man and woman in the street. One thing they have always been surprisingly good with though is keeping up with the technological advances of the day. Since 1934 the reigning monarch at the time has broadcast a Christmas Message across Britain and the Commonwealth with the time being set at 3pm GMT.

The idea of sending a making a radio broadcast was suggested by Sir John Reith (Later known as Lord Reith). The 68 year-old King was unsure about the whole thing but was convinced after a visiting the BBC earlier in the summer. The first message was written by Rudyard Kipling and reached an audience of of up to 20 million people across what was still known as the British Empire. Sadly George V only got to do the broadcast once more before his death in January 1936.

It took a few years for the Message to become established. Since Edward VIII abdicated on 11 December 1936 no broadcast was made that year. The newly crowned George VI gave his first message on Christmas Day 1937 however no broadcast was made in 1938. It was the start of the Second World War that firmly made the royal Christmas message a yearly tradition.

When Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 she continued this now established routine of sending a message across the Commonwealth on Christmas Day. More and more homes were having televisions in them and between 1952 and 1956 the speech was broadcast on both radio and television albeit with just sound. In 1957, on the 25th anniversary of the first broadcast, pictures were shown for the first time as the Queen was shown talking from Sandringham House. Surprisingly in 1969 there was no message broadcast but a written statement was published in its place. In that year Prince Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales had been shown on television as well as a the documentary Royal Family and the Queen decided that she and her family had had enough television coverage for one year.

Each year the Message usually focuses a set formula of events. Royal births, marriages, deaths and anniversaries are usually touched upon. As are wars, conflicts and tragedies around the world and not just those affecting Commonwealth countries. As a devout Christian the Queen often mentions the religious significance of Christmas and the role of families and communities. However, in 1992 The Sun newspaper managed to get hold of a copy of the Queen's Christmas Message and decided to publish it on its front page two days before Christmas, thus breaking the usual embargo. It is often thought now that this was the speech in which the Queen used her famous phrase of, “Annus Horribilis” to describe the 40th year of her reign which saw the break-up of three of her children's marriages and a devastating fire at Windsor Castle. In fact this was said at a dinner the month before at the Guildhall in London in mark her 40 years on the throne. The Christmas Day message itself contained nothing controversial and did not stray from the usual format so the scoop that The Sun thought it had was in fact rather a damp squib.

Thorntons The Snowman™ & The Snowdog Christmas Bundle Giveaway - Closed

I've now reached the milestone of 100 posts on JibberJabberUK and yes number 100 was a recipe for a chocolate pudding. To celebrate this landmark and simply because it is Christmas it's time for a chocolate giveaway.

The lovely people at Thorntons are giving one lucky reader of JibberJabberUK the chance to win 1 The Snowman™ & The Snowdog Christmas Bundle. 

The prize consists of:

• The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Selection Pack (142g)
• The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Model (154g)
• The Snowdog™ White Chocolate Model (80g)
• Mini The Snowman™ and The Snowdog (22g) x2
• White Chocolate Snowman Lolly (28g) x2
Photograph courtesy of
Since this giveaway ends on Monday 23rd December 2013 it won't be delivered in time for Christmas however the winner will be able to have a delightful treat in the New Year. If you need to get some last minute presents you can find a selection of chocolate Christmas gifts here at Thorntons.

How to Enter

Entry via blog comment is mandatory if you don't comment then you haven't entered.
All other entry methods are optional but they will increase your chances of winning.
All entries will be verified so please do not click to say you have tweeted etc if you haven't as your entry will not count.
You can gain a bonus entry every day by tweeting about the giveaway.
The winner will be contacted via email by JibberJabberUK and the prize will be sent to you from Thorntons.
The winner will be chosen using the Rafflecopter random number generator.
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Terms and conditions
By participating in this prize draw you are deemed to accept these terms and conditions.
Prize draw open to customers and non-customers aged 18 or over who are UK residents. Draw is not open to employees of Thorntons, their families or anyone associated with this draw. Proof of eligibility must be provided on request.
The prize The Snowman™ & The Snowdog Christmas Bundle, includes postage to winners’ UK addresses. Promotion runs from Tuesday 17th December and all entries must be received by 11.59pm on Monday 23rd December 2013 latest.
Winners will be drawn at random at the end of the promotion.
The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative. The promoter’s decision is final in all matters and no correspondence will be entered into. The promoter reserves the right (a) to add to or waive any rules on reasonable notice (b) cancel or postpone the promotion at any stage in the event of circumstances beyond its reasonable control; or (c) in its reasonable discretion to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.
If a prize remains unclaimed after reasonable efforts have been made to contact the winner the promoter will be entitled to dispose of the prize as it sees fit without any liability to the winner for having done so.
The promoter reserves the right to alter, amend or foreclose the promotion without prior notice. 

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