Skip to main content

How Not To Do Christmas Decorations!

My plan for this post was to show an old-fashioned traditional German Christmas tree and how to replicate some of the ornaments used in a more modern way.

In the good old days there were no plastics, garish tinsel or flashing lights. Instead a lot of special cookies were baked and decorated, especially Lebkuchen and Pfefferkuchen. Nuts were gilded and apples polished. All were suspended from pretty ribbons and hung from the tree. Candles were attached to the branches with their own candle-cup clips and to finish it off  a little Engelshaar (angel hair) was spread sparsely over the tips of the branches to add some glitter. And the top of the tree was usually a golden star.

Because I live in the tropics I had to find a dough other than the traditional varieties for the simple reason that anything edible will attract the entire ant population from ten miles around plus other undesirables!

So, after a lot of research, I decided to use salt dough. Easy to make and easy to use, that is what I thought. Flour, salt and a bit of water in a bowl, then knead until smooth and lump free, then allow to rest for half an hour.

Half an hour later I was eager to start on the cookie shapes, but my beautiful dough had turned into a sticky wet mass. I added more flour to get the right consistency for using the cookie press. That did not work! More flour needed so I can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. Finally I got somewhere! I cut out stars and hearts and formed some Brezeln by hand. Then I used a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the cookies to be able to attach ribbon for hanging when done.

The instructions for the use of the dough gave the option of baking, which would make the cookies puff up or to allow air to dry them. I opted for baking at a low temperature. Fifteen minutes should be enough, I thought, and I should have sparkling white cookies! No such luck! They had puffed unevenly and shrunk somewhat and had turned a brownish/greyish colour. To top it off, the cookies were still soft.

Plan B called for air drying. So I put the whole lot on a cooling rack and placed them outside in the sun with the breeze circulating around them. Come night time I brought the cookies inside. Still soft! This went on for the last ten days until I was tired and decided to put them back in the oven. By now they had shrunk even more and the holes I had made at the start had closed at the back where they initially touched the baking tray. The cookies were also a lot thinner now! After another twenty minutes on lowest heat with the oven door slightly open I now had some medium brown ones, some more  grey than before and the rest almost roasted.

Never mind the colours, the cookies were now hard, just how I wanted, and I  had decided to spray paint them in gold anyway. After they had cooled I gave them two coats of paint on each side allowing them to dry between applications. Then I allowed them to dry thoroughly overnight.

Today I wanted to attach the ribbon/string/thread so they could be hung up. To be able to do so I needed to work on the closed holes. So I used a fine needle to start with. then a slightly thicker one. But still the holes were not large enough. I used the next larger size and that was it! Most of the cookies just broke and for those that did not I just used fine fishing line instead of pretty ribbon!

I shall never do salt dough again! The high heat and humidity where I live will not allow this project to be successful.

But for the fun of it I will add a few pictures!


Comments

  1. Oh Mummy this your post had me in stitches! Too funny... Well done anyway xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awww.... Sorry Mummy... But great effort. Love your post. Better fortune with your next attempt 😘

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Healthy New Year!

Now we have left Christmas and overindulgence behind and are well into the new year, which we hope will be a prosperous and healthy one for everyone.

Unfortunately many have a health challenge like diabetes which puts serious restrictions on what to eat. Good cookbooks are available that make it a lot easier to plan meals, but to re-create favourite dishes of family members takes a lot of research and experimentation!

One of those favourites in our home is pancakes with all possible variations. Today I will show you one of them: Potato pancakes originally, now called coco yam pancakes. The change was necessary because coco yam is lower on the glycaemic index than potatoes, therefore better for diabetics but just as delicious!

You will need:
1 medium sized coco yam (malanga coco)
1 small onion
1 egg
1 heaped tbsp wholemeal flour ( wholewheat )
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/2 cup water
vegetable oil for frying

Method:
Peel and finely grate the coco yam and onion in…

Baked Akara!

Akara in Yoruba and Kose in Hausa, these deep fried bean cakes are enjoyed all over Nigeria. Traditionally they are made from dried black-eyed beans or honey beans, soaked overnight and skins removed. Then they are put through a grinder with onion, salt, tatashe ( a large type of hot pepper) and maybe one or two other ingredients, depending on locality. Then oil is heated in a large basin and the mixture is dropped in by the spoonful, turned over once or twice and fried until golden brown. When done they are drained on newspaper which does take up the excess oil to a certain extent. Finally wrapped in fresh newspaper the akara are sold to the waiting customer.
For a long time I was racking my brain how to recreate the deliciousness of akara without the process of deep frying, because any food saturated with fat is an absolute taboo for anyone with heart problems, high cholesterol and/or diabetes. So a healthy version was needed, especially since beans are highly recommended for anyon…

Easy versatile chain links - tutorial

This is another variation of the famous U-shape. For this project I used 19g silver wire, quite tarnished. To start you need your wire, which can be 18 or 2og, they work equally well. You also need a 6.5mm mandrel to shape the U, wire cutters and stepnose or roundnose pliers. The rest is up to your fingers! To join the links I used 3.5mm ID jumprings. The size of the jumprings is a personal choice. To start straighten your wire and flush cut on each side a 4cm section. For a necklace one needs about 40 to 42 pieces. Shape all of them over the 6.5mm mandrel, making sure the ends of the wire are of equal length.
Now take the stepnose pliers and make a loop on each side facing inside the U using the smallest step . If using roundnose pliers, mark them first, so all the loops have the same size. When all the links have been completed that way
hammer them flat. Usually the loops will open abit at this stage, so make sure to close them up again.
Now you form the links with your fingers, pushin…