The ham and the jam

One of the first recipes I posted on this blog almost two years ago was a spicy plum jam, redolent with cinnamon, cloves and anise. At the time I made it I mentioned that it would probably make a great addition to a glaze for the baked Christmas ham. Well I can report back that indeed it does! In fact, I used it on both last year’s and this year’s hams to great effect.

My starting point for the glaze was a recipe I had in an old copy of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. The original recipe was for a Burnt Honey, Orange and Clove Ham, but in the magazine article, a number of alternative glaze ideas were provided including the apricot and cardamom version I chose to base my spicy plum glaze on. It’s a quick and easy glaze to prepare and the cooking of the ham itself is a doddle. I prefer to cook it earlier in the day, or even the day before Christmas as it’s not necessary to have a warm ham for Australia’s summer Christmas, but in any case it only takes an hour.

The resulting ham has a deliciously sweet and spicy glaze, and looks a treat as well, with caramelised edges.

Christmas Ham Collage

Spicy plum glazed ham

Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller (December 2006, p 39)

Serves 10+

250ml jar of spicy plum jam
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 c water
ham leg (on the bone)
 

Combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Strain through a sieve and cool.

Preheat oven to 180C. Remove skin from ham and discard. Score fat in a diamond pattern and place ham on a rack in a large roasting tray, half-filled with water .

Brush the glaze generously over the ham and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Baste frequently during the roasting process to get a good rich glaze.

Serve the ham hot or cold.

Notes:

1. Depending on how spicy your jam is, you may want to add more or less cardamom to taste.

2. The amount of glaze will be enough for a full ham leg, although I usually only cook a half leg.

3. The ham will keep refrigerated for quite a few days if you wrap it in a ham bag, tea towels or old pillowcases soaked in cold water and white vinegar. Change the wraps every couple of days. Alternative, freeze chunks of it to bring out as required.

4. If you like, you can stud the scored ham with cloves in the centre of each diamond before baking.

Christmas Eve Smoked Chicken and Mango Salad

This year, Christmas Eve in my house was a busy day of running around sandwiched between two family celebrations. Amid what seemed like countless trips to the supermarkets, an emergency dash to my folks’ house to rescue an esky (cooler) full of perishable food left behind by my sister, and of course, wrapping presents, I was relieved that dinner was already sorted.

About 15 years ago, my parents moved back to Australia after a stint living in the US. Along with all their other stuff, they brought a smoker with them, which gets dragged out at least once every year to smoke chickens, fish and sometimes other goods for Christmas feasts. My sister and I both requested a chicken this year and this is what I had in mind for Christmas Eve.

In addition to the chicken, I had a few ripe mangoes left over from a box I received a couple of weeks ago and some lovely fresh greens purchased at the South Melbourne Market on Monday morning. So I dug out a recipe for a smoked chicken salad that I first discovered a few years ago on the taste.com.au website (a great starting point for almost any kind of recipe you could imagine) and adapted it to suit the ingredients I had.

This is a recipe that is open to a lot of variation—you could add whatever greens you prefer (the original uses iceberg lettuce), choose different smoked meats (duck? salmon? trout?) or even swap out the smoked meat for fresh prawns. It looks great served on a platter, or divided among plates or bowls, and would be just as suitable as an entrée salad as a light main course.

As for this version? It made for a perfectly delicious family dinner on Christmas Eve.

Smoked chicken and mango salad

Smoked Chicken and Mango Salad

Adapted from this recipe

Serves 4-6

1 smoked chicken
2 ripe mangoes
mixed greens
1/2 bunch of fresh mint, leaves torn
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 red capsicum/pepper, thinly sliced
 
Dressing:
200ml natural pot set yoghurt
2-3 tbs chopped coriander
2 tbs lime juice
1 tbs sweet chili sauce
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
 

Shred the chicken from the carcass. Cut the cheeks off the mango and slice the flesh thinly. Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Finely chop coriander and mix with yoghurt, lime juice and sweet chili sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer salad to a platter and drizzle with some of the dressing. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Notes:

1. I’m not a huge fan of raw onions, but spring onions (green onions) or thinly sliced red onions would be a great addition to the salad.

2. Use a combination of different greens—I started with a mixture of lettuces, then added baby spinach, rocket/arugula, a little radicchio and snow pea shoots.

3. To make the dressing in a flash, chop the coriander in a mini-food processor, add the other ingredients and whiz until combined.

Snowflake Bird: the 3rd Annual Handcrafted Holiday Ornament Swap and Hop

Handcrafted ornament swap and hop

Today is the reveal day for the Handcrafted Holiday Ornament Swap and Hop, hosted by Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime. In this swap and blog hop, we were paired up and asked to send our partner a handcrafted holiday ornament incorporating an art bead or handmade component. Lucky me—I was paired with Erin Prais-Hintz, who makes lovely polymer clay pendants and beads.

Without further ado, here is the beautiful ornament Erin sent me. It incorporates one of her limited edition Snowflake Birds and the leaves are frosted with gold.

Erin's winter bird

Thank you so much Erin! I absolutely love it! I haven’t found exactly the right place for it yet, but it may just hang next to my desk so I can see it all the time. Our Christmas tree is a bit, umm, crowded (remind me to buy a taller one next year)!

To see what I sent Erin, you will have to visit her blog.

And follow the links to the rest of the swap-hoppers below:

Sally Russick and Beth and Evie McCord

Erin Prais-Hintz and Melissa Trudinger

Karen Williams and Shirley Moore

Lori Finney and Alicia Marinache

D Lynne Bowland and Paula Kramer

Kim Bender Hora and Jenny Davies Reazor

Becky Pancake and Lori Anderson

Veralynne Malone and Therese Frank

Tanya Goodwin and Sandi Volpe

Jeanette Ryan and Rochelle Brisson

Patti Vanderbloemen and Susan Kennedy

Last market for 2013 is tomorrow

The Handmade Show button

Tomorrow’s table at The Handmade Show is my last one for the year, so if you live in Melbourne, come on down and finish off your Christmas shopping! I have loads of pairs of earrings, necklaces and bracelets, and even a few pairs of cufflinks for the sharply-dressed man in your life!

The market runs from 10:30am – 3:30pm and there are stallholders selling all sorts of handmade goodies including candles, cards, clothing, children’s toys, Christmas decorations and more. Activities for the kids include free face painting and a lolly-guessing competition. Cafe Handmade does a mean bacon and egg sandwich, among other delicious offerings. Musical entertainment will be provided by Marisa Rae Quigley. And there’ll be giveaways for market shoppers, including some for the kids.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday 14th December
10.30am – 3.30pm
St. Anthony’s Parish Hall
164 Neerim Rd (cnr Grange Rd), Glen Huntly

Birds of a Feather: Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop

It comes as no surprise to those who know me that I love Christmas. And one of my favourite things about the holiday season are the decorations. I’ve amassed quite an eclectic collection of ornaments over the years, from shiny baubles to paper ornaments painstakingly made by my children at preschool and kindergarten. Our tree is lovingly decorated by my children and I, and bears no resemblance to the carefully coordinated trees I see in magazines and Christmas displays, and that’s just the way I like it.

This year I’m taking part in a couple of handmade ornament blog hops. The first of them is Art Bead Scene‘s 4th Annual Ornament Blog Hop. The rules of this bog hop are simple—to create a handmade ornament using an art bead or handmade component.

I decided this year to do something with polymer clay. It’s a medium I don’t have a lot of experience with, but it’s definitely fun to play with. For these two ornaments, I used a robin-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a bird shape from a textured slab of polymer clay. After baking I highlighted the texture with gilders paste. The top bead is Czech glass in a deep red and the bird’s legs are waxed linen. I used some funky wire with a glittery coating to put it all together.

holiday birds collage 2

But wait, that’s not all I made. I also made some ornaments using some chandelier crystals that I rescued from a broken chandelier that a friend of mine recently replaced. The larger crystal, a baroque shape that reminds me of a Christmas tree, is dangling from a sweet green and white swirled lampwork bead made by Bellissimo Jewels. I picked up the bead from a bowl of orphans at a recent bead show with the intent to use it in a Christmas ornament. The two smaller ornaments use tear-shaped chandelier drops, with some green lampwork glass beads (alas, these particular beads are more ordinary, mass-produced lampwork beads, rather than artisan-made, but they are still very Christmassy). I plan to gift these ornaments to the friend whose chandelier I stripped!

Chandelier crystal ornaments

You’ll have to wait until 14th December to see the ornament I made for Sally Russick’s 3rd Annual Handcrafted Ornament Swap and Hop. My swap partner was Erin Prais-Hintz and I’ll be showing off the beautiful ornament she made me then too.

I’ll be linking this blog post up to the Art Bead Scene blog hop via an In Linkz tool. To see what the other participants have made, go to the main post on Art Bead Scene here.

I Love Clay blog hop

We are well and truly in the middle of what we call the silly season here in Australia: the school year finishes in two weeks, we have daycare, kinder and school events to go to, a ballet school concert of epic proportions, catch-ups with friends, birthday parties for TWO of my kids, and more. In the midst of all of that madness, I am trying to sneak off to do the Christmas shopping, make presents for teachers and family, and all the rest of it! As I said, we call it the silly season and for good reason!

So, I guess I’m trying to say I haven’t done as much as I’d like for this blog hop, the latest in a series organised and hosted by Lisa Lodge. As is usual in Lisa’s blog hops, a kit was purchased, with the idea of using as much of it as possible. Given the title of the blog hop, the kit consisted of clay beads, and in my case the beads came from Elaine Ray, a wonderful bead artist from North Carolina.

I forgot to take a photo of all the beads together, sigh. But here are most of them, and you’ll see the other ones if you keep reading. The beads are glazed with a deep dark navy blue glaze with a light biscuit brown clay background. The pendant is cute with its little victory salute, it makes me think of hippies.

IMG_6710

I did a bit of thinking about what colour to put the navy beads with, and was inspired by the current Art Bead Scene painting by Wassily Kandinsky, which features a lot of navy blue and a deep rosy pink, among other colours. So I paired the diamond-shaped frame beads with tiny pink Czech glass rounds in raspberry pink to make a sweet little pair of earrings.

IMG_6712

I’m still contemplating what to do with the remaining beads, and I hope that I can make something else with them all soon. In the mean time, thank you for a fun kit and hop, Lisa. And please check out the other participants in this blog hop:

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes <– YOU ARE HERE
Kathy Zeigler Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Eleanor Burian Moore, The Charmed Life
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It’s a Beadiful Creation
Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyns Creations
Bonnie Coursolle, Jasper’s Gems
Therese Frank, Therese’s Treasures
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations
Mowse Doyle, Mowse Made This
Janine Lucas, Esfera Travel Blog
 Karin Grosset Grange, Ginkgo et Coquelicot
Kelli Nelson, Zenith Jade Creations
Ann Schroeder, Bead Love
Jasvanti Patel, Jewelry by Jasvanti
Candida Castleberry, Sugar Spun Beadworks
Robin Reed, Artistry HCBD
Katrina Taylor, I Wanna Go Out

Pool Party Summer—the 4th Annual Challenge of Colour

ChallengeofColor_badge

Erin Prais-Hintz always runs the coolest challenges, guaranteed to stretch us all as jewellery designers. And this year’s Challenge of Color, the fourth she has held, is no exception. Last year, Erin and her colour guru friend Brandi Hussey provided participants with colour palettes drawn from satellite images of Earth, but this year, we were sent to the fabulous website COLOURlovers to find, or create, our own.

COLOURlovers is a website that lets you create and name colours, palettes and even patterns made using the cool colour palettes you create. With thousands of users, inspiration is a click away.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Challenge without a challenge, right? Erin’s extra twist involved using the names of the colours to create a poem of sorts, using the names of each colour in a game called wordlinks.

From the wordlink instructions…

“with wordlink palettes you start with a two-word (or more) colour name. the next colour name has to start with the last word of the colour before it. each colour continues this way to the end. try to make the last word of the last colour the first word of the first colour. this is really hard, though.”

Sounds like fun, but it’s harder than you’d think! I created two palettes using the Wordlinks game. My first one is called Shimmer Song:

COLOURlovers.com-Shimmer_Song

As the sky shimmers
Shimmer of magic
Magic of starlight
Starlight song
Song of the sky

As this was a muted colour palette, I thought I would make another in brighter colours. This one is called Pool Party Summer:

COLOURlovers.com-Pool_Party_Summer (2)

Summer at the pool
Pool party
Party people
People laughing
Summer of laughs.

I even used the second palette to make a pattern, Summer in the Pool, in keeping with its theme:

COLOURlovers.com-Summer_in_the_pool

Pool Party Summer was the palette I eventually went with, using some wonderfully aquatic lampwork beads made by Vivian Houser at Dragyn’s Fyre Designs (these were some of the first artisan-made lampwork beads I ever bought), knotted onto deep plum waxed linen, along with a large amazonite nugget, dyed fire agate and Czech glass, a pewter mermaid connector from Green Girl Studios and antiqued silver-plated chain and clasp, to make a necklace. It’s a rare foray for me into an asymmetrical design. The matching earrings feature the lampwork beads and a few seed beads knotted onto lavender waxed linen.

IMG_6654

Thanks again for another stimulating challenge Miss Erin, it’s always fun! And make sure you visit the other participants in the blog hop (as InLinkz doesn’t work very well on WordPress-hosted websites, you’ll need to visit Erin’s blog to see the full list of participants).