Tuesday, September 18, 2007

piano pics

As promised, here are some snaps of our new (but very old) piano. 2 of the ivory keys have come unstuck but otherwise it really is a beautiful thing.

I'm really looking forward to the family coming for Christmas so Grace can do her thing with the carols. For years my parents have had a Christmas party where my youngest sister (last seen pictured on this blog wearing a wet suit indoors) plays the piano while everyone raucously sings carols. She starts off well, and gets better and better as my special mulled wine* kicks in and she plays with more abandon. 3 years ago, just after my sister qualified as a music teacher, the head of music from a local school was at the party and heard her play the piano. On the strength of her drunken playing she was invited for an interview and eventually got the job!

My special 'mulled wine' is only created once a year and is a bit of a family tradition. Since the weather has turned cold today, here is the recipe to get you feeling all cosy:

Heave down Granny's huge copper jam pan.
Get an orange and stick in loads of cloves into the skin so it look like sputnick. (My architectural training will not let me do this randomly. I have to arrange the cloves in perfectly even concentric circles or it just feels wrong.)
Slosh a box of red wine over the sputnik orange.
slosh in a box or 2 of orange juice.
Add a small bottle of brandy.
tip in a load of sugar.
chop up any fruit you have lying about. Oranges and apples are best.
Raid your spice cupboard. Find the most out of date bottles you have and sprinkle liberally into mixture. The best ones to go for are cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger, that kind of thing.
Pull everything out of your booze cupboard. Decide what you haven't touched in the last 12 months and glug in as much as you think you dare. In that past we have used up dodgy melon liqueur, half empty bottles of rum, and dregs of whiskey. Most famously this is when we use up our stash of 'Romanian Gut Rot'. This a quince based spirit distilled by the parents of my Romanian Brother in law. They always bring us bottles every time they visit. It is soooo strong and frankly undrinkable in any other circumstance, but adds a real something to my 'mulled wine'
To finish it off bung in some white wine, and then top off with more red wine to fill up the jam pan.
Put on a low heat and leave it to warm through for an hour or so.
Serve with a nice ladle into wine glasses.
Promise your guests it's not that alcoholic, and anyway, most of the alcohol will have evaporated off. Here, have another...

The house will fill with the most fabulous aromas that for me is the ultimate Christmas smell.


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