After a lengthy holiday in France, we have now returned to our home and the Australian winter! Short days and frosty mornings which means cold, but sunny days (at the moment) and very cold nights!
Naturally after such a long absence, the garden is calling for our attention, so if the sun is shining we are immediately drawn outside to enjoy the warm rays. But the place to be in the morning is the kitchen, where the sun’s rays shine through the window over the sink, providing a wonderful cosy atmosphere. I was absolutely delighted one morning this week, when I was drawn to a familiar twitter outside our kitchen – I know the voice of a very small and busy bird, the wren – we have always called them fairy wrens, and the male, if you are lucky enough to see one, is superbly dressed in the prettiest of blue. However, I was enjoying their antics so much, I have no photos to share… In the two years we have been here this is only the second time I have seen them, with the last time just before we departed for our holiday – I await my next sighting.
In the evening, the open fire, glowing beautifully and providing the coziness needed, is the place to be as the dark crawls in, dragging along the chill and dampness with it. Something that is always a treat at this time of year is mulled wine… With the wonderful aroma of the festive season, this drink always provides warmth and comfort with each sip.
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 thick strips orange rind
- juice of one orange
- 1 vanilla bean halved lengthways
- 750 ml bottle red wine
- 2 tablespoons Cointreau
Put the sugar into a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the orange juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, the vanilla bean, and then stir in just enough red wine to cover everything in the pan.
Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved and then bring to the boil. Boil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until it has reached a nice syrupy consistancy.
Reduce the heat down to low and add the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after 5 - 6 minutes, when it has warmed, ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve.
- It is important not to add all of the red wine in step two, because to make the flavoured syrup you need to boil the liquid which burns off the alcohol
I must keep this short, like the winter days – the garden calls!
Until next time…
Bon appétit & happy gardening!