Winter Warmers: Mulled Wine

If you’ve been following me on instagram or twitter (or have come within 10 metres of me in real life) you will know that I’ve been nursing a lousy flu for quite a while. In fact, when I sat down yesterday to think about it, I figured i’ve pretty much been sick since the beginning of May. As Term 2 is always horrific for teachers, I haven’t been able to take much time off to get better so of course, I’m now sick in my holidays.

Part of being sick has involved a persistent and very annoying cough. I’ve tried everything. Hot water and lemon. Hot water and lemon and honey. Lots of roasted garlic. Gargling. Eucalyptus oil on my pillow. Eucalyptus steam bath. Eucalyptus on the soles of my feet. Hot showers. Cough lozenges. Codral. Benadryl. Staying warm. Hot tea. Various herbs and spices. NOTHING WORKED.

So, driven to distraction by the cough last night, I figured a bottle of red wine wouldn’t hurt. And what is better than red wine in winter? Mulled wine of course!

After inhaling the steamy aromas of this mixture, I would say to chuck the eucalyptus steam bath and just stick your head over a pot of mulled wine! Delicious!

It was a fairly simple recipe that I adapted from yet another Jamie Oliver Recipe involving some sugar, the zest of a lemon, a lime, an orange and the juice of the orange

some spices – vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves

a little bit of wine

and then a lot of wine

and a lot of drinking.

Now, I know that a lot of tweeps were very skeptical, but I can honestly say that my cough subsided after a couple of glasses of this aromatic and deeply warming elixir. Whether it was because of the mix, or just the alcohol, i’m really not sure that I care. The point is, it worked! The beauty of this drink is that it has the physical warmth of the liquid, with the added warmth of the spices. You can choose to increase or decrease the quantity/mix of spices as you see fit. I originally started with making half the amount of the Jamie Oliver recipe but have since adapted it to include more citrus and a little more cinnamon and nutmeg. Feel free to play around with it until you feel like it is right. The other thing that is good about this drink is that you can use the cheapest wine you can find and it will still be great.

So, my lovelies, what are your favourite warming spices for winter?

Mulled Wine Recipe – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine Recipe


1 bottle red wine (the cheaper, the better! Feel free to use cleanskin or cask)

1 large orange

1 lemon

1 lime

125-250g caster sugar (it depends on the sweetness that you like. I quite like it with the full 250g as I like my mulled wine sweet)

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 whole nutmeg

1 vanilla bean

2 star anise


1. Peel long strips of rind from the orange, lemon and lime and place in a medium sized saucepan along with the sugar and the juice of the orange

2. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, 6 gratings of nutmeg and bay leaves

3. Cut the vanilla bean lengthways and add to the pan

4. Pour in enough wine to cover the sugar and place over a high heat. Stir frequently until the mixture boils and thickens slightly (roughly 5 mins)

5. Pour in the rest of the wine and turn the heat down to low

6. Add the star anise and leave the mixture to heat through. Make sure that you don’t heat the wine up too much or you will boil off the alcohol. And where is the fun in that?

7. ladle into glasses and serve!

Some more sewing adventures!

A few weeks ago my digital kitchen scales broke. So what? I hear you say. So, apparently my baking mojo has broken with it. Even since I have not been able to double check my measurements with my scales, everything I make has seemed to be fatally flawed. I know that I could just go and buy another one but i’m so close to finally paying off my credit card debt that I just don’t want to splash out that sort of moolah for a good set of scales. And so, I have been resorting to my other hobby to keep myself occupied. Sewing!

So I bought some super fluffy pink flannelette fabric

of course it had to have bunnies on it

and made myself some pyjama pants!

Mum brought me back the tshirt from the Magnolia Bakery in New York last year.

Excuse the total mess behind me.

In case you couldn’t see in the pic, I cut the fabric upside down.


but of course its all a-ok because it means that the bunnies are the right way up for me!

p.s. totally loving mums fleecy cupcake pjs. Might have to whip myself up a pair!

and of course, wearing warm fluffy pjs requires disney. Lots of disney.

Apart from the slight problem cutting the fabric, I was very pleased with how these turned out. This is the first garment i’ve made and i’m still teaching myself all the bits and pieces involved. Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I had known for months that a big costume party was fast approaching. With a theme of ‘medieval’ I was a bit stuck as all the ebay costumes were sexy wench, sexy viking or medieval princess and were either super expensive or just a bit boring. My boy and I never really dress up for parties so, seeing as this was a 30th celebration, we thought that we would surprise everyone and go all out. I didn’t want to go down the ebay route so we tried to figure out some different ideas to fit in with the theme. I have to say that I think my suggestions were pretty good:

  • space vikings (with lots of silver and glitz)
  • ninjas (because who says medieval has to be european? And i’ve always wanted to go to a ninja party)
  • samurais (same as above)

Finally I came up with the idea of Odin (King of the Gods) and Valkryie (female spirits who took the souls of the valiant warriors to eternal bliss with Odin in Valhalla). I won’t post a pic of the boy up here but it is safe to say that our costumes were so complete that no one recognised us when we arrived. I do have a picture of the beard and wig he wore which will give you a bit of an idea…

He wore the same hat as in the picture there and the wig looked just as good in person as it did on the box.

I call that a win! I went down the anima/manga influenced Valkyrie with an electric blue and gold colour scheme.

I whipped up a skirt out of electric blue velour (never again as that fabric is so tricky to sew with!)

cut out some gold velour as a cape

Used a bit of gold spray paint on an old belt and some boots

popped on a blonde wig



Of course every good valkyrie spends time stitching extra elastic onto Odin’s beard…

I also made a pair of arm warmers out of the extra blue fabric as it was a super cold night but I can’t find a good pic of them at the moment. Overall I was pretty pleased with how the outfits turned out and I’m racking my brain trying to come up with other places to bust out those gold boots. Any ideas, my lovely readers? And what was the best costume you ever wore to a party?

Winter Warmers: Frangelico Hot Chocolate

Now, before I start with this kickass recipe that will warm your cockles this chilly winter, let me tell you a story.

On Friday I went to the Sydney Vivid Festival. Fortunately Unfortunately, as i’m quite clearly no photographer, I did not take any photos. Although the photographers were certainly out in force! I was out with my boy to take a look around at the amazing sights that Vivid had to offer, celebrate the end of a super stressful week and catch up with some friends. We found ourselves at the end of the night needing some warming coffee and cake only to find most places either shut or with an astronomical line waiting to get in. So we ended up at an obscure coffee shop in The Rocks. With two of our party ordering an Irish Coffee, I thought (with my aversion to coffee) – hey, why not make an irish hot chocolate? Normal hot chocolate with the shot of frangelico to make it extra warming and extra tasty! Simple? Yes. Opportunity for the cafe owner to price gouge? Definitely. The waitress returned apologetically to tell me that while an Irish Coffee would be $11.50, essentially the same thing but with hot chocolate powder instead of coffee would be $5.50 for the hot choc PLUS $8.50 for a shot of frangelico. So it’s only a few dollars extra, but really….

So I came home this long weekend and decided to make my own (and decidedly better) Frangelico Hot Chocolate.

It started with some finely grated dark chocolate

shake up some dry ingredients (including horlicks and good quality cocoa)

Whisk it all into some simmering milk

Then add a shot of frangelico

That will chase away the winter blues!

Deliciously rich and lightly hazlenutty, this is hot chocolate is just amazing. I adapted this Jamie Oliver recipe to make it a smaller yield. This recipe will give you two large mugs, enough for you to share it some a special someone (or just got for that second mug yourself. I’m sure you deserve it!) You could also make the hot chocolate without the alcohol, or substitute any other alcohol you like. Perhaps a little grand mariner for an orange hot chocolate?

So, lovely readers, what do you do to stay warm in winter?

Frangelico Hot Chocolate Recipe


500ml (2 cups) milk

1 tbsp Horlicks

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp icing sugar

2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

50g good dark chocolate (finely grated)

1 shot frangelico for each mug (or any other liquor you would like to add)



1. Add chocolate, horlicks, cornflour, cocoa and icing sugar to a small jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well.

2. Place the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and leave until almost boiling

3. Add the contents of the jar and whisk in well

4. Allow the mix to come to the boil, then pour into two large mugs

5. Stir in the frangelico and enjoy!

Kicking it old school: Scones with Jam and Cream

Well sydneysiders, it’s definitely Winter. In case you missed the memo, the weather gods have brought a doozy of a storm this week  to remind you. Winds of 100km/h, flash flooding, very sudden drop in temperature all hit mid early on in the week but, strangely enough, I’m quite content sitting here, indoors in my onesie and slippers. Yep. it is definitely onesie weather.

Don’t pretend you’re not jealous.

What could make being warm and inside on a cold rainy day even better? Scones of course! Just like your nana used to make, just like your mum used to make. Don’t you think they look comforting?

They’re simple, fun to make and are great if you want to bake but have run out of eggs. Not to mention they’re a great excuse to get out all your jams and a good pot of tea. Bliss!

I started off with some delicious Blueberry Jam, Rhubarb Jam and double thickened cream.

I scored the jam on my last trip to the Maxwell Treats factory in Berry. Delicious!

I found the scone recipe in The Country Show Cookbook that I was given for my birthday last year. It is full of recipes that have been winners at country shows around the country. This particular recipe is from Ruby Mulley who has been exhibiting at the Camden show continually for fifty years! Holy moly! Although there are myriad scone recipes in the book, this was the first in the section, and it seemed straightforward enough to follow. Although, I do think sometimes that these women who seem to have magic at their fingertips leave out a vital step or trick. My efforts never yield quite the same results as those wonder women in country kitchens. Still, these were pretty damn good.

I followed the recipe to the T

even when it meant sifting the dry ingredients six times.

Yes, I am not the most patient of women but I did sift it


I mixed it all up with a knife

Patted out the dough and cut the rounds

and BAM! Light as air, delicious scones.

One with rhubarb jam, the other with blueberry and BOTH with a great whack of cream

is there any other way to eat scones?

Look at that! Fluffy, warm and piled with the good stuff.

Overall it is a pretty easy recipe to follow and execute and great for a lazy morning on a rainy day. It’s also a nice accompaniment to watching re-runs of Monarch of the Glen and Heartbeat. Yes, I think my  inner homebody and oldie are definitely on display this winter. So, my lovelies, what do you like to do on a rainy winter day? And have you succumbed to the power of the onesie yet?

Scones Recipe (Ruby Mulley’s recipe from The Country Show Cookbook)


3 cups self raising flour

4 tsp icing sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp  salt

large 1/2 cup thickened cream

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup hot water


1. Sift all the dry ingredients together six times. Yes, SIX times. And don’t skimp if you want some seriously light scones

2. Make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients

3. Mix with a knife until all the ingredients come together. Don’t over mix or the dough will be too dense and heavy

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead well. Pat the dough out until it is a couple of cm thick

5. Cut with a sharp cutter and place onto a baking tray

6. Cook for 10 mins at 230 degrees celsius (210 degrees celsius fan forced)

7. Enjoy with copious amounts of jam and cream and a large pot of tea