Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 48, Tuesday December 23, 2008



Dearest diary,
As far as my memory serves me, I think I was a 'reader' as soon as my chubby hands could hold a book. Thus began my tryst with the magical world of imagination and induction into the different traditions and influence of the world beyond me. I do not think I had the pleasure of growing up with Sesame Street but my love affair with Enid Blyton and my first school teacher, Mrs. Robinson began with a bang.

Through my favourite author I came across wondrous visions of snow, angels, reindeers, Santa Claus, friendships, boarding schools and life's little lessons. And through my teacher, a wide-eyed child of the sixties, I was taken across a journey of fairy tales, elves, sand-pits, kiddie pools, play dates, and the question…why my mother did not wear pants as other mothers and why my name wasn't more like...Jane, Elizabeth or Kate? I seriously wonder now...after such a traumatic, topsy-turvy, confused world of mine, how I managed to stay somewhat grounded (if I say so myself).

Anyway, then all through my teen years as I whizzed past my Barbara Cartlands, Mills and Boons and Gone With the Wind, I always wondered, when would I experience all the ermine muff, sable cloak, ankle boots, hot-chocolate, slush, red cheeks and frozen finger moments. Then finally at 1979 my wish came true. My parents sent me to England for my first Christmas with my uncle and aunt. I do not think I ever told my hosts how memorable they made my stay.

So…today, I am taking this opportunity to thank two of my aunts and both my uncles for making this young girl feel so special and loved. I remember my uncle telling me that, that year they were having a white Christmas after a very long time. I promptly accepted all the credit with due humility. It was truly a magical experience for me. From the soft snow fall to the formation of angular icicles on the roof was so overwhelming that it would take my breath away every time I looked into its pristine beauty.

Now after 29 years I have yet again faced another soon-to-be white Christmas and I was quite surprised at my total volte-face. This time I saw the beast behind the beauty. I just couldn't imagine how this soft, flaky beautiful wonder of nature creates such havoc into human existence? When I see people with sharp objects chipping into ice to get to their car, slippery roads, back breaking shovelling, people and children going to work and school in pitch darkness, wind chill, snow tyres, and salt trucks…I say…yeah to my good old humid Bangladesh. And, diary, this is only my opinion.

Anyway diary, all said and done...snow, Christmas, Santa, egg nog, festive malls, presents…all good and nice, but from a warm apartment to my friend Nitu's car. So diary, Merry X'mas and a Happy New Year!

Rich X'mas Cake
4 cups of raisins
½ cup of chopped dates
1 cup of glacè cherries
1½ cups of orange juice
2 tbsp of marmalade
250 g butter softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp grated orange rind
4 eggs
2 cups of plain flour
2 tsp of mixed spice (consisting of cinnamon nutmeg and cloves)
1 cup of blanched whole almonds

Pre-heat the oven. Line a deep 19 cm square cake pan with baking paper extending above edge of pan.

Combine all the fruit, juice, marmalade in a large bowl.
Beat butter, sugar, rind in a small bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add egg one at a time, beating until well combined.

Add butter mixture to fruit mixture. Mix well. Mix in the sifted flour and spice. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Decorate top with almonds. Bake uncovered in 150 C/130 C for about 3-3½ hours or until cooked when tested.
Cool overnight.

180g butter softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
1½ tbsp milk
1 2/3 cups of plain flour
2 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp pistachio nuts chopped coarsely

Beat butter, ½ cup of icing sugar in small bowl until light and fluffy. Add milk until combined. Add sifted flours. Refrigerate biscuit dough until firm enough to roll. Shape the dough into a 30 cm log, roll the dough and place on tray to refrigerate. Cut the dough into 5 mm slices. Place on baking tray and sprinkle pistachio nuts into dough. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Rich chocolate cup cakes
¾ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup boiling water
250 g butter softened
2¼ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
300 ml skim milk

Chocolate sauce:
150 g dark chocolate chopped
100 g milk chocolate chopped
90 g butter

Pre-heat oven to 160 C
Melt the cocoa and boiling water in a large heat proof bowl until smooth. Allow to cool.

Beat the butter, sugar in a bowl with electric beater until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time beating until combined.

Stir in combined sifted flour, baking powder and skim milk. Stir in cocoa mixture. Mix well. Divide mixture among cup cake holders and bake for 25 minutes or till cooked.

Chocolate sugar: Place both chocolates and butter in a large heat proof bowl and melt them in the microwave till butter melts and mixture is smooth and stands till spreadable consistency.

Spread cupcakes with chocolate sauce. Decoration optional.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Samina Quasem for arranging the photo shoot.

Check It Out

Creative Christmas!

“Jingle-bells jingle bells jingle all the way…”

The ringing of the Christmas bells reminds us of the festivity of the season. With December and the commencement of winter, Christmas lovers begins preparing for the big day.

Many Christmas products are already on display, and Folk International is just the place to get started. Cosily tucked away at House #19, Road #108, near Shikdar Medical in Gulshan; it specialises in all sorts of Christmas handicrafts like bells, wrights, tinsels, angels and lanterns. You can choose from the variety of brilliant styles, colours, designs and themes.

Here, the Christmas pine trees of 24 inches are priced at Tk 3200, 36 inches at Tk 4000 and 50 inches at Tk 4000 each. Beautiful décor items crafted vigilantly from paper, jute, thread, wood, cloth, foam and wool can be bought at a price range of Tk 20-160. Sparkling shooting stars and solid glitter balls can be bought either as packs or loose according to your preference.

Symbolising the festival, red and green colour schemes have been used in the table runners, mats, napkins and cushions with mirror-work and embroidery that roundly range between Tk 340 and Tk 1080. Special jute bags printed in comic characters and funny cartoons for children to carry their Christmas goodies can also be found here. ]

Delightful nativity sets narrating the story of the three magi, Mother Merry and the shepherds are priced exclusively. Such sets have enlivened the entire environment of the shop. This is also the place from where you can make your pick on hand-made Christmas cards. Hit the branches of Archies and Hallmark for a further selection of your particular Christmas greetings.

Christmas ornaments can be found in all shapes, colours, sizes and styles, so with this much variety; why limit yourself to only hanging them on a Christmas tree? Start by creating a festive front door, decorating the entranceway of your house. Give your home a warm and inviting feel.

Scented candles, be it long dinner candles or balls and mini baubles, brings about an impressive look to your home décor. These ornate candles can be found in Folks International, Aarong, Jatra and many other places. Aarong too comes with an array of items such as stars, bells, birds, butterflies, etc., at reasonable prices. If you are not much into handicrafts then you can pay a random visit to the shops at the DIT market in Gulshan circle.

Another essential Christmas décor is the star-shaped lantern. Stars have their own uniqueness in this season and without it the décor remains incomplete. When hung on the balconies or yards, they bring a charming touch and grab all the attention. You can also buy night-lights and other shaped lanterns or lamps for the lighting.

Gorgeous flower and foliage arrangement are widely available and remain the evergreen ornamentals for home décor. Use them artistically to transform the ambiance and furnish a new look to your home.

Finally, don't forget to stop by the confectionaries and indulge in their scrumptious Christmas temptations. Confectionaries namely, Kings have a lot of themed candies and chocolate centre-pieces and decors. These not only make great giveaways but additionally bring a whimsical tone at home. Get going and add a touch of something different and extravagant and special as Christmas. It is a time for family, for sharing, for giving, and a time for food, fun, and friendship. Wishing you peace and happiness on Christmas, and always.

By Zion Ara Hamid



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