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Right lads! Only two more baking days to go...roll up those sleeves..on with the cook's apron..and....{sound of crickets}

Oh! I see....ah well, it was worth a try. Not everyone can have the wonderful advantage of a Master Pastry Cook for a mother. When Mom found out that she was to have no daughters, the youngest son was dragged into the big kitchen and introduced to the joys of baking and cooking. It did me no harm whatsoever, and it helped me survive on a miniscule budget as a student, too!

A strange thing happened when I came to America; I found that many of my contemporaries didn't have time to cook (I'm talking about my male colleagues, of course!) I was also introduced to a term in the American kitchen vocabulary that was strange to me, namely, 'from scratch'. This would have been difficult to explain to my mother, and felt strange to me, also. After all, I even make my own salad dressings to match the salad ingredients available.

Anyway, I do NOT claim to be a great cook or baker, (I think I might have got a 'C' out of Mom if she was in a charitable mood), but I DO enjoy my adventures in the kitchen.

I've included a few shots of things to bake at Christmas; first up are cranberry/orange scones (Grandmother Sharp's recipe, translated to USA quantities). The dried cranberries and freshly grated orange zest - plus squeezed juice from the orange - make these a Christmas treat at the office amongst my co-workers.

Next you can see traditional sausage rolls. I CANNOT import Scottish-made sausage, of course, but I have found something made to a Czech recipe around here which is OK as a substitute. The second rack is for the vegetarians, as the filling is sliced braised mushroom 'sausage' (I've even been known to experiment with savoury curried chicken)

Finally, a mix of other baking. On the left wholemeal/raisin scones, on the right, dinner rolls, and in the centre, my favourite slashed French boules! These take a LONG time (an all-day process, with two major rises, and a rest period) but are worth it, as they open up like a flower, as you can see. Do NOT expect this result with American yeasts; I use imported French yeast for the best results.

Anyway, time to get the apron on, ladies and gentlemen, slip the Julia Child DVD in the computer....and get cooking!

Bon Appétit!

Originally posted to shortfinals on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 08:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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