Smorgasbord Food Column – Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen – Christmas Special 2021 – DIY presents, Sustainable Trees and Gifts, Cheesecake and Pickles.

Christmas Special from Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen.

Welcome to my Green Kitchen where I aim to cook food which is chemical free, in season and grown either by myself or purchased locally and in season…

Produce which is in season has far more taste than produce which is forced and grown out of its natural season …I also think it is the anticipation and taste that first of the season.
However, as Christmas is coming this edition will cover ways, we can have a sustainable Christmas plus some tried and tested Christmas recipes.

If you are like me, you will be appalled at the amount of waste Christmas generates…the waste comes from excess packaging which is often made out of a variety of different cardboards, plastic, cellophane, zip ties so many different items of packing for one item just blows me away sometimes and often you can’t separate them which means they either need specialist equipment to aid recycling or they just go to landfill.

Globally at Christmas our waste levels increase by 25-30% with much of the excess waste being made up from packaging, wrapping paper, cards and food waste. We must start to seek changes and one good place to start is Christmas, which for the waste industry is the most wasteful time of the year. We all know it is unsustainable to create a weeks’ worth of waste to celebrate one holiday so we must start to make changes.

As shoppers many of us over buy fresh food and other perishable items what happens they are thrown in the trash…

Chocolate which many of us love to eat…is not all Fair Trade it is produced using slave labour or child labour… we need…No… we must be more particular with what we purchase we need to wise up… we need to not take advertisements and labels on face value…Many just lie and are untrue…We need to check for ourselves…

The chocolate in cheap advent calendars is cheap chocolate, the packaging a mixture of card and foil is likely not recyclable…

We have time to make our own...we can knit, sew or make from wood and personalise the little gifts. Either a little promissory notes, we could make the chocolate shapes moulds are cheap and readily available, hair slides, little bracelets, little cars, gingerbread, wrapped sweeties there are so many tiny little gifts we can make or buy.

There are some great ideas on this video…

18 Festive Advent Calendar Ideas And DIY Christmas Decorations

Christmas Trees…

Everyone has their own preference…an artificial one can last for years…but how about renting a fresh Christmas Tree? I think this is a super idea it is delivered to you with watering instructions then after Christmas collected from you and replanted …You can have the same tree just a little bigger next year or choose another one…I think is a great idea…

You get to enjoy a healthy, real Christmas tree but don’t have to worry about what to do with it afterwards.

There is zero tree waste because the tree does not die in the New Year.

The trees provide habitats for wildlife in between festivities.

In between Christmases, rented trees can be re-planted and cared for by the supplier, ready to use again next year…. how cool is that?

The trees continue to remove carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere in between festivities.
Importantly you are also supporting a local business, you know exactly where your tree has been grown which means you can guarantee its carbon footprint and travel footprint.
I have a two links for you … but check out your local area…

Rent a Christmas Tree US

Rent A Christmas Tree UK

Personally, I think we can and must look at our own Christmas and see how we can improve on its sustainability. Google how many turkeys are wasted each year the figures are horrendous and then google how many starving people there are in the world…

Sustainable Gifts… Instead of buying more ‘stuff’ for people to hoard…to regift… really consider what you are buying and the impact it has on our environment in terms of manufacturing, packaging and lifespan.

Consider buying an experience gift such as concert tickets, short breaks away or a voucher for a lesson. Any gifts you do buy try to choose the sustainable option, consider the products carbon footprint…Consider what the recipient would love to have. Search for sustainable gift alternatives that have a lower impact on the environment. Alternatively, you could consider buying a charity gift that will make a lasting change to someone in the world.

Or cook a gift…A jar of sweet Mincemeat, preserves, Pickles, Homemade Mustard, an individual Christmas pudding, a jar of spice mix, Biscuits, homemade sweets like fudge or Coconut Ice all these can be prettily wrapped and I guaranteed will be gratefully accepted.

I have seen some beautiful Christmas embossed rolling pins…imagine what a lovely gift those cookies would make…and as an extra special gift maybe an embossed rolling pin to go with the cookies…

Now for some recipes…let’s talk Christmas cooking…what we can and what we should make in advance which makes our Christmas day stress free…

Traditionally the Christmas Puddings were made on Stir up Sunday…

This year Sunday 21st November is “Stir-up-Sunday” so if you can gather family and friends to make the Christmas Puddings …It’s the day when wishes are said to come true, so get stirring!

It is a tradition that harks back to Victorian times when the family would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas. The opening words of the Book of Common Prayer, used on the last Sunday before Advent, reads: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people,” so the tradition stands that this is the day to get stirring!

Please click here for my tried and tested Christmas Pudding Recipes.

Of course, a homemade Christmas Pudding would make a lovely gift and if it’s just for one a lovely miniature pudding with some Christmas embossed cookies or some homemade fudge or toffee and a hand written note on how to steam on the day instructions… I’m sure would be gratefully received.

For those of you who don’t like Christmas Pudding then this lovely Cheesecake can be made up to a month in advance and frozen…

Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.

For the base.

• Flavourless oil for greasing
• 300g digestive biscuits
• 50g desiccated coconut
• 160g unsalted butter, melted
• 25g coconut oil, melted
For the filling
• 560g full-fat cream cheese
• 250ml coconut cream
• 397ml tin condensed milk
• Juice 4 limes
• 4 medium free-range eggs

For the caramel

• 100g caster sugar
• 25g unsalted butter
• Good splash rum
• 75ml double cream, at room temperature
• 1-2 pinches sea salt flakes
• Pulp from 3 ripe passion fruits

Let’s Bake!

For the base, lightly oil a 20cm diameter, 8-10cm deep loose-bottomed cake tin and set aside.

Put the biscuits and coconut in a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs.

With the mixer running, pour in the melted butter and coconut oil and process until combined.

Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

Using the back of a metal spoon, press down on the crumbs to form the base, working them all the way up the sides of the tin to form a deep tart case.

Smooth the base until even, and then chill until needed.

Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/ gas 3.

To make the filling, put the cream cheese, coconut cream and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until combined.

Gradually beat in the lime juice, then the eggs.

Pour the mixture into the biscuit base (don’t let it come over the sides of the biscuit).

Bake for 50-60 minutes until lightly set – it should wobble in the centre a lot when gently pushed, but it will firm up in the fridge.

Remove to a wire rack, still in its tin, and cool completely, then chill.

To serve, bring back to room temperature before removing from the tin.

To make the caramel, put the sugar in a heavy-based frying pan and heat very gently until completely dissolved – every now and then gently stir it back and forth with a fork to distribute the sugar evenly.

Turn the heat up and bubble to a rich golden-red colour, then remove from the heat quickly and add the butter and rum. It will spit, so be careful.

Stir to combine everything, putting the pan back on the heat if the caramel hardens.

Once smooth, stir through the double cream and the sea salt flakes.

Put in a heatproof bowl, cover with a piece of cling film directly touching the surface, then leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Mix the passion fruit pulp into the caramel, then serve drizzled over the cheesecake while the caramel is still a little warm.

N.B. The cheesecake will keep chilled for 6 hours or wrapped in cling film and frozen for up to 1 month.

Once defrosted then drizzle with the caramel.

Question: I no longer keep cling film/saran wrap in the house I have come across a few recipes lately which advocate wrapping in clingfilm to freeze or to set jelly…For Jelly I unmould using warm/hot water but for wrapping a baked cheesecake I’m a little stumped has anyone any ideas for something which works equally as wellish…

I love pickles as do all my family and I pickle anything…most of the time it works I have had a few failures but mostly successes…Pickles can be made in advance so I hope you have all been saving your glass jars… they also make a lovely Christmas gift…

The only non-food presents I give now are for children…adults get food unless there is something that they really want or need…my eldest son always gets something chilli based or marmite based he repaid me with a very hot Naga Chilli Toffee Vodka…

Which on the Scoville Chart… if you are not familiar with “The Naga Viper pepper” it’s a hot chili pepper. In 2011, it was recorded as the “World’s Hottest Chili” by the Guinness World Records with a rating of 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), but was surpassed in SHU by the current world record holder the Carolina Reaper in 2017…which we have a plant growing in our garden…the plan is to make some sauces for gifts maybe a mango and chilli or a pineapple and chilli sauce…

Back to pickles of which our favourites are Pickled Onions, Pickled Jalapenos, Pickled Garlic, Cabbage and pickled cucumbers…Oh, and not forgetting pickled eggs

Today I will share my recipe for pickled garlic…

My garlic recipe is a favourite here I always have a jar or three in the fridge and they get dipped into as and when…

Pickled Garlic…

• 8-10 garlic bulbs
• 500 ml white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
• 90 gm sugar
• 1 tsp salt…I always use salt mined here locally.
• 1 tsp per jar of either mustard seed or fennel seeds (optional) we prefer the mustard seeds.

2 x 250-300 ml sterilised jars with good lids

Separate the bulbs of garlic into cloves and peel.

In a saucepan bring the vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the garlic cloves to the pickling liquid. Bring it back to the boil and simmer for five minutes.

Transfer the garlic cloves to sterilised jars. Add the mustard or fennel seeds if using. We actually couldn’t decide Fennel or mustard seeds so initially, I did both we have now decided for us that our preference is the mustard seed…Carefully fill the jars with the hot pickling liquid. Seal.

The garlic will be ready to use in about a week but improves over time.

Your pickles and Christmas puddings you can make now… your sausage rolls and mince pies you can make about the 1 Dec and freeze them… I freeze them uncooked and just thaw overnight in the fridge for the following day and cook as normal.
That’s all for this Christmas special thank you very much for joining me today…

Are you ready to join me in making your kitchen and garden a little greener, are you ready to cook from scratch more often and to count chemicals instead of calories and cost? Are you ready to plan and have a sustainable Christmas… Love Carol xx

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor


My thanks to Carol for another amazing year of posts and I know I have learnt a great deal about maintaining a greener approach to not just food and preparation but life in general. A great deal of work has gone into creating these posts and I am immensely grateful for not just this year’s columns but the four years that Carol has been contributing to the blog.

Next year, due to the uncertainty of my own plans I will be sharing our joint posts Cook from Scratch which I hope new visitors to the blog will enjoy..


65 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Food Column – Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen – Christmas Special 2021 – DIY presents, Sustainable Trees and Gifts, Cheesecake and Pickles.

  1. Thank you, Sally, for hosting me over the last 4 years…a friend for life…Good Luck with your future plans I am also not sure what next year will bring but I hope it’s peace and joy for us both…Hugs xxx

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  4. I’m with the others here on the brilliant idea of renting your tree. The cheesecake looks really tempting and I’m going to give it a go! For the last few years, I’ve given the grandchildren jigsaw Advent calendars. I make up a jigsaw, break it into 24 ‘chunks’ and put them in numbered envelopes. The number of pieces increases with age and they seem to really look forward to them! Thanks to Carol and Sally! xx

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  5. Renting a Christmas tree is such a great idea. I checked and we don’t have a place locally that rents trees, but maybe someone will pick up on the idea. I think I will give your cheesecake a try–sounds delicious!

    Happy Stirring Day!

    Thanks for a great post.

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  7. HI Carol, this is an excellent post and a good reminder to people not to be wasteful. Unfortunately, the people who would read a post like this are not the worst of the wasters, but that is life. I have one of those little patterned rolling pins and this post has reminded me I should give it a whirl. I am making some delicious shortbread and walnut and coffee slices for Christmas presents for my work colleagues this year.

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