Beatrix Potter wrote once that in her work as an artist she had cultivated a "seeing eye". A tautology you might think, for surely all eyes are seeing eyes. But it's amazing how much we look at and do not see. Freezing fog comes, cold-coated and seemingly inhospitably-minded, and shows us what we so often miss in the world around us. It lends us a "seeing eye" for a space. I love that and although I shall be grateful not to have to drive down country lanes in freezing swirls of mist, I shall be sorry to see it disappear. As it will, as silently and imperceptibly as it came, leaving only the faint, chill memory of evanescent beauty hovering over the most ordinary and unlovely of objects. It's fanciful, I know, but I wonder whether secretly those objects now rejoice, knowing that they have had these moments of heart-stopping beauty given them.
I am obviously rather suggestible because inside, I have been adding whiteness, rather less beautifully, to chocolate cupcakes. These are Nigella Lawson's Christmas Cupcakes from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, reworked slightly. I omit the coffee and replace it with a teaspoonful of orange oil - somehow the mixture of spices, dark chocolate and aromatic orange is very Christmassy indeed. If you haven't got any orange oil, use the grated zest of an orange instead.
Despite my normal aversion to frosting things, the freezing fog has influenced me to top the dark little cakes with a thick, muffling blanket of royal icing and white sugar snowflakes ...
White beauty outside
and, to a lesser extent,
white beauty inside!