Hello Dear Reader,
I'm already thoroughly fed up with Christmas commercialism! Did you know, as if you can miss it, you can order a new sofa now and have it for Christmas. I can just imagine Jesus seated at the right hand of the father saying......"Never mind salvation and eternal life, I died so they can spend money they haven't got on things they don't need!" . Indeed, dear reader, I as well think not! Please have a look at the link on the right hand side of my blog. After watching the small film, scroll down and grab the button for your blog. We do Christmas very very simply. Few very small presents as a simple gesture, a family gathering and hospitality.
I used today to prepare some food. I made three Christmas cakes, one for us and two as gifts. Three jars of mincemeat, I like to be hospitable and offer a mince pie and a cup of tea. I also made seven jars of marmalade, just because Dearly Beloved loves it.
I use the Mamade, which I bought for £1.94 in Morrisons and a 2 kilo bag of sugar for £1.74 and made six regular sized jars and one extra large jar (the size of two normal jars). The marmalade cost me 46p a jar and it will last DB for another year.
I use Delia Smith's Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat recipes. I bought my dried fruit on line from Tesco as all of their home baking products were 3 for 2.
For each cake, you will need: 2lbs of dried fruit and nuts, I used apricots, dates, mixed dried fruit, cherries as I used everything I had. You will also need, 4 eggs, 8oz plain flour, 8oz soft brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, 8oz marg/butter. Delia adds the zest of a lemon and orange but as I didn't need to use either fruits, I didn't add them. I also added two tablespoons of rum to each cake. You simply cream the butter and sugar, add the flour and eggs and all the other ingredients. Pour into a well lined tin and bake for three hours on 150 degrees.
For the Christmas puddings, you will need: two small or one large pudding basin (I don't mess around with foil, string and paper, I just use a plastic sealed pudding pot) and a large saucepan to steam them in. I don't have a big enough steamer so I used my largest/widest saucepan and threw some cutlery in the bottom to stand the puddings on.
Ingredients: 4oz suet, 2oz SR flour, 4oz breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, 8oz soft brown sugar, 1lb of dried fruit and a handful of chopped nuts and chopped cherries, one bramley apple cored and finely diced, zest of one orange (I ate the orange!) 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of rum and 5 fl oz of strong tea. Delia says use stout or barley wine, but I didn't have any.
Stir the whole lot together in a big basin and transfer to the greased pudding basins. Steam for two hours.
Finally the mincemeat. If you are reading this from somewhere in the world and you've never heard of this, we use it to go into small sweet pies which we eat warm as a snack over Christmas. They are often eaten with thick cream, such as clotted cream. In our house, they don't last long!
To make the mincemeat, you will need: 2 Bramley apples, cored and finely diced, one bag of mixed dried fruit, 4oz suet, 6oz soft brown sugar, zest and juice of one lemon and one orange, 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, three tablespoons of rum. Tip the whole lot into your slow cooker, turn on high and leave it to cook through all day. At the end, it will seem like an oily mess, but when the mincemeat cools, the fruit soaks everything up. Pour the marmalade and mincemeat into washed and sterilised jars and put the lids on whilst they are still hot, as it cools the temperature change will cause a vacuum and help to keep it. For anyone who 'doesn't get' the process of jamming, the very high temperature of sugar and combination with fruit means it doesn't need pressure boiling or 'canning'. The mincemeat is preserved by the high quantity of sugar and fat. Any French person will be able to describe how they preserve meat in fat, such as duck that you can buy in jars.
My house smells lovely and for our simple tastes and traditions, Christmas is prepared. There isn't much more to do. The cakes will be wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil and 'fed' with rum once a fortnight and will have a marzipan and icing topping added a week before Christmas. The puddings will be stored in a cupboard of my unheated utility room, as will the marmalade and mincemeat.
Love Froogs xxxxxxx