Sunday, 4 November 2012

Frugal Christmas preparations

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. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxx


  1. Thank you for the recipe and the how-to-make mincemeat. I'm looking forward to my first Froogs mincepie of the year already xxx

  2. Great post. The first few sentences made me smile - I am sure that Jesus isn't seated on a DFS sofa either!!

    Just off to sort out a few more Xmassy gifts. Made with love rather than bought on Amazon.

  3. Beat me to it, Delia is my Christmas cake recipe of choice. Will put my back into it next week.

  4. I hate the adverts for Christmas-the Argos one really takes the Michael. Three Aliens sat around with a must have tablet??? I am making things to send out to my son in law in Aghanistan, i am opening my house at Christmas to friends and neighbours. I enjoy being hospitable on a budget and I enjoy company. Christmas is for sharing and caring and getting together. Everyone will bring a bit of something and we will make a toast to those loved and can't be with us and those who are dearly missed and no longer here. x

  5. I can just imagine how good that all smells! I'm looking forward to being able to have all our kids and grandkids at our house at Christmas this year. That's the best present I could ever have!

  6. I hate the adverts for Boots ' here come the girls', yuk !

    1. Oh yeah, so for salvation we have to have a! new sofa, go shopping with aliens and slap on more makeup - I thought it was about Jesus!

  7. Hello froogs
    did a similar thing today myself made 2 large Christmas cakes with the packet fruit I bought for a song when the co-op was having a clear out all happily bought for a pittance! there is enough left over to make some smaller ones as gifts but that is for another day. the recipe i used was one from BBC food and said to ad a healthy teaspoon of marmalade , tasted the raw nix and it did help to give it a lift without all that grating and what not. I also make my own mixed peal from the fruit I use during the year but never got the chance to sadly as this year has been all go.
    Presents will be as home made as I can do some will have to be bought but tat can be done cheaply so happy with that. I am so looking froward to a quiet thoughtful and gentle Christmas this year. As I will be sitting on my 2ndhand non dfs sofa drinking a good cuppa and munching on a piece of homemade Christmas cake made on the uber cheep thinking of those who i love and miss whist spending it with me old fella,and am richer for it. wonderful post froogs.

  8. Yay for christmas cookery!

    Our family do MAKE BAKE SEW GROW for gifts. Gold!

  9. This is just the right post for me today ! Yesterday I was given about 10 kilos of green tomatoes, so I made 12 jars of chutney today, half of them will be part of my Christmas baskets, I really love doing home-made Christmas !
    I also baked 24 green tomatoes muffins, and put 12 of them in the freezer for my children snacks.
    This year I'm going to try your mincemeat recipe for sure !

  10. I've made my Christmas cake today, and like you, Delia is the Queen in our house. I have been making this cake for years now, and when son got married on a frugal budget, I made this cake for the base of their wedding cake (then a chocolate sponge layer, topped with a lemon drizzle layer). Made the same combination but on a slightly larger scale (bigger wedding, more guests) for daughters wedding two years later.

    I'll be making the Christmas puddings (I make lots of small ones for gifts) and mincemeat over the next couple of weeks. I love Christmas baking, the smell in the house is awesome!

  11. You really go over the top for Christmas by my standards. What do I do for Chrissie? Watch other people support the economy by spending money on garish Christmas lights in their gardens. Party. Have a too-decorated tree. Swim a lot. Visit family and annoy them. Play cricket. Go on a holiday. Bali and Singapore are popular with families. So is the beach. I guess somebody goes to church. For Christmas dinner? Everyone is different of course, but barbequed seafood is popular in this town. No flaming pudding because we do this in the day time. Gifts? For the last three years our family has been doing the thing where one person gives the money to buy a goat in Africa and the other person gets a card to say it has been done. Or ducks, or seeds, or tools. Various charities do this sort of thing. During the year I spend ridiculous amounts of time making cards and special gifts for friends. One day someone will do the same for me, but I sanctimoniously hope they glue their finger to their nose attempting it. I see Christmas as a social occasion and not a religious one. I do not do reindeer, elves, white fake fur, parties for the greedy, satin frocks, snow, gifts for the neglected children who have nowhere to keep them, banners, flashing lights, or home made movies. I love Christmas time.

  12. the hapiness is a new sofa gets me every time
    also hate the coca cola advert. Argos one year had the tagline for everything you want at Christmas. When in Argos queing I ended up in a foul mood and asked which was the catalogue number for peace on earth. The cashier looked very confused. Naughty I know. Stress at xmas is great.

  13. I do Delia's Christmas pudding but I use cider instead of stout/barley wine. Makes an absolutely delish pudding. Couldn't find any candied peel this year so made my own from what would otherwise have been thrown away plus a simple syrup of sugar and water. Very easy but I found I had to cook it in the sugar solution for a lot longer than the recipe said. It looks so pretty sitting in the jar now. I think I'll cut the candied oranges into strips and dip them in chocolate, that always looks and tastes so luxurious

  14. OMG THE ASDA ADVERT! That is all!!
    Hi Froogs,
    I am going to definitely try that slow cooker mincemeat recipe, already copied and pasted it!
    My top tip for mince pies is , I always buy a jar of smart price/shops own/ cheapest mincemeat I can. I tip it into a large bowl. I add chopped apple, a few sultanas and glacé cherries ( cause I love them ), some grated lemon zest and a good slug of brandy/sherry/rum/whatever I can get my hands on. I cover it and leave it over night.
    Tastes luxury for not much money at all :-)
    Also when making them, make your pastry cases, pop the mincemeat in then I roll out marzipan till very thin and cut out small discs and top the mincemeat with one before putting the lid on. They taste GORGEOUS!

    In hungry now!
    Love Rachel x

  15. I made Delia'a recipe cake for the first time about three weeks ago as I also wanted one to take to my dad early. He loved it so much I guess that is our celebration cake of choice for the future.
    I did add the orange peel as I was making a cheesecake for another family members birthday, so the juice went in that and the peel in the Christmas cake.
    I often wonder how many more sofas the world needs! i do so dislike that advert

  16. Tell me about it!!!! I hate xmas already!!! I went to leeds over the weekend and got it done!!!! I dont care if I dont see another shop in my life!!!!! I have got to make cakes and jam as yet, sweets I am trying for the first time this year, so fingers crossed!!! I showed the kids the video and they looked at me as if I was mad!!! It made me feel terrible.

  17. Tesco have their dried fruit and flour on offer at 3 for the price of 2 at the moment. Very appropriate for those wanting to try Froog's Christmas recipes : )

    I've stocked up enough to keep me in flour and fruit for at least six months. Most is dated at least 9 months ahead and some of the fruit is dated 12 months ahead.

  18. I agree. I love christmas. I mean love it. But what I love most is spending quality time with family. All our gifts this year are second hand or made. And I find kids get really spoilt the more you give them. So we are giving less. But still having a wonderful christmas in other wsys.

  19. Hi froogs

    I've been following your blog for a while and thought it was about time I left a reply to at least one of your posts. I just wanted to leave a little comment to say welldone and keep at it! (Also a huge thank you for the amount of inspiration that oozes from your blog!) I completely follow this way of living and especially at xmas! I agree whole-heartedly that you can't "buy" xmas! I have a xmas tradition with friends where our presents can only be free, found, homemade, recycled or less than £5 for a good cause; charity shop, book sale etc. Every year we each get amazing heartfelt gifts and usually don't have to spend a penny! So bring on the home baked ginger bread and mince pies, free things from "magicfreebies" and home made trinkets!Again thanks!


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