I think it’s clear I’m a Christmas fan. I don’t need most of the excitement to start until into December (music and decorations), that’s early enough, but I do really enjoy every little detail about the festive season, including planning the foodIt always starts with my Gran’s Christmas Pudding and the Christmas cake, in November (I like to feed my cake and the pudding lasts forever so I make it whilst I have all the dried fruit out). I have put charms into the larger of the two puddings (the bold text links take you to posts about the recipe), I bought two sets some years ago but never used the second, until now. I read loads online about how best to do this and in the end wrapped the charms in baking parchment to make tiny bundles before tucking them into the pudding mix. I did sterilize the charms in boiling water but this seems a bit pointless if you’re then going to wrap them in the unsterilized paper.I was a bit smug about a removable lid I made for the cake, so that it could be easily fed (with brandy). The boys don’t eat fruitcake so I was quite liberal with the booze and I opted for the Creole recipe by Delia, again, which already starts with a mixture of alcohol.I then did something a bit odd and cut a small circular cake out of the middle. The small cake is going somewhere else and the big one (missing its centre) will stay here for me to eat. I was explaining this to a friend and she suggested it would be a good way to split a cake where you want to feed half (for adults) and leave some for children. I did all of this whilst prancing about in one of the new aprons I’ve made for the shop, a different version of the vintage pattern I’ve used for some years, only this time with gold and white doves.I enjoy changing things for Christmas. The shelf in the kitchen has had its Summer crockery removed and the vintage Stockholm china (by Crown Devon) has replaced it. I even just got the boys winter mugs out for a hot chocolate (we have a teeny, tiny bit of snow this morning and they got overexcited and demanded hot chocolate!)The Christmas cookbooks are also out again. I predominantly use the same ones (Delia and Jamie Oliver) but I’ve fallen in love with Nigel Slater’s new book, The Christmas Chronicles. It’s a kind of diary of the festive season with recipes interspersed between and I’m really enjoying reading it a bit at a time, following the same days as those in the book.I feel very organised this year. I made brandy butter, rum sauce, bread sauce and 18th Century stuffing this week, all now in the freezer (see this post for details). I make some of these regularly for our Sunday lunches anyway but they freeze so well and it saves a lot of effort on Christmas Day if you’re cooking a traditional bird roast. Let’s face it, bread sauce is easy enough to make fresh, but for regular Sundays only I eat it so I make a big batch and portion it into little bags as a roast chicken or pheasant just isn’t right, in my opinion, without some bread sauce!Our big tree is up in the living room, complete with its usual tat and the mini tree in the hallway has the older vintage decorations on it as a memory to my Gran, who always had a similar tree in her living room. I’m amazed this tree is still alive, it’s in its third year now and desperately needs re-potting and more regular watering!
I need to go and treat the chickens so something nice, they are sulking about the cold, snowy weather and then I’ll start our Sunday roast – who said weekends were relaxing!