Posts Tagged ‘christmas pudding’


December 18, 2010 2 comments

The Gothic way with an igloo.

It snowed yesterday.

This is the proof that we are easily distracted if not barking bonkers mad ( to quote one of the childrens friends). Actually I had a cunning plan to get the boys interested in clearing snow, this snow was sticky and rolled up well into giant snowballs, I thought they might just roll the snow off the footpaths…back to the shovel.

Still we got the other stuff done too even though it entailed the husband writing e-mail instructions for a project in India until gone midnight. I finally baked the Christmas cake which looks OK and I’ve got up early to get the butter icing made for my mother in laws birthday cake also made yesterday.

Butter icing is one of my stong suits, I discovered as a teenager how to make the real deal from the Penguin Cordon Bleu Cookery book which is one of the few cookbooks I use, in fact I am on my second copy the first one fell apart. It offers three ways to make posh butter icing. I use the Italian merigue method which today will involve :

3 egg whites

6oz icing sugar and

 12 oz of unsalted butter.

flavour as required (that’ll be Brandy or Pear brandy today then)

You mix the sifted icing sugar with the egg whites place in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and whisk until the mixture fluffs up and looks just like shaving foam, allow to cool , cream the butter and fold the two together. I have just proved that it is possible to drink tea while whisking the meringue its not that arduous.

Its quite a big cake and we took it out of the oven a bit too soon so theres some  stuff to cover up!

It actually has to be unsalted butter for this, this is not one of those recipes which calls for unsalted butter then adds salt on the next line. My inbred carefullness objects to buying unsalted butter unless it is really neccessary as it generally costs more (except in Lidl) and keeps a lot less well. I think this is a mark of how bound we have become by the way people who cook in restaurants cook.

No2 son had to produce a ‘masterpiece’ for school once in any medium…at short notice of course. We went for a master chocolate cake with this icing and numerous chocolate embellishments dreamed up by No2 which went down well…all the children had a slice but then it was last seen disappearing in the direction of the staff room and was never seen again.  I’d do the same if I was surrounded by kids 4-11 year olds everyday.

I have to add that things were getting a bit fraught towards the end of yesterday and I realised how easy it would be to become dependant on brandy soaked sultanas if they were freely on offer every day.

Yesterday morning the snow was adding an inch per cup of tea as I surfaced. Its a shame in a way its in the Christmas run up there would be more fun to had with it if there weren’t other competing activities. As in shame of shames I havn’t made a pudding yet ( still its the easiest of the lot the pud, I reckon)


Too Big a Tree

December 13, 2010 2 comments


Before the tinsel went on.

As I unpacked the Christmas decorations it felt like less than six months since I packed them away (tradition insists that I pack them away…good sense dictates it too). No2 son said it felt like much more than a year since the last tree went to the great bonfire at the bottom of the garden. He is like me, he loves and remembers the decorations.

They departed to get the tree last weekend, it took so long I began to wonder about trips to Lapland. Before they went a tape measure was brandished in the living room and so I thought, ” You never know they might just bring back a tree that fits, Naaa they won’t ”

It was too big. Of course it was too big. It is always too big.

Here is the photographic proof:

The bottom had to be cut, that’s it on the stove, then it was all dug out again and the pot excavated to get the tree deeper down, and even then:

The tree is scrapping the wretched artex on the ceiling! So the fairy will be looking for a new job this Christmas or getting a severe crick in the neck.

Still at least we havn’t had the usual panic as the tree starts to fall over complete with my lifetimes collection of baubles. Yet.

I could probably bore you with the provenance of everything on the tree…but I won’t- just the little christmas tree at the bottom left above. I bought it to take with me on my first trip to Africa one Christmas. We spent Christmas day at Victoria Falls having cooked the Christmas Pud on an open fire at Sinamatella Ridge in Zimbabwe the night before. So we had the pud, we had the tree and we got turkey at the hotel on Christmas Day; only there was a guard on the terrrace to stop the hippos gatecrashing the party from the lawns where they grazed. When we crossed the Zambezi river that day there was a stream of women walking over the bridge to buy boxes of bread in Zimbabwe to take back to Zambia where often it was unobtainable. My visitors last week told me that these days the same thing is happening only the flow of women and bread goes in the opposite direction as Zambia has supplies and Zimbabwe  frequently does not.

That trip ended memorably at Lusaka airport where a passing businessman overheard the check- in desk being unhelpful. He took up my case vigorously with the woman from the airline and within minutes they were arguing violently, the fight became physical and the man climbed over the check in conveyor belt to further his point as people arrived from all over, it took three people to hold each of them back. By that time my plane had left without me , oh joy. The airline had to admit it was at fault having brought the flight forward two hours without telling me when I confirmed, no not willingly, but they then said there was no accommodation and the restaurant  was on strike and the next flight was four days away….oh extra joy. They did in the end get me onto a BA flight the next day.