Monday, 24 November 2008

It's nearly December...

I love Christmas. Not the commercial Noddy Holder version - the mince pies in front of a fire version. I can be quite puritannical about Christmas - we put up the tree and decorations on Christmas Eve and come down on the 6th January. And Andy won't even talk about Christmas until it is December. No crazy and manic present buying - we take one day off during the week and blitz it. I use brown paper and string to wrap the pressies. But when it comes to teh food - I begin to secretly plan meals and lunches and cakes and all manner of luscious goodies in my head. I scour my recipe books and look out old favourites and seek out new taste bud teasers. for those of us who do the main bulk of cooking and baking, Christmas needs to be thought of with a bit of time to spare.

I love looking out the recipes used year on year (mincemeat, stuffing) and discovering new ones (Nigella's christmas ham looks like it will feature this year for the first time). For me Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, being warm and cosy and eating and drinking things that make you warm inside and taste oh-so-good. And that doesn't mean wolfing down several boxes of Quality Street. I mean proper old fashioned Christmas fayre. The things I am thinking about for this year include:

Home made mince pies
Home made Christmas cake with a wee glass of port and some Wensleydale cheese
Chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon
Porridge with cream and honey (I have porridge for breakie most mornings but this is special for Christmas)
Black Bun
Big chunky broths made from proper stock made from the turkey bones and accompanied by bannocks or soda bread
Hot chocolate with ginger biscuits
And making all the food I usually don't have time to make when I am working

Traditions must be kept. My mum mentioned that she might buy a Christmas cake this year and she got her ear chewed off for it by my sisters and I. My mum's Christmas cake is the best cake ever. It is dark and moist and the fruit is distributed perfectly and you just can't buy what homemade Christmas cake doused in spirits every week tastes like. Anyway, no matter that my mum is a nurse and is busy and has wee brother Theo to look after and the house has the builders in - in the true spirit of Christmas we have ignored all of that and demanded our homemade Christmas cake. You have to understand, it is not that we are extremely selfish and cruel; if there is no Mum's cake then there is no Christmas!

And I love mulled wine. The smell, the warmth, the taste. The mince pie that accompanies it. The feeling of being snug and safe and cared for that you get tucked up in front of the fire after a long walk in the cold, crisp winter air. Sharing this with friends and family. That is what Christmas is to me. And when we have our Christmas dinner and Andy takes our annual 'about to eat teh dinner' picture (laugh if you like, I don't care) and tucks in like someone who hasn't seen food for weeks, I feel that Christmas is complete.

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