Tag Archives: recipe

Friday again…

christmas cakes

Today is an auspicious Friday – it is the last day of my academic year, I got my last assignment back and I made the first batch of Christmas cakes.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light – I had to say goodbye to all my study friends until the new year, and Dad is having surgery as I type. The nature of melanoma means that there will be an anxious wait for the next week for the pathology results, even though we are optimistic.

I’ll be keeping in touch with one of my friends from the CAE – Bruce Clarke– through his blog Write On!. Bruce is a really talented writer; probably the most polished ‘new’ freelance writer I’ve ever come across. You should check it out when you get the chance.

On the Christmas cake front, I think I’ve finally found the recipe I’ve been looking for! I’m so excited – all the while I was trying out ‘rich’ fruit cake recipes, and what I should have been making was a boiled fruit cake! This might not seem important to most people, but I do love Christmas cooking, and now that my Grandma has gone, it is left to me to hold the fort (a self-imposed responsibility, of course).

Due to one of those very unpleasant and unexpected things that happen when someone in the family dies (like one half of the family suddenly telling the other half that they never really liked them, and winding up the estate on their own), my Grandma’s cookbook went who-knows-where, probably in the bin. For the last six years I’ve been trying to find a recipe just like hers, and I think this is it – hence my excitement.

Cakes are one of the things I like to give as gifts at Christmas, so I’ve been saving large Tuna tins for the last couple of months. They make the perfect-sized cake tin for this. The recipe, for a boiled-fruit-cake, was one a friend pointed me to on the ABC Sydney’s website. The only variations I made to it were to omit the lemon and almond essence, and the walnuts – mainly because a couple of friends had nut allergies (and I don’t personally like lemon essence) – and to divide the mixture into smaller tins.

If you want to do this, I found that each tin takes 1 1/4 cups of mixture and that they need to be cooked for an hour and a half. The three tablespoons of extra sherry called for at the end of the recipe became four, because I put half a tablespoon onto each of the eight cakes.

Happy cooking – hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Christmas, family, food, recipe, writing

Christmas Pudding time

Pudding Bowls

 It’s past the mid-way mark in October, and my mind has turned to Christmas. Meg and I are planning and buying components for gift making, and are well on the way to knowing who is getting what – although we still have to get everything ready in time.  I’ve given myself until the first week in December to get the presents ready for those interstate, which is the bulk of the family.

This year, because I am able to, I am spending time on presents, rather than money. At least, I am for those who appreciate it.  Not everyone sees the thought and effort that goes into making something from scratch. For these people, a gift of food seems to work where perhaps a handmade bracelet doesn’t.

So, the next thing on the list is the Christmas cooking. I’ve checked with my local nut shop owner, Ross, to find out when he will be getting the dried fruit in for the Christmas puddings, and have been assured that it will be in, in the week after the Melbourne Cup is run.

Making Christmas puddings has become a big deal for me.  Last year I made 13 – this year it will probably be 15. They are not all huge by any means. Some of them are only big enough to serve two; others are big enough to serve 12. I’ve got an arrangement with everyone who gets one, that if they return their empty bowl to me, I will refill it the next year. The image above shows the new set of pudding bowls I recently bought at Queen Victoria Market.  I love them so much that I won’t let them stray too far from home.

My Christmas Pudding recipe is a cracker – given to me by my mother-in-law about ten years ago, it originated in the Australian Womens’ Weekly, sometime in the ’70s, I believe. I make a gluten-free version for my coeliac friends, by substituting a wheat-free mix for the regular flour, and an alcohol-free version for my Buddhist friends from Tai Chi, so pretty much everyone is covered. In the latter case, I substitute orange juice for the brandy, and only let it soak for an hour or two before proceeding with the mixing. That’s the other thing I should mention: where the recipe calls for rum, I’ve always used brandy because I prefer the flavour it produces.

For those who don’t like dried fruit (though I find it hard to imagine myself),  I make various other confections, with Meg’s help: shortbread, gingerbread, chocolate balls (rum balls without the rum) – even jars of laksa paste and chutney.  Throughout November and December, the house is full of the smells of Christmas. I can’t wait.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, food, recipe