Hello friends! Thank you for stopping by. Today I have my final guest poster, Helen Jones. You can find her at blogging over at Bakingaitch or follow her on Twitter @bakingaitch. Today she is sharing her Christmas traditions with us, and I thought what a better day to share this with my friends than Christmas itself? Enjoy!
This year Santa Claus is definitely coming to our house! And the reason? I am mother to a 2 year old girl! The whole package is making her so excited…whether it is putting up the Christmas tree, wrapping the presents or spotting Santa Claus wherever we are.
But the thing that makes me smile the most is the question that she keeps asking as she looks up to the sky, “Santa…are you listening?”
Until this year, my little one has been too little to understand about Santa…but this year she knows that he is coming and that he will bring presents (if she’s good of course – a promise I have been using, like every good mummy, since October!)
This of course just adds to my excitement! I love Christmas because of all the food and the social aspect of having family and friends over. Also because I love to entertain and feed people.
I love thinking about what food I am going to serve, whether that be traditional or new ideas. I pour over recipe books and Christmas magazines for the perfect starter, vegetable side dish or a lovely cake.
Our Christmas tree will go up with my old decorations which do not match my living room, but I don’t care because they are mine! We will add to them with the homemade ornaments that my little one will bring from nursery, the one that I have bought her with her name on and the ones I have carefully made by hand.
I always love to make mince pies, which is of course a traditional English Christmas food.
I make a simple shortcrust pastry with self-raising flour, white vegetable fat and cold water to bring it together to a dough.
I roll out and cut out 3 inch circles which I place in a bun tin, add a teaspoon of mincemeat and seal (with a little water) a 2 inch circle lid which I have first put 3 little cuts in and said “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” as I did each one – a tradition that my mum taught me to do, and her mum before, and her mum before…
I will make gingerbread biscuits to hang on the tree and my little one will help me decorate them with icing and silver balls before we put them on the tree with ribbon.
I have been knitting and crocheting scarves for all my friends and relatives and making make-up bags with crazy patchwork and quilted baubles.
On Christmas day we will get up with excitement to see if Santa has been (I hope he does!) and eat chocolate before breakfast!
We are having beef for Christmas dinner (my other half doesn’t like turkey) with all the trimmings and Yorkshire puddings.
We will have roast potatoes, baked red cabbage with Bramley apple (a new recipe), brussel sprouts, sausagemeat stuffing (even if we are not having anything to stuff!) and carrots (for the 2 year old!)
I will make a Christmas pudding that no-one will eat because we are too full. And I will try to get everyone to have a piece of my Christmas cake that I have covered with marzipan and icing, and we eat with white stilton cheese (a Yorkshire tradition).
We will pull the crackers and drink snowballs (advocaat, lemonade and lime cordial – very 1970s). We will wear party hats and read out the rubbish jokes that come in the Christmas crackers and have a laugh and a joke and a generally good time!
But most of all, we will hope that Santa was listening to the times that we were good!
So back to the Christmas food that I love so much; here is a recipe that I must credit to my good friend Claire Walding’s Grandma, Sheila Collinson. She gave the recipe to me a few years ago as it is her family’s favourite and now it is one of ours too! It’s a great alternative way to use sweet mincemeat rather than in pies.
- 120g (2/3 cup) soft brown sugar
- 90g (6tbsp) margarine
- 30g (2tbsp) lard or white vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs
- 310g (1 cup) sweet mincemeat
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 200g (1 ¾ cups) self-raising flour, sieved (or add 2 tsp of baking powder to the same amount of all purpose or plain flour)
- Splash of milk if the mix is a bit dry.
- Preheat oven to 180oC/160fan/350oF
- Cream together sugar, margarine and vegetable shortening or lard.
- Add the eggs and mix in until combined.
- Add the mincemeat and mix well
- Add the mixed spice and flour and mix until just combined.
- If the mix is a bit dry then add a splash of milk.
- Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven before lowering the temperature to 160oC/140fan/320oF and baking for a further 50 minutes.
- When the cake is done remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.