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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Christmas Hoarding 2014 and Christmas Traditions Part One

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As some of you may recall every year I normally start buying a few extra items of goodies and things I need for Christmas cooking from the end of August beginning of September so that we do not have a massive grocery bill in December itself.  This system is the old country way that my grandmother utilised and my mum and which I in turn have carried on and no doubt many of you fellow readers also do something similar.  However as food prices have shot up I have found myself taking advantage of real offers on items and stocking up if I am able to on the item on offer.  I always check out whether the item is genuine as quite often it is a ruse to get you to buy a bigger pack of something when often it works out cheaper to buy a couple of the smaller packs.

My Nan/we lived in small country villages that did not normally have a bus route through and so if you did not drive or did not have a car you were reliant on close family or friends helping out but that was usually once a week mainly to go to the local market (in the case of my grandparents for items that they did not grow themselves); but normally for us it was just once a month and because there were not many shops you stocked up as best as you could on basics like your flours, fats, cereals pulses etc; kept a decent tinned store in for the same reason.  


Prior to the freezer being introduced to households (which made life a lot easier) many had bottled fruit like plums,apples, gooseberries, pears - whatever came their way, made jams, chutneys, pickles,  dried goods, wine, ginger beer, ale, stout and cider.  The idea being that the better the Pantry store the better your family pulled through during the winter months in particular and good food means good health for the most part.   But in those days you also had high tea on a Sunday and the ladies also did a big bake to last the bulk of the week where  meat pies, pasties, fruit pies,tarts, flans, sponge cakes, tea cakes and home made breads were prepared and fed to the family - Good simple cooking made with good honest ingredients and not from the supermarket filled with all sorts of unnecessary extras.

One of my family's traditions is to get the Christmas cake prepared early so it could be fed for a few weeks prior to popping on the marzipan and then icing with Royal Icing which needs time to dry and which I pop a teaspoon of glycerine into to keep the icing firm on the outside but soft underneath.  No one wants to break their teeth on hard icing!  I usually make the icing in my Kenwood leaving the icing to stand for a couple of days covered in cling film in the fridge to let any air bubbles have chance to dissipate before icing the cake.  My cake is not made yet but the fruit is steeping in brandy and will be made at the end of the week.  I normally have it done before now!  So am a tad behind but I will get there.

Another Christmas tradition is that the whole of Christmas Eve is spent baking and preparing and then the Christmas tree used to be put up in the middle of the afternoon.  However due to what I have to achieve I normally try and get the front room bottomed out early (sometimes it does not happen) for the best part but I certainly do not have the tree up too early.

Since my previous post on Christmas hoarding I have continued to collect a few items here and there - I haven't bought a lot of sweets this year as I have gone off them a tad and OH is now diabetic - I might make them instead. I love home made rum truffles, Turkish Delight, Coconut ice, peppermint creams, home made fudge and toffee.  I stockpile things like chocolate and cake icing decorations and buy them when they are on offer but they have to have a long stop date on them.before I buy as the ingredients are not just for Christmas.

Another reason for getting a few things at a time is that I cannot carry things very well these days due to medical conditions and it is easier to bring a couple of extra items home and I am easing the budget in the process.

All my goodies are stored in a large red plastic box under the stairs which acts as my preserve store as wel (not the box the cupboard under the stairs).  I make plenty of preserves and we have those too throughout the year (as well as at Christmas) as once Christmas Dinner is cooked its cold cuts and everyone helps themselves.  And of course I use jam in puddings and in tarts so it always gets used up.

TBC




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