Friday, 4 November 2016

Its beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas

I love the smell of oranges and spices it is warming and wonderful.

I have my fruit for my Christmas cakes soaking in brandy at the moment and the cakes will be made at the weekend.  One for me and one for my brother and his family.  might make a couple of Dundee cakes too if I get the chance but the Christmas cakes will do nicely to start with.  Oh I just wish my pantry was bigger.  I actually like making old fashioned fruit cakes there is a timelessness for me in making them a ceremony, a tradition.  The girls in my family have always cooked and for me its tradition and following in the footsteps of our loved ones who have dearly departed. 

From what my mum has told me her birth family all nine of them - (the youngest was born whilst my granddad was away in the Army and he never lived with him) and the two adults used to go to my Great Grandmothers for Christmas together my Grandmother's siblings and their families or should I say Great Aunt Ivy's family as Great Uncle Tom never married were there and I think there were 20 plus for Christmas Day dinner.  Mum told me that the house in which my Great Grandmother lived was massive and plenty big enough to house everyone.  The house was that big that she used to take in lodgers, but she remembers there being a roaring fire, my Great Granddad (her Granddad) would be home and they would be given a bright new shiny penny by him there was lots of food, big platters full of food.  My Great Grandparents at one time ran a very busy bakery in Brightside Bierlow in Sheffield and from all accounts my Great Grandmother was a very good cook.  Something that seems to have filtered its way down the generations as all the girl cousins seem to be very adept in the kitchen department and some of the lads too.

Anyway I digress as usual.   I just love the smell of spices and dried fruit and one of the things that I do make every year is oranges or clementines/mandarins cut into rings and covered with a spiced syrup.  

Here is the recipe that I have used in the past.

But I also use these oranges once made to glaze a Christmas Ham.   I drain the oranges and attach them overlapping them one at a time to a ham joint and some of the syrup and then cook in the oven.   It gives a beautiful finish to the outside of the ham.   I also pin a clove into the middle of each the orange slices which gives a wonderful flavour to ham although I appreciate that this is not to everyone's taste.  Oranges used to be preserved in this way  when citrus fruit was scarce and expensive.

However this year I have come across another similar recipe that I intend to try and I shall pop this up under separate cover.

Now is the optimum time for preparing these oranges as they need six weeks standing time on a pantry shelf.  Under normal circumstances you would serve a couple of the rings with some syrup to accompany cold pork, ham, duck, goose, tongue, pheasant and partridge.

So that will be a little something else squirrelled away in preparation for Christmas.

This weekend though I am going to be concentrating on chutney making to make sure that my chutneys get a maturation time of about six weeks or more before being used. There might be the odd other preserve as well but I shall start those tonight when I get in.  The thing with chutneys is that they keep very well on a cold pantry shelf and can be used throughout the year so are well worth the making.  They are also useful for passing on to a friend who does not cook as a small Christmas present.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you later.




  1. I love your memories, so thank you for sharing. Big old houses, roaring fires & platters of food sound amazing. Great recipe thoughts too. Tracy xx

    1. I have had some wonderful times over the years and I am grateful for the people who have been around me and loved me and shaped me into the person I am today. Christmas is about letting the inner child out and bringing the magic back especially into children's lives. You are making memories by doing so for them to remember and relay to their children. Being happy and being loved are the most wonderful gifts of all. I am from a very large and loving family and we share with everyone we come into contact with. Something given from the heart and with the purest intent stands out head and shoulders above everything else and has its own definitive glow. Take care. Pattypanxx


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