Today I made my first Christmas pudding. I am planning on making at least half a dozen, possibly twice as many again. It all depends if I run out of wool...
Wool? I hear
you query. Have I gone completely mad? Well, possibly, but please read on.
Yes, the October half term was traditionally the time for the Making of the Christmas Pudding when the Ball Foursome were mere sprigs
on the family tree. The stirring of the great floury, curranty, spicy mess, along with the insertion of silver pieces (health and safety not having been thought of in those far off days) was one of the half term rituals which the whole family thoroughly enjoyed.
I did always wonder if perhaps I had made my pudding too early, especially come Christmas Day when I invariably found I had to scrape a layer of something suspiciously like mould from the top of my pudding before consigning it to be steamed to death.
For many years now, however, ever since the entry of the microwave into our kitchen, I have resorted to a shop bought pud with clear instructions for minimum time in said microwave. Gone are the days when I had to keep
dashing into the kitchen to check that the saucepan had not boiled dry (it usually had) leaving everyone else to enjoy the opening of Christmas presents. I don't miss that one little bit but I do miss the Stirring of the Pudding.
This year, however, I am spending half term as in days of yore making Christmas puddings - but of the knitted variety. It all started when I went to see my friend David, who runs our Questers group, to pick up the U3A projector which
I need for a talk I am giving to the Parkinson's Society tomorrow. As I walked into his living room the first thing I saw was an amazing array of woolly puddings, complete with holly and berries, beautifully knitted by David's wife, the Ever Resourceful Joy.
She has made 28 so far and they look, well, almost good enough to eat.
Armed with the pudding pattern, courtesy of Joy, I returned home to regale Mr B with news of my latest project. What a difference my knitted
puddings will make to our Christmas Dinner table. Mr B, it has to be said, would probably have been more impressed had they been eatable. I am not the only person in the family who is Always Thinking of My Stomach.
Quite apart from being half term, it is also Hallowe'en which was never celebrated at all when I was a littl'un but has apparently become the second biggest annual event in the calendar, second only to Christmas. As a festival, it must just have penetrated
our shores when my Foursome were small because I do remember them raiding the airing cupboard for old (or new) sheets to dress up as ghosts for the school's annual Hallowe'en event. This involved a large bonfire and generous servings of Witches' Brew (tomato
soup) and Devil's Teeth (chipolata sausages, courtesy of the local butchers). The scary nature of the assorted ghosts, ghouls, witches and wizards was tempered slightly by the fact that they all wore plastic mugs for their helping of Witches' Brew tied around
their necks with string so that they didn't get lost (the mugs, not the children - though it wasn't too easy keeping track of them all in the dark. The children, not the mugs.)
At Choir this morning we had
a bit of a discussion about seasonal songs, looking ahead to a short programme of ditties which we will be performing at the community centre's Open Day at the end of November. Our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, says that is far too early to be singing
Christmas carols or thinking about Christmas at all, for that matter. She is prepared to concede that a programme of Songs from the Musicals might be both timely and enjoyable, so we practise Do Re Me and My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music with our
customary gusto. The men are invited to perform Edelweiss and give a quite poignant rendition. That'll be sure to be in the programme. Tony, our new member from last week, is notable by his absence. I had a feeling he might not return when his response to
my query about how he had found his first session was that it had been "interesting"...Such a non-committal word, interesting.
Unlike the Redoubtable Muriel, I am quite prepared to start getting into the Christmas
spirit, early as it is. I have made one Christmas pudding so far and it took me an hour, not counting the time it will take me to decorate it with holly and berries. Mind you, I was watching The Apprentice on TV at the same time, curled up with laughter at
the hapless (and hopeless) contestants.
It looks great and it won't require steaming for hours on end. What's more, it will never go mouldy, even if I keep it
(and all the others I plan to make) for years and years to come. Which is, as puddings come and go, quite a result.
Trick AND Treat!