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Cooking my Christmas Pudding – Damn the celebrity chefs it should not be that Hobson's choice

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- Tom Winnifrith

Today has been a day interrupted by my Christmas pudding. Last night I made it. There was stirring and making of wishes and today it has been steaming away happily for six and a half hours. In thirty minutes the heat gets switched off and it will be put in a cold dark place until I celebrate Christmas which this year, will be on Boxing day. I have always made Christmas puddings. I am a bit late this year but it is something my late mum used to do and it is great fun. For me Christmas sort of starts when I mix up a recipe.

This year’s recipe is a tad unusual in that instead of breadcrumbs I have a few oats in there. It tasted great when I scooped out the mixing bowl last night. It means the pudding is a slightly lighter brown than normal. I do not expect a crunch on Boxing day just the usual fruity taste (raisins, currants, apricots, apples, cherries with zest of orange and lemon) and obviously vast quantities of brandy. And then there will be a high octane brandy butter to go with it. I hope my cats like brandy.

But I read in the newspapers that for most folks the choice is not what to wish for as they stir but whether to buy the pudding of Delia, Jamie, Hugh or that loathsome man who advertises stock cubes like he really uses them in his 5 star restaurant. I am not sure if their mass produced stuff containing god knows what preservatives will taste better than my experimental creation but I know that I have had great fun actually making something for Christmas.

As kids we would also make our cards and presents for the grown-ups. We lived in a house where the tree was brought in from the garden each December 23rd for decorating on Christmas Eve and then returned to its natural home on 12th night. As my parents were heavily into the self-sufficiency movement we ate not turkey but, assuming that Brian May’s mate foxy woxy had not got there first, one of our geese which my father would kill and pluck.

These days most kids will send out bought in cards, will buy presents for mum and dad in a shop and virtually every Christmas tree is heading for a fire by January.

Maybe I am getting old and sentimental but I rather yearn for those simpler, less commercial, Christmases. With no garden right now making my own pudding is one link with my childhood which I can hang onto while dreaming of a day when I can like my mum did, recycle a Christmas tree every year and when what I eat on Christmas day is something I have reared and killed myself.

Now I am getting sentimental. But if you ever catch me buying a celebrity Christmas pudding you will know that I really have lost it.

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