........I provide for the sweet tooth among us.
Having adored my MIL's sweetmince recipe all my married life I finally nabbed it and added my own poetic licence to zing it up a little. By that, I mean that I slipped with the brandy. Hic!
This no-cook recipe is perfect for you own mince pies but also to give as a gift to show your appreciation to lovely friends and family. Except I only had one empty jar for one person and a plaggy bag for another but still, mince pies are the order of the day, espesh as this recipe makes almost 6 tonnes of the stuff.
You will need:
2 bramley apples
4 dates - chopped fine
4oz dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1tsp ground ginger
3tbs brandy (but I added 10 because it tastes scrumpsh)
Grate the lemons and oranges in a bowl. Cut in half and add the juice. Save one half of a lemon and one half of an orange. Core and chop the apples (with the skin left on) and put in a liquidiser/blender. Puree the apples with 3 tbs brandy. Add half the orange and half the lemon (peel and flesh) into the blender. Puree until completely lump free.
In another bowl, add the dried fruits, sprinkle on the sugar and spices and the rest of the brandy. Keep mixing and mixing until each little fruit has soaked up the brandy and spices. Now add the pureed fruit to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the suet and leave to soak for 24 hours. The next day, mix and turn and mix and turn for a good 10 minutes - then add to jars. Ive added mine to freezer bags as this recipe freezes a dream. But I did find one old lousy jar in our bare cupboards to make into a sweet gift for one of Belle amazing school assistants:Belle helped me make this the other night and got into the spirit of home cooking. We had to manually chop the dates (which are as tough as old boots) because they knacked my choppy machine (grrrrrrrrrrrr).
RIP choppy machine :(Back to manual work, of course lets exploit child labour at Christmas!
The brandy went down a, erm...treat? I was only kidding for the sake of a comedy moment with this shot but im not kidding, the brandy made my lips go numb!
Mark absolutely adores this recipe - one feels momentarily domesticated and wife-ish. I expect great gifts in return for my cookery skills. Espesh as my pastry is my absolute bestest thing I can make - a recent discovery, if I am honest. My trick to making pastry is using ice cold butter, ice cold hands and an ice cold knife. I mix 80z plain flour with 4oz butter with a KNIFE. I chop and turn the butter into the flour and keep chopping and chopping and turning into the flour. Pastry hates hands that are warm so I do it with a knife. And when the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, I wash my hands in freezing cold water before I make into pastry. And my pastry is king - and its only king because I don't use my hands to rub the mixture. I promise never to show off with anything again but I think its perfectly acceptable to have one brilliant cooking skill. Well, Two. My chicken pies are the best in the world.
Cleaning up is so much fun too with these pretty printed cleaning cloths by the way - what better way to invigorate the enthusiasm! Cleaning spirit I may be in, but still not feeling christmassy, yet.So what next? Aaaaah, I have some fabulous news to share. Belle had her school parents evening last night and we are the most relieved and proudest parents that could be. Every single teacher could not sing high enough praises for our girl. They delight in her attitude and enthusiasm and each teacher from every subject gushed over her 100% effort into every lesson - they say she leads by example. They identify her dedication as feeling like she puts all the extra effort in just to keep up where some of the more able kids are just that - able although not necessarily willing. I was all smiles with every report that came our way to which Belle reckoned that her pocket money should go up! Er, Credit Crunch, Redundancies, etc - Nice try, buddy :)
Afterwards we all went out for an Italian meal to give thanks to Marks parents for helping us out when we were decorating recently. This is obv where Belles extra pocket money went (to pay for the meal of course!) The food was delicious - more tasty than anything Ive tasted in a long while (except my mince pies) and the atmosphere was superb. It was good to go out; its such a rare thing these days :) Believe it or not, this is one of the very few piccies of Mark and I this year!
And then yest I went to Barrow-in-Furness (bloody miles away from the smog, I can tell you) to visit my friend Terrie. Anyone who may not have come across her cards may like to do so here - they are gorge.... I even have the absolute pleasure in having her amazing creative juices mixed into a new product that I am launching next February. I had such a great day - one of those days where you feel like a day feels like an hour. It was unfair to see it go so quick when you just want to squeeze an extra hour out of your schedule. This is Mason, Terrie's grandson - just as cute as cute can be. I could stay in this photography moment forever when the cheekiness is enough to energise my camera batteries for life! Im so proud of these photos because out of all the characters I have seen this year, he stands out as the most impish, fun and downright adorable!
No sooner had we gone out for a meal with terrie and her hubs, Scott was I headed back home to everyone in bed and the only excited creature was my lil poochster. He was curled up at my feet for a few stolen moments (making the most of my awake time) before I slipped off to bed to catch up with myself.
PS: This bloody rumour about Robbie Williams making a Take That comeback better not be bull, Im getting a tad excited about that. If its a hoax, I swear I will hunt the rumour mongers down.