By now I think it's fair game to talk about Christmas, Christmas plans, and Christmas preparations because this is the bit of Christmas I enjoy. Over the last five years or so I've made a concerted effort to rescue some of the magic from the generally less than magical experience of working in retail when all the world seems to be throwing a tantrum about the lack of whatever alcoholic beverage they've left it far to late to buy. Just for the record if Asda is selling Baileys cheaper I'd be delighted for you to trek off to Asda and harass them instead of me. Now however is a great time to enjoy the idea if Christmas.
Everything still has a bit of sparkle to it at the moment; there are plenty of nice cards to choose, the decorations look fresh (in a few shortweeks it'll be battered rejects only) and it feels like there's all the time in the world to bake cakes, make plans, and generally think about the people close to you and what gesture of appreciation you can make towards them. I hope you all like jam.
With that in mind I went out into town foraging on Sunday (not a euphemism for shoplifting) where I pinched some medlars from the museum garden across the road - with a plan to turn them into medlar jelly, and found some pine branches to make what I hope will be a deliciously evocative sugar to sprinkle on things. It's possible that it will be evocative of bleach rather than actual pine forests. I hope this won't be the case. I also bought a duvet cover that will make me feel like I'm sleeping in Narnia.
The medlars are strange looking things which it's hard not to regard with a certain amount of suspicion, but they're currently a beautiful colour. I gather I need to wait for them to blett (blet?) which is clearly a nice way of saying rot when they'll turn brown and squishy, so less attractive to look at. I'm looking forward to seeing what they produce even with all the warnings that they'll smell like wet sawdust and other un appealing character traits.
Instantly appealing is home made mincemeat. I loved the Fiona Cairns recipe I used last year so I've made another 18 jars of it (R took me to Costco where I might have got carried away with the dried fruits). This is a nice thing to make, it doesn't involve much effort, needs no cooking, smells amazing, tastes good, and makes me feel like a latter day Mrs Beeton. In short it's much better than the Elizabeth David version it took me five years to get through.