Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Puddings

I thought that the upside to shingles would be time to read - for what else can you do in between absorbing antivirals, ibuprofen,and calamine lotion? Depressingly there was no upside to shingles, the rash is so irritating that sleep and concentration are both hard to come by, for whatever reason I failed to read much. The best part of a week at home valiantly trying not to scratch mostly made me wonder how it's possible to fit work and everything else into a week.

Between domestic chores, scrutinising bills, a futile attempt to reduce the number of rogue books in any meaningful way (I managed to clear out about 20, a mix of unsolicited review copies it was time to accept I would never read, a couple of duplicates, and a very few I knew I'd never read again) and looking for the strongest possible non prescription pain killers time just vanished. If I didn't need the money I'm pretty sure I could find a better use for the 50 odd hours that having a job takes out of a week.

I do need the money though, not least to fund my baking habit. Thanks to the consumer heaven that is Costco the several kilos of dried fruit and nuts I've bought in the last couple of months (possibly in excess of 20 kilos, which is probably quite a lot) haven't broken the bank (or my back hauling them up to my flat). It also means that after 18 jars of mincemeat, 12 of chutney, and 10 assorted fruit cakes there was enough left over to make Christmas puddings with.

Christmas puddings are another thing that I've half meant to make for years but never quite got round to. Turns out they're a sensible project whilst feeling a bit ill - plenty of pottering around getting ingredients together, not very long spent on mixing it altogether (times like this I love my kitchen aid with a passion) and then ignore them whilst they boil/steam away. It's the cooking time that's always put me off in the past. Three (or more) hours on the day you make the pudding is long enough if you're struggling to devote what will basically be a whole day to your kitchen, but another 3 hours on the day of eating - well it's a commitment, especially when you can buy and microwave one in minutes.

I'm quite excited by these puddings though - I made 3, from 2 different recipes in Dan Lepard's 'Short & Sweet'. A large one which faithfully follows the Simple Christmas pudding recipe (apart from some added alcohol) which is apparently a 1930's recipe, and 2 smaller ones from the Plum plum pudding recipe (with a few liberties taken). Making 3 was mostly to do with using up odds and ends of ingredients, partly to experiment with recipes and techniques. Two were simmered, 1 went in the upper level of a veg steamer - which somehow seems like less trouble. Now it's just a question of waiting to see what they're like which is a little bit nerve racking.


  1. I've never tried to make a Christmas pudding, but you've inspired me to give it a go! Hope you are feeling much better.

    1. Much better, thank you! Hope you do make a pudding, tomorrow is stir up Sunday so it's the day for it. Making them was interesting - made me reflect on lifestyle and cooking habits. If you're around all day with time to hang out in your kitchen, or are a cook, and especially if you have an Aga type oven then this is an easy thing to throw together which will pretty much take care of itself it's long as you don't let it boil dry. If you can't meet those criteria then it's a bit of a hassle because it takes so long that buying one makes much more sense. It made he think my work life balance is all wrong!

  2. I often think how much more I would accomplish without having to go to work. Then I think I'd probably just arse it away on the internet rather than be as productive as you have been this week! I hope you're feeling less scratchy - so unpleasant.

  3. Much less scratchy. Shingles is revolting. I don't have reliable internet access at home anymore and have decided to leave it that way for a bit as I find it makes me much more productive. It has it's frustrations but quite apart from the time thing it means much less internet shopping.