Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Not Knitting but Cooking

Whilst (almost) everyone else was at Ally Pally this weekend, my husband decided it was time to make the Christmas Mincemeat. Since I was a child I have had an aversion to Mince Pies and would not eat them. By the time I was an adult I could just about manage to eat a small one politely without gagging but other than that - YEEEEUUUUKKK!
In the early 1990s Delia did her 'Christmas' series and I was hooked (I had serious cookery ambitions then). In the book is a recipe for Mincemeat with Delia's comment that 'once you've tried it, you'll never go back to shop bought Mincemeat'.......
That year I made an enormous amount of her recipe and then used ready made pastry to make Mince Pies. Everyone who tried one said they were delicious and my husband fell in love - not with me, with the Mince Pies. Encouraged by the flattery, I tried one myself and do you know what? They aren't my favourite food but they were actually edible without gagging - I too was in love with the Mince Pies.
Shop bought Mincemeat and Mince Pies are sickly sweet and for the most part, textureless gloop with too much filling in proportion to the pastry - Mr Kipling and Supermarket Own label being the worst offenders. Home made mincemeat is sweet but not overpowering and is full of Christmassy flavours, it retains all the texture of the ingredients and there is hardly any liquid in it - fabulous stuff. Delia was right, we've never gone back to shop bought Mincemeat and it's been 15 years now.
Anyway, it's normally MY job to make the Mincemeat and the Pies but last year I bought a new Food Processor and Husband decided to MAKE THE PASTRY HIMSELF - yes really! Every weekend he would whip up a new batch of pastry and bake some more pies......This year, he decided he would make the Mincemeat as well and sent me out on a shopping expedition for all the ingredients, oh and 'get me two new bun tins as well - the old one is rusty and I need more than one'. Typical man, can't do anything by halves - has to start his own Mince Pie factory instead.
He started weighing out the ingredients with our younger son, but after a while the child was bored and sloped off to watch TV. Then he decided he couldn't work the zester so got me zesting and juicing lemons and oranges whilst he sloped off the to shop for almonds......Needless to say I ended up finishing the Mincemeat. It's made now - complete with a very large slug of Brandy and is 'maturing' until the weekend when, I'm pretty sure, husband won't be able to leave it alone and will start making Mince Pies.
We have also been tempted to make our own Christmas Pudding this year - good ones are really expensive considering what's in them and the Times last week had some good links to recipes for microwaving them, thus avoiding the 6-8 hour steaming process which has always put me off. I'll let you know how we get on this weekend with that project!

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