I might do a bit of a series of how I’m preparing for Christmas – I might not, this might be the only thing I can think of to write about.
We’re hosting Christmas in 2021 – my parents are free to travel at last (after my Gran died in April, previous years they always stayed at home so that she could visit them for the day) and my brother and his wife have booked a room in a pub just a mile away. I’m a bit daunted by the whole thing.
We had Christmas here in 2017 too – my sister in law and her family stayed with us and my parents in law stayed at the pub. But then my mother in law ordered Christmas from Marks and Spencer and she took the lead with the planning and cooking. My in laws and the whole family on that side are happy with easy food – prepared potatoes dauphinoise, pan fried steak, pre-sliced veggies so we can enjoy the day and not spend most of Christmas in the kitchen.
However, my sister in law is an amazing, ambitious and very successful cook. She makes bread regularly, hot water hand raised pies, fancy desserts and awesome curries. I’ve stayed with them a few times when I’ve travelled to work at the office and it’s like a posh restaurant quality. My mum isn’t a fancy cook, but everything is (pretty much) made from scratch.
So, himself and I are starting to plan what we’ll eat, and probably practice some of it – maybe I’ll write up how our attempts go and make that into a series?
Anyway, the first bit of preparation is something that feels nice and easy because it’s familiar.
If you don’t know what mincemeat is, Wikipedia says:
Not to be confused with minced meat.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincemeat
Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and sometimes beef suet, beef, or venison. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat. Many modern recipes contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening is sometimes used in its place.
The “mince” in mincemeat comes from the Middle English mincen, and the Old French mincier both traceable to the Vulgar Latin minutiare, meaning chop finely. The word mincemeat is an adaptation of an earlier term minced meat, meaning finely chopped meat. Meat was also a term for food in general, not only animal flesh.
I have never ever made, seen, or eaten mincemeat with actual meat in it. The recipe for mincemeat is very similar to that for Christmas pudding as far as I can tell.
The mincemeat recipe I use is my Nana’s (great-grandma, my mum’s mum’s mum). I’m very lucky to have vague memories of her, she died when I was 3, in her nineties. This takes a good day to go from ingredients to jars but if you do a double batch you’ll only need to make it every 3 or 4 years (depending on how much you give away or how many mince pies you eat!) I think I get about 6 jars out of a batch. It’s much nicer than shop bought, more flavour and less overwhelming sugary sweetness.
- 8oz sultanas
- 8oz raisins
- 8oz currants
- 8oz suet (I use vegetable but beef is fine)
- 12oz peeled and chopped apples
- 1oz almond flakes
- 1 orange zest and juice
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 4oz candied peel
- 12oz soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 90ml lemon and rosehip gin from 2019 (or brandy if you want to be traditional)
- Mix directly in the slow cooker pot – dried fruit, apples, almonds, and candied peel.
- Add orange and lemon zest and juice. Mix it all in.
- Add suet, spices, and sugar and mix.
- Leave for 12 hours.
- Slow cook for 2 hours on medium (I did 4 hours on low in the Foodi Ninja and then 1 hour on high as it doesn’t have a medium setting)
- Once completely cool, add alcohol and give it a good stir to mix the cooled suet in.
Make sure it’s cool before putting it in jars – otherwise the suet rises to the top and looks kind of yucky.
- Put in sterilised jars and leave for at least a month.
How amazing does this look?!
So the only thing that I’ve ever used mincemeat for is to make mince pies. With short pastry or puff, or a short pastry base and a sponge topping is quite nice too. These ones are all short pastry from 2019 I think.
How about you?
Have you started thinking about Christmas yet?
I’m usually a bah humbug type and refuse to consider anything festive until November. However, stirring up the mincemeat this weekend smelled absolutely awesome (not like smelly socks, ha ha!) and gave me a little hint of Christmas spirit, well ahead of the usual schedule.