Thursday, October 16, 2014

Maturing for Christmas

Yesterday, my daughter and granddaughters came over for the day - My daughter has always had strong feelings for Christmas and even now becomes very excited about the festive season, and can't wait to start making plans and getting organised as early in the year as she thinks she can get away with!
Therefore I decided to jump on board and make a start myself by making the Christmas cake. When she arrived it had already been in the oven an hour and the house was smelling warm and welcoming.
I used our usual family recipe, but made a substitute for the candied peel, using a mix of dried fruits including apricots and cranberries, which I noticed on Sainsbury's shelves last week!
I'll be feeding it with a drizzle of brandy over the top, once a week until the big day.
Talking of Christmas, just wanted to show you this little collection of kitschy vintage snowman ornaments that I bought this week...
They'll be coming with me to the Vintage Bazaar on Saturday. 

With these matching festive bells too. 
After my daughter left for home, I decided to turn my attention to some chutney making. Having harvested a large quantity of sloes (as mentioned on my previous post) I was determined to use them in this way.  
I've done a fair bit of preserving in my time, but never tackled sloes before. Having looked on-line and through several books and magazines, I decided to follow some of the instructions in this 'Homes & Antiques Magazine' supplement, substituting some of the ingredients and quantities...
and making up the cooking steps as I went along! 
Obviously sloes have a large stone inside, so I decided to go for the pulping method to get rid of them at the start. 
I gently heated them (covered) until they were very soft.
Once soft, I passed the mash through a sieve. It made an incredible rich paste. (For those clever people who dye fabrics and fibers with foraged natural materials, I can only imagine what an awesome colour sloes would produce - my wooden spoon is now a fabulous rich ruby red!) 
Anyway, to the pulp, I added chopped bramley apples, onions, raisins, a few dates, fresh root ginger and some garlic cloves.
Then there was the muscavado sugar, chilli flakes, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, and malt vinegar - all items I had in my pantry, which influenced my choice!

I left this to simmer for a while until it became a familiar consistency and was ready to be poured into warm sterile jars.  
I'll leave it to mature, at least until Christmas, so can't vouch for the taste yet, but fingers crossed it will be a tasty accompaniment to the cold turkey! 

I'll be back tomorrow to introduce all the handmade fairies coming with me to the Vintage Bazaar on Saturday.
Thanks for stopping-by,

Niki x


  1. Ooh, I bet your house smelt absolutely wonderful.
    Hope you have a good day on Saturday.
    M x

  2. Looks like the fun has already begun at your house! :) How could one not smile looking at those cute little snowmen!

  3. I can just imagine how amazing the aromas coming from your kitchen were! your recipe sounds very much like ours ... do you all take a turn mixing the batter for luck :-)haven't started ours yet - soon.


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx