Christmas cooking with memories

Alas, I’ve been distracted so Day 5 of #blog12daysxmas got away from me. I will try to catch up with 2 blogs today, with this as the first.

In preparation for Christmas, I do a fair amount of cooking – rum balls, white christmas, gingerbread and other goodies. This year though I thought I would try for the first time my mother’s recipe for plum pudding. I have meant for years to do this but have always run out of time, or found other excuses, and it hasn’t happened.

To make my mother’s plum pudding is a great undertaking, which I knew before I began but just how great an undertaking didn’t become clear til I was in the midst of it all. And I should actually clarify, it’s not my mother’s recipe. It is a receipt from her great-aunt May, my great great aunt May, who passed it to my grandmother, then to my mother. But I know it from Mum making it every year. Though Mum died 2 years ago, with the Alzheimer’s she really was not present for 8 years prior to that. So the last time the pudding was made was about 1999.

The recipe involves about 2.5 hours of measuring and chopping a variety of fruit and nuts, sifting the flours and spices, and preparing the other ingredients (including the translation from imperial measurements to metric), before you even butter the pudding cloth. Once the pudding is all together, it then boils for six hours. Needless to say, I took two days to cook the pudding.

The whole process evoked many memories of Mum. Of Mum making the pudding – and me not paying enough attention, so that at times I was left thinking, what on earth did she mean by this bit. The bit that really threw me was at the end of the recipe: the addition of the rum – ‘rum to taste’. That’s not a bloody measurement! 

But after putting it all together and in the pot, I sampled the mixing bowl. And I’d got it right – because with that taste of the batter I was transported back to the kitchen I grew up in, where all four kids stood in line for a chance of the bowl, fighting over the mixing spoon and wishing Mum had not scraped the bowl so clean. The mix of fruits, nuts, rum and spices was exactly as I remembered it.

We had the plum pud on Boxing Day, with my family who all ate it with relish (thankfully) and promised me it tasted just like Mum’s. Of course, I forgot to take a photo before we demolished it, and so this photo was taken after first servings.

 Having tackled the Christmas pudding, I also decided to have an attempt at Mum’s boiled fruitcake – as a present for my Dad. This was also a success.

Again, it’s a recipe originally from Great-Great-Aunt May. It was lovely to make these gorgeous recipes and remember my Mum in the days when she truly delighted in Christmas and it’s preparations. I hope she watched over from wherever she is and thought to herself ‘finally the girl’s had a go – well done!’

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3 thoughts on “Christmas cooking with memories

  1. Bizarrely later that morning I received in the mail a clipping of an article, from my sister-in-law, from the Good Weekend magazine – Recipes and memories. The woman who wrote it mirrored my experience exactly – her mother also had Alzheimers, and she too regrets lost opportunities.

  2. Wow, I just read the last sentence of your post and it mirrored almost exactly some of the thoughts I had this Christmas about my Nan. I’m sure she once despaired at my homemaker instincts, but I like to think she’d be pleased with my progress now 🙂

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