It’s November already and those of you who have followed Thinly Spread for a while will know that the beginning of November heralds the return of Festive Friday! It starts quietly with a whipser, the smell of spice and a suggestion of sparkle, gradually gaining momentum as we head into December; this will be my fourth year running Festive Friday!
I make no apologies for my Christmas addiction, for me it is all about traditions, a gradual build up, a feast for all our senses and it starts now. This year is poignant because it is, in all probability, the last time our eldest boy will spend all of advent at home with us. All being well he will be striding out into the world of University this time next year and will be spending November and early December doing all things student (arghhhh) so I want to make this one special.
So far, it’s been all about the smells. I’ve made one Christmas cake and the fruit is soaking for a second. This second one will be cut into small squares and iced to give away in Christmas hampers along with Christmas chutney, crackers (both to eat and to pull), some cheese, pickles, truffles and flavoured oils. I made the chutney last week because it needs to mature for a month or two, my daughter is keen to start making truffles immediately but I’m holding her back for as long as possible or my hips won’t fit through the door by Boxing Day!
- 350 g pitted prunes no soak
- 225 g pitted dates
- 225 g dried apricots
- 110 g dried figs
- 450 g onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 570 ml cider vinegar
- 6 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tbsps sea salt
- 450 g dark brown sugar
- Chop the dried fruit and onions in a food processor until very small
- Put the vinegar in a preserving pan or large heavy bottomed saucepan with the salt, ginger and allspice
- Put the remaining spices in a small piece of muslin, tie securely and add to the pan
- Bring to the boil and stir in the fruit and onion pieces
- Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves
- Reduce the heat and simmer without a lid for about an hour/hour and a half, stirring occasionally until the chutney has thickened
- You will know it is ready when there are no pools of vinegar left behind when you draw the back a spoon over the surface
- Spoon the chutney into warmed, sterilised jars, seal and label
- Allow the chutney to mature for at least a month before eating
- (I sterilise my jars by placing them in the oven at 150C for 20 minutes, you can also sterilise them by putting them through a hot cycle in a dishwasher.)
We are going to have a rummage through and decide which of Save the Children’s areas of operations we want to donate to this year. £5 could send a child an art set, £31 could give a child healthcare for a year…we could send a football for a fiver, some toys and books for a tenner or we could send tree saplings or a gardening pack, mosquito nets or a birth pack. It’s a fabulous way to get children thinking about the things other people need and which we take for granted, we’ve done this many times now and it always prompts discussion and debate.
Britmums are hosting a linky for any bloggers posting about the Save the Children Wish List, do add yours if you decide this way of giving to charity at Christmas is for you!