This is a fairly convoluted story, but we'll get there in the end... allow me to explain further...
I have a long-time passion for heritage: things passed on from generation to generation. This passion applies particularly to my maternal line of which I am immensely proud. My mum tells wonderful stories of her childhood and the strong, independent women who brought her up and in her boxes of treasures is a family tree and set of papers written by her grandmother about the family history. My dad hardly ever talks about his family, I don't believe he knows much and what he does know makes him uncomfortable, because he comes from a line of Polish Jews and I imagine that many of them were lost in the second world war. Instead I was brought up in the reflected light of my maternal ancestry and have come to revere the artifacts and history of that family.
One of my most treasured possessions is a beautiful long string of bright orange amber beads, with matching earrings on gold drops. Each of these beads is a beautiful, polished lozenge, roughly grape-shaped and ranging in size from grape to peanut. The necklace and earrings belonged to my great-grandmother and I wear them all the time, because they feel like an embodiment of my past and because, for various reasons, orange is a significant colour to me. I love the way the amber looks and sounds, and the way they are so chill at first, but soon warm up on skin contact until they seem to be throbbing with life and give off more heat than you could possibly have released to them. A silly, superstitious part of me wonders if they hold memories of the women who have worn them. Judging by the style and the fact they belonged to my great-grandmother indicates that they're probably from the 1920s and I love to imagine them adorning a gorgeous flapper dress at some glamorous party, dancing the Charleston.
Anyway, now I've hopefully given you some idea about how passionate I am about things passed on (don't get me started on the jade jewellery set that needs re-setting, or the amethyst and turquoise tiara that I would love to have an excuse to borrow, or the string of my great-grandmother's pearls I wore for my wedding... hrm, funny how it's all jewellery! Probably because the clothes don't fit me. Diet starts tomorrow - I swear.) from woman to woman I will now tell you about the great Christmas Pudding challenge of 2009.
This year hubby and I are going to spend Christmas day with my family: mother, father, younger sister, uncle (mum's brother), possibly my cousin (that uncle's son) and my great-uncles (father's uncle and civil partner). I am excited as hell and can't wait - this will be the first time I've spent the whole Christmas period and Christmas day with my family and husband. Next year we'll have to spend with my in-laws, but let's focus on this Christmas for now!
I love Christmas, and so do my mum and sister - it's always been a big family thing and, breaking with stereotypes, I can't ever remember a big family argument. Mummy is doing the majority of the cooking - good thing, since she has the most amazing kitchen and oven whilst I have a galley kitchen and tiny, very slow oven. In return for her doing the turkey and trimmings, I was making the Christmas pudding - my first pudding ever. Over the years I have helped make pudding after pudding, but that was always under Mummy's direction and I never saw the recipe. If I had I would have paid more attention to the method.
It was Grannie Moxon's recipe, my great grandmother, and Christmas just isn't Christmas without it. Mummy suggested that I try a new recipe this year, but if you've read the above post you'll understand why I stuck to Grannie Moxon's recipe. Well, more fool me. Mummy copied out the recipe, I tucked it inside my Katie Stewart book and thought no more about it until this weekend. I pulled out the recipe, checked I had all the ingredients, then turned over the paper for the method. Um... slight problem - the list of ingredients and an instruction to 'steam for 4 hours, then 2 hours on the day' was all I had.
Panicking I picked up the phone to call Mummy and demand an explanation, but she was out of the country - at a wedding in Italy and there was no way I could contact her to ask about a bloody pudding. Using Katie Stewart's recipe and the thick dredgings of my memory, combined with my own, slightly faulty, intuition, I cobbled together the pudding as best I could - dry ingredients first, then wet, put in buttered basin, press down, cover, steam... it was all a bit of guesswork and I am really unsure, now, whether I did it right. I am most concerned over the fact I pressed the mixture down into the basin, is that going to make the (already heavy) pudding even more stodgy? I would have left the construction of these puddings until a later date, but I wanted to make it with Hubby and only get one day a week of being domestic with him, so it had to be yesterday, or wait a week, which would clash with my other plans.
Oh well, the jury's out - Mummy is back from Italy now and when she calls me back I can quiz her about the pudding. When we spoke earlier she did volunteer that she only got an ingredient list and I had no less information than did she, but she has made it a few more times than me, and I would prefer that I don't make a royal fuck-up in front of 8 family members if at all possible. I think I might volunteer to make some bread sauce and cranberry sauce and see if she needs any stuffing made. They freeze well and it'll be one less thing for her to worry about if she hasn't made them already.
STOP PRESS: news just in - me pressing the mix in is probably not too detrimental... oh well, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding!
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