Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Bread Before Bed

Just out of the oven
Just out of the oven

Out of the pan
Out of the pan

First steaming slice with homemade butter
First steaming slice with homemade butter



Christmas Pudding

I decided to start the Christmas Pudding early this year. Traditionally it's supposed to be made the Sunday before Advent (Stirring Up Sunday), but since they are meant to be aged, and Advent means nothing to me, I opted to do it earlier to let it mellow.

The first step was chopping 2 cups of mixed fruit and letting it soak overnight in alcohol. Sherry, port, rum or brandy are typically used, but I had none of those! I used a combination of whiskey, Grand Mariner, sweet vermouth and a splash of absinthe.

Greased pudding basin and fruit soaked in booze

Greased pudding basin and fruit soaked in booze

Another old tradition is to place a silver coin in the pudding before steaming. Good luck comes to the person who finds it on their plate. A thuppence (three-penny coin) or sixpence was traditionally used, but these coins disappeared with the switch to decimal currency in 1973.  As luck would have it for us, downtown Boston is chock-a-block with various collectibles shops and we bought about a half dozen assorted coins from WWII this weekend, including two sixpence pieces.

Sixpence in boiling water to sterilize it

Sixpence in boiling water to sterilize it

I've made steamed puddings a lot over the years, even a couple of Christmas puddings, so I didn't really need a recipe. That said, I took this butter-based one and used it as a jumping off point.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

One spice I hadn't used before was mace. While not all my spices match the recipe (I like to add cardamom) I did stick with the mace and think I may have over-spiced it a bit, but that should be remedied by the aging.

Sixpence waiting to be covered with more batter

Sixpence waiting to be covered with more batter

Four hours covered in a pot of simmering water and it was done.
Finished pudding ready for aging
Finished pudding ready for aging

I poured an ounce of dark rum on it tonight and wrapped it tightly. It will get more rum every fortnight or so until Christmas when it will be served flaming with brandy butter on the side.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sewing a new skirt for Autumn

My sewing machine has been repaired and cleaned and works very nicely. I had so much fabric let over from the six-gore skirt that I decided to go all out and do a skirt without a pattern.

I really, really want one of these Vivien of Holloway Pinafore skirts, but a) they're kind of expensive, and b) they don't come in my size. So, what's a girl to do? Well, they look like straight skirts with some darts for shaping, an extra high waist and straps added on. That shouldn't be too hard, right?

Well it took longer than I thought simply because I managed to throw my back out and sitting for long periods of time hurt too much. I eventually made myself start it on Saturday so I could wear it to a wedding on Sunday. The straps originally went over the shoulders straight, but I had cut them too long and my sloped shoulders enabled them to slip down constantly. After we got back from the wedding on Monday, I took the straps off in the back and crossed them over.
my big butt

The straps are far more stable now and actually fit! The skirt itself could use some tweaking, but since no pattern was used, I think it's a good effort over all.

Here's the front:

front of skirt

Thursday, October 07, 2010

More on the sewing front

Well, the sewing machine needed some work after all so I sent it in for repairs and a replacement motor. $200+ later, it's home and I did get to use it. Here is the skirt I made:


It actually didn't come out all that great so I think I'll be taking it apart and redoing the seams. Still it came together quite quickly and got me inspired.

I'll be working on a new project this week (hopefully tonight) and will write more, with pictures) once that's underway.