Christmas

A Simply Homemade Christmas

I simply love Christmas, it is without doubt, my favourite time of the year.
The build up for me starts in November, when I persuade Mr. S/H to go into the attic and get down the Christmas decorations, simply to make sure that all the lights are working not because I’m keen to remind myself what decorations go where!
Once the decorations are down then it makes sense to put up the outdoor lights, just in case it rains closer to the time! And sure once they’re up it’s just a matter of switching them on, on the 1st of December!
I always have the Christmas trees up a couple of days before the 1st and then, like the outdoor lights, they too are switched on, on the 1st of December.
The children get super excited as we head into this time of year as well, they’ve been keeping an eye for Santa’s robin for weeks now, they already have their letter to Santa written, which I will post for them in Santa’s special post box,, they’ve reminded me numerous times to stock up on chocolate coins to fill the advent calendar that we’ve had since our eldest Chloé was a baby, and they are looking forward to all the things we do as a family leading up to Christmas.
We go to Ballycross Farm, here in Wexford, for the switching on of their Christmas lights, which takes place this year on the 11th December, this is a free event, complete with music and complimentary warm spiced  apple juice, that has a wonderful atmosphere and attracts people from all corners of Wexford,.
Then of course there is a trip to see Santa, we haven’t decided yet where we will got for that this year, another night we will wrap up warm and head out for a drive to see all of the wonderful Christmas Light displays on people’s houses, then it’s home again for delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows and homemade cookies to warm us up again.

We spend another afternoon pottering about the lovely Christmas Shop in Drinagh Garden Centre. This shop tends to have a fantastic selection of decorations ad lights for the festive season and of course there is the added bonus of their lovely coffee shop if you wanted a rest while the kids have a look around.

We mustn’t forget an afternoon, curled up on the couch, with the obligatory tin of sweets, the fire lighting (or in my case switched on!) and Santa Claus The Movie lighting up the tv screen, if you don’t have this movie, get yourself a copy of it here! I remember this so well from my own childhood, that I simply had to get it for my own children. It is the ultimate, feel good family Christmas movie.
All of these traditions are carried out every year among lists and conversations about food!!
What we will buy, what we will eat, what we will make, it’s all food and I’m sure every house is the same. It is such an essential part of the season for everyone and I look forward to it so much every year.
This year for the first year ever I have made my own mincemeat, such a simple, and pleasurable task, that has left me wondering why on earth I’ve been buying jars of mincemeat for so many years? Shame on  me!
Having never made it before, but knowing that my lovely Auntie Mary had, I asked her how much of what she put in it. So armed with my list of bags of this and loads of that, (quantities were not Mary’s strong point on this recipe……..lol! Sorry Mary!) I set about making my mincemeat.

Ingredients

375g Raisins 375g Sultanas 375g Currants 375g Glacé Cherries, halved 200g Mixed Peel 100g Chopped Alomnds 2 Apples, grated 250g Stork 450g Light Muscovado Sugar Grated Zest & Juice of one Orange Grated Zest of one Lemon 1 teaspoon each of All Spice, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger & Ground Cloves 400ml Good quality Sherry (I used Winters Tale) (Plus 100ml extra of Sherry for when it cools) Method Place all of the ingredients (except the extra 100ml Sherry) into a large saucepan. Heat gently, allowing the stork to melt, then simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft & plump, and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed into it, approximately 45 minutes-1hour. Allow the mince meat to stand in the saucepan, until completely cooled, preferably overnight, then stir in the extra sherry. Transfer to sterilised jars, or one big one, I used a 3litre jar and store for 2-3 weeks before using, to allow the mincemeat to mature.

The smell that travelled through the house as this mixture simmered gently on the hob was so fabulously  festive that I just cannot wait to get it out again in a couple of weeks to make this years mince pies.
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