Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Getting Prepared



It finally happened at the weekend, I began to think seriously about Christmas. Not so many years ago it would have all been organised by now. Lists would have been made weeks ago, most gifts would have been bought and wrapped and cards written, ready to be posted. I'm glad to say I have a far more relaxed approach these days and enjoy the season all the more for it. And yet, although I favour the more laid back view, there is still quite a bit of organising to be done, with the build up usually far busier than the day itself.

Whilst thinking about food and drink, my thoughts turned to making a Christmas cake. Not unusual, you might think, but I've never really been a fan of fruit cake (don't even get me started on marzipan) and for that reason it's been years since I made one. Maybe my tastes are beginning to change, but I think it was mainly to do with the whole process of making it. It has kind of got the festive season under way for me and lets not forget the wonderful enticing aroma which wafts around the house while it's baking. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I can't wait to decorate it now  but, of course, the proof will be in the eating.







It was a pottering kind of a weekend, catching up with chores, a quick trip into town and making Christmas plans but these fell by the wayside slightly and we just had to get out for a walk. We decided on the nearby deer park and our early arrival meant it was lovely and quiet, save for a handful of dog walkers and, of course, the deer. The trees are mostly bare now and the branches made for some impressive silhouettes against the Wintry looking sky.



Back on track, I set to and made the Christmas chutney. It's simple to make and tastes so delicious with it's festive flavours. I'm really looking forward to enjoying it with my cheese and biscuits.

So, I've done it. I've made a start. This week I really need to turn my thoughts towards gift buying and I mustn't forget to set up the advent stockings - I often get caught out with this and find myself faffing around at the last minute. 

Christmas Chutney πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Olive oil.
150g shallots, finely chopped.
2 pears, peeled and chopped .
1 large red Gala apple, peeled and chopped.
2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped.
175ml apple cider.
35ml white wine vinegar.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
125g brown sugar.
1 star anise.
1 cinnamon stick.
1 teaspoon mixed spice.

Gently sautΓ© the shallots in the oil. Add the pears, apple and ginger and stir through, cooking for another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for approximately 50 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars.

J. X

53 comments:

  1. I never make a Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies as none of us like any of them, we're a strange lot. I do like the idea of making one though, it's like everyone's starting the run up to Christmas when they make the cake but I miss out on it. I'm well under way now with the present buying, not much left to get, but I haven't done much else. Mind you, there's only three of us here this Christmas, which will seem strange, but it means there's a lot less to do. What a lovely place for a walk, sometimes the chores just have to wait whilst we get out in the fresh air and blow away the cobwebs.

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    1. I was the same, Jo. I didn't have any intention of making a cake this year, otherwise I would have made it earlier. But it made a lovely start to my Christmas preparations, I just need to decide how to decorate it now. X

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  2. do you know why I love your posts? It's your quiet elegance and appreciation for the simple things. The tree photos are absolutely stunning, you have a good eye for a what will make a striking photo. And your food pics would look perfectly at home in a cookbook.

    I like your style.
    That is all! ;o) xx

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    1. I totally agree with Sadie.
      I confess first time ever I have not made a cake I bought one the other week, never mind. xx

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    2. Thank you both. I'm really touched and it makes me so happy you enjoy my posts. X

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  3. Did Lily stir the cake mixture and lick the spoon? Brings back childhood memories for me although I don't make Christmas cake now just for the two of us, I'll bake some mince pies though. Your Christmas chutney sounds very good.
    Lovely photos of your walk, how wonderful to be able to go out and see deer, just beautiful!

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    1. Haha! The only time Lily would lick the spoon would be if had melted chocolate on it. She doesn't 'do' cake. Although I have a feeling I may get a little more help when it comes to creating the gingerbread house. X

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  4. I will think about my Christmas cake after this weekend. Never think about Christmas until after 26th November these days, my son's birthday. When he was uni I used the make the cakes a before so I could send him a small one for his birthday, but now I'm just getting old and lazy!

    Julie xxxxx

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    1. I don't blame you Julie. I don't like to think about it all too soon and that way I can give Christmas my full attention. X

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  5. The chutney recipe looks amazing - I hope you don't mind but I have copied off your entry. I have all but pears in so . . .
    (but not today)
    xx

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    1. Oh yes! Do let me know how it turns out, Joy. It will be delicious with those sausage rolls.X

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  6. Maybe we were making the Christmas cake at the same time - it is a lovely start to the Christmas preparations. I have a job to stop DH from eating it before Christmas!
    It is certainly looking very grey out there now - Not many leaves left on the treees to fall - this is when you start noticing places that have been hidden all year by leafy branches.

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    1. I would have probably made it earlier, had it not been a last minute decision. Mine is wrapped up and hidden away at the back of the cupboard out of sight. X

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  7. My Christmas planning always starts early as I like to make so many of the gifts, cards tags and food hampers. We also go away at this time of year so everything needs to be done early. I am almost finished now so I can enjoy the season. What a wonderful stroll you took us on, the beauty of the trees and the meandering water was a real delight.

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    1. I'm so envious at your organisational skills and beautifully crafted gifts. You put so much care and thought into them all. I'm sure you'll enjoy a wonderful time with your exciting plans. X

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  8. I remember how busy, expensive, stressful and hectic Christmas used to be. We don't celebrate Christmas now, but food is food, and as most foods are available all year round nowadays John makes mince pies and rich fruit cake and chutney all year round. John has allowed us to tuck into the chutney he made a couple of months ago and it's divine. He likes the recipe you've provided here, so he might make some. Thank you. Best, Jane :) x

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    1. Do let me know if John tries it, Jane. I would love to know if you enjoy it. X

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  9. Oooooh I can smell it cooking from here Jules. I am not a fan of fruitcake but it does smell rather good when it's in the oven.
    Now chutney....I love....and yours sounds very Christmassy indeed. Unfortunately I am the only one in the house who does like it so it's not worth making it just for me. I'll see if I can pick just a small jar up at the Christmas Market on Saturday.
    Hugs-x-

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    1. I wouldn't usually choose to make fruit cake, Sheila, but something made me change my mind this year. I hope it tastes as good as it smelled whilst it was baking. X

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  10. I can smell your first two pictures, they are so evocative and beautiful. Sadly Christmas cake and pudding are mostly off my menu these days (boo hoo), all the dried fruit, flour and so on adds up to way too much sugar but I still adore them.

    Please think of me when you cut the first slice πŸŽ„πŸ€ΆπŸŽ„

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    1. That's a shame Jayne. I will think of you when I cut into it, I promise. X

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  11. I also don't like marzipan. But I don't mind a small piece of fruit cake once in a while, though I haven't made any yet. :)
    Your chutney looks delicious.

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    1. I'm glad it isn't just me who doesn't like marzipan. I don't even like the smell of it. X

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  12. Hello!
    I just posted about my more relaxed attitude toward Christmas today!
    Your photos are lovely, and I enjoyed hearing about your baking. : )
    Have a cozy day!

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    1. Thank you Billie Jo. It is easy to get caught up in it all, then preparations all become overwhelming if we're not too careful. It can be difficult to strike a balance. X

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  13. My husband loves Fruit Cake, so I used to make it, for him. But one of the best parts, is the constant pouring over of brandy! And having had pancreatitis, he can no longer have _any_ alcohol. -sigh- And he never did drink heavily!!! A glass of wine with dinner. But, even that, is gone. So I won't be making it.

    Ohhhh, that tree silhouette against the wintry sky! Gorgeous!

    You do advent stockings... Never heard of this. I'll be delighted, to see them, as you do them.

    Just, please, be determined not to let the Christmas Hassle, invade your life. We really don't have to do _everything_, especially for children. That "Must Do Everything" and do it *Brilliantly* thing, is drummed into our heads, by "The Christmas Machine." Take a stand! :-)

    Decide what _your_ family enjoys _most_. And follow that layout, and only that layout.

    Please consider....

    Maybe....

    -smile-

    �� �� �� �� �� ��

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    1. Ah yes! The brandy. The cake will be fed a few more times between now and the big day.
      The advent stocking are just an advent calendar. 24 little stockings in a row, each filled with a chocolatey treat. I will need to get them set up in time for Saturday. The first day of December has a habit of creeping up on me so I'm determined to hang them in good time this year.
      These last few years my immediate family has come first. I've cut back on who I buy gifts for and it's made such a difference. It can all get out of hand if you let it. X

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  14. Starting is the hard part. I have sort of, kind of, made some effort, thought about getting my mind around the fact that the holidays are coming soon.

    Your pictures are, as usual, lovely.

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    1. You know what, Arleen? This side of the Christmas celebrations I can really get on board with, it's the shopping I'm not so keen on - I will need to build up to that so, as I have two lots of gifts to deliver by the 9th, I will have to get my skates on. X

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  15. I'm sure your cake will be a stunner and the chutney looks divine - I have bought a large jar of Branston to take back to Australia so you can tell I ain't no Domestic Christmas Goddess! I am loving being in the UK at the mo, your beautiful pics sum up the excitement of the chilly build up to Christmas.
    Wren x

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    1. I'm not so sure. If I let Lily loose with the cake decorations, who knows what might happen :) As long as it tastes OK I don't mind.
      Will you be back in Australia for Christmas? X

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  16. your christmas cake looks yummy :)

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  17. We don’t have Christmas cake here, I’ve never liked it and M detests marzipan. I make christmas pud instead. I’ve also been sorting Christmas this week, I don’t like the last minute crazy shopping. Your chutney sounds lovely xx

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    1. Yay! Someone else who doesn't like marzipan. I always believed I was in the minority. Horrid stuff, but necessary if I want to ice the cake. The shopping is my least favourite part of Christmas but since I cut back on gift buying it's a lot less stressful. X

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  18. Your Christmas cake looks so yummy! I've been trying to get a head start on Christmas shopping this year and not wait until the last minute - which is just too stressful. I have a few more things to order online for my daughter and we will hopefully go bike shopping for her this weekend. I'm baking about twelve dozen cookies and bars next week to early gift to some friends, and also, ship to friends who live in Los Angeles and Seattle. I've bought all the ingredients and tins, so I think I'm ready to start baking! I'm making four different types of cookies and two bars, one being a cranberry bar. Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. Thank you Julia. I find shopping stressful whatever the time of year but especially so at Christmas. I put so much (unnecessary) pressure on myself to find the perfect gifts. I hope your bike shopping goes well. X

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  19. Wow!
    You've made a great start to Christmas, and I'm sure your cake will be delicious.

    I loved seeing your photographs.

    All the best Jan

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    1. I really need to get going a bit more this weekend. Our Christmas visiting begins next week so I need to be prepared. X

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  20. Your photographs are lovely as always! I agree with the other commenter who said your food photos belong in a cookbook!

    I haven't made Christmas cake in years; I like it, but my daughter doesn't, and I don't want to be tempted to eat it all! We do both love our marzipan, however! It's the best part of the cake, as far as I am concerned! :D

    Your chutney sounds interesting! Different from the chutneys I make, but I might try making your version. Thank you for posting the recipe. :)

    I was thinking about my Christmas preparations, just today. I have made a few gifts and bought a few more, but I've lots to do, still! Better get started, this weekend!

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    1. Thank you Bless, that's a lovely thing to say.
      I'm looking forward to tasting the cake and I need to remember to keep feeding it regularly. I know my tastes have changed as I've got older but I doubt I'll ever enjoy marzipan- even the thought of it makes me shudder. The chutney is really tasty and so simple to make. It isn't overpowering like some I've tried.
      I have to shift up a gear with my Christmas preparations this weekend. I'm working up until the 21st so I only really have the weekends to get anything done. X

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  21. I adore chutney! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I imagine it tastes divine. Meg:)

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    1. It is really delicious. I might have helped myself to a rather large spoonful before I put it in the jars. πŸ˜†

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  22. I love Christmas cake (and marzipan!) but my husband doesn't like dried fruit so now that there are only the two of us at home it's not worth making it. Last year my mother gave me a chunk of hers so that I didn't miss out. The fussy whatsit doesn't eat chutney either but I do and that would be worth making, your recipe looks yummy so I think I'll have a go. x

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    1. It's a delicious chutney. The recipe makes two jars and it last for up to six months, so won't go to waste. X

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  23. It's the smell of the christms scents that feasts the senses, I bet your home smelled wonderful with the chutney and cake cooking.

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    1. It really did, Julie. I think that's half the appeal of making it. X

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  24. look delicious cake... and...beautiful series of photos.
    have a great weekend

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  25. The Christmas chutney sounds tempting. I have a little jar of star anise in the cupboard which I've never used. I shall do now! I've made my cake and its in the freezer ready to decorate. It doesn't last like actual Christmas cake so needs to be frozen. I use an apple cake recipe and add other fruit and nuts as I'm not keen on traditional cake.

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    1. Oooh yes! Do use it up, Eloise and please let me know if you enjoy it. Your cake sounds delicious, and I would have probably made something similar myself, but I just felt the urge to bake a traditional Christmas cake this year. X

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  26. Snap...cake made last weekend...and another one put soaking...good for packing in lunches in January! x

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    1. Oh, I bet you're cottage was full of delicious aromas. It does make a good solid lunch box addition doesn't it, but I must make sure to keep feeding mine. X

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