Christmas Morning

I love the quietness of Christmas morning, being up before everyone else, no real need to go anywhere.

It’s been many years since I worked in crisis intervention and was on 24 hour call out over the festive period – not so enjoyable, as families feel the pressure. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is.

It saddens me to witness homelessness and on such a scale, in Britain. Every year I ‘do something’, like many, during this time. It’s all too easy to become bereft of home and this shouldn’t be so in our modern, apparently wealthy nation.

We have spent too long squabbling over staying in Europe. Our politicians and media seem to take the p*ss out of all of us, the citizens. Surely this is what binds us together.

I am aware of the rifts in our society, growing deeper – this is how it is before conflict. A slow build-up, a cat amongst the pigeons, the devil that is the rise of the far right. Many refer to the 1930’s. There are similarities.

The difference that could be now is this: We are more aware. We have won many fights against transgressions on humanity. We have learnt the hard way.

We also know what needs to be done to take care of Mother Earth and all her little babies.

On the wall to my right is Desiderata. I read it this morning and reflect on my own confusion, anger, sense of injustice.

Then I pour another coffee.

Peace be with everyone.

Festive Rice Pudding for a Fairy Tale Feast

Sunday morning and I haven’t made a rice pudding yet. I have been mulling over the ingredients, starting with searching out various recipes around the world. Yes, rice pudding is global!

We often dismiss this dessert as a humble dish, but certain ingredients will make a pudding incredibly more-ish.

My mother’s version was simply to simmer it on the hob in full fat milk, then add sugar if needed, at the table. Nanna would bake hers, including knobs of butter – everyone seems to agree that the skin is best!

Today I will make a Festive Rice Pudding for a Fairy Tale Feast with

 unsweetened almond milk – 6 cups to 1 cup of rice

chopped dates, dried figs would be nice too – no need for sugar

vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest

butter

A dash of Chambord black raspberry liqueur

It will be baked for two hours low heat.

I am anticipating a festive aroma!

The most decadent version was served to me in the Highlands of Scotland. A Lady Claire MacDonald recipe laden with cream and butter!

Persian interpretations are perhaps the most famous – one recipe has milk, one does not. Rose water and cardamon are added, then the dish is adorned with rose petals, almonds and more. See Shir Berenj and Sholeh Zard https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/331999803767086537/

I found another recipe on instagram from Chile with the naughty addition of condensed milk (okay once a year!) Rick Stein has share the Mexican version on his latest jaunt. And please let’s not forget honey, which is made for this sweet dessert.

My culinary reading for the festive season is Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles.

Other books on the coffee table include:

Marco Polo – from Venice to Xanadau

Norse Mythology

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Plus a couple in the fantasy and magic realism genres arriving in the post soon.

I intend to watch international films throughout winter – the real, the magical.

Links:

Rick Stein’s recipe from Mexico:

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/mexican-rice-pudding-with-honeycomb

Nigel Slater:

https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008260194/the-christmas-chronicles/

fairy tale feast

Rhubarb!

It’s a part of West Yorkshire’s industrial heritage. There’s a saying – ‘load of old rhubarb’ – meaning what nonsense. Every allotment still has at least one plant.

The stalks are chopped, cooked with sugar and ginger then a dollop of custard added on top for a lazy school pudding. It’s a certain kind of person who can consume that tart, slippery mess – a hungry one!

I’ve always had some in a garden. The leaves are good for pesticide when dunked in water. the stalks freeze rather well, but an instant crumble is best.

I’ve read a little recently about its history in Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc. Rhubarb comes from China (as many plants have) and Siberia. It became popular in West Yorkshire and the Victorian era, in London.

There is the tradition of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb whereby it is grown in sheds in the dark by candlelight. Certainly sparks the imagination!

‘Forced rhubarb plants are shrouded in such an aura of mystery and romance, like fragile prima donnas that have to be handled so gently,’ says Raymond.

We are all stalks in the dark sometimes, growing slowly.

Image from slowfood.org.uk 

rhubarb