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Archive for December 26th, 2014

Most people have heard of mistletoe, particularly at Christmas time. It is a plant which often grows on other trees and shrubs. The white berries are full of a sticky juice.

Mistletoe

There are lots of legends and traditions surrounding mistletoe, the most well known and popular being the kissing one. It was believed that kissing under the mistletoe would lead to marriage.

In ancient times the Druids believed that mistletoe would bring good luck and health. Although it has been used to treat some ailments, the berries are poisonous and should not be touched by children.

There has also been a tradition that a good crop of mistletoe is a sign that there will be a good harvest in the following season.

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Christmas poems for little kids. Once There Was a SNOWMANOnce there was a snowman,
Who stood outside the door,
He wished that he could come inside,
And run about the floor.
He wished that he could warm himself,
Beside the fire, so red,
He wished that he could climb 
Upon the big white bed.
So he called to the North Wind,
«Come and help me, pray,
For I’m completely frozen,
Standing here all day.»
So the North Wind came along,
And blew him in the door,
And now there’s  nothing left,
But a puddle on the floor!

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Method

Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, sifted flour and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. 

Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. 

Don’t forget to tick everything off so as not to leave anything out.

Now in a smaller basin measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients, and begin to mix very thoroughly. 

It’s now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! 

The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. 

Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

Next day pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger for this!). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. 

Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. 

Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time.

When the pudding is steamed let it get quite cold, then remove the steam papers and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easier manoeuvring. 

Now your Christmas pudding is all ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.

To cook, fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam away for 2¼ hours. 

You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.

To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate. 

Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. 

Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don’t pour it over until you reach the table. 

When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all, and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company!

When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with rum sauce, or rum or brandy butter.

If you want to make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity makes eight 6 oz (175 g) small metal pudding basins. 

Steam them for 3 hours, then re-steam for 1 hour. They look pretty wrapped in silicone paper and muslin and tied with attractive bows and tags.

To make this recipe gluten-free: Replace the suet with either gluten-free or vegetarian suet. Use gluten-free white flour and breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread, and replace the stout and barley wine with the same amount of sherry.

Note: If you’re using gluten-free flour, you will need to add 3 pinches of baking powder to the 2 oz (50 g) of gluten-free white flour.

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