Stir-up Tuesday

21 Nov

Industrial quantities of suet imported from England by Mr Kim – well maybe not quite industrial (though there was the year one of my friends thought that I said I’d made 45lbs of mincemeat when I’d actually only made 4-5lbs!) but enough to keep me going for a couple of years.

I know that I should technically be concentrating my Christmas mincemeat preparations on a Sunday but giving the imminent move I’m happy to grab any evening available.  Traditionally Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before advent (which is great because it means I’m actually ahead of time!) and is so called not because of mixing up dried fruit in readiness for Christmas puddings but because it was the Sunday on which the following collect was read from the Book of Common Prayer:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Not a bad reminder in the run up to advent and a holiday meant to be more about giving than received. Since Christmas pudding fruit needs to soak up alcohol, citrus juices etc for some weeks the day has long since been associated with the making of the Christmas pudding.   Since I don’t make my own Christmas pudding the Kim stirring up centres around the making of my mincemeat and since I’m a big fan of both apricots and almonds I’ve spent the last few years adopting various recipes to include both.

Apricot and almond mincemeat, a lot lighter than traditional mincemeats and delicious combined with frangipane topping.

This year I’ve taken the BBC online mincemeat recipe and tweaked it a bit so that my mincemeat includes:

  • 8oz suet
  • 12oz apricots
  • 4oz candied peel
  • 8oz sultanas
  • 8oz raisins
  • 4 oz flaked almonds
  • 6oz Demerara sugar
  • 1tsp mixed cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  • juice and zest of 1 orange plus an extra dash of orange juice
  • 150ml brandy (a considerable increase on the recipe’s suggestion of 60ml but it seemed wrong to stint on this bit!)

Adding the brandy to the mixture – quantities considerably increased from the original recipe

Since I’m still without weighing scales I’ve been relying on the north American cup system and online conversions charts. The mixture’s going to sit in its mixing bowl for a couple of days until the move later this week and then I’ll put it in to preserving jars all ready for December and frangipane mince pies.

After all that stirring up I’ve just spent a happy hour or so enjoying the wonderful historic Christmas cards on the Canadian archives database (I particularly like the frog dancing with a beetle – a perfect example of the sometimes frankly bizarre Christmas themes of 19th century cards) and came across a postcard recipe for an Empire pudding, which lists all the Empire countries from which the ingredients came.  How many housewives across Britain thought about the provenance of their ingredients as they stirred up their pudding I’m not sure, but for countless Britons across the globe the Christmas pudding no doubt formed a very welcome reminder of home at Christmas time.


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