One of my favourite things to do when I’m in need of a break from the frenetic pace of everyday life is to sit and leaf through our family’s recipe inheritance. It is a guaranteed source of inspiration and helps me to feel a connection to the past. The knowledge that I can, simply through preparing a meal, share something with my forefathers (and mothers, because, let’s face it, they probably did most of the cooking), and the recognition that life goes on, despite those people not being around anymore, is hugely comforting.
Christmas is conventionally a time for families, for being together and eating together. But perhaps people don’t always have to be there physically for us to feel their presence and share something with them? Maybe through the food we eat and the rituals we choose to observe, we can connect with them, wherever they are. To me at least, there is something quite magical about that.
The cookbook I love most is the one that belonged to my maternal grandmother. Its cover long since lost, it is crammed to bursting with clippings cut from newspapers, notes jotted on scraps of paper, and recipes copied out in finest copperplate.
The recipe for Economical Christmas Pudding is annotated with the words ‘our favourite’, reason enough for me to give it a try.
Having doused fruit in brandy, infused milk with treacle, rubbed suet into flour, and made a wish as I stirred the mixture, I await the results. The proof will be, as they say, in the pudding.
I just hope nobody breaks a tooth on the sixpence.