Only umpteen cooking days to Christmas…

My title is a quote from my dear Ruth Drew – I say ‘my dear’ although I never knew her, and even if she had not died so young I am sure I would never have met her anyway! I say ‘my dear’ because she just sounds such a delightful person, so full of enthusiasm, so practical, so jolly – she reminds me of a favourite aunty.

Her book The Happy Housewife, was published posthumously and is a collection of her broadcasts and writings; her personality leaps off the page, what a character she must have been. Here are her thoughts on preparations for the big event:

So make that cake and pudding now.
Passing a famous South Coast hostelry where noble hams and equally notable Christmas Puddings used to hang in conspicuous array under the beams of the ancient dining-room before the war, I was suddenly reminded that the time had come for thinking of Christmas Puddings and Cakes. Much of their quality, let us remember, lies in their early preparation. For both these essential concomitants of Christmastide, fruited and spiced and laced with spirit, certainly do improve with keeping, and although during the last fifty years I have been trying to find recipes which are an improvement on those used in my family when I was a child (and as my mother’s birthday was on Christmas Eve, we always enjoyed on that day a pudding made for the precious Christmas), I have never been able to discover anything better.
When i was young I cannot remember rum having ever been used in my home for Christmas puddings; it was always brandy, and I think that rum was considered not quite respectable. We know better now, however, and it remained for me to discover in later how very far superior rum is for this purpose, for its taste seems more suited to the dried fruits and its comparative sweetness imparts a greater depth of favour and richness to the whole. So today it is Jamaica rum for me every time, and I advise my readers to adopt the same excellent precept.

My featured picture is of a Christmas cake – my pudding pictures seem to have disappeared!


… and I wonder where the famous South Coast hostelry was, and if it still exists!

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