It’s a few days to Christmas. Unusually for me, the festive atmosphere is beginning to raise my spirits. My mood is good. I decide to nip into Dublin city to arrange gifts and presents for the ones I love.
It’s cold as I make my way down the ramp in the car park. My progress is stalled by a crunching sound, followed by a stream of expletives from a respectable looking woman. She has scraped her car against a pillar. I can offer no solace. I put my head down and manfully walk on.
Leaving the car park, I am confronted by a (I need to be careful how I phrase this) woman of eastern European origin. She blocks my path and wishes me “May Baby Jesus bless you.” as she pushes her outstretched hand into my face. A neat sidestep gets me safely away. I round a corner to be confronted by a chugger (male this time) who greets me like I am his separated-at-birth twin. I thank him for his interest and move on. I walk towards Grafton Street and am impeded by more people waving buckets in my face, clipboard wielding (large percentage earning) charity workers and sundry inebriated members of the general population. My humour darkens. A crack across the shin from somebody else’s Christmas parcel extracts an expletive from me and no apology from the inflictor.
The Christmas music blaring from shops competes with the amateur (very so) carol singers. A motorist blasts his horn at a delivery van and attracts both ire and a foul-mouthed outburst from the driver. This played out to the soundtrack of “I wish it could be Christmas every day” leeching from nearby shops.
My good mood is destroyed. The desire to seek out gifts for my loved ones has evaporated. To hell with all of this. I hobble back to the car and home.
Not that I am bereft of Christmas cheer. I drive home to peace and quiet. Home to recharge my batteries, to rethink my strategy. Home to prepare Mince Pie to go with a glass of mulled wine. I will restore myself and hit the town tomorrow.
Minced pies depend upon two things. The pastry and the filling. The Wife worked on the former while, over 2 days, I looked after the latter.
My list of ingredients goes as follows:
- 180g large raisins
- 90g golden raisins
- 120g sultanas
- 280g currants
- 100g mixed peel
- 200g shredded suet
- 280g soft, dark brown sugar
- ½ a freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp of 5 spice powder
- 2 tsp of mixed spice
- Zest and juice of an orange
- Zest and juice of a lemon
- 100g of fresh cranberries, reduced in a tiny amount of water and sugar until soft.
- 1 large cooking apple, peeled and chopped small.
- 6 tbsp of brandy
My recipe differs from most that I see online in the addition of the cranberries and the five spice powder. The measurements of the stuff does not need to be accurate. Whack it all (except the brandy) into a mixing bowl and stir it together adding the peel and orange juice at the end. This is purely to allow an action shot…
Don’t, add the brandy for at this stage. Cover with a cloth and leave to stand for 24 hours.
Remove the cloth, particularly if it is as nice as my moose cloth. Cover the bowl with tin foil. Then pop it into the oven at 110 centigrade for two and a half hours. Remove and let cool, stirring occasionally as the suet begins to set. You want even distribution of the stuff that will clog your arteries. When it has cooled, add the brandy and stir again.
Get your better half to make some short crust pastry and construct either small mince pies to leave out for Santa or a decent sized pie like mine for slicing and serving to the world-weary shopper.
Serve with cream and, if you have been out shopping for your loved ones, a generous glass of mulled wine. There will be plenty on mince to store away or to make more for New Year’s Eve.
Happy Christmas and stay safe out there.