Monday, 6 December 2010

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Have you got nuts? I want nuts. Have you got nuts?
This weekend I survived a squirrel attack in Tavistock Square. I did have a moment while taking this photo where I thought it might go for my throat, and I might end up as one of those embarrassing statistics, like people who die while tripping over a biscuit. And then everybody would have to gloss over it at my funeral and the eulogy would have had to be worded really carefully. But it was ok, he turned tail, waggled his bottom at us and disappeared, having ascertained that we weren’t going to produce a sack of nuts (look, I’m feeding half the squirrels in Cambridge, greedy little devils, I can’t branch out into London ones as well), and I was able to get home in one piece and make a start on my cards.
I like a nice bright Christmas card, do you?
And then today I soaked the dried fruits for my Christmas cake. Do you make your own Christmas cake, blog readers? I don’t always get round to it (and, you know, I’ve only soaked the fruits, I might not get any further. Nigella says in one of her books she once couldn’t face actually making the cake and just left the fruits she was soaking in the cupboard and made it the next year instead and it was ok. Mind you, I always think Nigella has had quite a difficult go of it in some respects, money and large townhouses notwithstanding), but I do like having a homemade one hanging about. Heavy fruit cake is one of my favourite things, so I spend all of January carving bits off and nibbling it with cups of tea. I iced it the first year I made one, but the icing was too much, and now we have it plain, in a thrilling Christmas Cake Minimalism kind of way. I always use the Delia Christmas Cake recipe and I can say with some confidence that this is a recipe with which very little can go wrong, so feel free to use it too, although, unless you are the kind of person who habitually has a cupboard full of currants and nutmeg (luckily I am, as it happens), buying all the ingredients will bankrupt you (although you can use some of them to make mincemeat as well). I don’t quite know how you get round that. I suppose that’s why Christmas is a Feast. You can imagine, actually, in times gone by, when you had been eating turnips for two months in increasing desperation, having foods in the middle of the winter that required things like nutmeg and thrilling dried fruits from europe would have seemed impossibly delicious and glamorous. There is still something appropriately-seasonally-exotic about it, in a way.
The trick is not to drink the brandy and forget about the cake. Cake first, brandy after
So now all the kitchen smells of citrus, raisins and brandy and I am tortured by having the Glade air freshener advert running through my head, where a woman who sounds as if someone has performed an amateur lobotomy on her, possibly with a Glade Touch'n Fresh, tells us that ‘It’s time to go all Christmassy’. I think Glade actually make their adverts terrible on purpose, because I didn’t realise until I was trying to find a link for that one, but they also did the Shake n’Vac advert of blessed memory, and, more recently, the one featuring the little boy who wanted to go and do a poo at Paul’s. I just hope that little boy doesn’t grow up to be anything where that advert might resurface and embarrass him. I know a child star who grew up to become a very serious Oxford academic, I’m just putting that out there, because it would be awful if that little boy ends up lecturing on nuclear fission or something and all his students chorus ‘I want to do a poo at Paul’s!’ every time he walks up to the lectern. (I wonder if Glade are like the Daily Mail, who do things just to annoy us. Someone posted this link at a very nice forum I visit. Read, despair of womankind, feel astonishment that access to Boden for the middle classes isn't included in the human rights act. Lawyer up, Charlotte! Fight for your right to leopardskin ballet flats and quirky appliqué skirts!).

Anyway the point of this diversion is that I think my fruits soaking in brandy smell more Christmassy than a Glade Touch'n Fresh and I would recommend my room fragrancing method to you, because with a cake, not only do you get the scents of brandy and raisins while you are making it, but you also get, well, you also get a cake. And with a Glade air freshener there are no hidden bonuses. Even if it is a spiced apple one (in fact - you could make a baked apple! And then you also get - a baked apple! You get the picture ;-) ).


Denise said...

What a cute little squirrel. I miss squirrels, I don't see any down here.

There is a US joke that there is only one fruitcake that makes it's rounds being re-gifted.

Glade airfreshners, boo. I'd rather smell real raisins soaking in brandy.

Marushka C. said...

Just checking in to see whether you've continued on your crime spree, Susie. I was expecting to read about some serious jaywalking, or that you've gone to the dark side and washed your whites & colors at the same time.

I'm not disappointed, however, to read about your Christmassy cake-making instead -- "cake first, brandy after," those are words to live by. Indeed.

Susie said...

Denise, you can have my squirrels, I will have your heat ;-). He was cute in a terrifying kind of way. Marushka, ha ha ha! (Dastardly laugh). I am going to take 6 items through the '5 items or less' checkout at M&S later! Possibly!

This cake will turn out exactly like a brick, I think it would be good for regifting for a good few years. Do you eat much Christmas cake in America?

Denise said...

Duane and I are the only ones I've known that actually eat the stuff. Less to be passed around.

I think the ones sold in the stores are stock from way back before I was born, the cake part usually tastes stale, so I pick out the fruits. I do want to make one one day, so I know the cake is fresh.

I tried to send some heat North Easterly to you, but I think those New Yorkers absorbed before it left the east coast.