The Christmas pudding in a cloth is something I have made each year. I remember my Grandmother having puddings hanging up in the pantry in the old house at Redland Bay. The puddings had threepences and sixpences in them back then.
People have asked me if I'm afraid the pudding will go bad. I haven't had them go bad, even though I usually make them weeks in advance. Some people say alcohol preserves a pudding, but as a tea totaller I substitute juice for brandy or whatever the recipe says. My grandma would not have had alcohol in the house either.
The fruit can be any dried fruit. This year I have used sultanas, currants, raisins, dates and dried cranberries. Sometimes I use dried apples, figs, apricots &c. Traditionally lard is used as the shortening, but I have also made puddings with butter.
To prepare the cloth put it in a pot of boiling water. Then lift it out with two pairs of tongs and wring the excess water out. Place the cloth on the bench, and put plenty of plain flour on it (to give the pudding a crust). Then spoon the mixture out.
The picture shows the texture of the mixture when I put it out on the cloth. Tie the cloth, leaving space above the mixture so that it doesn't burst out. Leave some length on the string so that it can be looped onto a hook. Have the pot of water boiling strongly when you put the pudding in. Then put the lid on and put a message on it "Do not lift the lid" until it's finished its cooking. You need enough water to last the time, and the heat to be sufficient to keep it boiling but not too hot.
I hang the pudding up in the window, with air flowing freely around it. It dries out quickly. On Christmas day the pudding goes back into the pot of boiling water and needs to boil for a couple of hours. Then you cut the string and take the cloth off, putting the pudding upside down on a plate. Custard and icecream are very nice accompaniments. Even on a hot summer day we enjoy Christmas pudding. Leftovers are good cold.
My meditation today, this Lord's Day morning, is from Psalm 91.
"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge; my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day' nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. ... If you make teh Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you, no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. ... The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me I will answer, I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation."
I claim this divine protection, and each of these promises today. The Most High is our God, our refuge and strength, in this time of trouble.
The dreadful plague that stalked the psalmist may be different from the plagues that confront us today - cancers, auto-immune diseases, infections - yet the experience of terror is the same. The need for a place of safety, and for rescue is as real today as it would have been to the writer of this Psalm.
The picture evoked by this Psalm is one of a present experience. Look at the verbs, and the statements attached to them: living - in the shelter of the most high finding - rest trusting
the promises, that the Almighty will: rescue protect shield order protection hold you keep you protect (again) answer be with rescue (again) satisfy AND give salvation.
When I read God's word and apply it to life events as I experience them, I am aware that my professional knowledge is a filter that influences my understanding. Midwifery is not just about the birth of babies: it is about knowing and understanding life as God created it, and recognising the points at which that normal physiological process faces danger, threat, "trap", "terror", "plague", "pestilence", or "the disaster that strikes at midday".
The hope that the psalmist knew, and that has been known in every generation of God's precious people, is a living and active hope. The place of shelter; the surety of rest; the promise of salvation is ongoing in each situation that we face.
Here's my winter knitting project. It's made of pure wool - using up scraps and re-knitting an old unfinished project. I used standard 8-ply wool and 4mm knitting needles. It probably wouldn't matter if you varied that, as long as it was consistent throughout. To knit each square: Cast on 51 stitches 1st and alt rows - knit 2nd and alt rows - decrease at the middle 3 stitches of the row, by slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over. Continue until 3 stitches remain. Knit 3 together, and tie off. To join squares: I used 42 squares for this little rug, and stitched them together using a herrigbone stitch on both the reverse side, then again in the contrasting brown wool on the top side.
I like this little rug, and have started another. Joy
Today Noel has made a very nice batch of jam. [Photo: with a couple of jars of jam]
It's backyard jam because the fruit grew in the backyard. The recipe is based on the fig jam recipe from the 1976 Queensland WMU cookery book (they didn't include the 'P', which stands for Presbyterian, and the 'WMU' stands for Women's Missionary Union). Fig is the main fruit. Other fruit added are cumquats and peaches, so it has a citrus tang from the cumquats.
Here's the recipe: Weigh the fruit. The ratio of fruit to sugar is 4:3 1.6 Kg fruit 1.2 Kg sugar
Cut stalks off the figs and halve or quarter them; cut any unripe ones into smaller pieces. Cut the other fruit to suitable sizes. Put cut fruit into a large pot with about half the sugar sprinkled over the layers. Let them stand for about 12 hours, which will bring out juice. Next day bring the fruit to the boil, then add the remainder of the sugar. Boil until it jells. Fill clean dry glass jars. If you have metal lids for the jars, put the lids on while the jam is very hot, and invert them. This heat sterilises the lid and airspace. After a couple of hours stand the jars upright. If you don't have lids for the jars, allow to cool without cover, then cover with suitable material (I use a piece of baking paper and rubber band).
It's exhilarating to take in the magnificent views from this mountain. Yes, we went through some craft shops, and had coffee in the village, but the moments captured in this picture are what made the visit memorable for me. (you can enlarge the picture with a left click)
This past Saturday Noel, Mizz and I attended the White family reunion at Petrie. A reflection on Angelina White, who was mother to 11 children, can be found at http://villagemidwife.blogspot.com/.
In these photos above, you see 1. the 'Frank White' section of the family - ie those who are descendants of Frank, who is the son of James and Angelina White. 2. Aunty Ruth, Chris, Jess, Mizz
After the family reunion we stopped at Bald Hills, where my family and I lived for several years. Our father was minister at the church (pictured). Anna and I revisited our old school, Bald Hills Primary.