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The Shops are telling us Christmas is just around the corner

Hi readers – settled down with iPad in front of fire Sunday night 8pm.  We were out for lunch today with some friends who were celebrating a BIG birthday !  It was great actually and it is so civilised to spend time over a meal.  So often, especially if there are just the two of us, I prepare the meal but it is eaten too quickly and then is finished, cleared away and onto the next job !  Today though the whole afternoon was spent, taking time between courses and lots of chatter, laughter and actually tasting the food.

I think we are now getting to that time of year when we spend more time indoors and start to think about Christmas and its trimmings.  I have had several emails and requests for my Christmas cake recipe and so I promised to attach it this week.  It really is simple and delicious and I bake it in a very low oven overnight.  I soak the fruit in alcohol before baking and because it bakes slowly it isn't dry and doesn't need "feeding" afterwards.

I have talked before about Christmas turkey rearing but have I ever mentioned Christmas trees ?  A few years ago we decided to fill a patch of garden with baby trees thinking they would fill a space, mean less weeding and give us Christmas trees as the grand children were growing up.  It turned out to be a lovely idea because for the past 4 years the little ones have chosen their tree, tied a coloured ribbon onto it and then they come about 10 days before Christmas to help chop it down.  I hope that for them it is magical – they come along full of excitement, hats and gloves on, squeals of delight and then hot chocolate indoors afterwards.  It's magical for me anyway !

I think there is a belief that Norwegian spruce trees drop their needles but if a tree is properly cared for this is not the case.  The fact is if you buy one from a supermarket it has probably been cut down some 4 weeks beforehand and is therefore completely dried out.  If however you can find a nursery or farm that has fresh trees, and you can cut it down as you buy, I assure you with a little attention it will last and won't drop at all.  We cut ours 10 days before Christmas then place it in water as soon as we can. Keep the trunk in water and the tree will happily drink 500ml water each day.  It doesn't drop its needles and looks as good when it leaves the house on 12th night !  Don't pay top whack for one of those fancy "non drop" trees.

Sorry – I have digressed and it isn't Christmas yet !  It is time to make your cake though so have a go.  November already and I have a very busy one !  I am booked for baking demonstrations most weekends so if you see me come and say hello !!

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