For years I've adopted a distinctly Scrooge-ish attitude to elaborate displays of outdoor Christmas lights, but this year it's different. This year they seem to have taken on a sort of brave defiance. If we're all going to hell in a handcart, why not do it with lots of twinkly lights? Haven't actually gone as far as putting any out myself. We lurk behind great swathes of unclipped shrubbery and trees, the sort of thing that any new person moving in would lay waste to within seconds. Any lights we put up would be completely invisible. The house itself is dour and louring, and splashing it with Christmas lights would be a bit like swathing a black clad Victorian matron with tinsel. Or worse.
We don't have a tree yet either. Well, we do, but it's stowed away in the barn, waiting for end of term when daughter and I (and her boyfriend this year) will decorate the tree. This will not take us long, the size of the tree reflecting the falling fortunes of the House of Badger. I spent some time wondering what I could do as a tree substitute, but decided that wrestling a dead elder out of the field and daubing it with decorations was an ironic statement too far, even for me.
So, we went and got a tree. It will need to be stood on a blanket box. If we carry on this way, next year's will be on a chest of drawers.
Anyway, I have been spending my evenings in a whirl of crafting activity, which is most unlike me, as any crafting I do generally goes wrong. If I have time off, I read. Or walk round in a dream. However, this year, I've started reading Cherry Menlove's blog, fully expecting that I was going to do lots of ironic and superior sniggering, but no. She's great, Cherry. She does craft and also cooking, and writes about her life brilliantly, and inspired purely by her (really, I would never have done this if I hadn't read the recipe on her blog) I made mincemeat. Now my version of doing this was not Cherry's because she doesn't have dogs and I do.
What you need when you do any sort of cooking is the very close and supportive attention only a Sprocker can give you. (This is Tarka, who we have for six months or so while my sister-in-law's away).
Perhaps I might drop something over this side. (The shoe was left there earlier by the labrador. I don't keep them in the middle of the floor.)
Labrador now back from re-arranging shoes and ready to lend her support.
Daughter stirring the mix. Note the speed of her whirling spatula. Who says teenagers are lazy?
I couldn't photograph both dogs at this point, but the labrador is behind me, willing me to drop something. I am about to deal with a lemon. What dog would not sell its soul for a lemon?
Here's the mix. It smelled beyond amazing, but I haven't actually cooked with it yet, which might be an idea before I give the results to my unsuspecting friends.
Here's a link to the recipe. I didn't have Amaretto, and when I went to buy ingredients and found out the price of Amaretto, I still didn't. I plundered the drinks cupboard, and substituted Marsala. Not quite sure why we have Marsala, but there you go.