The Wright side of life: This weekend it's Stir Up Sunday

Karen's decorated mini Christmas cakes
Karen's decorated mini Christmas cakes

Karen Wright writes: We all sometimes get a song into our head and then it stays there for what seems like an age. Over and over singing and humming it, well this week I got stuck with a couple of Bob Marley songs. Stir it up and Jamming, you know “stir it up little darling” and “Jamming, Jamming, I hope you like jamming too”

There is a reason for it though, this weekend it is Stir Up Sunday, that’s right, it's time to make your Christmas pudding. Tradition dictates that the puddings are made the Sunday before the start of advent. I know there are some delicious puddings in the shops but they are so easy to make, and I steamed mine in my slow cooker this year, yes, that’s right I made mine a wee bit early. Its great to get the family involved, stirring the mixture and making a wish each. Back in the day, coins used to be hidden in the puddings too, in fact I remember in our house in the 1960s we had threepenny bits in our mixture. I mentioned the song Jamming too, I was using up the last of my homegrown chillies, making chilli jam and that song just sort of got “jammed” in my head!

Karen stirring her Christmas pudding .

Karen stirring her Christmas pudding .

Christmas pudding ingredients:
100g sultanas
100g currants
100g raisins
50g glace cherries halved
3 tbs brandy/sherry
75g brown sugar
50g vegetable suet
50g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
50g breadcrumbs
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
50g chopped pecans/walnuts
1 tbs black treacle
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs beaten
4 tbs stout
2 tbs brandy

Method:
Grease a one-and-a-half-pint pudding basin. Soak the dried fruit in three tbs brandy/sherry. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the mixed fruit, eggs and alcohol (brandy and stout). Make a wish! Put the mixture in the pudding basin. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and a circle of foil. Crimp the foil with your fingers to secure it under the basin rim. Tie a piece of string around the rim to totally secure the foil. Place in a slow cooker with water up to two inches from the top of the basin, steam for eight hours. Remove the paper and foil and replace with fresh. To reheat on Christmas Day steam again in the slow cooker for three hours.

This Sunday (November 24) I will be talking about Christmas puddings and other foodie topics on BBC Radio Leeds between 11am-noon so why not tune in and keep me company?

This week it is National Self Care Week. This is quite a new piece of terminology to my old ears. I investigated it and I think it is great. Self-care means looking after yourself, keeping your body and soul in good order. Taking a little time out of our busy lives to focus on ourselves. It means looking at our
diets, sleep and exercise patterns, fitting in a bit of “me” time to do something we enjoy just for ourselves. I think we all tend to get into the habit of thinking of other people and other things as a priority but when you consider that if you are not firing on all cylinders yourself then you are not in a strong position to be as effective at work or within your family as you might be if you administer a little self-care. Why not do something different, go for a swim, a walk or just have five minutes to sit and be still, look after yourself!

Back in my kitchen I have been decorating those mini Christmas cakes that I talked about a couple of weeks ago. I baked the cakes in those individual sized baked bean cans. I made a dozen and now they are all boxed up and ready to go. I think they look pretty and will be fabulous as gifts for someone who might like a small taste of Christmas in their Christmas stocking.

Next week I am planning to make some biscotti and will share the recipe in my column. Biscotti is a biscuit from Italy, and it keeps very well so it makes an ideal gift for Christmas time.

That’s it for this week readers, if you need any extra info about the Christmas pudding or anything else - please contact me via my website, have a great weekend, and STIR IT UP!

For more tips and recipes go to http://www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk