When I was a child, and Christmas inched towards me in the distance like an achingly slow-moving but manifestly mighty steam-roller, I loved the season, hard. Now that I’m older and busier, Christmas emerges with a hiss through the cracks and fissures in the pavement like a sinister steam – suddenly everywhere without warning, and prone to fogging up one’s glasses and making one’s fringe get sweaty. My feelings about Christmas these days are more than just “I’m sweaty” – I love it. I do. I do! I’m not just convincing myself here, honest. I love the sparkle and hustle and bustle and food, all the food, and there’s little more gratifying (to me and me alone) than lustily singing the alto descant to Joy To The World or Hark the Herald Angels Sing, to fill me with pine-needle scented exuberance.
But: it’s also stressful. I mean, money. Where’s that stuff hiding lately? How does one go about getting really rich without much effort? Why is so much effort required to get rich and even then it’s not guaranteed? Answer me that, Santa! Also just the sense of wanting to spend lovely, important time with family but then that being high-stakes and needing to go just right, and also trying to get everything done while still working and feeling tired-er and tired-er with every day that passes. But then sniffing a christmas tree, or running your hands idly through a plush, cool pile of tinsel, or staying up late to bake something really special for someone just as special, and Christmas specials of TV shows and Mariah Carey and candy canes…
So yeah: Christmas. I have now made the ground-breaking observation that it is happening and stirs up some feelings across the spectrum of what feelings feel like.
Even though buzzfeed and pinterest have rendered trying to list anything slightly superfluous, still I heedlessly present my annual round-up of anything I’ve ever made on this blog that might make a decent-enough edible gift for someone. Give the gift of food, yo. People want things – or at least, I want things, ever so badly – but people LOVE food. And you know it’s going to get used, not consigned to a Shelf of Guilt because you visit quite a lot and will absolutely know if your gift is not on display.
Also – sorry if you’re getting sick of seeing Christmas everywhere and you don’t participate in it for any number of reasons. It’ll soon be over. And also you can make these things at any time, not just during this particularly pervasive and dominating seasonal landmark.
Things In Jars.
Note: We may have reached Peak Mason Jar Awareness but there’s no reason why you can’t ignore this, because…jars are cute! And you can’t put a price on that.
Orange Confit (This is just slices of orange in syrup, but is surprisingly applicable to a variety of cake surfaces. And pretty. And cheap.) (vg, gf)
Cranberry Sauce (Impossibly easy.) (vg, gf)
Bacon Jam (Best made at the last minute, because it needs refrigerating) (gf)
Cashew Butter (vg, gf)
Red Chilli Nahm Jim (gf)
Cranberry (or any-berry) Curd (some effort involved, so make sure you’re awake, but very, very pretty.) (gf)
Rhubarb-Fig Jam (gf)
Salted Caramel Sauce (gf, has a vegan variant) (also: don’t even try fighting it, salted caramel is not going anywhere.)
Apple Cinnamon Granola (vg)
Marinated Tamarillos (vg, gf)
Taco Pickles (vg, gf)
Baked Stuff: the classic choice. Or: The Person Who Actually Likes Doing Baking’s choice.
Look, my Christmas Cake
is amazing. It just is: deal with my lack of coyness. Make it on the day, it’ll still be great.
Also, if you click on the link to the Orange Confit above, you’ll see a recipe for the easiest, fastest fruitcake loaf. It makes an excellent present, for the sort of person who’d like to receive fruitcake. And ’tis dairy free.
Novelty! Novelty? Novelty!
And there you have it. If nothing else, a prompt to lose a pleasurably hungry hour or two on something like Pinterest, looking up endless variations on The One Cookie That Will Affirm Your Belief In Humanity or something.
It has been a dreamy and mellow weekend – pizza eating and head-pats; wedding dress shopping and quietly reading in a cafe and swooning; watching Pretty Little Liars and drinking beer (more swooning here); book group and snacks and knitting.
Many, many, thrice many candy canes. I love them so much and they only come into season in December! So if I’m fixing to eat five in one sitting, no-one’s going to stop me.
Oh yeah, that’s right, more wedding dress shopping. I found the one. The two, in fact. Which sounds diva-ish, to which I say, don’t use diva as a negative term to devalue powerful women, and also that the two dresses together cost half the price of some other dresses I tried on, and also they’re both intensely beautiful and I really like the idea of having a dramatic costume change halfway through the ceremony.
And for one fervent blogger, christmas came early this year: I got to hang out with this hund friend! Called Bruce! With a very soft, fluffy head and a huggably squat body. Like me!
Title via: Rilo Kiley, Xmas Cake. Putting the aaaagh into fa-la-la-la-la.
Sheep Dog and Wolf, Egospect
. Blimmin’ rad, is my indepth description of it for you.
Janine and the Mixtape, Hold Me (acoustic)
. Could this babe be any more talented or amazing? Possibly, I mean that kind of thing in terms of measurability to – anyway. Here she is singing an acoustic version of a dreamy song that I already loved, somehow making it more gentle and delicate and yet saltily searing.
Um, also Beyonce did the staggeringly amazing move of dropping an entire album with a video for each song in the middle of the night without any fanfare. Do yourself a favour and try to find them – they’re brilliant. ***Flawless and Grown Woman are pretty much perfection, but it’s impossible this early to choose favourites: it’s just the most excellent, saucy, in charge R’n’B I’ve heard since Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. (Not that he was thaaaat saucy.) I am just so inspired by her control and confidence and complete difference-from-everything-else in releasing her album like this. Makes me want to write an even better cookbook. And also dance lots.
Next time: I made an apple and cheese pie, but who knows, eh? Christmas! What a time. Be as nice to yourselves as you can muster.