Thursday, 12 December 2019
Xmas is A Coming and the Pigs are Getting Fat
We don't eat geese here but pork is always centre on the fiesta table. While others are fattening the pigs I am doing my own preparations for Christmas.
Pickled onions finished today. They'll be perfect by Christmas. We dont get tiny onions here so these are quite large. Not a problem.
1 kilo of onions
Pickled in 1 litre of homemade wine vinegar
250 grams of local thyme honey
Heat the vinegar gently till the honey is melted. Squash the onions into jars and pour over the vinegar. Add pepper flakes or herbs as you wish. This makes 4 quite large jars. I put some baking paper over the top of the onions and this keeps them under the vinegar and not floating above the liquid.
And homemade Christmas mincemeat, fruit mince for those who don't know this english tradition. In the colonies our traditions were the traditions of Mother England, back then anyway. Things have changed since my childhood however. No longer do the 'colonists' eat a hot, filling English Xmas dinner. Salads and BBQs seem popular, logical considering it is summer in Australia and NZ.
My last Christmas dinner in NZ must have been in 1986 when we returned for a family reunion, at the beach.
Mincemeat is unavailable here in Greece, naturally enough. I think there is a Marks and Spencers food hall somewhere in Athens which may stock such a thing at this time of the year but Athens is an urban jungle, far far away from my island.
Mincemeat is quite easy to make and I do so every year, freezing any that remains for the following Xmas. This year the frozen remains were only half a small bowl so I did some shopping and searched the fridge and shelves and made a very pleasing new supply of xmas mince.
Thanks to Google and Youtube anything can be discovered and replicated, as long as you have the ingredients.
blackcurrants and sultanas (both greek)
a good dollop of leftover quince jam
half a jar of chopped tomatoes preserved in sugar syrup*
some white sugar
2 grated apples
a good dollop of leftover orange marmelade
a packet of candied orange peel I found at Lidls
A handful of pumpkin seeds
cinnamon, ginger and cloves
about a hundred grams of margarine
a couple of shots of whisky
a glass of orange juice
I just simmered all this till the margarine melted and the raisins and sultanas plumped up a little with the liquid and it was ready.
*Here in Greece anything can be made into a sweet. Cherry tomatoes and small aubergines are not unusual. No one in our house wants to eat them, including me. They still taste like tomatoes to me. Half the jar went into the mincemeat and the other half into the Xmas cakes
I really have no idea how it compares to mincemeat from a jar sold in Tesco's or Waitrose in England but it tastes darn good to me.
I make my own short pastry and have little xmas mince pies for all the holiday period.
My pies always look very rustic no matter how hard I try. I have found the perfect size mug and glass to cut out rounds which fit exactly into my pattie pans but no matter how careful I am and how much I try to place them exactly and form pleasing little pies they always come out wonky. Icing sugar covers a multitude of sins and no one has ever complained so I'm not sweating about it. Wonkiness is my speciality.
Next will be the Christmas cakes.