Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christmas preparations, cheers to that!

Christmas is in the air - already?

Sure enough, the supermarkets and department stores have had their decorations out since the first of October. I'm yet to see an ad on telly though, telling me to buy now in time for Christmas. But I'm sure they will come. While it is good to get in early and plan ahead, is this too far in advance? Perhaps.

As for me, I'm trying to be organised. We will be moving across Australia (literally from top to bottom) in the two weeks before Christmas. We are arriving Christmas Eve, and staying in a hotel until some time in the new year. So I'm trying to get ready. I've a few gifts set aside, ready to be wrapped and placed in a clearly marked "do not pack in the removalist truck" box. I'm contemplating when to send out Christmas cards. And most tastily, I've been preparing in the kitchen. What took my fancy was an old copy of Delicious magazine, from years back with lots of Christmas sweet treats to prepare. There were eggnog custards, chocolate and prune terrines, cinnamon ice cream and mulled wine sorbet. Gosh, I'm drooling. None of these are really make in advance treats, but the Christmas pudding vodka certainly is.

Sure, I tinkered with the quantities. I also added ingredients that are essential in my Christmas pudding. I doubled the original vodka specification and increased the infusion time. I also used a vodka recommended by my friendly bottle-o staff. They suggested an organic vodka that had a very "pure" taste and thus would not feature amongst all the Christmas puddingie goodness. Adjust flavours as you perceive necessary. And as for what to do with the delicious vodka soaked fruit, well a chocolate vodka fruit cake is baking in the oven as we speak.

Christmas Pudding Vodka
Makes around 1400 mls

2 bottles vodka (700 mls each or so)
250 g dark brown sugar
200 g sultanas
150 g dried apricots
150 g prunes
Juice and zest of two oranges
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped
6 cloves
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 tsp mixed spice
A good grating of nutmeg

Simply place all the ingredients into a large bowl, or a container you can seal. Stir together well, over and attempt to make the stewing mix ant-proof (mine stood in another container that had a few centimetres of water in the base). Place in a cool, dark forgotten part of your home and leave for two weeks to infuse. Put the vodka bottles aside for later.

Two weeks later, strain your vodka into a jug. Push gently on all the fruit, etc, to get some of the residual liquid out. Strain again and decant into the vodka bottles. Seal well. Alternatively, decant into smaller bottles, label festively and cap tightly. These make lovely gifts.

Serve very well chilled, ideally with a slice of chocolate cake, a fruit mince pie or a velvet chocolate truffle.

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