“Why on earth would you want to do that?” That was Ma Bear’s response when I told her I’d been up since 7:00 a.m. chopping sultanas and mixed peel. “Wouldn’t it have been quicker and cheaper just to buy a jar of mincemeat?” She’s right, of course. Once I’d spent a king’s ransom buying raisins, currants, dried figs, dried cherries, almonds and pecans from the organic shop though, there was no way I was going to back out. Unfortunately, it was also about 10:00 p.m., far too late to make a start that evening. Full of good resolutions for the morrow, I set my alarm and drifted off into my recurring “Fantasy Larder” dream. The one where I have a walk-in pantry the size of a Parisian studio, full of beautifully covered and labelled jars of my own preserves, home-dried herbs, flavored sugars, exotic cordials and exquisite chocolates. (N.B. Actually, my step-grandmother, who first sparked my interest in cooking by teaching me to make lemon curd, did have a HUGE walk-in larder. Though now I think about it, it was mostly full of tinned ham, peaches and Izal loo roll, not at all like the one in my dream. But I digress…) I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m not really a “morning person” – and the thing about making mincemeat, at least if you’re a rookie, is that there’s an AWFUL LOT of weighing and chopping to get through. Oh, and stoning if, like me, you buy cherries that have been dried with stones in them. Grrrr. So it took me a long time, nearly two hours in fact, until I’d got it all looking as I wanted and was suitably late for the day job. And then I found out that we’d actually drunk the whisky I was planning to spike it with, so I used the end of a bottle of Jack Daniels and a bit of Bacardi instead – I’m sure it will be fine. Notice I say it *will be* because as I write the whole glorious mess is “maturing” in sterilized – forgot to mention that, didn’t I? Also a bit of a bummer first thing in the morning, sorry! – kilner jars on top of the fridge. The good news is that it LOOKS like mincemeat, which is very encouraging, and I have every faith in the brilliant Felicity Cloake, whose recipe I used (more or less) and whose book “Perfect” I highly recommend. But the proof of the pudding will be when I come to make mince pies with it about a week from now. So watch this space!
November 30, 2011