Last weekend I made mince pies (homemade mincemeat, the Delia recipe – add more brandy).
Yesterday I put the nuts and cherries topping on the cake (long ago gave up the marzipan & icing sugar thing, way too rich and no-one eats it, spoils an otherwise delicious cake – also Delia, the creole christmas cake recipe, v boozy).
During the week I also made a whole load of veggie sausage rolls to take to my niece’s jewish household for a family christmas gathering (the way you do) … and left them at home. Oops. We’ve been having sausage rolls for breakfast. (Quorn sausages, very boring and bland, minced them up, added caramelised onions, fresh herbs, touch of jalapenos – yum.)
Today I have, for the first time in my life, done some deep-frying* – vegan doughnuts for a vegan friend coming over with kids to light channukah candles later today. I’ve always been scared of the deep-frying thing, but wanted to give the vegan friend something he can eat, and so figured I’d go for it. There are loads of online recipes, I kind of put a few together.
And here’s the result :

I’m well-chuffed with these (and there’s even jam in the middle!)

And so … christmas, channukah, solstice, yule, all festivals to bring light and warmth into the middle of the cold dark (yes, if you’re religious they do mean other things, but actually, they were all originally designed to welcome back the sun, the assigning god/s to the festivals came later). But there are loads of people, as ever, doing without. Cold, homeless, not ok, and certainly not enjoying festive excess. Some years ago we realised we’d spent about £200 on Christmas cards, on cards themselves (even charity cards) and postage. And it felt very very wrong. So this year, as for the past few years, we donated to Crisis instead. For the price of those cards and postage, it’s possible to feed a table of ten. Well worth doing.

This winter rose in our garden is what we sent out as an email card to friends and family, and this is what I’m sending to you now, blog-readers.

You may not have had an easy year, I know we haven’t, and I know there are friends and loved ones struggling with a difficult and cold time when it seems that everyone else is cheering. I wish you all – us all – the warmest of winters (sunniest of summers antipodeans!) and a very happy 2012. Let’s hope the Mayans** weren’t right and that the Olympics (and/or the bankers) don’t bankrupt us one and all. Have a good one.

* eek, this success means I may brave the aloo makalas next.
** given they are meant to have practiced human sacrifice, they certainly weren’t right about everything!