So last weekend, before I went to visit the Haslemere Charter Fayre my friend Viv of the fannyandjohnnymummyandme blog, who is one of the nicest people you can know – and the best cook I have ever met – gifted me two jars of marmalade: A Black Cherry one, which I’ve swirled through some Lebanese Yoghurt, and served with smooshed* figs and slivered almonds, but which was consumed so quickly that I forgot to take a picture of it, and a Blood Orange and Campari Marmalade that is one of the best I have ever tasted.
Here it is last night, served on a nutty, rich, almost musty rye bread from Bread of Heaven in Haslemere, and with a sliver of the most intense, salty creamy rich Stilton from the Haslemere Cellar.
I’m not even attempting to calculate the points in this. Sometimes, a little of what you fancy does you good.
(*What? ‘Smoosh’ is a word. ‘Cos I say so. I – after all – am an author, and words is what I know. Innit) and
When I was a child – without fail – November smelled of cinnamon, nutmeg, jewel-bright candied carbuncles of citrus peel, and rich, shiny brandy.
My mother baked Christmas cakes then for a mid-December delivery.
It was a skill she’d acquired at a women’s club in the local primary school where I’d been taught by the nuns.
As a kid, I found it impossible to imagine these stern bewhimpled disciplinarians running around the vast industrial convent kitchen, laughing, joking, clucking like chickens as they instructed the local housewives on how to make a fruitcake. As an adult, the image gives me great comfort, and makes me smile every time I imagine it.
Every year, my mother would pull an array of bowls from our cupboards.
Into one, a bag of raisins would be mixed with a bag of sultanas, the dark – almost scorched – scent of the fruit hovering like a lurking threat over the bowl; you had to put your face close to the fruit to smell the musky, oriental funk.
Continue reading Mrs Farrell’s Christmas Cake