The first thing I want to show you today is this beautiful glass decanter, given to me by my "consuelo" (daughter's Father-in-Law), Percy Núñez, from Panama. Here it holds some lovely Barbados rum - not as good as the vintage Honduras rum that Percy will be more familiar with, but good nonetheless:
My British readers will, I'm sure, be familiar with Christmas cake. Traditionally this is a very rich fruit cake, made well in advance and "fed" from time to time with a little Brandy. Usually it is covered in marzipan and a thick layer of royal icing. In the past Jane would have made us a Christmas cake, but this year because of her diabetes diagnosis she can't really eat cake and we decided that it wasn't worthwhile to make a one-person cake. Fortunately for me our good friend Rosemary was making cakes as normal and used some of the mixture to make an extra (tiny) cake just for me. Aren't I lucky to have such a kind friend? My favourite way of eating Christmas cake is with cheese. You may think this a wierd combination, but it is really good (ask a Yorkshireman...). To be really authentic, the cheese ought to be a nice sharp, crumbly Wensleydale, but we haven't got any Wensleydale, so I am using Cheddar. Not just any old Cheddar, but probably the best one you can get - extra-mature Montgomery's Cheddar.
Here's one of my Christmas presents, bought for me by Jane. I think you'll agree that with their chilli pattern they are very appropriately chosen, and likely to become one of my most cherished possessions!
They are officially "Shed shoes", the sort of thing you just slip on when you want to nip out and fetch something from the shed, or simply pick a bunch of herbs for with your dinner.
Here's a "first" for me - a Mince Pie made for me by my gorgeous granddaughter Lara (with some help from her Mum, of course). It's in the form of a "Twinkle 'tar"... Thanks, Lara. I'm sure you will be a great cook one day, just like your Mum and your Grandma.
The things I have shown you are all lovely in their own way, but today I also want to show you a photo of my greatest treasure of all - my wife Jane. As a reader commented the other day "a very special person".
We've been married more than 34 years now, and I know she will be embarrassed when I say this, but I think our love for each other is stronger than ever. And you know, one of our greatest bonds is our mutual love of food and drink and cooking. Long may it stay that way!