Monday 26 December 2011

More of my favourite Christmas-time things

Christmas-time is a time to enjoy all those special things that often get overlooked in our busy lives at other times of the year.

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!


  1. Again, a very enjoyable photo display of favourite Christmas things but those shed slip-ons...well they are a treasure(as well as Jane))). How I would fancy a pair of those for a skip out to the summerhouse or a stroll down the road. Very HOT!! ))

  2. Funny just today I was thinking that I would like to know what Jane looked like. It is so nice to have a face to put on the name. She looks to me like a very nice person who would be easy to talk to.
    I have my own "shed shoes". They are usually shoes that are too worn out to wear anywhere else. Yours will be much fancier, lol.
    As for "fruit cake" here it is the "I'll try it but it always tastes like crap" present and no one makes them, they are always bought, usually in some cheap assortment.Perhaps yours are better but, frankly, lol, it looks the same!
    I do love Lara's mincemeat pie. I got to skype while my grandson opened presents this morning (daddy had to work the gate yesterday). I didn't know what time he would wake up so I was up from 4:30 on so afraid I would miss it. The best thing about kids is their facial expressions.

  3. You're lucky to have such good friends and such a beautiful wife too! 34 years is a pretty long time. I've been together with Tom for twenty and food and cooking is one of the few hobbies we share, so you can imagine we do that quite a lot. I love the look of your clogs!

  4. You have a great gardening blog. I am new into gardening, started it since 2010 after we bought our first house. So, a long way for me to go. I have been browsing your blog for the last two days and learning a lot.

  5. Aww! Mark you are such a big softy! Lucky Kim! Looking forward to what you have to show and say in 2012.

  6. Love your chilli clogs very cool. Jane looks like a doll. My husband Allan and I met in high school and have been together for 36 years. Where do the years go Mark?

  7. A beautiful post Mark! J and I just celebrated our 17th anniversary so we've a ways to go before we catch up with you and Jane! She chose the perfect gift for you with those 'shed shoes'!!! Wear them well! x

  8. Although I don't like Christmas cake, there was always Wensleydale cheese in the house to eat along with the cake in our Yorkshire home when I was growing up. I love the shed shoes, very appropriate for you.

  9. Like Jo I'm not keen on traditional Christmas cake either. I don't like the taste candied peel gives to the cake nor the marzipan.

    Martyn and I have been married 36 years so far so a similar time frame to you and Jane and I think one secret is enjoying the same things and doing them together.

  10. A lovely post, Mark! It made me stop and think of all my favourite things too. And like you, my husband tops the list, though it will be many years before I can say that we've been married for 34 years. Wish you and Jane many more years of togetherness.

    Went through all your other posts that I'd missed while I was away from blogosphere. Couldn't stop marveling at all the good food and drink pictures that you've posted.

  11. I am totally coveting those shoes! first time at your blog and found this post really sweet (: also not a fan of chrstmas cake, but the cheese beside it looks particularly enticing all the same!

  12. 'Hot feet' never mind 'Happy Feet' but I suppose they'll be happy too wearing those shoes.
    Heaven knows where Jane found them? They are so appropriate for you.

    It's lovely to hear you overcome your embarrassment and divulge your greatest treasure. You seem really happy and suited to each other. Good luck for the next 34 years!

    I've been married to my partner for 32 years which is unbelievable really because I'm only 19! ;D

  13. Thanks for a glimpse into your life!

  14. The chilli shoes are fab, I'd be wearing them indoors never mind the shed.

    Hsppy New Year to you and your family.


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