Friday, 30 October 2015

Rainy Day Baking and Little Gems

Today began with heavy rain so the dog and I got drenched - but I am very happy about that.

Ever since Dobson came to live with us he has shown a marked reluctance to venture anywhere in the rain, even if he is desperate, he would rather cross his legs and wait until it stops raining.   I have never forced him out in the rain, but I have tried to encourage him, with little success.  

So I was delighted that today he agreed to come out into the pouring rain, for a morning walk.    He actually enjoyed it!   He didn't melt away and he found that smells are just as good in the rain.   Success after two and a half years of gentle persuasion.

Just as well I'm patient.

This handsome boy, Benedict, on the other hand, can usually be found standing out in the rain.   For some strange reason he seems to really enjoy it.     He has a shelter, he just won't use it.

The rain dried up but the day continued to be damp, gloomy, windy.    Our internet connection goes crazy on days like this (the overhead cables run through woodland trees and they need trimming) so the connection drifted in and out.   I gave up trying to read, or respond to, email, etc.

Instead, I made a cup of tea and browsed my recipe books instead.    

Christmas cake is what I wanted to get started, they always improve with keeping and steeping in alcohol.     I also like to soak the fruit in alcohol for a couple of days before mixing and baking and each year I try a different recipe.

This bowl is HUGE, there is something like 5lbs of fruit soaking in it!

I finally plumped for a recipe from my mother's old handwritten recipe book.  

Oddly enough, I have never noticed this one before, but part of the appeal was that the quantities are enough for a 9 inch cake, plus a 6 inch cake.   Perfect!    I always make two cakes, one for Max and the family and another for my younger brother, The Writer.

The recipe book was originally a diary and the first few pages still contain entries from January 1st 1962.    My mothers handwriting quickly transported me back to my 8 year old self, when we were living in Hong Kong.

The entry for 4th January 1962 reads "Jimmy Wong came round this afternoon.   Harry bought me a beautiful firestone and gold ring and I bought the matching earrings."

Here they are.  

I inherited them when my mother died, twenty years ago.    I am not a great one for jewellery, but I do enjoy wearing the pieces which my mother left me and these 'firestones' are truly beautiful.

In morning light they appear a pale blue, then as the day progresses they gradually darken and change to violet and on until they become a rich red wine colour.  Magical!

Jimmy Wong was a Chinese man who used to call around once a month.   He would bring a huge assortment of ready made jewellery and loose stones.    His smooth sales patter often tempted my mother into purchasing something!     One could ask for any stone, any setting or arrangement and a week or two later it would be delivered for inspection.  

So my mother was very much to the forefront of my mind as I set about weighing the fruit, halving cherries, etc.  

She was a wonderful cook, nothing fazed her and everything turned out tasting delicious.    Her big flaw was that she used almost every pot and pan in the house while she cooked.  The kitchen would always look like a bomb had hit it.

I work very tidily and I am a rubbish cook.   Any successes which I have are purely accidental and therefore unrepeatable!   I have a nice, tidy kitchen though.   ;-)



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Dom. Now let's hope the Rayburn will agree to bake it!

  2. Just today, a friend remarked that it's time to bake your fruitcakes to have them ready for Christmas. I love fruitcake but I don't have a lot of company in my family so I wind up eating the whole thing. Not that I mind but it's not good for me and makes me feel guilty for over-indulging. There is something refreshing about walking in the rain. The sounds and smells are different so it adds variety to a routine walk. It's been many years since I had a dog to walk.

    1. Hello Ms Sparrow, I love fruitcake too - but I have been really mean to myself this year - the sherry which I am soaking the fruit in, is one which give me a migraine. There is absolutely no chance that I will nibble at the cake, for once. I think you would have enjoyed the walk - we ended up with a visit to the old horse.


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