What a difference a day makes! I took these photos at lunchtime and this was about as good as it got. It has been very warm so I still went out to do some weeding in the garden. That was after I got my Christmas cake in the oven. I used the same recipe I've used over the years but halved the amounts of ingredients. Even so it filled my biggest cake tin. And as usual I made a few alterations; all sultanas instead of sultanas, currants and raisins and chopped nuts instead of almonds plus extra walnuts and I skipped the angelica. The book called for very low temperatures and about 5 hours of baking. I made do by sitting the cake on the bottom of the oven and putting a baking parchment collar around it. It looked a bit crispy after an hour so I covered the top with kitchen foil. I decided it was done before we got to 2 hours. I removed the slightly charred sultanas from the top before putting the cake upside down on a plate and pouring some spiced rum over it instead of brandy or whiskey. Should still taste good. Mixing up the cake made me feel all Christmassy especially when I was grinding up cloves in a stone pestle. Staying in the Christmas mood I put the box of wrapping stuff and the rolls of paper in the spare room. I don't reuse as much as I used to but there are still plenty of gift tags and bags and rolls of shiny ribbon.
As well as the cake I made the carrot and swede mash for our Christmas dinner. I should have thought to buy more swede and carrots to have extra portions in the freezer. When Peter saw me making it he was shocked to see me using white pepper instead of black. Apparently not the right thing but he's been eating it like that for years anyway. Now he's retired he takes more interest in cooking though he likes to follow a recipe and couldn't cope with my instructions to 'just boil everything' when making chicken soup.