Now, the photo may look like some brown mush mixed up in a steel bowl, but it's really the start of some very traditional Christmas puddings. Making them has kept me from adjusting the neck opening on a sweater that I'd have otherwise shown you.
The finished puddings used 5lb (about 2.3kg) of dried fruit. Don't worry, however, they aren't all for me: I'll be giving some away! They keep for ages, so I only make them every two years. If you've never tried a year-old pudding, which is as dark as dark can be, you haven't lived. Each pudding basin gets covered with a 'lid' of aluminium foil and grease-proof paper tied with string. I've left them simmering away in pans of boiling water for the rest of the evening.
The traditional day to make your puddings is "Stir-up Sunday", the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent. This year it falls on 23rd November, so I'm a little early. The day is called "Stir-up Sunday" because of the prayer used during the traditional Latin Mass of this day, which begins "Excita, quaesumus, Domine..." ("Stir-up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful..."). Nothing to do with catering at all as it happens, but a handy way of reminding one that one's puddings need to be made well in advance of Christmas itself.
I doubt I'll be taking on that sweater this evening, maybe I'll start a festive scarf...