Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December comes......

Well December has finally arrived and we retreat indoors to sit back and reflect upon the year and take time out to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

With Christmas on the horizon there are numerous recipes I like to try and help me utilise some of your produce. One of our favourite things at this time of year is to do something very traditional and make our own mince meat for mince pies! We have had success year after year with this, see below. It is so easy and quick because really there is no ‘set’ recipe. It’s great to experiment with the ingredients you have and have some fun.

Whilst we are fortunate enough to be able to come indoors where it’s nice and warm and dry our little garden ‘army’ cannot so lets notforget them.
There are some very simple things that we can do to help them over the next few months.

Most little critters and insects have already started their hibernation and with that in mind try not to disturb things like rocks or old garden waste piles, leave them if you can until the spring. If you have more than one wood pile try and leave one untouched as this makes a great place for numerous garden guests.

If you have a bird table great, if not why not try and erect something really simple. Take a large post, sink firmly into the ground, prop up with large rocks and attach a flat piece of wood on top. Although this is not ideal it will last the winter.
Birds are most susceptible at this time of year. In cold weather they may lose a lot of weight overnight and they have to try and make that up again during the brief hours of daylight.
In fact in winter the real killer is hunger not cold and a small healthy bird can die in a matter of hours without food.

Birds are not fussy eaters they will take what they are given, to a degree. They love stale cakes and biscuits, bread, old baked potatoes, cheese, fruit and meat scraps. The only things to avoid are highly seasoned or salty foods. But do remember once you start feeding them in this way you must continue. Availability of food to some extent controls their population in your garden; you will therefore be increasing their numbers and dependency upon us.

By providing food like this you are not only doing a good deed by helping them but you can use it to your advantage.
If you place the table so you have a good view of it from the house on the days when we cannot get outside we will be able to sit back, have hours of fun relaxing and enjoying watching them!

Mince Meat
100g each of any dried/preserved fruits you may already have-
Plums, apricots, apples, cherries etc
100g raisins/sultanas/red currants
100g prunes/dates
50/100g walnuts
100g sugar
2oz butter
I/2 tsps cinnamon & nutmeg.
Mix all ingredients into a bowl and top up with your favourite liquor, a good one is Amaretto. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate.
Do this a least a week before you make your pies to allow the fruit to soak in the alcohol and get lovely and juicy!

A very Merry Christmas to you all! …Enjoy!

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