During the winter holidays, Jason's delightful mother, Lynn, came to stay with us. It was so wonderful to reminisce with her about my youth and the joys of being permitted outside. Oddly, she seems quite fond of Jennifer (something about keeping Jason decently clothed and fed) and refused to discuss the merits of indoor-outdoor living for felines. I know that Jason can be quite a handful, but I fail to see how that should impact my comings and goings.
On a happier note, Lynn is a champion cook and she and Jennifer spent a few days preparing various holiday dishes. Apparently, it is a tradition in Jennifer's family to prepare plum pudding to serve with the holiday meal. I had no idea her background contained such a delightful treat. Ah, plum pudding. A dessert immortalized by the great writers of the Victorian era! It has even found it's way into the words of the popular Yuletide tune "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Although many people have heard of the dish, few know much about it. As Jennifer was kind enough to take pictures of the process I thought I would share some of my vast store of knowledge on the subject.
One of the most difficult steps is acquiring all of the necessary ingredients. Jennifer had to travel to several stores over the course of a week to find all of the supplies. One of the most difficult to locate was also the most important: suet. Suet is rendered beef fat and is used in plum pudding in much the same way lard or butter is used in other dishes. Unfortunatly, Jennifer failed to take any pictures of it, despite the effort she expended finding it, so I am unable to share any with you.
She did remember her camera at other points, however. As you can see, the recipe requires quite a few items and they all must be chopped before they are added to the mixture. Surprisingly, there are no plums in plum pudding. "Plum" is a British slang term for raisins and this recipe calls for two different kinds.
Once the the batter is prepared, it is put is a small heat-proof container. Because Jennifer did not have a pudding steamer (silly, girl), she had to wing the next few steps. She covered the small container with tin foil and a plate and placed it on a trivet inside her largest pot- a turkey roaster in this case.
She then poured boiling water into the roasting pan, placed the lid on, and placed a brick on top (I told you she was winging it).
Traditionally, a quantity of brandy is poured on top of the pudding and then lit on fire just prior to serving. It was quite a spectacular show! Pale blue flames are not easily photographed, however, so you will have to take my word for it. Jennifer was so shocked at the flames that she dropped the match on the pudding itself!
As a finishing touch, the still-warm pudding is served with a cream and brandy sauce that is quite delightful. Unlike the brandy in the pudding (and on the pudding) the brandy in the sauce is not cooked and therefore retains its potency.