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January 5th, 2008

I’m still deep in next year’s Christmas book. So, just as everyone is packing up the holiday until next year, I am celebrating Christmas 2.0 and will be doing so until February.

I did not actually get around to making the Christmas pudding until Dec 23rd. Figgy pudding, for those who have never experienced it, has no figs. It is something along the lines of an industrial strength fruitcake made with bread crumbs, beef fat, and booze (and dried fruit, of course), and should be made up around the beginning of Advent, and according to some recipes “wrapped in a cloth and fed alcohol”.

You and me both, pudding.

I went with a recipe I found in Mrs. Beaton’s cookbook, dating back to the 1920’s, I believe. It got me half way back to the Regency, while staying in a form that I felt would be edible.

“Edible” is an important detail. When you have to make a special trip out to a butcher shop during a major storm, and fight your way through the Christmas crowds, to ask the butcher if “for birds” suet in America is the same as “For people” suet in England, you want the result to be edible.

I also found out, in my research, that there is such a thing as vegetarian suet.

Where does it come from? I am dying to know. Where are these fat vegetables?

I bet it is nothing more exciting than Crisco, but I can’t help wondering.

But, after an afternoon of chopping, and six hours of steaming, I had two puddings: a small one to try right away, and a big one to age for a bit.

The reviews from the family, on the first pudding, came between ‘not bad’ and ‘nothing we need to repeat’.

I waited until New Year’s Eve, to serve the second one. And I did it proper. I got out the bottle of Bacardi 151, and a fire extinguisher.

This is the same 151 that I blogged about, two years ago. I hold this up as proof that, while I talk a good game on the subject of booze, now that I am a full time writer, I am not headed into Stephen King territory and drinking mouthwash or emptying the last bottle of rotgut.

#2 Son was present for the immolation. He was the leader of the ‘no more pudding’ camp a week before. But since he is a teenage boy, he is in favor of any food that might result in a 911 call. He is also full of helpful advice about how Alton Brown would have done this.

Thanks a bunch, Alton. You have turned my child against me. Because of you, he has no faith in his mother’s kitchen skills, and is the one holding the fire extinguisher.

No matter.

I yell for everyone to come look, pour a quarter cup of rum on the pudding, and flick the switch on the long handled butane lighter.

Woof.

We leave it burn until I begin to lose my nerve, and then I put the lid on the pan and put it out.

But we were a man down on December 31st, because #1 son had not one, but two parties to go to, while the rest of the family was watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci Fi channel. (Some people watch the ball drop, and ruminate on Dick Clark or the lack thereof. But it’s not a New Year to me until I get to see the Talking Tina doll kill Telly Savalas.)

#1 Son is also a teenage boy. And on New Year’s day there was leftover pudding, leftover rum, and leftover butane.

Woof.

#1 Son:

Whoa.
(pause)
“But the flames are supposed to be blue, right?”

Me: “Yeah”

#1 Son: “Then the yellow ones mean the pudding’s actually on fire. You gonna put that out now? I think I get the point.”