Tag Archives: traditions

Preserving the sweetness of things

Our previous minister,  Rev. John Hunt, (now retired), would sometimes  offer the congregation ‘a sweetie for the sermon’. His sermons didn’t ever need any sweetening but he said a ‘sweetie for the sermon’ was an ancient Scottish tradition, and we, believers all, were more than happy to help preserve the ways of the old Kirk.  So the baskets of sweeties were passed from one pew to another and we, smiling and laughing like young ones at a birthday party, selected our sweetie and, then, spent the rest of the sermon, trying to dislodge sticky toffee from our gums and teeth. ( Perhaps we were not as young as our hearts imagined 🙂 ) Gummed up or not, they were sweet moments, and, although, I remember not a word of the sermons, I do remember feeling content and treasured and loved. Sugar it seems is a powerful  preservative of well-being.

In the spirit of ‘a sweetie for the sermon’, I  am spending time trying to capture and preserve  the sweetness of the current season. For there is much sweetness to savour.

There is the sweet fragrance and delicate tones of my dwarf sweet peas both outside

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

and indoors, mingled with scented rose.

Rose and Sweet Peas

Rose and Sweet Peas

Then there is the sweetness suspended in the flowers and leaves I  am drying for my home-made potpourri.

Summer Medley

Summer Medley with Tracy’s  butterflies

Potpourri translates as ‘rotten pot/stew’, which, hopefully, mine will not be, if I have dried everything sufficiently well.

Additional sweetness comes in a friend’s seasonal gift of  home-made  Christmas mince pies; so delicious they are impossible to preserve except on camera.

Stars of Wonder

Stars of Wonder

They are a scrumptious-sumptuous combination of melt-in-your-mouth sugary buttery pastry and ‘ barely there tartness’ of rich, fruity mince meat;   made, I am told, with the addition of apple and green tomato to the dried fruit.

So those are the sweeties. Now for the sermon. Sermon? What sermon?  My mouth is too full of goodness to speak.

© silkannthreades

A Second Helping of Christmas

For many people around the world, today, January 7th, is Christmas Day.  In our home, our main    Christmas celebration is on 25th December but, as my husband comes from a Coptic Church background, we usually have a small acknowledgement of Christmas on January 7th as well.  I find it very handy having a second round of Christmas because it means that, if something didn’t get done in time for the first Christmas,  it can be done in time for the second.  A case in point, is the Christmas Cake which I finally made yesterday. In keeping with our double act, untraditional Christmas season, my Christmas cake isn’t a traditional Christmas Cake either. I use a recipe given to me by my aunt, and it was given to her with the title of Golf Cake! I don’t know its original source but it is a very fine cake and superlatively easy to make.Christmas Round Two

Ingredients for Cake     1kg of mixed fruit (store-bought or home-made), 2 cups of packet/bottled orange juice, 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 tsp of cinnamon.

Method    Soak fruit in orange juice overnight (don’t worry if you soak it longer);  mix in flour with cinnamon until just combined; bake in a lined 23cm square cake pan  at  180 C deg for about 45 minutes and then reduce temperature to 160 deg and continue baking until cooked. Sometimes that can be another 45 minutes, sometimes less, sometimes more. Occasionally, I need to cover (loosely) the top of the cake with foil to prevent the fruit from scorching. Cool the cake in the tin and when completely cold, remove the cake and store in a container. If you can leave the cake for a few days before cutting, your taste buds will be richly rewarded. The cake freezes well, too.

Sometimes I add some freshly grated lemon or orange peel, some crystalized ginger, some almond or vanilla essence,or a few slivered almonds. Occasionally, I will substitute some of the orange juice with brandy or sherry.  It’s a flexible recipe.

Happy Christmas.Christmas Returns

And, by the way, we get double dips on New Year too. Once in September and again in January. It’s nice to get second helpings.

© silkannthreades