Oh, my poor garden. It looks so sad and neglected - a combination of my procrastination, being busy, busy, busy and sodding awful weather. It's fine, I go out and hack about in the undergrowth for a while. It rains. I get wet. I come in.
I make mincemeat. Perhaps the inclement weather has made me more inclined towards kitcheny things. Had you noticed?
Anyway, making mince meat is one of those satisfying seasonal tasks which I expect well-organised folk got out of the way weeks ago. Well-organised folk probably have all their ingredients to hand as well - me? I have to rummage at the back of cupboards and under trees and make several trips to buy forgotten essentials. Still, eventually everything is lined up ready to be weighed and measured, grated or squeezed. I have big bowls, little bowls and my largest wooden spoon - oh, and because I can never remember from year to year which recipe I used last, a copy of Delia Smith's 'Christmas'.
It's a bit of a long-winded recipe and apparently will keep indefinitely - hardly likely when the Trelystan mince-pie production line gets under way. I stir all my ingredients together - except the brandy - and let the flavours mingle overnight. Then it's into the oven (at a very low temperature) for 3 hours to melt the suet. Finally that brandy goes in and I stir all together for one last time.
The day can be foul outside - and it is - but indoors the kitchen is imbued with such a sense of well-being. Sugar and spice and brandy scent the air better than any seasonal candle I think.