Every fall, my extended family gets together to make the traditional Plum Puddings. The original (secret) recipe was carried over to America back at the turn of the last century, around 1901. This same recipe has been handed down through the generations to the oldest daughters. My mother and her cousin Vicki are now the oldest members of the family, the keepers of the pudding, so to speak.
This weekend, we gathered in Plymouth to make pudding. With a smaller than usual band of helpers, it was decided to make a smaller than usual batch - and then that too was whittled down to making only the mincemeat portion of the pudding... most of the time was spent drinking wine, shopping, playing games and catching up with each other. But some of the traditional rituals were still fulfilled...
My Aunt Kate manned the food processor, and told the stories of the first year they introduced their mothers to the idea of using a Cuisinart.
The job of grating the lemons still fell to the youngest helper, who wondered why she didn't get to use any modern technology. And complained that she didn't get to measure anything. "Wait until you're older," we all told her. "It's not your turn for that job."
As the oldest helper, my mom got to measure and add the alcohol, and there was the usual discussion of just what constitutes "One nice large drinking glass," as the recipe dictates. With the addition of the alcohol, came the traditional stir-stir-stirring and wish making.
One of the nicest plum pudding traditions is the wishes you get with the whole process. One big one with the stirring, and another when you light it at Christmas. This year, I'm afraid the O'Sullivans only get the one stirring wish, so I hope they were good wishes.
When everyone had smiled and stirred, Aunt Kate packed the mincemeat into plastic containers for each of us to take home. The suet and crusty bread were divided for those who were going home to finish making their puddings, and the rest of us will use the mincemeat to make pies. Aunt Kate has a great method for making mincemeat tartlets, which I'm eager to try out. Perhaps this will be the year my kids will enjoy eating the "fruits" of their labor, and maybe all their wishes will come true.
I sure hope mine does.