"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Ah, Christmas, one of those days when the immortal question "What's for pudding?" can be answered with the giggle-inducing reply: "Pudding!"

And here 'tis. Last night, rather than blazing up the whole thing, we ignited individual servings.

We keep a quiet Christmas and Boxing Day is much the same. Today's plan: eat less food overall, and devise a vegetarian supper. Not that I've eaten any more than usual. I've lost an additional 2 pounds this week!

Because we had Xmas pud yesterday, I waited till today to make the ultra-traditional Evans holiday dessert, without which no festive occasion can be complete. All my life I've associated it with my Grandmother Evans, who served it at any time in the period between Christmas and New Year's (although it has appeared at various birthdays as well, on request!) It has a Story, although one without many specifics. The recipe has been in the Evans family for generations...it "came over with them from England"--"or Wales"--either in the early 19th or more likely the 18th century. It does not derive from any more recent immigrant, that's certain. Apparently it dates from an era when mace--an essential component--was an expensive and impressive and special flavouring.

Basically it's a version of the familiar French iles flotantes or oefs a la neige. Thomas Jefferson's household had a similar but quite different receipt, which at Monticello was known as "Snow Eggs." During his ambassadorship to France, Jefferson's cook James Hemings trained in French cuisine.

To make ours, one follows the Rule of 4: 4 cups milk, 4 eggs separated into whites and yolks, 4 tablespoons of flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar. And mace. The process isn't terribly complicated, but I always feel like I'm supervising a chemical process.

The finished product:

As well as being Boxing Day, it's St. Stephen's Day, and thus the name day for my parish church. Most importantly, it's the date not only of my own brother's nativity (a slightly tardy Xmas present) but also of my only female first cousin. Including members of an older generation now departed, from 23 December to 31 December my clan had 5 family birthdays to celebrate. In addition to Christmas and New Year's Eve. By the time we welcomed the New Year, we were exhausted, over-stuffed, and couldn't face any more wrapping paper!

Which might explain why simple Christmases like this one are still something of a novelty for me!

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