01 December 2014

defence against the dark

December, at last, possibly even the arrival of winter. Three weeks until the solstice, a few days more until Christmas, dark mornings, long nights. More time indoors with the radio on, listening or half-listening, depending on what else I'm up to.

There have been some sparkly little gems tucked away on that radio recently: the last reading from Margaret Forster's "My Life in Houses",  Jarvis Cocker's exaltation to us baby boomers to join in Molly Malone at the end of the nostalgic Singing Together programme (I couldn't because of a lump in the throat); throwaway words of wisdom here and there. Ruth Padel particularly caught my ear this morning on Start the Week when she said that making is our defence against the dark. How very perceptive.

Here then is a double offering to start this week, the season, and Advent. I stirred them up at the weekend but, unlike plum pudding, these were not for storing on top of the kitchen cupboard until Christmas day. First up, a pear and chocolate upside down cake. Very easy to assemble, some delicious bowl-licking, a bit more difficult to get the timing and texture exactly right. I left it to cool in the tin overnight - too long! - it was slightly soggy by morning. It tasted ok though I'd be inclined to add some spices to pep it up a bit. The second was an anglicised version of Smitten Kitchen's recipe. Well sort of. I made a crumble with no pie base, and added apples and dried apricots with the cranberries to temper the tartness adding no more than light sprinkling of sugar to the fruit.  I tend generally to be quite puritan with my crumble toppings but I've been converted by this one - butter, nuts, sugar, the lot. It's possibly the best I have ever tasted after years of searching.

I made double the quantity and there's some left in the fridge. I like to think of it as a defence against the dark. Deferred gratification can wait until another day, don't you think?


Val said...

What happened to November..I think I must've missed it!
Crumble sounds most yummy..and a very good idea Thank you!
I'm off to search for the radio programmes you mentioned I do love the radio in Winter :o) (and the rest of the year for that matter...)

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely post - I like the idea of making being a defence against the dark and cold of winter.

annie said...

Mmm! A lovely sounding crumble.Have you seen this article http://standardissuemagazine.com/lifestyle/making-winter/
about making as an antidote to winter?

Li said...

I'm sorry I missed the Margaret Forster programme (for some reason, I only listen to the radio in the car). I love her writing. I love crumbles, too, but not sure about the pie crust base which just might be over egging the pudding. Your version sounds much more appetising.

materfamilias said...

Oh my goodness, that pear and chocolate cake will life a lot of dark away! Thank you!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I followed the lead and then , of course, had to look for " Here come the navvies " on YouTube .
No wonder Mrs. Murphy never turned Singing Together on for us .
A shame , considering we nearly all had Irish surnames !

Catherine said...

Glorious, yummy puddings and a great defence against the dark (and the London graffiti). My crumble topping recipe is such a hotch-potch these days, like so much of my cooking after so many years at the oven-face. We shall have one for our Christmas pudding this year - much more popular than the usual one. Happy Christmas Colleen x