Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stir-Up Sunday

delicious plum pudding
made at Flavel House cooking class

"O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg Thee." When you hear these words in the church liturgy, you know it's time to make the Christmas pudding. This occurs the last Sunday of the liturgical year, which is the Sunday before Advent begins. Which this year is today.

The tradition is that everyone goes home that day, and each person in the household takes a turn to stir the plum pudding batter before it is poured into the pan to be cooked.

The Flavel House in Astoria, Oregon, has an annual Christmas tea, where you can sit in the dining room and enjoy a slice of plum pudding. One year they offered a fascinating and practical class on how to make the pudding, which got me started making my own. I'm not sure if they still offer the class, but if you ever get a chance to take it, I highly recommend it.

My pudding pan is on loan to a friend in California, so I can't make a steamed pudding this year. But to choose an alternative, I thumbed through my copy of Good Old-Fashioned Puddings, by Sara Paston-Williams, which describes traditional English puddings of all types, including ones that are steamed, baked, frozen, and boiled. She also describes how to make flummeries, fools, milk puddings (which Americans will easily recognize), and trifles. It's a fun book to look through.

While you might puzzle over some names (Quantock Pudding, Taffety Tart, Poor Knights of Windsor), you'll get a chuckle out of others: Pears in Nightshirts, Apple Dappy, Chocolate Puddle Pudding, Granny's Leg. We might be able to get kids -- and adults -- to eat more vegetables if we could come up with names like these for side dishes. Of course, adding chocolate or pouring on caramel sauce would help, too.

Anyway . . . I chose what I thought was an easy recipe: Durham Fluffin', which is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve in the northeastern area of England.

I followed the directions to soak pearl barley in water overnight, then simmer it in whole milk for about half an hour. I don't know what went wrong, but there was nothin' fluffin' about the result at all. It was milky with bits of barley floating in it. I wasn't about to stir in nutmeg and brown sugar (splash of brandy optional) according to the directions and then eat it. Yuck.

So I got out my well-worn copy of Pure Chocolate, by talented Seattle chocolatier Fran Bigelow (thank you, Leslie, for giving it to me all those years ago), and made Princess Pudding. Now that is something to get stirred up about!

pudding fit for a princess

No comments:

Post a Comment