Yesterday, I made a plum pudding.

There I said it.  Of course now I’ll never hear the end of it.  Some friends were picking on me recently because I drank a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  And then, serendipitously, one of the keynote speakers at a conference we were all attending suggested that everyone drink coffee instead of Pumpkin Spice Lattes as a way of saving more money so that we can give more to the needy.  You can imagine the hilarity that ensued.  I guess if you’re a man who lives in Houston and has a family, you have to assert your masculinity by staying out of the kitchen and drinking Cigarette Butt Beer or some other form of Not-Pumpkin Spice Latte.  But oh well.

Still, I really did make a plum pudding.  I’ve wanted to make one for years, and finally got around to it.  I’ve always enjoyed well-made fruitcakes, and mincemeat, and plum pudding comes across as a combination of the two.  I’m also intrigued by foods that have to age for a while and take time to mature – cheese, prosciutto, kimchee, cured salmon, sourdough bread starters.  This plum pudding needs to be aged for a month or two, and so by Christmas, it’ll be ready.

For the uninitiated, plum pudding 1) usually doesn’t have any plums in it, and 2) isn’t a pudding in the American sense.  It’s more like a very dense, very moist cake, full of dried fruits, booze (brandy and sherry), sugar, spices, eggs, butter, and just enough bread crumbs and flour to hold it all together.  Everything is mixed together, poured into a seriously greased bowl, covered with a tight fitting lid or a couple of layers of foil, the whole assembly lowered into a giant stock pot half filled with boiling water, and steamed for several hours.  It is aged for a while, and when it’s time to serve it, you steam it again for a few hours, flambe it by pouring flaming brandy over it, slice it into wedges, and serve it with a hard sauce – in this case an orange-mace hard sauce containing lots of butter, orange zest, sugar, brandy and mace.


It's not much to look at yet.

I’ll post a follow up after we’ve had it for our Christmas dinner, where the main course will be raw bear muscle, which I will have butchered myself, using my teeth, from a bear that died because I told it to.

P.S.  After my wife read this post, she expressed concern that my remarks about the remarks of the speaker at the conference could be taken as a flippant attitude toward the needy, so rather than accidentally encourage an uncaring attitude toward the poor, I want to take the time here, on a blog that celebrates food, to point out that it’s a blessing for us to be in a position to be able to choose not just when and how often we will eat, but what we will eat and how it will be prepared.  Most of the people on this planet don’t get to do that.  The conference I attended partners with two organizations which I encourage you to check out:  World Vision, and Compassion International.  Also, in light of this being a Christmas dessert, I would like to point you to two websites which have encouraged me and my family to change how we celebrate Christmas.

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