As I’m writing this post, my house is heady with fruity and spicy aromas. I’d spent most of today baking Christmas cakes and simmering mincemeat for pies. (They’re recipes I’m eager to share with you, dear Basic Bakes reader, among many others.) I’m now a little worse for wear at the end of a very productive baking day, but the smells and decorations have put me in a jolly mood.
If you can’t already tell, Christmas is quite a big deal in my family. We’ve long since put up our tree and other house decorations, and my dining room and kitchen are festooned with twinkly lights.
I do a lot of baking around this time of the year, mostly food gifts for friends and colleagues. I love making gifts rather than buying them. Practically speaking, it’s a lot cheaper. But it’s really the effort and sincerity you put into your handmade gifts that’s invaluable. This year, I have a couple of fantastic gift ideas, so watch this space for them!
I find that in putting together all these gifts, I also take the time to reflect on the year that’s about to end. This year, in particular, seemed to have more downs than ups, more hardships than happy days, topped off by lots of tumultuous changes. But in writing up my Christmas gift list, I can’t help but be overwhelmingly thankful for all the wonderful people in my life.
Besides making gifts, I spend most of December planning for the big day itself. On Christmas Day, my family usually throw a huge dinner party. When I was young, it used to be just me, my parents, my sister, and my grandma. But in the last few years, we’ve been inviting more and more guests to our Christmas Day soiree. Simply, the more, the merrier. And our Christmases have always been merry.
I take charge of the food and table settings. My late grandma was an awesome cook, and I think I owe my culinary-inclined genes to her. (They seemed to have skipped a generation though; my mum, for all her best intentions, is pretty hopeless in the kitchen.) It’s a huge undertaking to cook for more than 15 people every year, but I have my master plan that keeps me organised and sane. Hopefully, I get to document a little of that process on this blog.
I have to admit that I draw a lot of my recipes and ideas from a specific tome. Nigella Christmas is possibly the best resource a cook/baker can have for the holidays. I’ve always loved Nigella’s exuberant but clear writing, and her love for Christmas just oozes out of every line.
But if you’re more of a visual learner, there’s always her accompanying TV series called Nigella’ Christmas Kitchen. I watch it religiously every year, to get in the festive mood as well as to review the steps in certain recipes. (I own the DVD, but you can always try searching on YouTube for episodes.)
While I’m still feeling all warm and cozy on the inside, I just have to say how thankful I am that this little piece of web real estate has grown in the last few months. Basic Bakes was created simply because I wanted to share my baking with others. I’m happy to announce that in the few short months since I’ve started the website, Basic Bakes now has a small but steady readership.
I’ve also loved hearing from friends who’ve tried my recipes and had great success with them. And I’ve also received several emails from readers asking for help or advice. It’s pretty much all I wanted for this little blog of mine, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Perfect timing! My timer has just gone off. Before I go pull my Christmas fruit cakes out of the oven, let me wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!