Ah, Christmas — the time of year when magazines abound with recipes promising taste sensations derived solely from rainbows and snowflakes. At least that’s my assumption because they are the only things not on the list of excluded ingredients. Consider a delectable chocolate cake that carries no sin because it has no fat, sugar, or, I imagine, chocolate. Or Eggnog without eggs, and perhaps, without nog. Now don’t get me wrong, my guts have their own temperamental preferences and I have a very solid track record at substituting ingredients until there is nothing left from the original recipe — and yet, I think perhaps my direction is often a little different from the new secrets unveiled in this year’s holiday edition of Happy Housekeeping or Thin is In. You see, I am of two minds. One mind says, if it is to be a delectable indulgence, then pile on the eggs, cream, and butter — just don’t do it very often. And use organic, locally sourced ingredients where possible. Kind of hard with the chocolate, but we’re none of us perfect. The second tells me to listen to my body, and not overload it with things that make me feel, frankly, sick. I am reminded of this as I peer through the haze of a sugar hangover brought on by too many Christmas cookies — ironically indulged in at a meeting of organic growers. So, I shall continue to work towards moderation, and in the meantime share a recipe that I can really get behind — for both it’s local provenance and its whole-hearted support of the much-maligned fat known as lard. A Toronto Star article from last year boasted lard’s health benefits relative to butter, with the caveat that it must be pure. The kind available commercially is often hydrogenated to last longer, negating some of those benefits, and unless otherwise stated, comes from industrial pig farms which I won’t go into here — we’d all lose our appetites. So instead, look for a farmer or a friend with a pig (or who had a pig) and see if you can beg or barter for some good quality lard. Dig out some local root vegetables and you’re on your way to a Yukon-grown Christmas pudding that will satisfy any traditionalist — ideally doused in rum sauce, of course. Whether you yield to the temptation for seconds is entirely your choice — I take no responsibility for the consequences.
Shiela’s Steamed Pudding Pattern
My friend Shiela gives patterns, not recipes, to be adjusted to the available ingredients and tastes of each chef. Enjoy!
½ c fat (lard, suet or butter if you must)
½ c sugar
1 egg (optional)
2 c dried fruit (eg: raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots etc.)
½ c nuts (optional)
2 ½ c grated vegetables(carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.)
2 c flour (any kind)
1 tsp. baking soda Spices to suit: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, etc.
½ tsp. salt
• Soak fruit in hot water to cover until plump, then drain.
• Cream together fat and sugar, then add in grated vegetables.
• Mix dry ingredients,
• add to wet and mix well, and then add soaked fruit.
• Fill ovenproof bowl 2/3 full and steam for 2 ½ hours.
• A great gift idea is to make mini-puddings in mason jars — they will need less time, and will seal if the lids are put on as soon as they are done. To steam, place bowl on a rack in a covered pot and keep water level above the bottom of the bowl — you will likely need to top it up from time to time.