Wednesday, 2 November 2016

November - Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November – gunpowder, treason and plot ....  So begins firework season.  Back in the day it was two or three days at the most, then it was a week – these days it stretches to three or four weeks meaning those of us with nervous pets spend early November under house arrest.  When I was little our neighbours used to pool together and build a big bonfire and share the fireworks among us all.  It used to be much more fun, all the adults and the children together enjoying themselves and then tucking into hot dogs and mugs of warming soup.  It all seems to be so sad these days with families holed up in their own gardens, it’s not the community celebration that it used to be.

Hopefully November will bring us the first frost and some properly chilly if not downright cold nights.  Ladies of a certain age love these cold nights, husbands not so much but that’s what spare bedrooms are for!

November is also when the serious Christmas planning kicks off with list upon list being drawn up – it’s like a military operation!  Cards, letters, gifts, broad menu planning and shopping lists form the backbone of the HH Towers Christmas

On the home front, November is probably the busiest month of my year.  The freezer gets a big clear out to make space for the Christmas baking – sausage rolls, cheese scones and the several dozen mince pies it will take to see us through Advent!  I take a ‘little and often’ approach to baking so that I’m not tied to the kitchen and sick of the sight of pastry before the month ends!  !  I usually get the pickled cabbage, onions and beetroot bottled up in November, ready to be opened at Christmas.  These days I make my Christmas cake on the last Sunday in November, Stir-Up Sunday.  I love the feeling of connectedness that comes from knowing that others are similarly occupied in their homes with their own preparations for the big day.  I like to give the homestead and good clean through in November too, so that by Christmas everything looks shipshape and shiny ready for Santa’s visit! 

Sausages in Guinness

Now that the clocks have gone back to GMT, the nights are drawing in significantly and sunshine is in very short supply.  On sunny days I still like to sit outside with a cuppa ...... and a blanket!  Our late afternoon walks are now a gloomy torchlit affair, but the welcoming glow of the lamplit windows we pass along our way makes up for it.  The welcoming glow of my own kitchen window as we return home is the best of the lot!

The best thing about November nights for me, are my cheeky night time treat of a warming mug of Ovaltine.  It takes me right back to my childhood, sitting in front of our open fire in my brushed nylon nightie and cardi (it was a 70’s thing!) with my fluffy slippers on and Dad banking the fire up to see us through the night.  Happy memories!

Cranberry Meringue Pie

Aside from the big Christmas bake off, we’re moving into casserole and stew season now - we need some serious comfort food to get us through these dark days!  We can even start thinking about steamed sponge puddings – nothing could be easier to make but they do need some time steaming on the hob.  By the end of November my favourite ingredient will be hitting the shelves – cranberries.  I just love the cheery red berries and use them in as many things as I can because they’re only available for such a short time.

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