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Eat, drink, be merry, be kind and REST!

When your thirteen year old says Christmas has come really quick this year (and her own birthday is on Christmas Day) you know you’re getting old.

We are all packing more into life than ever. Busy, busy, busy. Are we achieving more or just getting through? Are we achieving the quantity of life that supports real health and wellness for our families and for ourselves?

I am seeing life (and my body now that I think about it) take a different shape. My children are nearing the end of their school years with the next stage of the adventure beckoning. One step closer to independence for them as much as one step closer to re-independence for Victor and I. Here’s hoping it will be fun for all of us!

New Year’s resolutions can be good. But finding the time throughout the year to make change is better. We need to all find the time to review and make changes sooner rather than later. What’s the saying, no time like the present! As I get older it’s never felt more true.

The only two days Victor and I really get off are 25th and 26th December. Yes we get our holidays but it’s very hard to completely switch off when your business is still working. I know my senior team feel the same way. When you’re committed to doing the best you can it is really hard to let go.

It’s most definitely not a question of not trusting our team. It’s not even a question of responsibility. We absolutely trust our team but we are very aware of the burden of business. I think as social media channels are more accessible there is an element of fear that exists which does make it harder to take a step back and relax. But when you don’t switch off you never relax and you don’t get the opportunity to recharge the batteries.

If we never relax we are also adding unnecessary stress to our lives. This can filter out across a whole range of channels. Our family, our friends, in the shops, in the car, in restaurants, in the school playground. So especially at this time of year, take a little time to slow down. Take a few minutes just to think. We are all carrying baggage. None of us really know what anyone else is dealing with in their personal life. A little kindness to ourselves and those around us can go a very long way.

 

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Let’s make the best of today. I hope you can enjoy some time with friends and family. Our emergency services, security teams, broadcasting, transport, many of our colleagues in hospitality and in retail will still be working or on call. So we’re thinking about all of you who will still be working on Christmas Day and wish you a great rest, lots of happy memories in the making and lots of relaxation when your time off comes. I know what we’ll be doing at Casa Contini on 25th and 26th. Cooking, eating, drinking, being merry and RESTING!

If you’ve not make your Christmas pudding it’s still not too late. This is the recipe you’ll never tier of and you can make even the day before if your desperate. Just be extra generous with the brandy when your serving.

Peace and happiness to you all this Christmas.

Carina Contini



Contini Christmas Yum Yum Pudding

This is the recipe we use at The Scottish Cafe and Cannonball. The recipe was introduced to my grandmother when she came back from American after her maiden voyage trip on that Clyde build beauty the Queen Mary in 1936. We’ve been making it every Christmas since then.

Before you start, make sure you have the right sized pudding bowls, grease proof paper and string to cover it with. This recipe is enough to make two 600ml puddings, or one 1.2 litre pudding. You can use plastic pudding bowls for convenience but make sure you have a pot with a tight-fitting lid that will hold the bowl comfortably with water a third of the way up. Best test now, before the pudding is made and the water is boiling.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

400ml cold water

250g golden caster sugar

125g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons Treacle

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp of ground mixed spice

750g dried seedless muscatel raisins, soaked overnight in brandy or Marsala

150ml brandy, Marsala wine or Glengoyne 10 YO to soak the raisins and to treat the cake once baked

450g plain flour

3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

A pinch of fine sea salt

Granulated sugar

A dash of brandy to set a light

Method

Before you start with the cake, soak the seedless muscatel raisins overnight in the brandy or Marsala.

Place the water, sugar, butter, treacle, spices and fruit into a large pot and stir. Very slowly bring it to the boil. Switch the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. It is vital the mixture is cool, but not cold, before you add the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the mixture. Stir well – this needs a bit of elbow grease.

Generously butter a large 1 kilo pudding pudding bowl or plastic basin with lid. Mummy always placed a circle of baking parchment at the bottom of the bowl to stop it sticking when you turn the pudding out.

Next fill the bowl and cover with another circle of baking parchment and then either use the plastic matching lid or wrap a double layer of foil and parchment around the pudding and tie tightly with string.

Choose a large pot that the pudding will fit in and allow enough space to half-fill with water. Place a saucer at the bottom of the pot – this is an insurance policy if you forget to top up the water half way through the steaming. Steam for about three hours.

On Christmas day, repeat the steaming process and serve flaming with sugar and lots of brandy and homemade custard. Is it Christmas yet?!

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