Full steam ahead to Christmas

November 23, 2012

Christmas cakes are underway

Christmas cakes are underway

We have been making the Christmas cakes to the same recipe we have been using for years. A medium fruit cake which does not take weeks to mellow.We put halved, split almonds, on top of the cake instead marzipan and royal icing. Many friends and family members always seemed to leave both on their plates’.

The Christmas Pudding is made.

This year we have used a recipe I was given …. years ago. Miss Campbell was a lecturer at the college I attended. Warwick makes both the pudding and the mincemeat. We plan to make the mince-pies  tomorrow. As they are time consuming to make, we make them a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas and freeze them.


Last of the Apples

The apple harvest was not as good as in the past two years.

We actually had masses of small tasty apples which were windfalls. A neighbour and her children came to help pick the last of the apples on the trees; and to gather the better windfalls.. Tedious to wash, scrub and peel. Nevertheless, we persevered and we made some delicious apple chutney and just one batch of apple butter.

Last of the windfalls

Last of the windfalls

Even mum helped picking

Even mum helped picking

Apple chutney

Apple chutney

Nanny Mac’s Apple Chutney

Recipe (Makes 12 x 325 gm. jars)

48         oz      Apples -prepared

24         oz      Onions

24         oz      Brown Sugar

16         oz      Cider Vinegar

8            oz      Raisins

8            oz      Sultanas

0.25      oz      Fresh ginger – peeled and grated

1            oz      Salt

0.25      oz      Dried Chillies

0.25      tsp     Cayenne Pepper-ground

2-3 Cloves garlic- crushed *


  1. Peel and chop onions
  2. Grate fresh stem ginger
  3. Cook apples and onions together in vinegar.
  4. When soft add brown sugar and remaining ingredients.
  5. Cook until chutney ‘mounds’
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
  7. Fill pre-heated jars
  8. Screw on lids firmly.



Halloween is upon us once  again so goblins, witches and ghosts are heading to parties around the countryside. Mums have either been burning the ‘midnight candle’ preparing suitable costumes for their eager offspring to wear; or have been purchasing costumes when they did the weekly shop. Halloween in Canada meant  being ready with lots of candy or apples for ‘trick or treat’. It also meant growing or purchasing ‘The pumpkin’

One year, Warwick was given this pumpkin by a grower who seemed to have the secret of growing large pumpkins.

Halloween in Canada

Halloween in Canada

We took the seeds out of the pumpkin, dried them in the oven and then threaded them onto thin cord to make ‘dragon’s teeth’ necklaces. The clown costume was made out of one of my bride’s maids dress! The ‘ladybug’*costume was made from a recycled dress and the wings from a pair of trousers!!! Kids in my classes in Canada used to eat toasted sunflower or toasted pumpkin seeds in class surreptitiously. The shelf under the desks would be full of empty shells! Last chore of the day would be to pass the garbage can around and get kids to use a hand-brush to clean out the shelf!

In Canada, ladybirds are commonly called ‘ladybugs’. The cutters  used to shape the gingerbread men were actually purchased in Canada.

Gingerbread people ready for ghosts, ghouls and witches.

Gingerbread people ready for ghosts, ghouls and witches.

Autumn Colour  at Morningon House

The lower night-time temperatures have resulted in the leave taking on the most gorgeous colours.

Beech on Knockbody in autumn colour

Beechtrees on Knockbody in autumn colour

Autumn or ‘Fall’ here at Morningon House has been a busy time. Closing the garden for winter means making sure fuschias and geraniums are heeled into the raised beds in the greenhouse, picking the last of the peppers and chiillies, collecting windfall apples, planting shallots and garlic. Last week, we took delivery of  tulip bulbs from Bloms bulbs for the ornamental tubs, elephant garlic and shallots from The Garlic Farm and on Friday evening, just as the gardener was about to leave, we received the new strawberry plants and raspberry canes. We managed to plant some of the tulips and the remaining wallflowers, grown from seed in one of the raised beds. The garlic and shallots have also been planted.

Saving dahlia roots

Preparing dahlias for storage.

We are still open for guests for one more week. After we wave goodbye to our last guest for the season we concentrate on our ‘closing down duties’ both in the garden and in the house. Our daughter produces a ‘snag sheet’ which usually becomes a list of chores and jobs to carry out before next season.

Halloween visitors sample cookies and candy on Halloween.

Ghosts, ghouls and witches sampling Halloween goodies.

Ghosts, ghouls and witches sampling Halloween goodies.