Country Christmas Celebrations

As Christmas is one of the happiest and busiest times of year for me, I thought now would be the ideal time to start my new blog – no pressure then!

Christmas is always a real family occasion, and we are lucky enough to be a happy family that thoroughly enjoys a large get-together where the ages range from nine to 90.

Although Christmas is often more focussed on children it doesn’t take much effort to make it a happy time for adults too. Quite apart from the food and drink, seeing friends and phoning people you’ve not seen for ages can make the festive season very special!

I’ve come up with a few ideas for you, which I hope you’ll find fun to make in the run up to the big day.

Mulled Wine – Victoria Farm style

Serves 8 non-drivers

The aroma of this mulled wine sums up Christmas for me. It is quite strong, so ideal for prim and proper relatives or friends who need to relax a bit before they can join in the fun – oops, did I really write that?

You will need:

  • 75cl (1 bottle) claret
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) unsweetened orange juice
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) water
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) port
  • 50g (2oz) brown sugar
  • 7g (1 heaped tsp) mixed spice
  • 2 large juicy oranges, each cut into 8 pieces.
  • 8 cinnamon sticks

Put all the ingredients, except the cinnamon sticks, in a saucepan and place on a very low heat. Gently warm or ‘mull’ the mixture for an hour or so. If you want to prepare it in advance, warm it for an hour, leave it to cool and then reheat it when needed.

Serve in chunky glasses or mugs, with the cinnamon sticks as stirrers. Don’t include any of the orange pieces as they have an embarrassing habit of falling onto your nose as you drink the wine – not a good look!

Filo waterlilies with figgy mincemeat

Serves about 8

If you fancy a change from the traditional mince pie, why not try these pretty, tasty and light alternatives? I personally prefer filo to shortcrust pasty – try them and let me know what you think!

You will need:

For the mincemeat

  • 225g (8oz) dried figs
  • 75g (3oz) pecan nuts
  • 350g (12oz) cooking apples (preferably Bramleys)
  • 75ml (3fl oz) Calvados
  • 50g (2oz) stem ginger in syrup
  • 675g (11/2lb) mixed dried fruit
  • 25g (1oz) unsalted butter
  • 5g (1 tsp) ground allspice
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon

For the pastry waterlillies

  • Approx 20n sheets of filo pastry
  • 225g (8oz) melted butter

To make the mincemeat, pour the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the Calvados, then leave to soak in a warm place for several hours. Peel, core and chop the apples, and mince or process them together with the stem ginger, pecan nuts and figs. If using a food processor you may need to add more Calvados to moisten the mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir really well to make sure they are well combined. Put into clear jars and seal. Do not keep too long (chance would be a fine thing in this house!). I expect you’ll use it all before Christmas but if not, don’t exceed 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator.

Using good kitchen scissors, cut the filo pastry into 5 – 5.75cm (2-21/2 inch) squares. Cut a stack at once, don’t do them one at a time or you really will be there until Christmas! Keep the pastry covered with a clean damp cloth as much as possible to avoid it drying out. Butter a nine-hole bun tin and place a square of pastry over the hole. Brush the top of the pastry with melted butter and cover with another square of pastry, placing the second square at an angle. Continue to layer about 5 sheets of pastry, buttering in between and rotating each square a little each time to give a petalled edge effect – see diagram. Fill each pastry case with between 10 – 15g (1dsp to 1tbs) of mincemeat and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160ºC (325ºF), gas mark 3 for 45 minutes.

And for your table…

Can’t resist passing on one of my favourite and easiest Christmas table decorations! Have a rummage in your garden, or keep your eyes peeled on a winter stroll and see if you can find some Old Man’s Beard (Clematis Vitalba). These pale silky fronds make a stunning and effective table decoration especially if you add some glitter spray, or sparkle, or interweave some spangled gold threads. Magical!

Next week:

Herbs on the Christmas tree!

38 replies
  1. Shirley says:

    Welcome to blogland Joanna, I do hope you will bring us some more of those yummy receipies. The photos on the side are gorgeous just wish it was like that now, we have sleet here in Gloucestershire. Anyway Happy Christmas with all the family. hugs Shirleyxx

  2. Aj. says:

    meant to add ..

    We use the same basic ingrediants in our mulled wine but instead of a claret/port mix, we use homemade elderberry wine (which we mature 5yrs before opening) from the week before christmas there is always a pot of it sitting atop the woodburner.


  3. John Barlow says:

    What a lovely idea! The layout is spectacular, especially with the Gallery and we look forward to more of your undoubtably popular recipes. Can't wait!

  4. lindah11 says:

    hi joanna
    well done on setting up your blog it looks beautifull
    could you add a follow button please if thats possible ..would love to keep up with all you are sharing with us
    hugs linda xxx

  5. Joanna Sheen says:

    Ooh, excited by all this feedback – thank you for all the positive comments and welcomes to blogland! Linda – good point – you can now follow my blogs – have a look on the left hand side.

  6. linnie says:

    Hey Joanna
    Big welcome to blogland.ooooo looove the figgy mincemeat will have to try that one….gallery brings back happy memories of two wet golden retreivers a wet husband fishing for sea bass oh! and a wet linnie trying to dry off the said retreivers we were staying in the round house.

  7. JULES says:

    Hi Joanna wow it's great to see you have a blog, it's lovely to!, thanks for the recipes i would love to try them out.I look forward to your future posts, if you find the time i would love you to visit my blog! hugs.

  8. JayDee says:

    Hi Joanna great blog. Wish I had a clue how to set one up for myself lol
    I love the recipe's. Reminds me of my Mom's mince pies, and my MIL's mulled wine. Sure do miss them.

  9. Jackie L says:

    Loved reading your new Country blog and will be trying your mulled and mincemeat treats in the next few weeks. They both sound wonderful and tasty.

    Look forward to next weeks tree instructions.

  10. AliceH says:

    Joanna, it's so lovely to see you have decided to start a blog. It means that we can see another side of you apart from your paper/stamping crafting. As your recipes and your lovely photo gallery indicate you have many more strings to your bow all of which I hope you will continue to share with us.
    Congratulations to you.


  11. Sandy L says:

    What a pretty design to your blog! Very easy on the eyes, lovely soft colours.
    Recipes look lovely, will have to try over xmas. Photos make me miss home. I live in the southwest of France, which I love. There are times however that I really miss the SW of England, (came from Bristol).
    Look forward to seeing what's next.

  12. Joanna Sheen says:

    Thanks for all your positive comments :o) I'll try and add pics to the gallery as it seems to popular. All getting very festive here at Sheenie Towers!

  13. Anne Redfern says:

    Really looking forward to following your blog Joanna (I only wish I could set one up myself!). Great recipes, hopefully will try both over Christmas. Have a wonderful Christmas to you and all your blog followers. Regards, Anne Rx

  14. sheila lewis says:

    Hi Joanna, thank you so much for sending me an e-mail informing of your new blog. I have never had the nerve to go into a blog before,but I jumped at the opportunity when I knew it was yours,feel i know you anyway as I never miss you when youre on create+craft, and as soon as your new cd's appear, i buy them. Lovely blog, fantastic receipes , kind of your to share them. thank you. Look forward to dropping in again, luv she x

  15. Barbara Parkin says:

    Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year. Thank you for all your inspiration, you were the first person to impress me with your wonderful skills when I started crafting a few years ago. I used to sign off take care but now say "TAKE RISKS"!!!!

  16. May says:

    Hi Joanna

    I think this is wonderful and I have written down the recipe for the Mulled Wine which I will be using on Xmas Day for the family get together. Not very techi minded so was suprised and delighted at how easy you have managed to make it for us to see all your hints and tips. Love all your CD and rubber stamps.

  17. Rita says:

    Hello Joanna,
    Loving the blog, will try to follow as often as possible. "Thanks!" for the Figgy Mincemeat recipe will be trying that. I already use Filo pastry in this way for my mince pies but instead of moistening each layer with butter I use beaten egg white —- not such a rich taste I know but much less fattening!!!

  18. Junie B says:

    Hi Joanna,
    I really loved your blog! I always look forward to your newsletters, and enjoy shopping on your website, but it is so good to have other craft and cookery ideas for Christmas. I'm already thinking of making some little Christmas stockings for 2012 , filled with Christmas spices and herbs. Junie

  19. Wendy says:

    Hi Joanna. Only just found this lovely blog by being directed from your monthly newsletter! Great idea – I will be following from now on. Thank you for the inspiration!

  20. Pamela says:

    Hi Joanna. Just reading your news letter and took a peep at your blog. It looks fun and interesting. I have never joined facebook or twitter, (looks a bit scary), but thought I would begin with yours. It' feels good to be in at the start of something new. I'm really looking forward to "all things country". Hope you, your family and all your followers have a really great 2012. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.
    Hugg;es from Pamela. xx


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