Article 31: “Food for the Table” from the Swan’s Kitchen


Christmas Time


Well Christmas has not been cancelled!!  It is well and truly here but quite in a way we have never seen before.  We may not be able to go carol singing or have parties and Christmas shopping may have been on line for those main gifts, but it is often the little personal gifts that bless someone unexpectedly that have been more difficult to source.  Here are some ideas of quality items that you can make yourselves with the whole family or on your own and can be safely given away to the nearest and dearest.  And not only the nearest and dearest but new contacts of neighbours and friends where there will not be an exchange of presents but giving away a blessing just because…….of Jesus!!  Not only will the recipients be pleased with the items but linked with the knowledge that these were made especially for them will be an extra blessing.

Luke 6:38 

Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Proverbs 11:24-25 

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Acts 20:35 

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Not everyone likes a very rich Christmas cake and also they are expensive to make and especially expensive to buy even the tiny ones even in Aldi!!  Here is a recipe that is quick and easy but lighter than the traditional one but with a real Christmassy flavour.


Mincemeat Christmas Cake

  • 125g (5ozs) soft margarine                                      It is important to use just
  • 125g (5ozs) soft light brown sugar                         one set of measurements
  • 3 large eggs                                                               at a time.
  • 75g (3ozs) sultanas                                                  
  • 450g (1lb) jar of mincemeat
  • 200g (8ozs) SR flour
  • Optional – a few flaked almond and/or a few chopped glace cherries.
  1. Preheat your oven to 160C or Gas 3.
  2. Grease and line an 8” (20cms) tin or 2 x 6” (15cms) tins.
  3. Cream margarine and sugar together till well mixed and light and fluffy.
  4. Mix the eggs together and gradually add half to the mixture.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients except the optional ones and mix without beating to keep the mixture light.
  6. Put mixture in tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  7. Top with almonds and/or cherries if using.
  8. Bake for 1 hour 15 – 30 mins turning oven down a touch if getting too brown.  Test with a skewer which comes out dry when ready or just make sure the centre of the top feels firm to the touch.
This cake makes a lovely present with a ribbon round and a Merry Christmas on the top.  It also is lovely sliced with a cup of tea if you can’t bear to part with it and then you’ll have to make something else for the gift!!!
Just had a slice warmed in microwave with some custard added for my pudding.  Delicious.

Lemon Curd

  • 4 lemons unwaxed if possible                       2 x 340g (12ozs) clean jars
  • 4 large eggs                                                   with metal lids
  • 110g (4 ozs) butter
  • 340g (12ozs) granulated sugar

    1. Thoroughly clean 2 glass jars and pop in the oven at 100C to sterilise.
    2. Put the lids and other utensils in a bowl and cover with boiling water to also sterilise.
    3. Thinly grate off the lemon rind making sure to avoid the white pith and put in a microwavable bowl.  Add the juice from the lemons.
    4. Chop up the butter into small lumps and add with the sugar to the bowl.
    5. Begin to heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
    6. Beat the eggs well and add to bowl through a sieve.  Return to the microwave.
    7. Check every half minute beating well every time until mixture is thick enough to cover the colour of a wooden spoon but not the shape.  It should be the consistency of custard.
    8. Pour into jars and put the lids on straight away.
    9. Label and decorate attractively.
This is so quick and easy to make and always pleases. Always use butter for the best flavour.  Margarine does not have the taste but also the soft ones have too much water and this affects the consistency.

I saw unwaxed lemons for 59p a net in Aldi this morning (10th Dec)

Angel Wings Shortbread

This is a classic shortbread recipe always popular at Christmas but I was delighted recently to find an Angels Wings cutter in Dobbies at Birtley recently although many other shapes are Christmassy like Christmas trees but you have to be careful to top remove the tops in the lifting off of the cutter.  The wings can be tricky but just gently use a knife to ease off the pointy bits.  There is no rush and just make them with love.

The proportions are 1 sugar, 2 butter and 3 flour but make more than one batch rather than too big a one.  I made the following quantity and got 15 biscuits.
  • 50g (2 ozs) caster sugar
  • 100g (4 ozs) butter at room temperature
  • 150g (6ozs) plain flour
  1. Lightly butter a baking tray (Don’t use oil as flavour is affected.)
  2. Preheat oven to 160C Gas 3
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a food processor till forms a dough OR
  4. Cream sugar and butter and blend in flour till dough is formed.
  5. Cut out shapes as close together as possible to limit the number of rollings and place on a baking tray.
  6. Bake for about 15 mins till lightly golden.
  7. Immediately sprinkle with caster sugar.
  8. Lift onto a wire tray to cool and then pack into a cellophane bag and tie with curling ribbon. 

Flavouring alternatives
  • Ginger 1 tsp powdered ginger and a tbsp of glace ginger (from Sainsburys)
  • Chocolate chip Chop up some dark chocolate or buy chips
  • Almond   Swop tablespoon of flour with ground almonds. Wet top lightly and add flaked almonds to look like feathers.
  • Gold Spray wing tips with edible gold spray. 

Have fun this week making these and there will be Part II next week!!

Click here to download a pdf sheet with these instructions on.
by Marna Swan Blog #4, 14/12/2020