A couple of weekends ago, I made my first ever Christmas pudding.
Can you tell that I’m kind of proud? It was all that fiddling around with string and greaseproof paper. And of course the steaming. For eight hours. An entire working day.
Admittedly, it does feel strange to still have no idea if the pudding is a sizzling success… or a bit of flop.
But making it was a great family moment, with each of my three kids taking turns to stir the mixture. Like something out of a family sitcom for once.
This weekend, Organix asked me to do a no-junk festive cook that can involve your kids, just like with the Christmas pud. I opted to cook up homemade cranberry sauce, one of my favourite accompaniments for the Christmas turkey.
Kids can help
I think making your own cranberry sauce is a great job for little chefs with short attention spans – the sauce involves just a handful of ingredients and only 10 minutes odd on the hob, so doesn’t take too long. And my three-year-old enjoyed stirring the berries in the pan and juicing the clementines.
But for the same reasons, it would be an ideal solo cooking task for an older child, with adult supervision.
If you’ve not tried making your own cranberry sauce before, I think it’s worth the effort as it’s a relatively simple and fast way to transform your Christmas dinner.
It isn’t like the jarred variety – but in a good way. Think subtle port and citrus flavours; more sauce, less jam; and no cloying sweetness, but rather an interesting bittersweet tang.
Homemade is also much healthier for you as it contains less sugar, no colourings and additives and it hasn’t been heavily processed.
This year, I’ve swapped sugar for honey, and added more clementine for flavour.
And unlike when you make Christmas pudding, you can actually taste the sauce and adjust the flavours to suit your family’s palate. Hooray. (So if you find it too bitter, simply add another couple of teaspoons of honey.)
You can always make it with the kids on Christmas Eve if you think you’ll have some time.
But if you would rather tick things off your to-do list, make it now, scoop it into a plastic container and bung it in your freezer, which is where mine is sitting right now. Another job done.
Recipe for no-sugar cranberry and clementine sauce
Makes: 450ml of sauce
A bag of 300g fresh cranberries (picked over first to remove any dodgy ones)
Grated zest and juice of 3 clementines
1 cinnamon stick
125ml cold water
2tbsp clear honey
Rinse the cranberries, then add them to a saucepan with the clementine zest and juice, cinnamon stick, water and honey. Bring to the boil covered, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Stir in the port, and simmer for a few more minutes. Taste and if you find it too bitter, stir in a little more honey to suit.