I know it’s a little early, but Mum takes advantage of our visit during the school holidays to make our family’s Christmas pudding. I love Mum’s Christmas pudding, made using Mrs Dibble's Christmas Pudding recipe (Mrs Dibble is the mother of ABC presenter James Dibble, who read the first ABC television news bulletin in 1956 and worked for the ABC for 27 years. James Dibble died from cancer in 2010). The pudding, usually made six weeks before Christmas, matures in its basin and is reheated on Christmas day, served with cream or custard. The pudding is beautifully moist, fragrant with alcohol and raisins, and pure pleasure on the palate.
Duncan and I have a tradition of alternating spending Christmas with our respective Sydney and North Coast NSW based families and at home at inland Nundle. Regardless of whether we celebrate Christmas with Mum and Dad, Mum always makes us a pudding. So that even when we are not together, a part of Mum and Dad (or Mum’s cooking) is with us on Christmas Day. I am not in a hurry to take over this responsibility. Now that Mum is 70 the day may come when she doesn’t want to make the pudding any more. So, as long as she wants to make it, I will enjoy this link with her gentle, present, dedicated mothering.
Mum wants us to be involved with making the Christmas pudding. She saves the 30 threepence coins to reuse each year from the three puddings she makes (Mum also makes puddings for her and Dad, and my brother's family). Mum says about 20 of the coins are my Grandmother's, who used them in Christmas puddings when Mum was a child. "They have King George IV on them and are from the 1930's and 40's," she says. The remaining 10 threepence were bought in recent years to top up the supply (threepence are available from the Royal Australian Mint) . Isabelle, Cormac, Gryf, Mum and I take turns to drop a threepence into the bowl and make a wish as we stir our threepence into the pudding mixture.
Mum pours the pudding batter into the pudding tin, tops it with baking paper and clips the lid closed before lowering it with cooking twine onto an upturned saucer in a deep saucepan of boiling water.
The pudding boils for three hours and cools on the sink. When it is time to leave several days later we pack the pudding to take it home. We’ll open it on Christmas Day, heat it (regardless of the Australian summer temperature) and bring it to the table dressed with warm brandy, set alight for a sense of occasion - a Christmas present made with love from Mum.
Note: Modern currency is unsuitable to use in Christmas puddings.