The days are creeping ever faster towards Christmas, and now we are at the very Eve of the big day, I am getting excited! I love all the joy, kitsch, tomfoolery and fun of Christmas. I see no shame in getting into the spirit of the season. After all, in Narnia under the White Witch the inhabitants bemoaned their luck that it was 'always Winter and never Christmas'! Now that is a fate I wish on no-one. Not even those I actively dislike!
So I wanted to share with you one of my festive favourites. I discovered this little secret just before Christmas 2009. I was having a gathering at my place and I wanted it to be festive, and I'd bought in plenty of food, but I didn't want to be tied to the kitchen all night. So I tried to work out ways to get things done in advance, but also things which could be left to look after themselves.
Mulled wine is such a taste of Christmas. Warming, gently alcoholic, spicy and fruity, it has the flavours of the season and the feeling of the season about it. But when it is your party and it would be rude not to mingle with your guests, you don't need to be slaving over a hot stove making it, do you?
Step in the hero of the hour, the slow cooker. Often the wedding present of a new couple.... or the misguided well meaning present of Christmas past, these really quite useful kitchen gadgets are constantly underestimated and thus are relegated to languishing at the back of a kitchen cupboard.
I can't say I use mine enough. However, it does get SOME use, and I plan to do more with it this Winter. I have already shared with you my Spanish Cocido slow cooker recipe. What I will now share with you isn't complex or very original, but it may just make festive hosting that little bit easier.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas – the best of the festive season to you all. I also wish for the best of everything for you all for 2012.
Slow Cooker Mulled Wine
1 bottle (750ml) red wine
50 ml brandy
2 sticks cinnamon
3 green cardamom pods
2 whole star anise
1 orange quartered then sliced finely – reserve about one eighth whole
Prepare your ingredients.
Put the cloves in the eighth of the orange.
Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Switch on.
After an hour, enjoy the festive joy of mulled wine with zero huddling over a hot hob. Yay!