What is it about winter and that cosy feeling? Is it simply a leftover memory of times before mild winters and centrally heated houses? For me it is more like an ideal than a feeling. Something I am constantly chasing. A sensation I get when I see candles lighting in a darkened room or when the fire just catches and the curtains are drawn. The feeling of coming home and closing the door on the cold outside. That brief, transient feeling that warms you from the inside out. Christmas is built on this premise. Everywhere you look it is being sold to you. It is palpable.
What constitutes it for me is having family around. Eating really, really good food. I mean fridges buckling under the weight of numerous cured meats, cheese of all shapes and sizes. The inevitable fry up. Mince pies and chocolates wrapped up like precious gemstones. Watching ridiculous films with daytime fires, oh yes a daytime fire is pure luxury. Also, how without ever having to vocalise it, it is perfectly acceptable to partake in some daytime drinking during the Christmas season. All the rules go out the window. There are no judgemental glances as you boil the kettle for the 3rd hot toddy of the afternoon. We’re all in this together.
And how else would you suggest mankind deal with the utterly maddening prospect of a trip to the big smoke with a good 2 hour battle for a parking space ahead of you. The thoughts of dragging sodden paper bags full of presents around while you try to convince yourself that your father would love yet another golf shop voucher just so you can declare yourself done with this annual spending ritual.
So I am getting prepped. I’m ensuring a supply of seasonally appropriate spirits. The sloe gin has been sitting in a dark part of the drinks cabinet for a good 6 weeks at this stage. I fear this will not be sufficient to see the season through so I’m using up some of the apples from the garden to put a little pep into some brandy. Not that brandy needs any help in the pep department but we all get a bit glitzy around this time of year and so too shall my spirits.
1 bottle of brandy
4 eating apples
4 cinnamon sticks
Large bottle or jar
Empty contents of brandy into a large jar or bottle with a mouth wide enough for the apples. Core and slice apples, add to the brandy. Add cinnamon sticks. Put the lid on and leave to infuse for at least 3 days. Preferably longer. Strain the brandy and consume.
Ideally fill a hip flask for any outings related to Christmas present shopping.