My grandmother was a pretty good cook. She was of her time, a plain cook born during the early part of the reign of Edward VII. She excelled in pastry, pickled onions of which she made umpteen, huge jars once a year, she used to cook semi-hard boiled eggs for me to eat with toast “soldiers” and she made wonderful ginger wine.

I think that the ginger wine recipe is an old family one and I recently came across it tucked, forgotten, into the back of a book, and have started the hunt for the ingredients. I remember well, the intense taste of ginger, almost hot, bright and refreshing.

The recipe calls for: essence of ginger, burnt sugar, tincture of capsicum, tartaric acid, lump sugar and water. Now, I think that I have found the ginger and capsicum but what on earth is burnt sugar? I try my best not to burn things, and I assume that it for colour purposes. What is a real pain about this recipe is that the ingredients are listed in all sorts of different measurements. Some are in drams, some pints and some pounds. I think that this is going to be “interesting.”

Ginger wine is just the sort of drink that would be perfect during the winter, and particularly at Christmas, sitting by the fire supping this lovely warming beverage and perhaps a piece of fudge.

I have not made fudge for many years, and yesterday decided that I would have a go. It is pretty simple,  made with simple ingredients (condensed milk, sugar, butter and milk) but boy, is it moreish! Every time I go in the kitchen, I take another slice and this could be fatal. I am trying to convince myself that it does not contain calories, but I am deluding myself. Still, we are coming up to Christmas and I have had a stressful few months so I think that I deserve a treat.

I am also going to make a batch of nougat, something we always had at Christmas when I was a child. It came wrapped in silver paper and had nuts and cherries in and was, for me the taste of the festive season.

In a week or so, I will make another batch of fudge to give away as Christmas gifts with the nougat. I think that there is nothing nicer than giving something you have made yourself. I have some boxes I have made and will tie them with pretty ribbon et voila!

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