Friday, 4 November 2011
Worthy is the... Butter, Sugar and Crystalised Ginger
I've been making Christmas cake, using a combination of recipes from my 1960 edition of Mrs Beeton. Year to year I forget exactly what I've combined before from each recipe, so the cake is never the same, a little more spice one year, a little more treacle another, a different blend of fruit the next. You can see from the copy above how spattered the page is with cake mix, flour and sugar. I had to blow the bits off my scanner after I'd copied it. This year, Hellebore also walked across the page and you can just about see her dirty paw prints about half-way down.
While I stirred the ingredients I listened to Handel's Messiah. I am trying to find the ultimate recording of it. My old, battered tape of just the highlights, which I listen to in my old, battered car (with tape deck, radio and nothing else), I have had since I was a child. In addition I now own three full recordings, including the lovely crystalline one made in 2006 by the Dunedin Consort that I listened to this morning. The trouble is I lost my heart to that first tape and, though most of the Dunedin recording is infinitely preferable, no other 'Worthy is the lamb' and 'Amen' come up to the old one's standard: they have a huge, cathedral sound, though I probably think so because the tape's in such terrible condition that I have to play it full blast to hear it above the engine. Of the other two recordings, both on vinyl, one is so hideous I won't speak its name, and the other, with Elizabeth Harwood and Janet Baker, conducted many moons ago by Sir Charles Mackerras, promises much in 'Worthy is the lamb,' but the 'Amen' goes so fast it leaves me feeling like I've had a awkward encounter with an inexperienced lover.
This afternoon's task is to make mince meat and, come to think of it, I do have a tape player in the kitchen....