Editorial December 2009

Written by gil

Well, December is upon us already, with cold and frosty weather, and perhaps a sprinkling of snow, if we're lucky. The days grow ever shorter - until the Winter Solstice. Not long now ! Where did the year go ? Time to get the woodburner lit, and get toasty and festive. To while away those dark winter nights, why not enter the Downsizer Festive Quiz, with the chance to win some great prizes donated by some of our site members who are small traders ? You've still got loads of time to enter : the closing date isn't till after Xmas.

Downsizer has plenty of tips and recipes to help make your midwinter celebrations tastier and more sustainable and ethical. A bit of forward planning also helps some of us get organised.

There's plenty you can still do to prepare food-wise. It's not too late to make your own Xmas pudding (with or without suet), mincemeat for mince pies (made in advance, or at the last minute), and even a Xmas fruit cake with marzipan and icing. Though there are other seasonal delights that can be made nearer the time, like Alison's yummy Yule Log or Mochyn's very splendid Stollen.

Turning to more savoury options, don't forget to order your meat for the main dinner (why not check out what our small-scale meat producers have to offer ?), and/or make sure you have the makings for a great vegetarian feast, including veggie food the kids will like. If you've never tried boning out your roast poultry, why not have a go this year ? And there are many different kinds of stuffing to go with various dishes. There are delicious nibbles you can make in advance and freeze, to avoid that last minute rush when visitors arrive.

You could make your own mulled wine, or cream liqueurs. Looking ahead, homebrewers faced with all those lovely winter citrus fruits and spices can start a gallon or so of Midwinter wine for next year.

Gifts needn't be large or expensive. Why not try making your own delicious hand-made chocolates, chocolate truffles, or other goodies : a cosy pair of socks that knit up quickly, for instance ? If you have fruit in the freezer, you still have time to make a batch of jam for friends, with handmade labels or tags. Check out some Downsizery ideas for how to wrap your presents, too ! Or why not try Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping in folded paper ?

Still stuck for ideas ?

For those of you who can't bear being stuck in the house the whole time, there is still work to do on the vegetable plot and in the fruit garden, and even wild food to be foraged. Go for a walk, and see what you can find in the hedgerows to make your own festive decorations. Deck the halls with boughs of holly, or make a door wreath from pieces of fabric. Lettucewoman's ever so neat hand-made cards double up as Xmas baubles for the tree.

A Merry Midwinter to you all ! Cheers !