‘Tis the mince­meat sea­son

Here’s a twist on a clas­sic dessert which the lit­tle ones with love to help pre­pare

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts - Vicky Blick

‘I’ve given it a sea­sonal twist mince­meat. Served hot, cold with cus­tard, cream or yo­ghurt, you won’t be dis­ap­pointed’

Iwas eaves­drop­ping in a shop re­cently. The granny at the till was telling her friend all about her lat­est grand­child born that week. The pho­tos she’d re­ceived, the knit­ting she’d done, the presents sent. Like a bud­ding Miss Marple, I got closer to over­hear the con­ver­sa­tion only to dis­cover that she hadn’t seen any of her grand­chil­dren since they em­i­grated to New Zealand five years ago.

As a boater I had a cer­tain amount of em­pa­thy with her. I’ve not seen my grand­chil­dren for some time now and I miss them all so much. The more I think about them and see their lit­tle faces look­ing out of photo frames, the worse it be­comes. But at least I can hop on a train or hire a car and be with them eas­ily. Thank­fully, all our four daugh­ters and their chil­dren are still in the UK.

We’ve been boaters for 30-plus years but never been able to have more than ex­tended hol­i­days afloat un­til we both re­tired. At that point grand­chil­dren were not on the horizon and then, like buses, along came three, then an­other and an­other and now there are five. It’s hard when one minute they are babes in arms and the next they are off to school. I’ve missed those years and some­times I do feel a very guilty granny.

My un­der­stand­ing Cap­tain is quick to re­mind me that vis­its are just around the corner with our planned fam­ily Christmas re­union and, un­like the granny in the shop, I shall be do­ing my grandma du­ties and giv­ing the chil­dren my full at­ten­tion in what­ever they want to do. This usu­ally takes the form of bak­ing and this Christmas we are go­ing to ring in some changes and in­tro­duce a dif­fer­ent dessert to com­pete with the tra­di­tional Christmas pud that’s, of course, on the menu.

My dessert is an ap­ple tart with a crum­ble top – a tasty treat what­ever time of year you make it. But for Christmas, I’ve given it a sea­sonal twist with added mince­meat. Served hot, cold, with cus­tard, cream or yo­ghurt, you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. The pud­ding re­quires three stages of easy prepa­ra­tion and so the more hands to help the bet­ter. Even small ones.

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