How To Light A Christmas Pudding

When I was a little girl in Ireland I loved when my mom set our Christmas pudding alight. Our annual pyrotechnic show was achieved quite simply, using a candle, a metal spoon, a dollop of brandy and one piping hot plum pudding.

Lighting a pudding

Lighting a plum pudding is accomplished using brandy, whiskey or rum. I like brandy best. For me, the residual cognac flavor on top of the pudding is decadent. 

I know I should be using Irish whiskey – I am Irish after all. However, an old family legend claims I might be a 31st cousin of the Hennessy who left Ireland and started the famous cognac brand. The connection is through my County Limerick born granny.

 

Brandy for lighting a plum pudding

And that’s my brandy loving excuse – there’s a slight possibility my affinity for cognac may be hereditary, but that’s a story for another day.

So let’s get back to lighting this pudding with my favorite spirit, brandy.

Choose a large metal spoon. Not your best spoon please. The candle may cause the bottom of the spoon to turn black. This carbonation is easily scrubbed away afterwards.

A metal spoonful of brandy over a candle flame

Add enough brandy to fill the spoon three-quarter ways full. Leave a small gap between the top of the brandy and the rim of the spoon.

 

Warning! Do not use a plastic spoon. It will melt.

 

Hold the spoon over a lighted candle flame. Hold it for a few minutes until the brandy heats up. If you wish to speed up this process you can pre-heat the spoon in a cup of hot water, but make sure to dry it completely before adding the brandy.

Once the brandy is hot it will start to steam and convection currents will be visible in the golden liquid.

To set it alight, you simply tip the top of the spoon into the candle flame and the booze will alight, burning with a bluish flame.

Lighting a Christmas pudding

Move the flaming spoon over the pudding and pour it on top.

Now the pudding must be piping hot. This will not work with a cold pudding.

Ensure you have removed any decorative toppings from the pudding, before setting it on fire. Melted plastic or singed holly does not add anything to a plum pudding’s flavor.

Plum pudding set alight with brandy

Move the spoon away from the flames.

You can have a cup of water ready to quench the flaming spoon if you wish, but I just blow on it to stop it burning.
A flaming Christmas pudding or plum pudding

Turn out the lights and admire the bright blue flames of your Christmas light show.

The alcohol will burn off the top of the pudding, so once it stops flaming you’re ready to serve your traditional Christmas treat.

Remember you choose to light your pudding at your own risk. This technique is probably not endorsed by any fire department anywhere. So take care when working with open flames. Feel free to have a fire extinguisher at the ready, especially for any enormous puddings.  :)  :)

Wishing you all happy pudding lighting experiments this Christmas.

 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh

(Merry Christmas)

 

Irish American Mom

My Ireland Box Christmas Giveaway

My Ireland Box curates unique Irish gifts for you or someone special to you.  Each month a perfect little Irish surprise is delivered to your doorstep.

Christmas Window

A Fabulous Irish Prize:

 

Today I’m delighted to announce My Ireland Box is sponsoring a wonderful Christmas giveaway for one of Irish American Mom’s readers.

The prize is a Three Month Christmas Gift Subscription for the winner or someone they choose. The lucky reader or their chosen recipient will receive an E-Card on Christmas Eve surprising them with this amazing three month gift subscription.

More details on how to enter this little giveaway are available at the end of this post, so keep reading to learn more.

Christmas Doorstep 2

What Is My Ireland Box?

 

My Ireland Box is a curated gift box subscription service, delivering the best of Irish crafts each month.  It is a gift that keeps on giving for as long as you wish, and a perfect gift choice for those who love all things Irish.

The wonderful world of Irish made crafts and the talented artists who devote their lives to the creative process are introduced to subscribers each month.

The Dingle Penninsula, Kerry, Ireland

The Dingle Penninsula, Kerry, Ireland

Based in the pretty little town of Dingle in County Kerry, Katharine Keane Barrett and her husband Thomas Barrett, curate the best of Irish made craft, home wares and beauty products, delivered as a monthly surprise to your door!  And best of all they ship to the USA, Canada and Europe.  

This Christmas, My Ireland Box is running a special offer for those looking for the perfect Irish gift. MyIrelandBox Three Month Gift Subscriptions are available until Christmas Eve, 24th December, 2014.

This offer includes a FREE TREAT and Christmas E-Card to be sent to your recipient on Christmas Eve informing them of your gift to them!

What a perfect way to start your Festive Holiday Fun with an Irish gift that will keep on giving right up until March, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

CMas 2014

The Giveaway

 

My Ireland Box is offering one lucky reader a Three Month Christmas Gift Subscription (a value of $125).

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us about your fondest Irish memories of vacations past, or time spent living in Ireland. If you have not yet made it across the pond to Ireland, why not tell us about your Irish dreams  …..

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so the good people at My Ireland Box can surprise you for Christmas.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to contact the lucky winner.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 and the name shared at the end of this post.

You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstake entries by clicking here.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to My Ireland Box for once again sponsoring a fantastic prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.  I really appreciate their generosity.

And a big thanks to all of you who enter and help spread the word to family and friends about this little giveaway.

 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh

(Merry Christmas)

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have a business relationship with My Ireland Box.  No cash payment was received for publishing this giveaway post. I love to help spread the word about small home businesses, artists and crafts people. Thank you to all who support these wonderful Irish and Irish American business enterprises.

Images published with permission of MyIrelandBox.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers were part and parcel of all my childhood Christmases in Ireland. My sisters and I loved playing with these festive, popping, paper tubes before we tucked into our Christmas dinner.

Boxes of Christmas Crackers on Shelves

On Christmas Day our place settings always included a Christmas cracker lovingly laid above our spoons.  Patiently waiting to start our cracker games, we admired the glittering favors on our yuletide table.

Once we all sat down to dinner the cracker wars began.  Crackers can be pulled in a sedate and genteel manner seated beside a table, but that would have been too lady like for cracker fanatics.  We stood face-to-face, with feet placed strategically apart, to create maximum pulling advantage.

Christmas Crackers

Holding firmly to my end, I pulled with all my might.  With eyes closed tightly I valiantly fought my Christmas cracker battles. 

The loud explosive crackle of  our gleeful paper tearing signaled time to open my eyes. Sheer delight followed if I held the larger half of the tube, with all its hidden surprises, which were usually found scattered all over the dining room floor.

Red Christmas Cracker

Now truth be told these hidden surprises were little more than plastic tricky trackies.  A corny joke on a little rectangular piece of paper was wrapped around a neatly folded colored paper crown.

Here’s a quick question for all my Irish readers –

 

Have you have ever eaten your Christmas dinner

with a brightly colored paper crown adorning your head?

 

I’m quite certain every Irish photo album contains a few pictures of relatives wearing Christmas cracker hats at the dinner table.

Christmas Cracker Paper Crown

As I started to reminisce about Christmas crackers I realized I have no idea when and how they came to be. I guessed they are an English, Victorian innovation, so I took to the internet to discover the “truth”.

Christmas crackers are indeed an English invention, and were first created by a Victorian gentleman and sweet maker called Tom Smith.

During a trip to Paris he was impressed by French bon-bon sweets, which were beautifully wrapped almonds with a joke printed inside. He tried selling  ‘bon-bon’s” in England, but they simply didn’t catch on.

One evening as he sat by his warm fire, watching the logs sparking and crackling, a brain wave struck.  Why not place the sweets with little toys inside a paper tube that popped once opened.

Golden Christmas Cracker

Tom’s cracker business was born and it was a resounding success. His three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry, eventually took over the business, and Walter introduced the now-obligatory paper crowns, which may symbolize the Wise Kings who visited Jesus in the manger.

I bought Christmas crackers for my children last year for the very first time. They were a resounding success. They absolutely LOVED them.

This year they keep asking me if we are going to have Christmas crackers again.

Vintage Christmas Table with Christmas Crackers

And so, in 2014 I plan to continue our little Irish Christmas cracker tradition.

From this year onwards our Christmas table setting will not be complete without a lovingly placed Christmas cracker above the spoon.

Box of Christmas Crackers

Wishing you all happy Christmas cracker pulling contests this year.

 

 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh

(Merry Christmas)

 

Irish American Mom

 

P.S. Purchasing Christmas Crackers In America

 

I have purchased Christmas crackers in Target and World Market in the past, but I found their stocks were limited.

A quick disclosure note: The link below is an affiliate link and I will receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase using this link. Thanks in advance if you do utilize this link for your Irish shopping.

For online purchases of Christmas crackers check out the Food Ireland website..  They have a wonderful selection of Irish goodies which can be shipped throughout the United States.

Introducing Gaelic Girl Bread Mixes Plus A Little Christmas Giveaway

Irish breads, especially soda breads and scones, are enjoyed every day by Irish people. I think tourists to Ireland are often pleasantly surprised by the natural, wholesome goodness of Irish brown bread. 

Irish breads have a unique taste that is difficult to replicate using American ingredients. But this problem has been solved by Sandra Sheerin, who has developed specialty Irish bread mixes that are easy and simple to make.

gabby irish bowl4

Today I’m delighted to introduce Gaelic Girl Goodies, and a little giveaway to help celebrate Christmas.  And so, it’s time to hand you over to Sandra, the creator of these wonderful Irish bread mixes …….

 

Gaelic Girl Bread Mixes by Sandra Sheerin

 

These bread mixes are the fun way to bring Ireland into your home!

Gaelic Girl Goodies is a new Irish brand of traditional bread mixes for Irish American folks – big and small.

Created by Sandra Sheerin and her family, who emigrated to the U.S. from Dublin in 1987, Gaelic Girl Goodies offers easy-to-bake mixes of traditional Irish brown bread, soda bread and scones.

The inspiration for the line came from Sandra’s grandmother, born near the Mourne Mountains in the Cooley Peninsula, who taught her how to mix, whisk, knead and bake breads over the open fireplace.

Wanting to share this tradition with friends and families in America, Sandra created Gaelic Girl Goodies as a fun, easy way to make traditional Irish breads at home.

 

ggg-header-3-01

Most of her customers purchase the mixes to make with their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews as a way to spend quality time baking Irish treats and sharing stories of Ireland.

The mixes are packaged in 16oz bags and only require water or buttermilk as an add-in before baking. All ingredients are produced and mixed in Ireland and shipped to Pennsylvania for distribution.

 

gabby plate2

 

While the Gaelic Girl line currently offers three bread mixes, it will be expanding in 2015 to offer gift sets, limited edition goods and treats for kids.

To learn more about Gaelic Girl Goodies, check out Sandra’s Gaelic Girl website.

Irish Bread Mixes

The Giveaway:

Gaelic Girl Goodies would like to offer one lucky reader a set of Gaelic Girl Bread Mixes as a prize in our little giveaway. Who wouldn’t love a little taste of Ireland for Christmas.

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us about your favorite Irish bread, or any fond memories you have of baking or enjoying Irish bread. Perhaps there is a dish you especially enjoy with Irish bread. Feel free to share all your soda bread thoughts and dreams…..

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you to arrange shipping of the prize.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to contact the lucky winner.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 and the name shared at the end of this post.

You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstake entries by clicking here.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Gaelic Girl Goodies for sponsoring this fantastic prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.

 

A quick note of endorsement:  Sandra sent me a free sample of her bread mixes, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They’re easy to make and I definitely give them my seal of approval – just delicious.

 

December 17th, 2014 – We Have A Winner:

 

Congratulations to Patricia, who is our lucky winner.

Thanks to everyone who joined in and enter this little giveaway. It was lovely to read everyone’s comments and learn how much you all love Irish soda breads.

And a big thank you to Sandra from Gaelic Girl products for sponsoring this wonderful prize. Wishing her every success with her business.

 

 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh

(Merry Christmas)

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure: Irish American Mom received a free sample of Gaelic Girl Bread Mixes for review purposes.   I did not receive cash payment for publishing this guest post. I love to help spread the word about small home businesses, artists and crafts people. Thank you to all who support these wonderful Irish and Irish American business enterprises.

All images published with permission of Gaelic Girl.

“Santy” – The Name I Used For Santa Claus, When I Was A Little Girl In Ireland

Santa Claus is the name my children call good old Father Christmas, but when I was a little girl in Dublin, I called the red suited toy deliverer “Santy”. 

Or maybe that should be spelled “Santee”, I’m not certain.

www.vintagerio.comImage Credit

For weeks before Christmas everyone in Dublin seemed to be interested in what good old St. Nicholas might be bringing in his sack on Christmas night.  Everywhere we went, kind folks loved to talk about chimney deliveries on Christmas Eve.

The milk man! The post man! The butcher! Shop assistants!  Irish people love to chat, especially with little ones, and at Christmas time their favorite question was:

 

“What’s Santy bringin’ ya’ for Christmas?”

 

Another frequent question was:

 

“Have you been to see Santy yet?”

 

I have no idea why Father Christmas was usually called Santy when I was growing up in Ireland.  On films and American television we heard the term Santa, but in our Irish family the white bearded giver was always Santy. 

We seldom even added his last name “Claus”. We were all on first name terms with our beloved Santy.

When I first came to America I remember asking a little girl – “What’s Santy bringing you for Christmas?”

She looked at me strangely, then asked:  “Who’s that?”

Until then, I had never really thought about this difference in terminology. And so my American evolution continued when I had to rename Father Christmas and use the more globally accepted term of Santa Claus.

Decorations in the Pavillions Swords

Now that I have kids of my own, I sometimes slip up and say ‘Santy”.  They just roll their eyes, and say:  “I think you mean Santa, Mom.”

I don’t believe Irish children use the name “Santy” anymore. Popular culture and American influences have changed our naming of Good Old Saint Nick, but in my memories every Christmas Eve, I waited for “Santy”.

Now in Irish or Gaelic the term we use is Daidí na Nollag, which is literally Daddy Christmas, or Father Christmas. But we were English speakers in my home, and therefore we called him “Santy”.

I wonder does the name “Santy” bring back happy memories for any readers of my ramblings.

Christmas Fireplace in Dublin Castle

Truth be told, no matter the name we call him, Santa Claus, Santy, or Daidí na Nollag, he is the same generous guy, who makes his rounds each Christmas night, sharing his love all over the world.

 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh

(Merry Christmas)

 

Irish American Mom