Sunday, March 13, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stir

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Grandma Coco is not what you’d call a ‘linear thinker’.  Her mind is more like one of those old-time pin ball machines where the ball bounces wildly in all directions, lights flashing and bells sounding. She gets to the same place, in the end, but it’s quite the ride.

Often one thought reminds us of something else which takes us somewhere else entirely. This is the case with this week’s Illustration Friday topic…. ‘stir’.  These drawings are often streams of consciousness themselves….doodles that start out with one character and flow into something else entirely. For some reason, these ladies showed up to stir up a little something and they prompted a memory of reading about ‘Stir-up Sunday’ years and years ago.

We had to google the term to confirm our memory but yes, it’s true. Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent (in the Anglican church). It, too, is the result of a pin ball cascade of ideas. No wonder it stuck in Grandma Coco’s mind.

In England, especially, Stir-up Sunday (which occurs about 5 weeks before Christmas Day) is the traditional day for making the Christmas pudding. It came to be because of the prayer-of-the-day which starts out: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people …”.

Traditionally, the whole family returns home from church and is supposed to take a turn stirring the pudding and adding a good wish. Adding a good wish as you accomplish homely tasks is a cool idea. We do that when we knit or quilt for people we love. That, we understand.  However, there are other traditions surrounding Christmas pudding making that are even more deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. For instance, there are supposed to be 13 ingredients, to represent Jesus and the 12 disciples. And what about this one?  That the pudding needs to be stirred from East to West to honour the Three Wise Men who visited the Baby Jesus. Fascinating, no?

So, we got out our recipe box to look up our Christmas pudding recipe because, yes, we do have one. It came to us from Mr. Coco’s mother and goes by the rather uninspired name of “Economical Plum Pudding”. (For Mr. Coco’s mother, thrift was a virtue.) However, this pudding is also the best Christmas pudding we’ve ever tasted so, even though we’re a long way from Stir-up Sunday, here’s the recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar (1/2 cup is really all you need)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
¾ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Soda
Sift all these dry ingredients together and add:
1 cup grated apples
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
Stir to mix thoroughly and add ½ cup vegetable oil or melted shortening. Fill a buttered mold (like a coffee can). Cover tightly and steam for 4 hours.

Serve this pudding with a sauce….brandy or lemon or custard, depending, we guess, on whether you're a teetotaller (as both our grandmothers were) or a lost cause.

You will notice there are only 11 ingredients in Mr. Coco’s mother’s recipe. It’s still good. As far as we know, she never worried about the directionality of her stirring. It will still be good. And one last thing…..You don’t have to wait for Stir-up Sunday (or Christmas) to enjoy a steamed pudding.


  1. I loved your illo and words! Now my mine is pinging around like a pin ball too! :-D

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