December 2, 2011

Holiday Read + Movie + Recipe + Music (Day 1)

These are a few of my favourite Christmas things:
  • Holiday books and stories (picture books too!)
  • Christmas movies - from the zany (Just Friends) to the heart-warming (It's A Wonderful Life)
  • Yummy yuletide baking and other tasty noms
  • Festive tunes (some that I'm almost ashamed to admit, like Michael W. Smith - whoops!)
Reads, movies, recipes, and music. Henceforth I shall refer to this combo as (RM)2. Er, maybe not. I don't think I'm quite that geeky yet. Maybe I'll stick with Holiday Favourites, it feels less dorky (yet somehow taking the time to colour code that title isn't dorky at all #gofigure). I'd like to share some of these favourites with you leading up to Christmas, if you don't mind. If you do, sorry (not really).

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, a "classic novel about a Victorian-era miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions" (curiously, IMDB had the most concise description of this story that I could find).

1) The Muppet Christmas Carol
You'd think that mixing people and Muppets in a retelling of the Dickens' classic would be wrong somehow, but it totally works. And the music (except for that little number by Scrooge and his lost love - eek!) is really great too.
2) Disney's A Christmas Carol 
Initially, maybe like some of you, I was put off by the thought of Jim Carrey lending his voice to Ebeneezer Scrooge. While it seemed bothersome that the guy responsible for Ace Ventura would be Scrooge, it's really probably no worse than Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) and beloved author C. S. Lewis (Shadowlands). I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and found that it was actually the most faithful to the classic story than any other version I've seen (and there are many). It's now up near the top of my Christmas movie favourites list.

My favourite Christmas recipe is Sticky Date Pudding and I make it every year. Don't be put off by the dates, they are mostly there to give the cake its moistness and are hardly noticeable. I was introduced to this recipe by two grade 10 boys who opted to make this for the Foods class I was teaching. We were doing a buffet for the other teachers and they thought that pudding sounded tasty (only their idea of pudding isn't the same as the British idea of pudding). Happy mistake, though! The caramel sauce on this moist cake is to die for (and just might actually kill you if you ate too much of it). This year I plan to make it in the Christmas tree ring bundt pan pictured below and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

A sticky, cake-like pudding with a delicious buttery caramel sauce.
Based on the ever-popular English sticky toffee pudding.  Serve warm.
1/3 cups (325 ml)   water                                                                                
1/3 cups (325 ml)   seeded dates, chopped
1 tsp (5 ml)                baking soda 
1/3 cup (75 ml)         margarine
¾ cup (175 ml)        brown sugar, packed
2                                 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml)          all-purpose flour 
2 tsp (10 ml)             baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml)                ground cinnamon                                                                                                                                                                              

 ½ cup (125 ml)       whipping cream                                                                    
 ½ cup (125 ml)       butter                                                           
 ½ cup (125 ml)       brown sugar, packed                                                 

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan.  Add dates.  Stir.  Remove from heat.  Add baking soda.  Stir.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir.  Pour into large bowl.
Add next 6 ingredients.  Beat well until combined.  Pour into greased and parchment paper-lined 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan.  Bake in 350°F (175°C) oven for 50 t0 55 minutes until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Let stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool.  Cuts into 8 wedges.

Warm Caramel Sauce:  Combine whipping cream, butter, and brown sugar in large saucepan.  Heat and stir on medium for 3 to 5 minutes until butter is melted.  Bring to a boil.  Boil, without stirring for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened.  Makes 1 cup (250 ml) sauce.  Serve with pudding.  Serves 8. 
NB: For you boozy lushes out there, you can add 2 tbsp of brandy and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the sauce to make it more 'adult' if you wish.

Disney's A Christmas Carol soundtrack - a really great soundtrack whether or not you choose to watch this version of the movie. Here's a clip of track 1 A Christmas Carol Main Title (LVE it!):

...And because I just can't resist: God bless us, every one!


  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol has to be one of the best movie versions of the classic Dickens tale--if not one of the best Christmas movies (IMO, of course). Funny, poignant, heart-warming... love it! :)

    And the sticky date pudding looks and sounds great. I'd probably make some custard to go with it (Bird's custard, of course... imported from the UK). Mmmm... I'm tempted to give it a try. Thanks Jaime! :)

  2. Love the idea of sharing holiday favorites, Jaime! And call me crazy, but I kind of love dates, so I was on board with your recipe the moment I read the title. I don't have a fancy pan like the one pictured, but I might just have to give the Sticky Date Pudding a go. Yum!

  3. I love the Muppet Christmas Carol! It's a movie I watch every year without fail and makes me so happy although some parts are a bit sad.

  4. This is one of my favorite stories of ALL time, and I never get tired of it. I LOVE the muppet version, too (and my kids will be watching it this year, like it or not). Our local stage company does it every year and it is AMAZING.

  5. Just passing through I haven't seen a Muppet Christmas Carol in I don't know how long, love your blog, new follower

  6. December is wonderful, isn't it?

    Thanks for the follow! I gave you a shout-out on my blog today. :)


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