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Hello everyone. Well we did it we are just weeks away from Christmas. I remember back in summer wishing 2020 was over so we could get closer to a vaccine. Thankfully according to our scientists it’s here Hurray!! It may be awhile before it is circulated but I think for most of us mentally it is a great comfort that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will never forget those who didn’t make it but will keep them forever in our heart and prayers. I have been going over to the outdoor beautiful Grotto at our lady of Guadalupe a lot lately. Lighting candles for sick friends and especially our front line workers in every capacity who is risking their lives for our families. We are forever in their debt. I read this on someone Instagram.” You are not stuck at Home. You are safe at Home. “Yes indeed just hang in there a wee while longer.

Christmas, everybody loves Christmas. Growing up in Ireland it was always traditional to bake Christmas fruit cakes and plum pudding and of course the sweet mince pies. I will not give you my recipe for Irish whiskey fruit cake as I gather folks over here have javelin throwing contests with them. The sweet mince pies used to be filled with actual meat not sure when it all changed but I only remember sweet sugary mince pies.Heres a bit of historical information. Mince pies originally called Christmas pies or crib cakes or shred pies can be traced back to the thirteenth century to the time of the crusaders. They were used as symbols of Christ birth. Originally they were made larger and shaped into ovals representing the baby Jesus manger or crib. Also pastry was shaped in the form of baby Jesus and placed on top of the mince pie then eaten on Christmas day celebrating the birth of Christ. Not sure as a child I would have liked to eat baby Jesus!! You cannot have Christmas without a hot mince pie. So here is the recipe. It’s very simple you can tweak it around a bit. You can freeze them for up to two or three months. I love to have them available after thanksgiving leading up to Christmas with my morning coffee. The smell of them reminds me of my mother baking for weeks before Christmas always brings a nostalgic tear to my eye. Here goes this is the mincemeat filling.

5oz rasins.5oz currants.2oz mixed peel. Few tbsp. Brandy or whiskey. (Whatever you have around the house or you can buy miniature bottle from your local store or you may have some from Air Lingus.) One apple peeled and diced.5oz butter.4oz brown sugar.one tbsp. ground mixed spice. Juice of a lemon and orange also zest it a little bit for extra flavor. Few tbsp. of vanilla essence or vanilla pod. (I always have a bottle of essence hanging around in my cupboard). Gas mark 400.Standard 12 cup muffin tin. Powdered sugar for sprinkling.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. (Some folks like refrigerate them overnight to marinate before cooking. Your choice) Bring to boil simmer for ten minutes. Let cool while you prepare the pastry crust.

The pie crusts in the stores are just as good and so handy keep them in your freezer.

For the pie crust you will need.

Two and a half cups of plain flour. Two sticks of cold butter diced.Tbsp of sugar. Pinch of salt. Six to eight tbsp. ice water. My mother used to use half lard, half butter it’s up to you it does make a flakier crust.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt together then add cold diced butter. Blend all ingredients together with a pastry knife.

Stir in water gradually until the dough is blended akin to playdough if it’s too sticky add little bit of flour. Roll out half of your pie crust onto a floured surface about one eighth inch thickness. Cut circles to fit into muffin tin. Add a few spoonful’s of your mincemeat filling.  Then add another circle on top. Using a little milky egg wash to seal the circles together. Lightly brush rest of egg wash on top so you have a nice shiny pie. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes .When baked let them cool. Remove and dust with powdered sugar.

Congratulations you did it!! If you do not feel like doing all this prep work you can buy jars of the sweet mince in your local Irish import stores and use store bought ready to roll out pastry and of course you can pass them off as your own. I won’t tell.!!.If you’re still not up for messing around in the kitchen but you want a little taste of Ireland. Great news you can actually buy them ready made complete with royal icing on top at. Guess. Yes!!!Our local Irish import stores. The ladies in Gaelic Imports assured me they will have all our traditional baked goods plus our favorite Sherry trifle fixings. Christmas stockings, boxes of biscuits for you to enjoy over the Holidays. So give them a call. Support your local Irish import stores. Get your orders in as they go FAST. Christmas would not be Christmas If I did not get my grown up kids their Irish Christmas stockings. Oh ye and the big kid too. Lots of blessings and good cheer to you all. Bring on 2021.

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