I was about to start making the cake and puds, a little bit late this year – again, when I realised I didn’t have most of the ingredients I needed. Despite France being famous for its grapes, you can only get sultanas at a sensible price. There are fiendishly expensive golden sultanas and even pricier raisins, but I’ve never yet come across currants. Glacé cherries and candied peel come in teeny weeny pots for a crazy amount, and well, they’re just not quite right. A bit too French, understandably. Nuts are dear too. Sadly with the poor walnut harvest this year I don’t have any home-gathered nuts to use. So basically I had sultanas, apricots and some flaked almonds. I only had some demerara sugar as well, not the muscovado you need. I’ve never found that in shops here and have relied on my sister keeping me supplied in past years. She wasn’t able to visit this year so I suddenly realised I was muscovadoless. I did have home produced suet for the pudding, and some black treacle, but that was it.

This wouldn’t do. This wouldn’t do at all. So, for the first time in our six and a bit years here, I resorted to buying in a box of British groceries. Chris encouraged me after I commented that we might have to make do with a bûche noël (Yule log – the French cream and sponge version of Christmas cake) this Christmas if I couldn’t make a proper cake. Lovely as bûches are, they’re just not Christmas for us Brit expats. I’ve come close to online English food shopping several times in the past when our peanut butter or teabag stocks have run perilously low and though I started filling a cart or two, I always left my trolley in cyber space when it came to the checkout, put off by the shipping costs. But this year I went through with it. After comparing a few sites, I went with the Britsuperstore site and bought in all my Christmas baking goodies and a few extras – biscuits for cheese, thick chocolate biscuits, peppermint flavouring, Dettol, jars of mincemeat and a handful of other household staples from my childhood. There was a large selection of goods to choose from (not just food but toiletries, magazines, healthcare, petcare, gifts etc), items were sensibly priced and shipping was reasonable.

My parcel of goodies arrived yesterday, and a day earlier than forecast, and everything was extremely carefully packaged. I’m massivley impressed with Britsuperstore and now I’m able to get on with my cake making. Yum. For the first time in several years, it will be a very English Christmas cake.

The sausage mincer will be hijacked for some supplementary mincemeat making this weekend too. We all love mince pies in this family so we need lots.

And on the subject of festive food, here’s some pork liver paté handmade by Chris the other day from our home reared pig.

We’ve had some of the paté in a lovely tenderloin roll tonight and the rest has gone into the freezer to be brought out once the festivities start. We’ve got a good stash of our best ever sausages in the freezer too and loads of lovely bacon in the fridge. Here’s a photo of me making a few of the 60 sossies we rustled up!

Finally, don’t forget my Christmassy blog ho-ho-hop on 12.12.12 and please join in. Sign up here. The more the merrier.