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Publisher's Note: Welcome to the Department of Meditation, where you are treated to the ageless wisdom and inimitable wit of our very own meditation guru, Constance Wilkinson, psychotherapist and card-carrying Buddhist.

Constance welcomes your feedback and questions about meditation at

The Department of Meditation, Etc.

More Than A Dollop Won’t Do
by Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

Making a Christmas Pudding is a ridiculous challenge, a potential triumph, a marathon, a culinary Everest, a towering feat that begs to be climbed just because it’s there, though clearly it is NOT there at all until and unless you create it. So there.

The making of the Cape Cod Cannonball Christmas Pudding - and it is a Christmas Pudding, not a ‘holiday pudding’, we have historicity to acknowledge and we do - requires time, not just some hours but some days, some patience, some creativity, some willingness to bring both you and your kitchen space to your knees (through necessary use of a messy multiplicity of bowls and utensils) and more than a dollop of holiday insanity.

Just a dollop, mind you, because more than a dollop won’t do.

How did this recipe come about? My husband is from Sydney, Australia, and his mom made a great Christmas pudding - one with thruppence in it and a sixpence. I left that part out. You can put it in, if you like.

I made a good Christmas pudding about ten years ago; last year I thought I’d try to make one again, and for the life of me, I could not find the recipe I’d used, although I was sure I knew what cookbook it was in.

It wasn’t in that cookbook and it wasn’t on the internet. Once I started internet-ing, I stumbled upon recipe after recipe after recipe for Christmas puddings. Old tyme King George I recipes, Aussie recipes, folksy British recipes, historic recipes, suet-y plum puddings. I even found a Traditional Plum Pudding collected by George Orwell (yes, that George Orwell).

I compared, contrasted, picked out the parts I liked, left out the parts I didn’t, made a list and went shopping. While shopping, I came upon other stuff - mixed dried papayas and mangoes and pineapples - because I thought they would work.

I tried to find actual suet, which was supposed to be hard to find. I thought, hey, I feed suet to the birds - I can find suet, no problem. Just in time to save my pudding, I discovered our bird-feeding pudding is NOT the kind of suet wanted in this kind of pudding. Butter is better.

You, too, can do this pudding search and scramble. Or you can follow this recipe. Or you can just buy one at the store.

You can do whatever you want. Very meditative, is it not?

Cape Cod Cannonball Christmas Pudding

First, buy about a yard of calico. If you can’t find that, regular muslin will do. Decide on a day to make your pudding, weeks before you plan to actually eat it. Rinse your calico well on the day you make the pudding to remove any starch. Set calico aside.

In a large bowl put:

5 ounces dried cranberries
4 ounces candied lemon peel
4 ounces candied citron
7 ounces mixed dried pineapple-mango-papaya
12 ounces sultanas
12 ounces currants
½ cup Triple sec
½ cup Brandy ½ cup

Mix and let sit overnight

Next morning, add and stir in:

1 lemon zest
1 orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mace
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Juice of one orange

Set aside for a few hours.

In another bowl put:

9 ounces brown bread crumbs then add:

¼ cup triple sec
¼ cup brandy

Stir with fork and set aside.

In yet another bowl put:

2/3 lb. muscovado sugar
1 lb. butter

Mix well until creamed, as they say.

In yet another other bowl put:

¾ lb. sifted flour
1 tsp salt

In yet another other other bowl put:

1 egg
4 egg yolks
½ cup cream

Blend well.

Now, blend the eggy mixture into the creamed sugar and butter, about ¼ of the whole at a time. When the eggy mix is all mixed in to the creamed butter and sugar start adding the flour/salt mixture, a little bit at a time, until it’s all mixed in.

Add a nice raw Wellfleet oyster. [No, don’t do that, I was merely testing to see if you’re paying attention.]

Go back to the soaked breadcrumbs. Add the soaked breadcrumbs to the fruit mixture (remember that, from the beginning?) and stir until well blended.

Then, to the fruity-breadcrumb mixture add the eggs/cream/sugar/butter/flour batter, just a little at a time, stirring until well blended.

If the mixture is too dry, add lemon juice or cream. If too wet, add more sugar or more flour.

You should have created a kind of lumpy clumpy thing you can shape into a Christmas Pudding Cannonball (see illustration).

Wearing rubber gloves (if you have them), rinse your large square of calico in hot water.

The Center for Change

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

mindfulness-based, solution-focused
expressive arts--EMDR--clinical hypnosis

Brewster, MA

Place it on a wooden cutting board, put about a half-cup of flour in the center, and rub flour around lightly to make a thin layer. Quickly, dump your pudding mixture into the center. Gather up the ends to make a ball. Tie the ends together with string.

Make sure there is NO air left at the top! Wind the string around the top tightly and make a strong loop from which the cannonball can be hung.

Boil water in a huge tall pot. Actually, you should do this earlier in the piece. Read directions to the end before even starting to shop. Find a broomstick. Stick the broomstick (or long wooden spoon) through the loop you’ve made and carefully lower the pudding cannonball into the water, making sure it doesn’t overflow and create havoc.

Boil the cannonball for about 4½ hours. As water boils away, refresh the water with more boiling water. Don’t add anything except boiling water.

After 4½ hours, CAREFULLY remove the cannonball, using broomstick or long wooden spoon. Carry it to the sink but don’t put it down. Find a way to let it hang over the sink or over a bucket, just let it drip. Create a place where it can happily hang for a few months or weeks and let it hang. We use our garage, which works fine for New England. Dunno what might happen in a humid climate; don’t even want to think about it.

Alternatively, you could steam it instead of boiling it.

After months or weeks of hanging and drying, when you are ready to serve it, immerse the cannonball once again in boiling water, hanging it from a wooden spoon or something so it does not touch the bottom of the pot. (Or steam it). Heat it up for an hour or so. Remove from pot and let it drip a bit over the sink before unwrapping it.

Serve hot with brandy butter or custard.

That’s all there is to it!

Enjoy your holidays!

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA is a licensed psychotherapist who uses a mindfulness-based, solution-focused approach to help reduce symptoms of dysregulation, as well as to develop clients' personal goals and strategies to achieve them. She is trained in EMDR, clinical hypnosis, EFT, and expressive arts.

She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in creative writing and an MA in clinical mental health counseling psychology from Lesley University. Since 1978, Ms Wilkinson has been practicing meditation and studying with distinguished Tibetan Buddhist refugee teachers in the United States, India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Constance Wilkinson can be reached at 508-648-8105

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