Anytime Cookies | Peter Clover

Although Spring here in Mallorca isn’t official until 20th March, it certainly feels as if Winter is definitely over. Well it does in my book, despite the threat of snow on the mountains and the current ‘brass monkey’ temperatures, because the Christmas tree is finally down. And to me, that smacks of Spring. I usually leave the tree up until Easter but ‘Semana Santa’ is a little later this year so I thought it best if the festive fir was put to bed early!

Most people I know took down their Christmas trees weeks ago. They dusted off the faithful baubles, stashed the tarnished tinsel, and have been staring at that empty space in the corner for two months wondering why it had to go?

Man made tradition along with frivolous superstition, which often adds up to the same thing, dictates that Christmas trees should actually come down by twelfth night, which literally translates as exactly twelve days from 25th December, created to coincide with the day of Epiphany. If you struggle with the math, that means the 5th January, the same day as the Kings. Strewth!

That would feel like it had only just gone up, even though, unlike a lot of people who throw up their tree a few days before Christmas, mine is hoisted as early as I can get away with – usually late November. OK. So I love a twinkly light! And why not? It makes me feel good. And if I had my way those illuminated branches would probably stay up all year.

Quite a few years ago on a trip to the USA, we stumbled across a themed shop selling Christmas twelve months of the year. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Buying tree ornaments in July with Santa breathing down my neck was the highlight of the trip!!! I must admit, when it comes to Christmas, I’m not one of those half hearted individuals who stick a scrawny twig in a vase to showcase three derelict baubles with a comb over of sparse tinsel.

‘Deck the Halls’ is my middle name, therefore I was absolutely delighted, a few years ago, to discover a new trend where the twinkling tree is given an extension to its previously limited life, and up-cycled into a Valentine Day’s decoration.

Just think about it! The tree stays exactly where it is. The Christmas baubles come off and are replaced with heart shaped decorations alongside Valentine themed hangings and ornaments to create a romantic feature celebrating the big ‘Day of Lurv’.

St Valentine’s Day has become quite the event in Mallorca, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to delay the dismantling of the decorative tree and keep those fairy lights blinking. Besides, it’s still getting dark quite early, and nothing lights a room up with more heart felt atmosphere than the magic of an illuminated tree.

This year I also dedicated the Valentine hearts to the tragically forgotten millions on Holocaust Memorial Day. And had I known, I would have left the token tree up even longer in solidarity for those innocent victims of the Ukraine in their heart-felt struggle against oppression for their humanitarian right of freedom. I know it’s only symbolic but it helps to keep me aware and grounded in a world which seems to have lost its focus.

We have a lovely, creative Irish friend, who over the years has traditionally created a family Easter tree in her home for her own children and grandchildren. She decorates branches (or a Christmas tree) with fluffy chicks, spring flowers, and colourful edible eggs along with hand written scrolls relating the biblical telling of Easter. The children look forward to their Easter tree. They read the educational scrolls and eat the chocolate eggs, creating memories along the way. In this day and age, anything that creates a feel good factor has certainly got to be a good thing!

So, with the promise of spring in the air, the coming weeks also herald the traditional spring clean when we not only sweep, mop and dust on an industrial scale, but sort and throw out any unwantables. It’s also the time when we clear out the cupboards and seriously sort out those ‘delectables’ still hanging out in jars that lurk at the back of the fridge.

I am a serious mince pie freak and buy a preponderance of mincemeat leading up to Christmas, therefore I always have a jar or two left over into the new year. Yet waste not want not, for over the years I have also devised a foolproof cookie recipe that uses up the last of that merry mincemeat.

In the absence of mincemeat you can substitute dried cranberries (pre-soaked in tea) mixed with chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Or chopped stem ginger with raisins. Just make sure the alternative quantity is only a 2 tablespoon measure equal to the mincemeat in the recipe.

Christmas, Spring, or Anytime Cookies

1 Cream 100g of room temperature butter with 40g of soft brown sugar until light and fluffy.

2 Add 50g plain flour, then gently stir in 2tbls mincemeat (or alternative of choice) and 100g rolled oats along with the grated rind of one small orange and 1 tbsp of golden syrup or honey.

3 Mix everything to a soft, pliable dough. I often use clean fingers as a warm hand amalgamates everything together nicely.

4 Using an ice cream scoop, portion out 8 – 10 quantities and roll into even sized balls.

5 Place apart on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate for 15 mins.

6 Flatten balls slightly with a fork and bake for 15 – 18 mins at 180C until edges are slightly crispy. Don’t overcook.

7 Rest and cool before eating.

PS: These cookies freeze brilliantly and keep well for 3 or 4 days if they hang around that long! Just perfect with a cuppa after all that spring cleaning!