“Prize Winning” Mincemeat?

At this year’s Christmas party we were prompted to tell a story, a funny tale, of something that happened in Christmases past. Applause at the end dictated who “won.” But, I’ll get back to that.

The husband LOVES mincemeat. I’d say he’s fairly obsessed. He loves it so much that when one of my elderly patients years ago told me about her homemade mincemeat, he could barely contain himself. One day she talked me through it–we were waiting for her exam, and what better way to pass the time? I can only talk about flossing so much–and I wrote it down and brought it home. Totally HOOKED.

Edith sold her canned mincemeat every year at a local Christmas bazaar. When the husband heard about that, he’d go on the first day and buy every jar, cleaning them out. EVERY SINGLE JAR. It was that good.

Well. The husband, he’s not dumb. Edith was pushing 90 and he figured she and her mincemeat wouldn’t be around much longer. He came up with a plan: he decided to make his own. If you’ve read about mincemeat, you know it can contain many different ingredients. Here’s an example:


This one, while it uses many ingredients, is not as elaborate as some. Edith cooks the meat the day before–all day long so the beef is very tender–eliminating that step the same day she does the canning.

But, let’s back up to ingredient #3. Suet. It’s raw beef fat taken from the area around the joints and kidneys and is used in traditional puddings and other dishes, including mincemeat. Suet can be hard to find. None of the local grocery stores carried it, nor did the butcher. He began calling stores in neighboring towns and found one vendor 40 minutes from home. He was determined. He made the trip and bought the suet.

On the big day, he cooked the meat, chopped the apples, added the suet, citron, raisins and spices. He’d made his first batch of mincemeat and the kitchen smelled heavenly. He was quite proud of himself. He used a recipe for freezer mincemeat, ending up with two, gallon-sized bags of yum. In the freezer they went. Still with me? Great.

A few weeks later he wanted a mincemeat pie for his birthday. It was a Friday and also our daughter’s birthday; he would fetch her later in the day. That morning, he headed for the freezer and with great excitement, retrieved one bag of mincemeat. He set it on the kitchen counter to thaw, to the LEFT of the sink. I’d make the pie later, and brownies for our daughter.

Afternoon had arrived and I headed for the kitchen as he left to pick up Kels. He’d be gone a while. Our son, also home for the weekend, walked in the kitchen to help me with dinner. Living in the country we compost nearly everything, “feeding” our garden when we can. What doesn’t go there –meat scraps, anything dairy–goes in a zip lock bag and into the garbage. I’ve trained my children well.

Andrew approached the sink and began scraping dishes. Sadly, I’d burned the brownies and since they weren’t salvageable, I set them out of my way, on the left, next to the thawing mincemeat. As we stood side by side at the sink–he on the left, I on the right–I busied myself with the pie and he continued scraping.

I’ll never know what stopped us, what it was about that moment, but suddenly, neither of us moved. Seconds (or minutes?) passed before we could look at each other. He’d scraped all the left over food garbage and the burned brownies into the bag containing his dad’s thawing mincemeat.

The air stopped moving. The tears fell. We couldn’t breathe. It was that moment when you cannot talk, you cannot look at each other, you cannot breathe. Time froze. There are no words. When we COULD look at each other, the tears flowed harder and my face and gut began to hurt. The belly laugh ripping my guts–that dam ready to burst–was the most powerful laugh* I’ve ever known (and one beautiful moment I’ll always have with my son, one I’ll never forget). All I could think of was beef, driving for the suet, apples, chopping, and the husband’s sheer determination to replicate Edith’s recipe.

Of course, before we’d had a chance to recover, the husband and our daughter walked in to red faces, tears, uncontrollable laughter, and we were forced to explain. Fortunately, the husband is the most easy-going person I know. He rolls with the punches, gives everyone the benefit of the doubt (until proven otherwise), and lets things go way, way sooner than I ever can or do.


❤ Back at the party, several stories were shared, but applause for ours was the loudest. ❤

*This particular Friday, that very morning, I’d lost my job. If there ever was a time I needed a laugh, this was it. I am thankful for my children (and easy-going husband) every single day.

Image of pie courtesy of the Internet.

Please share your funny stories!

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