I'm sure that Lady Magnon won't mind me saying that she is perfectly happy to leave most of the daily cooking chores to me. However, there are certain things that are absolutely sacrosanct.
She insists on making our Strawberry and Apricot jams, and she rules over the annual Mince Pie and Christmas Cake production. She is also in charge of Crumbles, Tatins, and occasional Tea-Time Treats. In other words, she controls the key to the sugar vaults, whereas I am confined to the salt bin.
The annual birth of our Christmas Cake is a major, major affair. I have never known anything else that requires SO MANY different ingredients. Here below is Stage 1; the soaking overnight (in Armagnac) of the dried fruits.
What happens next is something of a mystery to most men. The kitchen becomes coated in flour and butter (after some explosion no doubt?), muffled expletives are directed at the dogs (you have to blame something!), and several hours of pacing up and down, and peering into the oven take place (these come under the headings of Stages 2 to 9).
Stage 10 is the adoration, and relief, on seeing the finished product. The cake is taken out, sniffed, ooohed and aaahed over, and put away until such time as we've all eaten so much that we couldn't eat another morsel (Christmas). It's bottom will also be regularly wetted with alcohol.
And here is the little darling, aged about 3 hours. Wot; no plastic reindeer and no snowman?