The snow fell onto the ice rink, shadowed by pine trees. Grinning at each other, the boy and girl scraped their skates on the ice.
“Go!” shouted a neutral arbiter, and the two racers shot off towards the far side of the rink. They didn’t stop there, but looped around the rink, cutting grooves around their younger brothers and sisters and cousins who watched in awe as the race continued, three laps, four, six, ten, until finally, a whistle blew, and the boy and girl struggled past each other to collapse at the scarf finish line, thrown down by one of the boys in the center of the rink. They were joined by the others, who slid around the wet ice and stared up at the falling snowflakes landing on their chins and cheeks and in their open mouths.
Ruby, the youngest, held out her mitten, and observed each unique crystal land on the red wool.
“Magic,” she breathed, gently bringing a latticed flake up to her face.
“Tag! You’re it!” shouted one of the boys, and the kids were off again, racing and zigzagging around the rink, everyone, including Ruby, caught up in the sudden chase.
When the sun began to fade, the children trooped off the ice to unstrap their skates and lay them against the rink wall.
“To the market!” shouted the leader, and the horde marched to the central square, aglow underneath blue lights in the shadow of the old town hall. There they scattered, each to their favourite booths, the boys to the wooden toy stands, the girls to the ornaments and miniature trains.
Ruby followed the scent of vanilla and orange zest to a small hut on the outskirts of the market, where an elderly gentleman huddled around a woodstove. Reaching up, she lay fifty cents along the counter and edged the money over to the man. He looked at her and smiled.
“One mince pie, coming right up.” Extracting a steaming pie from the oven, he dusted it with a metal shaker before handing it to her in a crumple of parchment paper.
“Thanks,” she whispered. She cradled the hot mince pie between her mittens, and watched the sun set beyond the snowy hills.
- Mince Filling (feel free to modify with what you have on hand)
- 3 apples
- 3 persimmons
- 1.5 cups cranberries
- juice of half lemon
- 1 orange or 2 clementines
- zest of orange/clementines
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup chopped dates or figs
- 2 tsps vanilla
- 2 tsps almond extract(omit for AIP)
- 1 tb blackstrap molasses (optional)
- 1 tb maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp each of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mace, allspice (non-AIP), nutmeg (non-AIP), or whatever combo you have on hand
- 4 tb of coconut oil or ghee (non-AIP/V) (or combo of both)
- 2-4 tb of rum (optional; suggested amount discretionary 😉
Pastry Crust (modified from FFK's Scottish shortbread crust )
- 1.5 cups cassava flour
- ½ cup tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup coconut oil, leaf lard (non-V), or ghee (non-AIP/V)
- 2-4 tb honey or maple syrup (V)
- 6-8 tb cold water
- Saute the apples, persimmons, & cranberries in the coconut oil/ghee until cooked down; add other mince filling ingredients, reserving the liquor/extracts until the end
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes, until filling has darkened and cooked down (add water if needed to prevent from sticking); add extracts, and rum if desired; taste and adjust as needed
- Mix crust ingredients together, add water until ball of dough forms (should stick together but shouldn't be sticky)
- Roll out dough on a (tapioca) floured or parchment-lined surface; cut out circles shapes for pie bottoms and any other shapes as desired for top.
- Form mini crusts in a muffin tin, add about 1 tb of mince filling, and cover with crust topping
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenreit for 20-30 minutes, or until crust has browned slightly and mince filling bubbles.
- Eat with [dairy-free] vanilla ice cream if you like 😉