Going from being ahead of myself, all organised and daring to mention Christmas and making the cake in September, to approaching mid December with the countdown well underway and finding that not much else has been done is causing occasional twinges of anxiety. So it’s time to start writing lists.
#1. The Pressie Shopping
#2. The Food Stuff
#3. Stuff I Want.
Right, it’s a start but that’s just the names of the lists.
Naturally list #3 is the easiest. So far I have:
#3. Stuff I Want.
*Bridget Jones Movie Soundtrack
*Chocolate by Trish
*Laura Mercier Bubble Bath
*Book ‘The Slap’
*Cookbook ‘ Clodagh McKenna’s Homemade”
List #1 – The Pressie Shopping, should be fairly okay too and with the Kris Kringle system (Secret Santa) in operation for family and friends that means the list is not too daunting. It helps that I do like shopping.
So that just leaves the food list.
I’ve a voucher for a half price fresh turkey from my local SuperValu and as the ordering deadline is looming that will need to be actioned soon. We’re ordering a small one this year as we’re also going to give duck a go as well so they’ll both need to fit into the oven. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my oven is on its last legs and the temperature dial is now operated with a skewer and a quick Hail Mary.). So this week (maybe even today) I will be ordering turkey, duck, ham & spiced beef. With people calling to the house it’s probably time to stock up on wine, beer, minerals, Baileys, ice and nibbly bits. All the remaining food shopping will hopefully be done the day before Christmas Eve.
I will need #The Food Stuff:
Melon, Mint, Grapes, Large Oranges, Lemons, Caster Sugar (Darina Allen’s Grape and Melon with mint starter – refreshing and easy)
Spuds, Carrots, Brussels, Frozen Sweetcorn, Butter (Veggies)
Polenta, Goose Fat (Roast spuds)
Chicken Stock, Redcurrant Jelly (Gravy)
Onions, Parsley, Thyme, Breadcrumbs, Cooking Apple (Stuffings)
Small tin pineapples & Brown Sugar, Cloves (Glaze Ham)
Tinned Cherries, Fresh Cream, Light Muscovado Sugar, Caster Sugar, 70% Chocolate, Eggs, Creme de Cassis, Ready to Use Custard, After 8s (Dessert)
Cheese & Crackers & more grapes (even though they will never make it to the table!)
The Myth of the ‘Perfect Christmas’
So with the lists written and plenty of shopping days left I can now feel relatively relaxed, but what of the day itself? There are so many ads, programmes and magazines all pushing the build-up and the planning for ‘The Perfect Christmas.’ A reality check is needed here don’t you think? The last ‘Perfect Christmas’ I had was when I was about 10; too young, lazy and useless to do more than set the table and it was feast and feet up back then. There have been many occasions since when Christmas dinner has been on the brink of being ‘ruined’ particularly when the kids were very young. On our first Christmas with 6 kids the oldest had just turned 5, next in line was almost 4, the twin girls were 2 and the twin boys were 5 weeks old. Chaos, bedlam, nappies and tears. The oldest two were just about into Santa but for the other 4 it was just another day of dress me, feed me, change me. Amidst that, having any expectations of a ‘Perfect Christmas’ were plain foolish but yet I still had them! I think that was the year that they managed to set place cards alight with the candles. Being a tradition brussels sprouts will always make an appearance but so far my kids think they are ‘DISGUSTING’ and I don’t know which child to blame but I do remember that they were being catapulted around the table another year. Coke spills, wine glasses break and in general kids have zero interest in sitting down to your ‘perfect’ dinner. The answer to keeping my sanity has been to pare it back, lower standards and expectations and to remember me, me, me, me, me! Hence the #Stuff I want list. I wrap everything up and give it to my husband to put under the tree for me on Christmas Eve. He will slip in something that he has bought with the kids but no matter what that turns out to be I know that on Christmas morning I will be happy and that’s a very good start.
The side dishes for the dinner are kept simple – no to red cabbage, no to bread sauce and no to finicky bits mingling with the sprouts. It’s buttered carrots, juicy sweetcorn and a bite of just cooked sprout for us. The tastes I most relish are that of a crunchy roast potato with a mouthful of stuffing and a lash of gravy. Yum.
Whatever you’re having, getting it to the table all together requires a plan. So why not arm yourself by writing it out. I’ve scribbled mine on the back of one of my cookbooks and find it works for me. Decide roughly what time you want to serve dinner at and work backwards from that. Everything will revolve around the cooking time of your turkey which will depend on its size and there should be a guideline on the packaging for that. It generally various between 35 to 40 minutes per kg. Give you turkey a half an hour of resting time covered in tin foil before carving.
Cook Spiced Beef
Set table, Make Stuffing, Boil Ham
Ham on to simmer
Peel spuds for roasting
Prep rind and glaze ham
Parboil spuds and put on to roast
Prep carrots & brussels
Sprouts & Corn on
Til next time, Sheila.