Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas chez Caron

I'm feeling mellow from a very quiet but lovely day yesterday. The house is full of that glorious aroma of the turkey stock being made and my mouth is watering at the anticipation of a hearty plate of broth at lunchtime.

I've been a bit knackered since our exertions in Liverpool so after 3 hours in the shops on Christmas Eve, I wondered how on earth I'd manage to get all I needed done by the end of the day. The good news is that barring the writing of a few cards (sorry, friends, I do love you, really) and a lot of tidying, I pretty much made it. By the time the Outnumbered Christmas Special came on, the mince pies and stuffing  were both made and we were pretty much organised.

We woke up late even for us on Christmas morning. I rose at 9, two hours later than usual, to get intimate with the poultry. As if by magic, as the last streaky bacon rasher went across its breast, Bob and Anna awoke. That's pretty impressive, you have to admit.

Anna was delighted with the contents of her stocking which included some very funny t-shirts. I'm not sure Santa was thinking straight when he gave her stuff with small writing across her chest, mind you, even if they were genius. The traditional satsumas were replaced this year by grapefruit., which she really enjoys.

Downstairs, the old man had left pretty much exactly what she wanted. She hadn't given us much of a clue as to what she'd asked him for this year, but we were glad that her wishes were fulfilled. We've finally been dragged into the 21st century with an xBox. That's quite convenient because in the Summer she won a Harry Potter xBox game at the Dare Protoplay event. I am very proud to have a daughter who hasn't found it hard to wait 4 months for the console to play it on. In fact, even yesterday, she was much more interested in getting stuck into her stash of John Green books.

The one remarkable thing is that for the first time ever, no music changed hands in our house. We usually have loads of new music to listen to, but absolutely nothing this year. However, I did download the Military Wives Choir song later in the day.

I love my family for many and varied reasons, but yesterday it was for the general excellence of the presents they gave us. Harry Potter Cluedo from my sister, a very funny book of politically correct bedtime stories from my niece and a thing that you can programme to defrost the car for you in the morning from my parents. If there's anything I can't stand, it's an iced up car so I'm looking particularly forward to using that one.

After the present opening, I got on with making the dinner. We tend to have one massive course at around 3pm and then let it settle for several hours before we have our pudding. I used to make absolutely everything from scratch but have not been quite so clever the last few years. Glandular Fever and two horrendously snowy Winters put paid to that a bit but this year was quite a good balance between home made and shop bought.  Here is a list of everything we had:

Turkey (Tesco finest free range effort, bought for 2/3 of its original price) cooked the Delia Smith way;

Gravy (this is immodest, I know, but it was pretty awesome. I have never made it with giblet stock before, but that's definitely the way to go.

Grandma's stuffing - very simple, sausagemeat, loads of onion and 5 teaspoons of English mustard;

Honey, chestnut and rosemary stuffing ball things from Sainsbury's. A tad over seasoned, but very good.

Marks and Spencer beef dripping roast potatoes - yes, I know, home made are probably better but not that much and we all love them.

Marks and Spencer maple, honey and mustard roast parsnips - they do all the chopping for you, why not?

Sainsbury's red cabbage with apple

Marks and Spencer Cranberry and Port Sauce. A mistake - Delia's Cranberry and Orange is a zillion miles better.

Steamed brocoli and brussels sprouts;

Mashed turnip ( some of the cooking water went in the gravy also);

Mashed Potato;

Delia's bread sauce.

Sainsbury's sausage and bacon garnishes. Seriously, why would you waste time wrapping a chipolata in bacon when someone has done it for you?

Even though I say it myself, it all combined well to make it one of my best ever efforts in 25 years of cooking Christmas Dinners. It's a meal I really enjoy preparing.

We didn't have our pudding until almost 10 pm. I made Eton Mess for Anna. Why on earth I felt I had to whip the cream by hand when we have a perfectly good mixer, I don't really understand, but never mind. We had a Sainsbury's Christmas pudding with Brandy Cream. It wasn't the best, to be honest. Maybe 2012 will be the year when I finally make my own.  I'd found a 7 year old Sauternes dessert wine in the cupboard the other day and we wondered if it would be ok to drink. Sadly, it wasn't, but we had to try.

Even though it's delicious on the day, for me the real joy of a turkey roast is leftovers. Cold stuffing and bread sauce on sandwiches, a healthy broth that will fight off anything for Boxing Day lunch, and the whole thing again for dinner.

We passed the rest of our day with books and less television than usual. The Doctor Who Christmas special was excellent bar one appalling moment. Strictly wasn't quite so delightful. I couldn't believe the marks that were being given for what was essentially a week one show - did the producers think we were all too drunk to care. However, the re-appearance of Russell Grant and seeing Ian Waite back as a competitor made up for any of these shortcomings.

I had been a little sceptical about the re-appearance of Absolutely Fabulous after so long. Could it really be as good? Actually, it could. It was absolutely hilarious, complete with a typically brilliant Jennifer Saunders dream sequence which was not the most unrealistic part of the show. The efficient and helpful service by a certain Government department was way more incredible. Although, to be fair, that one, in my experience, was always much better than the rest.

And so, after despairing at Steve McDonald's stupidity in Corrie, it was time for bed where I read all about the co-dependent Goats Gruff and Red Riding Hood setting up effectively a hippy commune with her Grandma and the wolf before falling into a very chilled out sleep.

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