Let there be much Merriment

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Christmas: A time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and for families to get together for a lunch/dinner of roast turkey. You may partake in singing some carols, you may enjoy a nice glass of mulled wine with possibly a mince pie (or 8). Or, it’s an excuse to go and drink and eat yourself to excess after having to spend endless hours looking as clueless as the thousands around you in shopping centres and stores looking for that perfect gift for those nearest and dearest to you (making sure you keep the receipt because you KNOW they’ll take it back for a refund/exchange at the first opportunity). There are only a few days left until Christmas Day and with all that’s going on in my life at the moment, I’m seriously behind in my plans for the annual Christmas Feast.

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I’m the one who cooks at Christmas for my family, which I don’t mind and guess that in some ways I actually enjoy, I suppose it’s my way of giving something back to my family for being so awesome. And well, I guess that the one of the good things about Christmas is that it brings families together to eat around the same table, which is increasingly rare these days. This year, YML will be joining us for Christmas Day, as will W and her family so we have a large gathering on Christmas Day itself rather than the usual Boxing Day or 27th (which is when W or S usually come over with their families). I have to admit that it both terrifies and excites me knowing that I have extra mouths to feed, but one of my family’s traits is that nobody will ever starve and well, we tend to eat very (too) well anyway, plus the fact that there’s especially a lot of food at Christmas anyway so it should be good.

There are also certain things which have become almost traditional for us at Christmas beginning on Christmas Eve (yes, we start on Christmas Eve); YKL and Q come over on this day and I tend to work then, so we take it easy for dinner and especially as I’ll be cooking most of the following 2 days, we get a nice takeaway from somewhere. We used to get a ginormous sushi platter from Yo Sushi! as I got a decent discount from working in the same shopping centre but haven’t been able to get the discount since moving on 4 years ago. Then we used to get a takeaway from Mashwii, a local Arabian restaurant which was brilliant with their grilled chicken wings, tabbouleh and various dishes. Actually, we’ve been known to pre-order a shoulder of lamb early in the afternoon for them to marinade and cook and be ready for collection by the evening. Sadly, our custom alone wasn’t enough to keep them in business so we were left searching for another place to get our Crimbo Eve meal. I think last year we ended up getting Masala Fish in naan bread, which isn’t a bad thing as we all like it and we’ve since discovered another place who do a really great Masala Fish, but you kind of want something a bit special to fit the occasion.

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Christmas Day mornings are always started with a Champagne Breakfast; you’ve got to have a Full English and to add a bit of decadence, smoked salmon is sometimes added to the scrambled eggs but we always get nice sausages, bacon, mushrooms, baked cherry tomatoes on the vine and I insist on HP sauce. All this is accompanied either by Champagne or at least Bucks Fizz. It’s a large breakfast but it sets us up well to do the veg prep for lunch/dinner. I say lunch but we’ve been so relaxed about it (and usually because we’re so full from breakfast), we end up eating the meal late afternoon. I like to try and aim for 3pm to coincide with the Queen’s Speech but have been known to be later..

Crimbo Breakfast

We’re not turkey eaters in my family; The Mothership has always claimed to be slightly allergic to it and growing up, if she couldn’t eat it then we kids weren’t allowed it either. It’s fine though, I think that cooking a whole turkey is a bit too much effort in cooking something which isn’t that flavoursome and is usually dry. Given how beef wasn’t allowed either (for the parents religious reasons), it was either pork or lamb – But even that had its problems as some of my sisters don’t like lamb. In recent years, I’ve been cooking a cider-baked gammon, mainly because one of the joys of Christmas food are the cold cuts, in some ways I look forward to the cold cuts more than the main event itself – Cold thick gammon sandwiches – Yum!

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Pudding is always Christmas Pudding – Usually swimming in cream, or custard for some of my sisters. There is something very appealing in the contrast of the hot, moist, rich and fruity pudding combined with cold plain cream which I always look forward to. We did opt for something light one year and want thought of making a trifle, but it soon became a bit fraught given everyone has their own opinion on what constitutes a trifle or not (which was completely against what we originally set out to achieve which was something simple and no drama associated with it).

I’ve already mentioned that this year, YML aswell as W and her family are joining us for Christmas Day lunch, along with the possibility of a couple of nephews, so it’s going to be a full(er) house – Much more so than usual, anyway. We’re all a bit stressed and all too busy trying to juggle the various things and battle the various forces in our lives, so there’s the potential that there will be screaming and shouting this year. But in all honesty, what I hope for is my family to get together and relax, having a good time in the process. Good food obviously helps but I know that come the day, I probably won’t eat very much – not because I will have spent many hours cooking the food, but rather because at that precise moment when we’re all around the same table tucking in to the cider baked gammon or chicken pie, or asking someone to pass the braised red cabbage or sprouts, I genuinely couldn’t be happier. And I guess that’s the whole point about Christmas – For that one meal at least, there’s peace on earth and goodwill to all men (and ahem, women) around the Christmas table and nobody worries too much about the world outside. Here’s hoping I don’t burn anything!

Crimbo dinner

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

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