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Is this domestic bliss? Or how to survive cooking the Christmas Dinner for 3 generations

I’m not a “natural cook”, food to me was for many years a means to an end, a way of ensuring my insulin was covered and I kept reasonably healthy.

A working person, there were “emergency meals” kept in the fridge for during the week when either of us were too knackered to cook. After being caught in traffic or tied up on an interesting snag at work.

I’d met people who were brilliant home cooks, mixing that seemingly effortless ease and tasty food. I had a few pieces but they seemed pale by comparison.

What does that mean?

Well, I had my stilton and celery soup from the cook book I’d spent a Saturday in Bath looking for – actually, it wasn’t the book I was looking for as I was looking for how to cook scrambled eggs, it was the book lying next to it. I had my version of spaghetti bolognese (who doesn’t) and a recipe my mum took off a packet of Sainsbury’s risotto rice to cook chicken and mushroom risotto. (Great emergency meal, very little washing up).

Some things I did not cook at home, but lockdown has changed that and up to a point, so did a gym injury last year when everyone had to pitch in. This year, we had an extra change in that my mum bought a turkey from her local butcher and stayed with us a few days. So how do you make a tasty meal in full few of the whole family and get to enjoy the fun and games for Christmas. Well first things first:

Don’t panic

as it says on the front of the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. You’ve got this.

First, we’ve followed the recipes and made the breadcrumb and herb bags and marked them up for each of the stufffings. Make the stuffings, stuff the bird, and get it in the oven early. The bird is cooked alone – kept in foil, it will keep for up to an hour outside of the oven “to rest”. So everything else is then easily done later after the bird comes out.

Two important things I learnt this year:

  1. Don’t forget the pigs in blankets – they do need to be cooked with the roast potatoes!
  2. Do not use anything above 4 on the induction hob when cooking the powdered gravy, doh!

Otherwise, things went swimmingly. Too much food was eaten by all, too much wine was drunk. Christmas Dinner is best eaten in two sittings – one with the turkey, the second, mid-afternoon with the pudding. Nothing which wasn’t related was consumed that day. I was perfectly calm but my men folk kept telling me to sit and do nothing and “relax”. I bought way too many Brussel Sprouts.

My mum has headed back to hers and we’re not eating much today. But this is a letter to myself for next year.

From an ecological point of view, Christmas is terrible. We spent twice as much energy yesterday cooking the turkey and lighting than we do for a normal day in December when we’re lighting the lights. That’s £15 at today’s rates. True, it wasnt’ very sunny but still… We didn’t bin anything, left overs for the next few days at least.

The fridge will gradually get back to normal in terms of energy use too, as it is unpacked.

Sam, in 2023, you’ve got this. 🙂

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