Since we’re so close to Valentine’s day I thought this would be the perfect time to recount my Christmas Holidays.
In the Christmas of 2012 I was worried about the Christmas spirit. Usually it’s thriving through our house with merry songs and childlike excitement, but this year… it had to work.
My Brother is the embodiment of Christmas Spirit and this was the first year he couldn’t make it to Hong Kong to be with the family: this upset me more than he must ever know.
*Sidenote: I just sent him a text asking him how many days until Christmas, I got an immediate response of 317 days, 2 hours, 15 minutes and 05 seconds. That’s how much he loves Christmas.
Now there’s something about Hong Kong, although it is an amazing place to be and everyone should jump at the chance to live or visit there… it gets traditional Christmas a little off, of course my image of traditional Christmas is Christian, Western and consumerist. They do have the consumerism side down though. On top of things my Mom wasn’t feeling all to well, which meant all in all Christmas was looking less Christmassy than usual. I decided that I would remedy this by being in the kitchen all the time.
This is the tale of my Christmas adventure: filled with deformed gingerbread men, a turkey that didn’t need fisting and the near loss of my sanity.
So I began with the baking. My Mom always made the most amazing mince pies, better than any I’ve ever tasted anywhere else, and I was desperate to learn her ways. I found my own gingerbread man recipe as I thought it would be a cheerful accompaniment.
As you can see I was throwing myself head first into the task (hence the flour all over my face).
As you can see the mince pies and gingerbread men were a great success! Although there were a few casualties…
Some of the ginger men came out a little broken and disfigured. I worked it in.
The preparation process
As I know nothing of cooking traditional Christmas meals I turned to Nigella Lawson for inspiration. I chose her partially because her recipes sounded divine, and partially because I secretly hoped to look like her when cooking (or all the time).
I don’t think I really pulled it off: this is me fisting the turkey.
After molesting the turkey it was time to soak it in Christmas and brine. Honestly, any smell you associate with Christmas went into this mix (sparing the old Christmas tree and ornament smell). I also had a gammon bubbling away in juices which made a very tasty, succulent gammon that was not salty at all.
Come Christmas morning I was beginning to feel a little nervous about this task I had taken on. I still had all the trimmings to make and only a half the day to do it all as the guests were arriving for lunch. Yes, that’s right. My family invited guests for Christmas dinner and I had never cooked even a chicken before. (Actually I had cooked a chicken once but I forgot it in the oven, it was more like a small piece of charcoal than chicken by that point.)
From this point on there are no photos of me in the kitchen because I nearly killed every person that wanted to walk into the kitchen. It is a tiny kitchen and I had all four hobs on the go and I was desperately waiting for the oven to free up so I could stick the potatoes and parsnips in. I forgot to make the gravy the day before… or even that morning, I only remembered the gravy halfway through everything else. So then I thought I might have to just walk into the lounge and kill everyone then and there to spare them from the gravy-less dinner.
I over boiled the potatoes and then drowned them in too much goose fat and couldn’t understand why they weren’t browning.
I then sat on the floor and nearly burst into tears. Instead I manned up, walked out of the kitchen and very politely dragged the other two woman in the house to the kitchen to save my Christmas ass… funny enough the turkey was just fine though.
My Mon’s best friend was thankfully native to the land of traditional dinners and worked like a magically whirlwind around my kitchen fixing the gravy, the potatoes and even warming up the plates so people would have hot food. Amazing.
Which is how we got to this point…
I immediately asked for a refill after I downed the glass… I now realise that I would have been far more relaxed and productive if I just drank my way through the whole cooking process.
That’s my Father laughing at me by the way. Although that could also be his pride face… He was very proud of my accomplishment.
These are my test subjects A.K.A guests (and Mom).
And this is the final result of all my hardships!
I present to you: Traditional Christmas Turkey stuffed with citrus, cranberry and cornbread stuffing (I even baked the cornbread myself) and Cranberry glazed gammon with a side of chestnut and allspice Brussels sprouts, ‘roast’ potatoes and honey parsnips. WITH GRAVY!
I am pleased to say it was a very tasty success and we feasted on left overs for the rest of the week.
I hope you enjoyed my Christmas Kitchen Tale and I hope that you all have a very wonderful Valentine’s day.