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TheChristmas Dinner Countdown

 

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Over the past few weeks I have read the Christmas edition of several food and women’s magazines and as expected preparations for the big day are top bill.

Most have timetables, starting at 0000 hrs…switch the oven on…stuff the turkey….prep the sprouts…turn the oven up, the oven down…take a break and have champagne with friends….back to the kitchen, turn the sprouts on, steam the Christmas pudding. Part of the timetable usually includes and hour if you’re lucky…..’Time to Relax’ for some it should read….have a lie down. Over the years that became the reality of the glossy timetables for me, tied to the kitchen, cranky and too tired to enjoy the entire day

The section I prefer is the ‘Get Ahead’ and it’s this that ensures that I look forward to Christmas day knowing that the preparations done on the days and weeks leading up to Christmas will have enabled me to enjoy the day along with the rest of the family.

Yes, there was a time, usually around the 1st Dec when I placed Delia’s Christmas cookbook in the Kitchen work top and started my Christmas marathon…finally crossing the finish line about 3pm on Christmas Day exhausted and cranky….with around a dozen jolly relatives sitting at the table.

It is with great joy that I am happy to announce that those days are long gone. The food is much the same but the frenetic Christmas morning preparations have changed……low maintenance has top bill in my kitchen

The’s so much preparation that can be done in advance to take the make Christmas dinner stress free and now is the time to decide on that ‘Get Ahead’ cooking. Over the years I have learned that Christmas dinner, no matter how glorious and enjoyable is just another dinner and that some sensible and realistic planning will bring a good result to be enjoyed by all the family.

My turkey has been ordered and is currently a happy bird walking around the farm at St Brides Poultry. By Christmas Eve it will be ready for the oven the next morning, buttered, streaky and stuffing in place.

This week the sausages will be wrapped in bacon, the stuffing will be made and both will be frozen. Next week I will buy the cranberries and make cranberry sauce, breadcrumbs will be frozen for the bread sauce I may even par boil the potatoes and freeze them on the tray ready for roasting on the day.

A baked root vegetable mash of parsnip & swede or carrot and sweet potatoes …….will be made in advance, frozen and then defrosted overnight, other vegetables such as sprouts or carrots will be prepared on Christmas Eve, all ready for cooking next day.

Starters apart from soup are always cold, usually smoked salmon, prawns or pâté and apart from the pâté it can be quickly organised on Christmas morning.

Deserts are also made in advance, especially Christmas pudding and if like me you make enough there will still be one left from last year. There are no trifle lovers in the family so the other desert will be Sticky Toffee Pudding, a real favourite with my boys. This can also be made and frozen in advance or made about 2 days beforehand.

For me at the end of the day I will happy if we all sit down to a well cooked tasty meal and enjoyed some good family time, bad jokes and even a few games. If I’m still awake at 8pm then I know that the preparations have paid off.

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