Over the past few years, Christmas has become a sort of annual festival of cooking and family.
We’ve been doing ‘Christmas Baking’ for as long as I can remember, originally watching my Mum bake, later joining in and in more recent years it has become the realm of my sister and I. We have a cider, crank some tunes and churn out baked goodies as fast as my new 90cm oven can cook them.
This year we toned it down a bit, producing 24 fruit mince pies and 83 choc-dipped shortbread biscuits. We’ve been using the same recipes and the same SAWA 2000 biscuit press the whole time. Sarah and I have acquired our own SAWA 2000s over recent years, courtesy of op-shops and ‘trash and treasure’ markets.
With Christmas Day forecast to be over 30 degrees, the sheer firepower of my oven and the prospect of about 15 people in the living area of my house, I decided that I would do all the oven cooking before the day. December 23 saw me roasting a turkey for the first time. My old oven would never have accommodated a whole turkey, so I had never cooked one before. It was basically a matter of taking the (free range, of course) turkey out of the packet, putting it on the rack of the baking dish, covering its wing and leg tips with foil, roasting for the prescribed time and dismembering it once it was cool.
As someone who doesn’t eat sugar, I usually accept the fact that there just won’t be pudding for me, but Sarah had the bright idea of finding a pumpkin pie recipe that would suit both my sugar-free self and our gluten-free mother. Since I had the week off, sourcing ingredients and baking the pie on Christmas Eve became my task. I started with a whole pumpkin, which I cut, cored, peeled, boiled and pureed, and ended up with what I assume is a fairly decent impersonation of a pumpkin pie. It was enjoyed by those with and without restricted diets.
In the lead-up to Christmas I also made a sugar-free cheesecake slice with home-made goat milk ricotta, and some excellent alternatively-sweetened dark chocolate with locally grown hazelnuts. Plenty of sweets for me this year.
Any meal at my place is not complete without an extensive board of home-made and hand-picked cheeses. This year we had my goat milk gouda, a dish of chevre, Mersey Valley aged cheddar, Unicorn double brie and a traditional English blue Stilton. The troops gave it a fair work-over, but there was still a good bit left for a Boxing Day serving to try out my new cheese serving set from Mum.
I pre-made a coleslaw to dress on the day, and did a stocktake of my salad ingredients. Christmas morning I made a green salad.
We had a quiet Christmas morning, just the four of us who live here. I received a really lovely tea set, which was made around 80 years ago. We had our traditional Christmas breakfast of croissants, eggs and bacon.
Lunchtime preparation began in earnest when the last to arrive sent a message from town asking for my address. I made a warm potato salad with homegrown spuds, garlic, butter and grated gouda. Mum brought out the container of pork that she had pre-roasted, and Sarah presented a leg of excellent locally-grown free-range ham. Brother Matthew arrived with his containers of prawns. We set it all out on the table, with a jar of beetroot relish replacing cranberry sauce, and everyone tucked in.
After mains was pretty much finished with, we cleared up and set out the desserts, including the aforementioned baked goods and featuring Nana’s famous trifle.
What seemed like a fairly disjointed lead-up culminated in a perfectly-executed buffet-style Christmas lunch for 12, with something for everyone and no oven required on the day. Great work team!