Saturday, 1 December 2012

12 Days of Christmas

As advent is here, I thought I'd have a bit of fun, here are my 12 days of Christmas in recipes and great gifts for foodie types and a few words of wisdom...

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a cracking duck fat roastie.

Here is the recipe for the ultimate roast potato.  (Homer Simpson style drool...)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two oven gloves
I love these ones.  I was a silicone oven glove convert for a while but these look fantastic.  Where silicone ones go wrong is you lose so much dexterity and wrist protection.  It might help me stop burning myself on the pizza stone making sourdoughs!

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 3 tasty hens

Here are some top turkey leftover recipes for you over the Christmas period, this leftover pie would also be great when you have all that turkey to use up.  A tasty soup is a piece of cake to make, works brilliantly with turkey or chicken and is lovely and warming when it's cold out.  Another sneaky use for leftovers which would also work with turkey is a pasta bake.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 4 crispy birds

Here's one really lovely crispy duck...  Yummy!  Why not try something different this year?  Duck, Goose, Pheasant... ok, perhaps not Swan.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 5 gold rings!

When I see a Krispy Kreme stand, I have to buy.  Sorry, we all have our vices!  I will eventually make it over to Birmingham to see an old friend and the Christmas markets having promised and failed to do so two weeks ago but when I go, we will be visiting Selfridges for Krispy Kremes.  Sorry Joe.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 6 months of paying

Not related to cooking but a tip of another kind.  I've been listening to the radio on my way into work hearing about companies who will loan you money until after Christmas while they hold onto your electrical goods (when I was little, these were called pawn shops.)  Then there are the 'pay day' loan companies, some of which charge thousands of percent interest for short term loans (when I was little these were called loan sharks.)

So, here's my idea.  It's something we did as a family a few years ago.  We capped Christmas spending.  We set it at a maximum of £10 per adult.  It meant I managed to do all of my shopping including kids for less than £200.  I know many people who can ill afford it spend thousands.  It is just one day folks, it's not worth it.  Why not even do home made presents one year?  Perhaps one big thing for the kids.  Remember, it doesn't do kids any good to get everything they want, even if little Johnny down the road does, little Johnny will probably grow up to be a big brat!  It really actually is the thought that counts.  Those years we restricted the amount we could spend, I had some of the best presents because it forced people to really think about what they were buying.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 7 ducks a swimming

The one I mentioned earlier isn't swimming anymore granted but have a look around your local area as it's quite common to have Boxing Day charity duck races.  I went to one in Kenilworth once (pictured) which was fantastic fun, a great atmosphere and a great way to get out of the overly stuffy house and maybe stand up for once over the Christmas feasting period!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 8 treats from milking

I am really fortunate to have a fantastic cheese shop in my local town but I will definitely be stocking up this Christmas on some of my favourite cheeses.  Stilton?  Well it goes without saying but also a good cheddar, a well aged red leicester, some creamy goats' cheese, a brie or camembert style cheese (my favourite is vignotte which is super creamy), a creamy blue cheese like Smooth Blue, a really hard almost parmesan style cheese like Berkswell and then maybe a crumbly Lancashire.  A great selection of cheeses would make a fantastic gift if you're thinking of something at the last minute, a lovely slate or wooden cheeseboard is also a fantastic idea.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,  9 ladies dancing

...well dancing sessions.  With the popularity of Strictly, we all now think we're samba experts but seriously, why not give it a go?  Especially after all of this scrummy food!  I tried my hand at Salsa when I went to Center Parcs a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic.  I was surprised at how quickly I picked it up and how much fun I had.  So, if I was given a present of some dancing classes (9 or however many), I'd be a very happy lady!

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 10 post lunch sleeping

Why is it we all insist on mass catering on Christmas Day?   As long as there is a sofa for the cook to snooze on after lunch, it will all be ok...

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 11 icers piping...

I am a lucky woman in lots of ways, my husband makes our Christmas cake and has done for the last few years.  I have to admit by the time it comes to decorating the Christmas cake, I'm pretty frazzled so the simpler the better.  My top tip though is using cookie cutters and ready to roll icing which you can colour.  Forget fancy piping, it always looks a bit twee anyway.  My husband is going to decorate this year's with some little gingerbread men shaped cut outs but here is one from many years ago.  The observant of you will realise I made the 'holly' wreath by using a Christmas tree cutter and tweaking a bit.  By using different shades of green it then automatically looks more professional, chuck on some silver balls, stick it all on with icing, done!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 12 sprouts a trumping

They do have a reputation, but they're also delicious.  Don't forget my bubble and squeak cakes for boxing day breakfast to use up those left over sprouts!

My last word of wisdom is... don't panic.  It's just a big roast dinner.

Merry Christmas!

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