So, anyone reading previous posts will gather that we’re all still ill, so Christmas Day wasn’t that much fun. On the cooking front it started of course on Christmas Eve, I had a long list of things to make and didn’t make half of it, but I did make Nigella’s cranberry studded mincemeat mince pies (thanks to Girl Lacer insisting Father Christmas needed some), iced the Christmas cake and made the sides of the Gingerbread House. The mince pies were amazing (considering I don’t like mince pies), it was the mincemeat that made it, it smelled so Christmassy when it was simmering away on the stove and tasted gorgeous in the little pies, I think though next time I’ll change the pastry to my standard more buttery Jamie pastry though.
I had planned on make Nigella’s Yule Log for dessert, ready for Christmas Day dinner but that quickly went out the window, so I thought I’d resort back to the standard family Gingerbread House, which Girl Lacer loves helping me make and she did help a little but she was looking iller and iller and in the end just plain didn’t look hygienic, so I had to put my foot down when it came to assembling the house and now the sides are in a tin, waiting for the day when we’ll be healthy again (when? oh when?). The recipe for the gingerbread though, out of interest was a Rachel Allen recipe from her Bake book and although I haven’t tasted it yet (obviously), it was an impressively easy dough to handle. The biscuits do come out surprisingly (worringly) cake like when out of the oven but they soon harden up.
By Christmas Eve I’d just about managed to wrap the presents, having not done any of the Christmas meal prep I’d planned to do and went to bed (which was actually the sofa, I didn’t fancy sharing a bed with the also ill, tossing and turning Mr. Lacer, but luckily we have a very comfy sofa). That night it felt like someone was using a medieval battering ram on my sinuses, not fun.
Christmas Day Girl Lacer woke first and whereas we’d normally insist on both kids being up before present opening, it was in a state of not knowing when each kid would flake out again, so we started present opening without Boy Lacer. Girl Lacer got some nice presents, including a two wheeled scooter to replace her younger three wheeled model, so she’s impressed now that she’s one of the few in her class to have moved onto two wheels. Mr. Lacer got the world’s most annoying game (for me) from his brother, called Bop It (I think, tried not too close to it to find out) and a sonic screwdriver from his mum. I got two lovely books, pretty much because I’d asked directly for them, Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook’s Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale and Tessa Kiros’ Venezia.
The Writer’s Tale is absolutely fantastic, a massive book of e-mails between Davies and Cook plus scripts, chronicling the creative process during series 4 of Doctor Who, also mentioning Torchwood, plus The Sarah Jane Adventures a little, it is a fascinating look into how Davies writes and the whole process of being show runner. A must for any Who fan and anyone interested in the process of writing (although as Davies points out relatively frequently, this is in no way a ‘how to’). I spent most of yesterday reading it and so far got through Davies working out who will be the Doctor’s companion in season 4, it was to be a character called Penny as Davies didn’t even dream he could get Catherine Tate for a whole series and then you get the excited e-mails when he realises that Tate is interested in doing an entire series. Plus (of interest to Torchwood fans) the interesting titbit that up to literally the day of filming some of the relevant scenes it was Ianto that was meant to die during series 2 of Torchwood and Davies changed it to Owen at the last minute.
Venezia, I wanted as a present because I have most of Kiros’ books, in fact most of them were Christmas presents and they do make great Christmas presents. I also wanted someone else to buy this for me because as much as I wanted it, I had a feeling it would not pass my ‘am I going to cook from this a lot’ criteria and I just wanted it because it was beautiful and I can’t just justify ‘beautiful’ during my occasional (ok maybe not so occasional in October during cook book season) cook book buying during the year. My feelings about Venezia were right, it is beautiful (specially for someone who loves Venice, but who doesn’t love Venice?) with sumptuous photos but the recipes are (understandably) very fish based (and I don’t eat fish), I may make some of the biscuits, but that’s about it. So, a nice book but no where near as useful or as lovely as Kiros’ Apples for Jam.
Anyway back to the present opening, Boy Lacer did eventually wake up and was rather confused about the present opening. His new toy castle was already out and assembled, so he fell onto that (thankfully not literally) immediately and was playing happily with that (“Up the ladder, down the ladder, help, help! I’m stuck!” – his imaginative play is improving). When he realised there were actually more presents for him, he still hasn’t really mastered present opening, so Girl Lacer did it for him.
Christmas Dinner was a very basic, parred down event, no starter (it would have been bruschetta with home made pesto), just very simple roast chicken (i.e. chicken, which we were having anyway, but nothing fancy done to it, just bunged in the oven with some olive oil and salt), Nigella Lawson roast potatoes and maple roasted parsnips and bacon wrapped sausages from Waitrose. Dessert was the tub of Celebrations chocolate, which wasn’t really touched anyway (I think next year I need to buy a dessert as I never get round to making a proper one). Now cooking christmas dinner in my kitchen is challenging even when in the best of health, with very little preparation space and this really showed when it came to dishing up. Each dish had to be finished and then brought straight into the living room onto the table whilst I finished the next, which made a very already confused by the whole day and change of routine and probably hungry, Boy Lacer very impatient. He started tucking into the roast potatoes, which were good, I’ll have to admit but half blinded my already blurry self due to the smoke from the goose fat and that kept him happy until he choked on one, leaving him in hysterics for the next 10 minutes. So by the time I’d finished dishing up and sat down, I had a shaken Boy Lacer on my lap (wisely, at least in his head), not eating anything else except for sausages wrapped in bacon. Girl Lacer was still awake and functioning at that point but after (at least) trying everything, she didn’t like anything either. So as I was sitting there, eating my (to be honest) not very good Christmas Dinner, I was despairing with Mr. Lacer, was it even worth cooking Christmas Dinner next year, when Boy Lacer climbed off my lap and started tucking into more roast potatoes and chicken, going “mmmmm”, made my mother cook’s heart glow!
After Christmas Dinner, Girl Lacer very quickly flaked out and went to bed about four, so when six o’clock rolled round and it was Doctor Who time, we decided it was worth the risk to watch it live (even when they’re both in the best of health, Boy Lacer has a far greater attention span with things like that than Girl Lacer). And Boy Lacer did watch it (between demanding Pringles) and I think he got the jist of it, cheering when Doctor Who got the Cyber King.
Once Boy Lacer was in bed to, it was time for my favourite Christmas meal; nice bread, nice cold meats, pickles, cheese, salad from the garden and a nice cold beer, perfect. I had planned to make some of Nigella’s chilli jam and her jalapeno cheese tortilla thing to but ill health got in the way, so that’s saved possibly for today (need something to blast my nose away). I finished my Christmas tea off with the first slice of Christmas cake and . . . . oh my god, sorry Rachel Allen (I used her recipe from Bake this year) but it’s horrible! A horrible texture and about as rich and as Christmassy taste as well an ice cream cone with a sprinkling of sand on Brighton beach in mid summer, i.e. not at all! So sorry Nigella (I’ve used her perfectly nice Christmas cake recipe the previous two Christmas’s) I’ll be back using your recipe next year, now I’ve got a not very nice Christmas cake on my hands that no one else is going to eat either, I feel cheated!