Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Christmas. Mine was a little different because I had Christmas dinner on Christmas eve and then went to midnight mass. I'd never been to a Catholic church before and Westminster Cathedral was an incredible place to start. I've always wanted to go to midnight mass and I loved the way that all the lights went on and bells started ringing as soon as it went midnight. I was surprised that the service was very much like an Anglican service except for a very short prayer to Mary. The service books had run out by the time we arrived but the carols and liturgy were all very familiar.

Anyway, I should talk about the food because I have my own photos to post. Dinner was good but I realised that it is possible to put too much effort into Christmas cooking. Every single accompaniment had it's own fancy flavourings and sauces and it probably would have tasted better if everything was a little more simple. I also wished that I had ignored my concern about doing too many things at the last minute and made gravy from the turkey drippings. I had bought a fancy looking turkey gravy but it didn't taste half as good as the roasting pan smelt.

After wrestling for half an hour with the turkey pre-cooking, I was sure that I wouldn't want to eat any afterwards. I bought an organic, free-range turkey and it had a weird smell. I had to pluck quite a few quills out before doing the following preparation which reveals how strongly I was influenced by all the Christmas cooking specials in newspapers and on TV:
- washing and drying with paper towel and a hair dryer
- putting an orange and cranberry stuffing into the neck cavity
- inserting orange and onion bits and bay leaves into the body cavity
- pushing orange rind butter between the breast meat and the skin
- layering the breast with bacon

I then realised how difficult it is to tie up a 3.5kg turkey that is carrying at least one extra kilogram inside. Thankfully, it cooked well and I managed to forget my squeamishness when it came time to eat.

It was a squash around the table and a couple of people had to share a chair. Still, it was fun to sit down to a meal with five other people. Dessert was trifle and a pecan pie which were really yummy. My personal highlight, however, was getting to finally use the Chinese tea set that I bought just before leaving Hong Kong.

The highlight for most of our guests was choosing their own gingerbread man. We also had a lot of fun analysing everyone's choices. Obviously, they were not decorated by me.

The meal was not without tragedy, however, as can be seen from the unfortunate creatures below, forgotten in the oven while I was doing something else.

It's now Christmas day and after all that effort I'm enjoying doing nothing. It's just as well because everything in London is shut, including public transport!


dimsumdolly said...


LOVE those gingerbread men!!!

Adrian said...

Second Joan's comment about the gingerbread, erm, persons. Glad to hear about your Christmas; I hope you managed to enjoy it even while you were rushing around cooking.

joe said...

Yep, the gingerbread men were a big hit. The girls were joking that their choice reflected their ideal husband.

I'm sure we can make a batch when you guys visit!

Christmas day was actually very relaxing. Nothing at all happened except that ViVi came over to watch the TV because they don't have one at home.

cal said...

That turkey looks AMAZING - I can practically smell it. Sounds like you had fun. Can't believe you've never been to Midnight Mass before though.

Merry in-between Christmas and New Year. See you in 2006.

Miriam said...

I'm jealous!! Looks amazing, didnt know you had it in you!

joe said...

yes, i've learnt a few things fending myself while you remain in the nest...