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Attentive readers will remember that we always have a goose for Christmas. But they’re getting more and more expensive, and there’s not much eating on ‘em, so this year we thought we’d have a change. We had a big piece of pork, which I did in a Scandinavian stylee, after I’d seen a recipe in the Times (sorry, it’s paywalled, so I can’t link).

Basically, you take the skin off a shoulder of pork so it’s in one piece (or, alternatively, you get your butcher to do it – T L Norman on Princes Ave, Hull are fab, and always do any prep I want). Then score the meat, and rub in a mix of cardamom pods, chilli, star anise, lemon zest. Stick the skin back on the top, into an oven at 190C. Our pig was 2.5kgs, so it got 2.5 hours, and I did put a piece of foil over it for the first hour.

‘Twas utterly splendid, and was served with roasted potatoes and parsnips, spiced red cabbage and apple, brussels sprouts, apple and calvados sauce, and a creamy gravy. The flavour in the meat was fabulous – it permeated right through and I will most certainly be doing it again.

I don’t know how much it cost – my Christmas meat bill was £38, to include a dozen eggs, 8 thick rashers of back bacon, and three tubes of sausagemeat, but however much, it was a damn sight less than a goose, which cost us the thick end of £70 last year.

It fed three greedy people on 25th, two greedy people on Boxing Day, and another two slightly less greedy people the day after that. Then we were going away for a bit so we put the remains in the freezer. It came out again this week, fed us with roast veg on Sunday, and the last of it has gone into marinade with sesame oil, cornflour and shoyu for a stir fry tonight.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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They weren't joking!

We did the usual stuff for Christmas food that we usually do … a goose with red cabbage and sprouts on the day, a slow cooked gammon for snacks, a cake. But somehow, this year, we have heaps of stuff left, so we’ll be eating leftovers for a while!

After 13 years with small, rubbish gas cookers, I am now the proud possessor of a Neff built-in full size oven. So, inevitably, the goose was too long to fit in, and Pete had to take a hacksaw to its legs. I roasted them off separately, and they’ve gone in the freezer for later use. There is still a bowlful of cold goose meat left, which will be stirfried or possibly en-pied, the remains of the cabbage went in the freezer and was part of our New Year’s Eve dinner party. More on that story later.

So, left in the fridge is:

  • one bowl of goose bits
  • about 1/3 pack of smoked salmon (will probably go for a quick pasta lunch)
  • about half a dozen small sausages, which are only there because I didn’t see them until this afternoon – we are addicted to small sausages
  • one box of Marks and Spencer mini pies, from their party food range, and some mozzarella and  basil twists, ditto. These will do for weekday lunches; in fact, we had some M&S vol-au-vents for lunch today
  • 1/4 of the gammon (half is already in the freezer)
  • 2 boxes of cranberries

The 1.5 litres of goose stock was dumped into the slow cooker this morning with a pack of green split peas, and a venison bone, to make soup. Sadly, I did this too late for today’s lunch, but it will be lovely for tomorrow.

In the freezer is also a small lump of venison (reasons to follow), and a huge piece of pork shoulder, which Pete bought in error instead of gammon, never mind about all the other stuff. I doubt we need to buy anything but milk and veg for a month!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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We had a woodburning stove installed on Christmas Eve – thought we’d never get it done before the holiday because of 4 weeks of snow, but the builder was a hero and went up on the roof in -5C to do the necessary, ghod bless him.

As you may see from the video, our tradition is to hang a big branch from the wall, so we trundled over to the old cemetery on 23rd and brought a selection of branches home, and then selected one to hang and decorate. This caused the fire installer to bang his head a bit, but he didn’t mind too much.

And then we just … vegged. Lit the fire every day about 10 a.m. and just sat on the sofa in front of it. Watched a stack of DVDs, a little television, and barely left the house. It snowed on Christmas Eve, which was remarkably seasonal of it.

We didn’t even go for any walks, as we’ve both had this horrible viral thing and, indeed, I’m still suffering from it 3.5 weeks on.

We woke up a bit around New Year, and had people round for nibbles and home made wine on the 30th, then a grown up dinner party on 31st, with eight round the table. Two delightful evenings, and we shall make them new traditions, I think – must get more wine on the go for next year!

Then we had the weekend off to recover, after which we had two small boys (and their mother) over for tea on Tuesday, so we’ve only just taken down the decorations – they’re in the loft now until next year.

Consulting the database (yes, I know), we watched:

The American President
Strictly Ballroom
Doctor Zhivago
No Country For Old Men
Brassed Off
The Fabulous Baker Boys
Con Air
Fargo Special Edition
The Rock – Special Edition
Grosse Pointe Blank
Postcards From The Edge

Which doesn’t actually look all that many, but is for us. We also saw The Snowman with the aforementioned small boys.

So … that was that. This year holds a likely trip to France to a friend’s 60th birthday party (which we shall do via the Hull – Zeegbrugge ferry), a kitchen makeover in Feb/March (we frightened ourselves to death today in the granite worktop shop!), and further decline into badgerdom.

Happy New Year, all!

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

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How to turn 500g of stewing beef into six portions? Add 100g of bacon bits, a stack of butter (lima) beans, and a load of veg, thus.

I used shallots in this – if you’re going to do this, they are much easier to peel if you soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes, and you get lovely shallotty water to add either to your casserole, or to your soup pot (the latter for me yesterday).

Cooked off the bacon bits, put them in the slow cooker. Browned the beef in batches, added them too. Fried off the whole shallots until they were caramelising a bit, the into the pan went four chopped carrots, half a courgette and some garlic. They were lobbed into the slow cooker, and then the pan was deglazed with …

Horror! No Stones Ginger Wine! And only 9 in the morning, so offy not open, and I bet the local mini Sainsburys wouldn’t have it, and besides – it was pouring with rain. I improvised.

Deglazed the pan with about 3/4 pint of fiery ginger beer. Added a slosh of brandy for good measure, and the zest and juice of an orange. Added a teaspoon of grain mustard and some season. Brought to the boil, bung in the slow cooker, switched it on.  Went back and added the beans (which had been soaked and boiled the day before), and some herbs from the garden.* Waited for six hours while the smell drove us crazy.

We are having some for tonight’s supper, with dumplings, and the rest will go into the freezer.

* Somewhere – no idea where – I found some reuseable cloth bouquet garni bags, which are dead handy for such occasions, because you don’t have to bother stripping the leaves from woody herbs, or finding the bay leaves afterwards. But do remember to fish it out before someone accidentally tries to eat it.

I also made the Christmas cake yesterday – 1 kg of random assorted dried fruits and a load of Cointreau. I always base it on this Nigel Slater recipe.  What with that, the stew, and the soda bread, the kitchen was an olfactory no-go area yesterday!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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I have walnut and raisin bread rising.  I have stuffed the goose with a mix of sausagemeat, cranberries, apricots soaked in Cointreau, crumbled black pudding, a mixture of white and soda bread crumbs.  I have made stuffing balls with herbs from the garden, and more breadcrumbs.

I have rubbed fivespice powder into the goose’s skin, and Pete is currently trimming his legs (the goose’s, that is!) with a hacksaw so that I can fit it in the oven.  Mr Goose will be basted with the aforementioned Cointreau, and some honey.

I have cooked a gammon in ginger beer, cloves, cinnamon and satsumas.  I have made a huge fruit cake laced with bourbon.  I have pigs in blankets, and red cabbage in the freezer. I still have to do do the potatoes, sprouts and parsnips, and make brandy butter, but we’re on target.  Tomorrow’s plan is to go for a walk on the North Sea coast once Johnny Goose is en-ovened, to work up an appetite.  And there will be smoked salmon and blinis for Xmas Day high tea.

*And* I have industrial quantities of Maltesers.  Well, it is Christmas.

I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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wreathRather belatedly, I made our christmas cake last night; I’d normally have done it in November, but what with the move and all …

I use a variation on a tried and tested Nigel Slater recipe, and here it is:

Prepare a 20cm deep cake pan – grease well, line with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, with the sides lined to above the top by a couple of inches.

Amass 1kg of dried fruit – I used figs, prunes, apricots, dates, raisins and sultanas, as that was what was in the baking box, and cut it into small pieces.  This is tedious, but I didn’t bother so much last year, and it wasn’t as nice.

Cream 250g butter and 250g brown sugar together – I used about half and half dark muscovado and demerara.  Beat until it’s light and fluffy, or as light and fluffy as it can be with muscovado in it ..

Add three eggs one by one – don’t worry, it will curdle, probably.

Add 65g of ground almonds, and 100g of shelled hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons of alcohol (recipe says brandy, but I generally use whiskey, and this year I used good bourbon!), zest and juice of an orange, half a teaspoon of baking powder, and 250g of plain flour.  And the fruit.

My mixer always gives up at this point and I have to fold it all together by hand.

Put it in the tin, cook for one hour at gas mark 3, then 1.5 hours at gas 2 – don’t open the oven to prod it until the end.  Leave to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in foil, and feed it with more alcohol every few days.

We eat as is, as we don’t much like icing.  Merry Christmas!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (bah humbug)
I cooked a lot, and we watched a lot of movies (and I ate a lot of Maltesers, and there are *still some left*. And that was it, really :)

We slobbed out on The Day, and scoffed roast goose and trimmings. The Tivo spectacularly failed us, omitted the second half hour of the Doctor, and the last five minutes of W&G. Bad Tivo, but they will be round again.

[livejournal.com profile] perlmonger was incubating a cough and sore throat, so after our guest had been decanted on Boxing Day, we vegged in front of the television. Casino Royale from Lovefilm, which was really quite good. Madagascar (which wasn't) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which was far better than we expected) on the television. And then on Saturday afternoon we embarked on something we'd been promising ourselves - all three extended Lord of the Rings movies back to back. We managed two on Saturday, and the last one yesterday, and then we started on the extras on the Return, as we'd never watched them. One DVD to go!

During this televisual marathon, we were generally accompanied by all five cats, so hopefully they are settling down together.

And that was it. I plan to continue doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the week, as we both desperately need a break. Will be cooking up a storm on Wednesday for our traditional NYE gathering, but other than that, more slobbing.

Posts re xmas fud and this year's books will be coming along soon. Ish.
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well, not quite - and I will be writing up some stuff about 2006; I bet you can all barely contain yourselves. I hope you all had a jolly time.

we had a very quiet festering season, which is exactly what we wanted. We collected [livejournal.com profile] kalunina from Temple Meads on Friday afternoon, and apart from a brief foray to North Street for veg and brunch on Saturday, we didn't stir out of the house again* until we returned her to Bristol Parkway (why she used two different stations, lord knows). And we saw nobody apart from Pat and Dave (WANOLJ) who popped over on Xmyth Eve with some home made gifts of fudge and damson vodka.

mostly, we cooked and ate, as follows:
  • Friday: lasagne with embedded spinach, something that I tried once when we had some of the green stuff to use up, and it worked fabulously well. Just bung a load of fresh washed spinach in between the last meat and bechamel layers.

  • Saturday: lunch in cafe in North Street, boeuf stroganoff and chips for supper. I know, I know: chips. In my defence, it's Rick Stein's idea, and it works so well ...

  • Sunday was 24 hour roast chili and lemon pork. I was so looking forward to this - and I was all geared up to do all the fiddly stuff on Saturday night. But it was disappointing - very dry, and no gravy juices. Don't think I'd bother again. We had it with sweet potato/ordinary potato mash, which was delicious. And some sprouts.

  • The Day bought forth roast goose with apple sauce, red cabbage, sprouts, roast parsnips, roast spuds, home made sage and onion stuffing. All cooked as a team effort, dished up right on time at 3 p.m., and all perfect. I was well chuffed. We were far too stuffed for pudding, and barely managed anything else all day!

  • Boxing Day - cold cuts, including a gammon boiled and baked in spices according to the blessed Nigella, which was beautiful.

we also consumed home made sossidge rolls (go me), mince pies (dozens), walnut bread (go pete), grapes, and god knows what else.

tonight [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger is cooking his wonderful indian lentils with spinach - we've eaten *far* too well over the past few days, and we're both suffering from it :)

*actually, we did go for a walk down the part of the River Avon trail yesterday, but it was miserable and damp, and the cold got right into my joints. My arthritis really is bothering me right now, but hey ho.

now we're going to go into hibernation until NYE, when we will be holding our usual Open House. If anyone in the Bristol area (or further afield for that matter) would like to join us, drop me a mail to my LJ address, and I'll furnish you with details.
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christmas cake 2006
Originally uploaded by ramtops.
but I'm quite pleased with this - it' s a work in progress, but it's coming along nicely.

it has a sort of amateur charm, don't you think?
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our christmas message
Originally uploaded by ramtops.
I'm quite surprised [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger let me send this out - I must have caught him at a weak moment :)
ramtops: (Default)

sausage rolls
Originally uploaded by ramtops.
I'm a good cook, but I'm not great at baking. And I'm lousy at pastry.

however, inspired by this recipe which claimed to be "easy flaky pastry", I thought I'd give it a go.

I had to get [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger to come and grate for a while - it was hard work. But *I* rolled out the pastry, and rolled out the sausage meat, and brushed it all with eggy stuff, and put it in the oven, and baked them. And they were *gorgeous*.

the sage plant in the garden had died, so I made do with some rosemary, and a hefty grating of nutmeg.

go me, I think. And we only ate three - the rest have gone in the freezer.


Dec. 13th, 2005 06:06 pm
ramtops: (Default)

Originally uploaded by ramtops.
this is, really, for [livejournal.com profile] gmul, who is inordinarily fond of mooooose.

although he prefers the chocolate kind ...


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