Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Festive Feasting








 






We went to Berkhamstead yesterday for the first of five festive feasts. One of my sisters in law is Dutch, and had cooked the most delicious Flemish stew, and the other sis in law had made Nigella's Sticky Toffee Pudding which, eaten with lashings of creme fraiche, was heavenly. I'm mostly off the booze and so was drinking water. I therefore felt reasonably saintly, and also Quite Amused watching the other 16 family members getting quietly sloshed (including M's 91 year-old Uncle who was a Cambridge English Lecturer back in the day and can be thoroughly relied upon to either a) recite an unexpected epic poem or b) burst into an archaic song at any point during family gatherings. It was b) a song yesterday, a tune from donkeys years ago that we youngsters had never heard before. He did also manage a) a poem, albeit it in a round-about way- we listened to a poem of his being recited on radio 2. Everyone cheered at the end and he waved a hand in happy acknowledgement. He also regaled us with a cracking story about the time Uncle Charles announced he'd learnt how to drink Vodka and demonstrated the technique by lining 5 shot glasses up along a bar and downing them one after another with an elegant flick of the wrist. He then got into the back of Uncle Peter's car and fell fast asleep).

Today, my half of the family came over for a lunch of soup and bread. I made some extremely simple mince pies that take about 20 mins from start to finish which I'd seen on Kirstie Allsop's Crimble Show. Chop up an apple, some plums and some hazelnuts and put them all in a bowl. Add some sultanas and cranberries, some vegetable suet and a liberal sploosh of brandy and swirl them about with a spoon. Cut a sheet of puff pastry into 16 or so squares, dollop a spoonful of the mincemeat mix into the middle and fold up the sides of the pastry, pinching the top as per one of the pics above. Cook for 15 mins. I used the left over mincemeat to make a swiss-roll version, with the addition of a few dollops of brandy butter put on the top of the mincemeat before cooking. I also whipped up a batch of brandy truffles. There were 30. I've just counted them and now there are 25. Hmm.....

I made Pj bottoms for my nieces (11 and 6) for Crimble which they opened before lunch. They love going through my button box and picked out some buttons which Grannie sewed onto the Pjs, so now they are properly Custom Made. They also took great delight in telling us that their cat Patch has peed on at least one of the presents under their tree. My littlest niece has been given a hamster for Crimble. His name is Chubby and he's already drawn blood, as she told me proudly while waving the ravaged finger under my nose. I suggested Chubby and Patch be introduced, at which point they squealed loudly. I do love those girls.

I popped into Romsey first thing for soup (no time to make it this morning) and to take Teddy to the V.E.T. He hates the V.E.T. as regular readers will know, so Poppy came along to offer Moral Support (which mostly consists of wagging her tail furiously at everyone in the place and sniffing the floor like a bloodhound). She went to investigate a basket by the door and then rocketed back into me when the thing lurking inside exploded in a terrifying eruption of needles and spitting. She was thoroughly confused and sat down very suddenly on my feet with her tail clamped between her legs and wouldn't get up again until the lovely Louise called us in. I said I would read her Scarface Claw so she'd be better prepared next time. I probably won't read her Hairy Maclary's Rumpus At The Vet, for obvious reasons. 

Teddy broke down with a bad case of V.E.T. induced shivers and shakes as soon as he was put on the table (which worsened dramatically when she took his temperature- don't ask), so Pop came up on the table for moral support. I am Quite Certain my V.E.T thinks I am completely bonkers, a sense that was doubtless confirmed when both the dogs managed to trip me up as we were leaving by carrying out a complex and speedy version of Dog Knitting with their leads, using my legs as needles. I was glad to make it out alive. 

I then drove to my friend Cal's house to drop off a bottle of damson vodka for him and his girlfriend Fi (top girl, with whom I have shared several empowering conversations in the bogs of various public houses late at night over the course of the last two years), and finally drove back into Romsey straight into an enormous queue for Waitrose, which we eschewed in favour of the back street near the library. I nipped in to town to get some more Christmassy Fabric for the third and final stocking I am making and as I was paying the chap behind the till said confidently these aren't for making things for Christmas which confused me a bit so I said yes, they are, at which point he gave me a look that I chose to interpret as impressed but was probably in reality bafflement.

 I rounded off the trip by picking up soup, suet, watercress, plums and smarties in Waitrose (a nice, eclectic mix) while dodging lots of irate red-faced people who were doing their best to block the isles completely by placing their trolleys in stupid places, and had a nice chat with a lovely lady on the check-out who informed me she'd witnessed some Really Grumpy Behaviour from shoppers that morning that rather gave the lie to the whole Christmas Spirit thing. She told me I looked very calm, which I attributed to not having any energy left after rushing about like a blue arsed fly crazy person all morning. 

I got home to discover L had doctored my Merry Crimble message on the chalk board so it now reads Merry Crumble and is adorned with faces sticking out their tongues. It could have been worse I suppose (giant willies or swear words spring to mind), but perhaps we won't go there).
 
All Good Fun, eh?

Right, off to make supper and try not to stuff too many of the puff-pastry mince pies while so-doing :o)

How are your Crimble Preps going?

CT x
















36 comments:

  1. Hiya, I have just got to get the fresh bits tommorow and then we can relax x

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    1. It's all go this time of the year, hope you got everything you needed and can relax and enjoy the day x

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  2. My preps are all done (thanks to my copious lists). I was expecting nine for the day on Boxing Day. My son has just rung me (he lives in the village) to tell me that he hadn't told me because he didn't want me to worry but today he has had an eye operation and for the next week he has to lie flat on his back apart from ten minutes in each hour. So now I am planning getting two lunches for him and his wife round there while the rest of us eat here and then take turns in visiting him to relieve the boredom for him and his wife. Should make for an interesting day and seems he feels quite well, which is all that really matters.

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    1. Sorry to hear about your boy, how boring for him having to lie down for Christmas. I think that amount of enforced stillness would drive me mad! Hopefully he'll be up and doing before you know it.

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  3. Apart from the v.e.t. it sounds as though things are going really well at your house and great fun indeed! Your family gatherings sound really wonderful, like good old fashioned get togethers with everyone enjoying themselves. I am a teensy bit envious I have to say! Hope that you have a wonderful time and enjoy the rest of the stocking making - I am wildly impressed btw! - and everything else you are getting up to. Hope that Teddy is OK. Happy Christmas and love to T & P from Aunty Amy and Happy Christmas and love to you too! xx

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    1. Teddy says to tell you he is feeling much better today, thank you Aunty Amy, but Poppy is annoying him by chewing his feet :o) Everything is organised here- picked up the turkey this morning and have made raspberry cheesecake and red cabbage for tomorrow (lovely combo eh?!) so all in hand. Have a wonderful day my friend xx

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  4. Mmm those truffles and simple mince pies look so good, and the pies make a change to the usual design. Hope poor Ted is ok. Was that the same uncle who you took out a while ago?
    Sarah x

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    1. Teddy is better thank you. Uncle Charles is the one we took out for tea- brother to Uncle Peter. Both hysterical! xx

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  5. Hey CT,
    My plans have been scuppered! Marc rang this afternoon to tell me he won't be home until Xmas Eve, and Pops has been struck down with a virus. The plan was food shop tomorrow, wrapping in the evening, quiet Thursday, cooking for the 5000 on Friday. At this rate they'll be lucky to have a bowl of Frosties.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Oh bugger! Timing is everything, eh? Hope you manage to get round everything. I am sending you a virtual G&T of enormous proportions :o) XX

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  6. What an exciting day! So you can still buy smarties then, I haven't spotted them in Waitrose or Sainsburys for some reason, I thought they'd become non-pc or something. Nice recipes. :-)

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    1. I reckon there'ud be an outcry if Smarties ever stopped! They do blue ones now which I can't get used to :o)

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  7. Poor Ted and the V.E.T. But I did laugh out loud at the dog knitting! Your family do's sound such a hoot! Those mince pies sound delicious. I've been for my turkey and have no need to go out again now til 2016!

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    1. I think our families would get on well- home from home in the sense of humour stakes by the sound of it. Have you ventured outside since the 22nd? :o) XX

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  8. Love the idea of mince pies made like that. I made some with crumble topping today, which had a mixed reception. Am still contemplating Nigella's Christmas cake (not one that needs to be made ages in advance obvs). The middle boy likes a slice of Christmas cake. But last year I ended up freezing two-thirds of it because no-one really wanted any. We had a hamster for Christmas about three years ago. How we loved him. He drew blood as well as I recall. Well done Ted on braving the V.E.T. I remember the Hairy Maclary books well. I can still recite some of them in fact. They're fantastic. In fact you've reminded me of happy moments reading them to the little people. Big sigh. The littlest boy still likes the odd picture book to be read to him. Mostly Moomins at the moment. CJ xx

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    1. Errr you had a hamster for Christmas CJ???well I guess it makes a change from turkey ;-)

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    2. I read it that way too!
      Must have been a very small meal!
      Who carved? ;)

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    3. I don't do a traditional cake, no one likes them here, which gives me the perfect opportunity to experiment! My fave picture book is the snail and the whale, although I am also quite partial to The Garden xx

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  9. Bloody hell you've been a busy little elf ;-)
    Managed to get me tree up today....just!!

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    1. I must pop over and catch up with you :o) x

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  10. Still not done, an Amazon gift turned out to be rather crapper than I was expecting so I have a little trip round town to do tomorrow night. Already xmas bloat, fisrt team fuddle at work today. It would have fed three times the number of us.

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    1. Hope the shopping trip went OK- have been told the 23rd is the busiest day of the year for shopping :o)

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  11. Oh poor Teddy and Poppy was just helping. Both of The Square Ones usually came along to the vets.
    When I saw your "Beggars Purse" I thought of a meat filling but I love the quick Mince Pie idea. I have made them small with brie and jam.

    Merry Christmas,
    cheers, gayle and thehamish

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    1. I love the name Beggars Purse and shall use that from now on :o) Ted seems fine now, phew. Merry Crimbo to you Gayle, and to thehamish XX

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  12. Your food looks great, very festive. I think your morning sounds nice apart from Waitrose. My saintly MIL is doing Christmas and Boxing Day as usual so we are flying off very early tomorrow. Off to see Santa this afternoon, then just the wrapping and packing to do! All very exciting. Have a great day!x

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    1. Ooh you managed that one well! Hope you have a lovely day xx

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  13. You've been busy! I've heard of Crimbo but never Crimble. I think I like Crimble better. I'm going to be one of the few Americans saying it, but I'm going to say it from now on. :) I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. I think I get Crimble from my ma. She'll be pleased to think it's been extended across the pond :o) Have a great Christmas too xx

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  14. I so enjoyed the read... Sounds like the author Katie Fforde's kind of Christmas!
    I laughed at the Waiitrose visit!
    I went to our local supermarket yesterday to pick up the final few things... Lady with a trolley with no trolley etiquette ( wrong side of the aisle ) tutted at me... As she glared at my big friendly smile I said v loudly " and a Merry Christmas to you too" ... Gotta laugh at the siege like mentality! Hark the shop is shut for a whole day!
    As for your rum balls - dare I say they reminded me of something else! Did Rudolph visited early and leave a few parcels of ......
    Christmas Eve here... Been to the beach on jet skis... Such a relaxing morning!
    Have a fab Christmas!
    Xxxx

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    1. Oh my lord, now all I can see is reindeer poo when I look at the truffles! I shall get a fit of giggles whenever I eat them :o) Have told my family you've been out jet skiiing on Christmas Eve, they all grinned :o) XX

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  15. Yummy food. Happy Christmas and keep blogging - I love reading your stuff!

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  16. Ha ha, great post :-) Happy Christmas CT. Sam x

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  17. Very entertaining post CT. Loved the vet description-Harry is just the shame-shakes so much at the vets poor thing. He has left the tree alone which is great. Half the food is prepared and frozen, plenty of alcohol in the cupboard and chocolate. There are some presents under the tree...so I'd say we are ready. Happy Christmas to you all.

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    1. Relieved to hear your tree is OK :o) Sound like you've got everything well organised. Time to relax now :o) X

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x