There is a Christmas advert currently running for ASDA which tells the story of a busy mum’s preparations for Christmas day. Mum, who is the hero of the piece, runs around like a blue arsed fly looking more worn out and knackered as the ad progresses. In the end scene we are treated to a rather wan smile from mum. The message – it may be mayhem and madness but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I beg to differ!
My parents came to us for Christmas last year and as I sat happily with my new cookbook and a glass of fizz mum commented on how relaxed I was on Christmas Day. My secret weapon – M&S. Shock horror, food obsessed blogger buys pre prepared food on Christmas day. Thing is I wouldn’t dream of doing it on any other day of the year, but on Christmas day I actually want to just sit and chill and eat the odd chocolate. I don’t want to be red-faced and sweating in the kitchen, wringing my hands about the state of the turkey. To be honest I learned the hard way.
After 30 odd years of being catered on Christmas day by my parents I moved in with BC and we invited the elders to ours. I spent a silly amount on books, magazines and even a DVD, offering advice on wowing my guests with the perfect Christmas feast. The Jamie Oliver Christmas DVD was particularly influential as I recall and on Christmas eve I was to be found feverishly making an array of different flavoured butters (as suggested by Jamie) to compliment my many vegetables and fretting over a ridiculously complicated starter.
My favourite sort of cooking is one pot – stews, chillis, curry’s, tagines – you get the message. Christmas dinner is a multitude of pots and on this memorable Christmas the pots were boiling over. I got so stressed about the whole affair that I completely forgot to enjoy the day and most of my other guests were concerned about my rising stress levels. Of course it was not the perfect feast – the sprouts were cooked to oblivion, the turkey too dry. I moaned about my failed efforts all through dinner whilst gulping down wine like there was no tomorrow. Never again!
The following Christmas I was still mentally scarred and decided to cheat. I went to M&S and bought lovely little chipolatas wrapped in pancetta with rosemary tucked inside, two beautiful varieties of stuffing some succulent rolled turkey breast and a pot of cranberry sauce. I bribed my Dad to make a good old trifle and made a stupidly simple warm salad to start. I did prepare my own veg, but aside from adding a bit of honey and thyme to the parsnips and making sure the tatties were in goose fat – they were very simply presented.
The result of my ‘shove in an oven and cook as long as the packet tells you to’ method worked a treat and I actually enjoyed Christmas. Many of you may be tutting and advising me to do it myself but to prepare in advance, but you are wasting your time. I am now a convert to the cheats Christmas.
This year my dad is in hospital so we will take a three-hour break in the festivities to drive to and from the hospital for a visit. So this year yet again it is thank goodness for M&S. The starter will be my homemade wild mushroom soup which I could make in my sleep and a easy peasy pavlova to finish. Job done. Therefore the time I do have at home will be spent playing with my daughters new toys, enjoying the food and watching a bit of festive telly.
So here’s to another simple Christmas at Grumbling Tummy HQ!
Merry Christmas one and all xx