Christmas Eve 2006
I remember last Christmas Eve well. Sitting up making insane Peppermint Bark that I'd picked up from Heidi's 101 Cookbooks. A confection that I cannot bear the taste of now, given that I became very sick the next day and Figman wasn't much better.
On Christmas Day, waiting at some traffic lights en route to our THIRD function of the day, Figman turned and looked at me sitting there, giant vat of duck curry on my lap. "You are NOT doing this again next year" he said. "I want you to promise me." Christmas is a lovely time of year I'm sure, but in our family food takes over as the main event and after I'd hosted one event and brought dishes to two more, I was ready to collapse, aside from the flu I'd just come down with.
So this year we were supposed to be keeping it more simple. I wasn't bringing anything to the main Christmas lunch, just turning up. Until there was a request for chocolates.
Since Christmas Eve fell on a weekend, I felt that there was time enough to throw together a private dinner for the three of us at home. Our Christmas lunch will be very non-traditional and so I wanted to indulge in a few basics for dinner tonight. Butterflied turkey breast, stuffed with fruit and roasted with butternut pumpkin. Cranberry and orange sauce. Boiled brussel sprouts as requested by Figman (I told you he came from a parallel universe). Brandy ice cream pudding.
I have spent the afternoon devising a stuffing recipe, trying to recreate a magical one eaten one Boxing Day from the carcass of a turkey at a friend's house. Dried peaches, dried mango, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, stock. Preparing vegetables (I almost forgot the brussel sprouts!). Dipping the last of the macadamias I roasted in chocolate. The two boys slumbered until almost 7.00 pm and we missed the neighbours' party. (Unfortunately I suspect we are about to become pariahs as it was abundantly obvious we were home.) And now the turkey is roasted and resting, all the chocolates are in the fridge and just need parcelling up tomorrow. Dinner will be served in about 17 minutes and the Christmas cooking is done. It feels wonderful.
Lest you think I am one smug cow, I must say that I will no doubt be up late, wrapping and arranging presents, hunting madly for the gifts I bought months ago and which are now hidden under a pile of other things. But I will not be up at midnight this year crushing candy canes and waiting for chocolate to set. And that feels very good ideed.