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Friday, 20 December 2013


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Just to be slightly pedantic, cloud cover is measured in eighths so that would be eight/eighths cloud cover then.

Merry Christmas!!

Blimey, Kevin, you're sounding just like 'DM'! Even so, best Christmas wishes to you and yours.

Just in case you've been worrying about it, Duffers, we shall once again be having goose for Xmas. We've yet to find a golden egg, but we carve in hope.

Well, DM, gold has dropped in value so you might find two! Alas, my memory of goose goes back a long way but I seem to recall that there was an awful lot of fat and not much meat - well, compared to a turkey, at any rate!

The other meat I tasted just recently was venison stew - produced at the French Horn in Sonning, no less, and the sauce was superb. The meat fell to bits under the slightest pressure from the knife but even so it was still 'chewy'. Not a strongly flavoured meat, I thought. Anyway, I was curious because we are having it at a joint dinner party on New Year's Eve. I say 'joint' because everyone is bringing different courses. I am in charge of the hors d’ oeuvres - and the dry martinis if I get half a chance!

You get lots of meat and lots of fat. The fat keeps you in roast potatoes for months. Delish.

Yeees, but you can buy goose fat by the jar.

Ah, but it doesn't have all the lovely flavours of our free-range, Cambridgeshire goose, Ho no!

Anyway, a goose is a bloody sight better than turkeyagain.

Picky, picky, picky! Yes, I know turkey is boring but we only have it twice a year and I love it - provided, of course, that it comes with all the trimmings!

We have turkey for Thanksgiving, and ham for Christmas. The remains of the turkey are frozen, and, for New Year's Day I make a cassoulet of the ham, the turkey, some Polish sausage, and black-eyed peas. I actually dilute the black-eyes with cream peas, sort of a blind black eye, with a much milder taste. We serve it with corn-bread pancakes, and, of course, green-tomato relish.

Black-eyes are poor people food. They were brought over on slave ships, or, more likely, up from Brazil on slave ships. The idea is that, if the Bullshit Angel stops by your house on New year's Day, he'll see you eating like poor folks, and will move on to someone who's eating steak. Traditionally, the peas were cooked with hog maws, more PPF. Making a cassoulet out of scraps from the two most recent feasts seems to serve the same purpose, confusion to the Bullshit Angel.

Turnip greens, representing money, but with another PPF, are also a big favorite. I hone my diplomatic skills every year, for settling the fights for the last morsel.

What do they call people who like our own cooking ?


I love turkey but I've taken to the easy way out for the past few years.
I buy a ready cooked breast (pardon my language) stuffed with a cranberry/macadamia mix and just slice it and have it cold whenever anybody feels peckish. My son, being a chef, generally works on Christmas day, and so it's not a good idea to have all the fancy tucker or go to much trouble. Besides, it's generally very hot and humid and/or raining or cyclonic here so not a good idea to go to much trouble.
A cooking maniac friend of mine fancied goose a while ago and ordered one from her butcher. She neglected to ask the price and when it arrived it cost her $ 200!
She and her husband enjoyed it but won't be having it as a weekly affair.
As long as there's plenty of liquid I don't think it matters too much really, does it?

We once spent Xmas up Mt Tambourine. The hotel neglected to tell us that both lunch and dinner on Xmas Day would be turkey etc, and that we were entitled to only one of them.

So we had dinner in a Chinese Restaurant.

I'd love to taste goose, but the two English restaurants nearby, the elephant and castle, and the Liverpudlian, don't serve it, even at Christmas. The secret to good turkey is to brine it for a full 24 hours before cooking it. Very juicy. and I use figs and sausage in place of the stuffing.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I am cooking for my Dad and brother. The other family members have other plans and would rather not make the 2-4 hour trips. I am not overly fond of turkey - once a year at Thanksgiving is just fine with me. I haven't set the menu yet, but I am leaning towards something different: roast beef. I cannot decide if I want to make roast or mashed potatoes. And I am at odds for dessert. Any easy recommendations?

Missred, Cheesecake works for me.

'Black-eyed peas? Hog maws? Turnip greens?' Please don't think me ungracious, Michael, but I'm NOT free for Christmas lunch - not ever! But there again, as my old Ma used to say, "It's all according to taste as the man said when he kissed the cow!"

Andra, that sounds like a commonsense solution given your climate. I remember that hot turkey and trimmings plus Christmas pud never seemed quite right in the steamy heat of Singapore when we lived there.

Dom, if you go to the 'Liverpudlian' and some kids offer to guard your car in return for some cash - pay it! I offer that advice on the basis of the real Liverpool where they'll carve their names with pride all down the side of your car if you fail to agree. They teach those young 'scousers' early 'over here'!

Miss Red, 'over here', of course, we go in for Christmas puds which are mostly ready made although fortunately we have a friend who makes more than a dozen the old-fashioned way and gives them to her friends. If the Memsahib has any odeas for a quick easy pud I'll e-mail you.

Dessert: trifle does very well. Be heavy-handed with the sherry.
Potatoes: we love roast. And if you settle for beef, we would always have Yorkshire Pudding with it. A tip about mash: once in an emergency my wife made mashed potato with some of that packet stuff (a brand called Smash) - she incorporated lots of butter and cream, and it proved, ahem, a smash hit with our guests. Just be sure not to tell 'em.

No, no, no, DM! Booze should be confined to glasses not wasted inside puds!

As for the admittedly somewhat bland flavour of turkey, I recommend cooking some smoked ham at the same time and adding a slice or two of that to 'gruntle' it up a bit!

When considering a Turkey for Christmas lunch you have to consider it in the round.

On our plates will be:

Fairy cabbages with chestnuts
Cremated carrots and parsnips (a speciality of my wife)
Two sorts of stuffing; one home made, one not.
Roast potatoes
New potatoes
Crispy bacon
Little sausages, made specially by local butcher
Gravy, made by hot and bothered wife.
Bread sauce (not for me).

For those with more exotic tastes, cranberry sauce

Then there is the wine. As usual we will open a couple of bottles sent by my son, who always sends a dozen at this time of year to ensure his old dad survives the day in an alcoholic haze.

PS. I forgot the popovers, see next message.

Popovers. My wife makes neat little Yorkshire puddings which she calls popovers; as did her mother before her. She uses the same mixture to make toad-in-the-hole. A recent visit saw a 7-year old grandson announce that it was the first best Toad he had ever had! The little creep then brought tears to the eyes of his step-grandmother by asking if there would be enough for seconds.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you Mr Duff for all your efforts to entertain and inform us and to wish you, and all my fellow readers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Thank you all for your suggestions! Dessert is my Dad's favourite part of dinner so I want it to be special. Saying that, he is happy with something store-bought! I prefer food home-made, but am not a big dessert eater so my baking skills are somewhat rusty.
I will hook on to BofE's opportunity and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year.

Dear Petunia, you're such a sweetie, I might, one of these days invite myself round for Christmas lunch - it sounds delicious!

Miss Red, with or without sherry, I would second DM's suggestion of trifle.

Very Best Christmas Wishes to you and BOE.

No, No.Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. We have the Ham for Christmas. The leftovers go into the black eyes, for New Year's Day. And, I said, we dilute the black eyes with cream peas. People would lick my cassoulet dish, if I'd allow it, which would same me some clean up. At any rate, I never have to worry about leftovers. No, Christmas will be ham, and mashed spuds, and the BSU's green bean casserole, and something wonderful from Lauren (DiL)Maybe asparagus from her garden, with Hollandaise. The kids, and now the grandkids, have always called it 'holidays sauce' because that's the only time they get it.

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