Sunday, 4 September 2011

Planning for Christmas 2011 A

For many years come September I have always started the planning for the Christmas bits and bobs and last year I was late in starting the planning (more due to the lack of funds than anything else, and this year things will be tighter. I wrote the following article located here last year:

Well  now its officially September I thought that I would do the same again.   I have started buying a couple of items a week to help take some of the strain off the old purse come Christmas.  If you are careful about date stamps this can work to your advantage as most items you will find will keep into the early months of next year so there will be plenty of time to use them up.  Even items that you think won't have a long keeping period on check them you may be very surprised. Yesterday my mum bought me some Toffee with hazlenut chocolates there are about 6 to a pack  and they really are scrummy from the £ shop together with some McVitees cheeselets and on checking the date stamp for both of them their shelf life expires next March.  So they have been popped into the box as well.  They also had Maltesers the small boxes for £1 and After Eight mints.  Round at our Co-op they were charging £1.75 for the small box of Maltesers.  OH is particularly fond of Maltesers, but I also have an idea for an ice cream with either the Aero Mint Bubble chocolates in a white Ice cream or the Maltesers.  You can of course also make muffins with these two sweeties and with Toblerone.  So yet again a few items can have a lot of uses that are both filling and good.

My local Co-op have the sweetie tins in at £11 apiece and they look like the 975g tins - will have to see what offers if any the stores have, but it seems crazy the prices they are charging and they are not as nice as they used to be, so could well end up giving this a miss altogether and make my own.

In the next few weeks I shall be trawling the £ shops looking to see what bargains they have in trying to build the Christmas goodies store in advance and then trying to keep my mitts off them before I need them.  Well I am only human.  But the other thing that grieves me is that prices tend to go up just because it is Christmas, so with a bit of careful planning and juggling now I should be able to get what I would like without paying through the nose for things.  Its also nice to have a choice of ingredients from which to cook from a Battery de Cuisine which is personal to yourself, whether this encompasses goodies from the pantry the freezer the bottle/jam store and the wine store, vegetable garden, vegetable clamp etc.

One thing I would say is that if you have an Asian shop near you pop in and see what they do.  For the past couple of years I have been getting my almonds and ground almonds from them at a lot cheaper price than the supermarkets can do them for, as well as other interesting bits and bobs i.e. almond oil and coconut oil for soapmaking, lots of different spices and herbs, rosewater relatively cheaply.  It is worth a look.

Yesterday I bought some cake decorating bits and bobs - not much but at least it is something.  Then of course there are all the things that I have made in my Pantry store to add as well so between these two stores things should build up quite well and very quickly.

At the moment I have some yogurt to use up and I thought that if I could get some more brambles I could make a few yoghurt Ice Cream cakes with blackberry sauce rippled through and then frozen in my pyrex loaf pans so that they are easily removable, can then be wrapped and I can use the pans again.  Yogurt is good for you and I thought that it would make a nice treat as we love ice cream in this house, then tarted up presentation wise with some of the frozen blackberries in the freezer and a little cream should make good eating.  I have various wines to make in the next few weeks too, with a little time some sugar and some alchemy lovely results can be achieved from next to nothing, time to take advantage of the hedgerow fruits whilst you can.  I just wish I could find some damsons and purple bullace.

I also want to make some lemon curd as you can make a very quick lemon meringue pie from a jar of this.  

My Christmas cake fruit is also going into soak in spirit tomorrow.  I am not sure whether to use whisky like my Nan used to do and she used to make a cracking Christmas cake or whether to use Brandy.  All my dried fruit is waiting to be used under the stairs, but I may well top up on a few extra bags during the coming weeks too as OH quite likes proper fruit cake.

Times are tight for everyone this year and buying a few items a week where you can (even if it means being economic elsewhere) and going without and perhaps not having all the items one usually has) means that you too can have a pleasant Christmas.  It doesn't have to be big brassy and  involve the buying and wasting of things that you just cannot possibly get round to but about being sensible and making the best of what you have available before you.  Christmas is for children but every adult will enjoy the celebration more if there are children around as they tune in to the magic and excitement of being young and  its a time for reconnecting with their inner child.

I have a pile of things to make in respect of Christmas presents this year and I am lucky that I can within reason turn my hands to many things. Christmas is after all for me a time to be with family and friends - Christmas is about the family and not just about presents.  Its a time for quite celebration and of giving of yourself freely it is not about money or keeping up with the Jones'. 

My list so far of bought things and some home made things you will note that there are a lot of baking ingredients as I always do a big bake on Christmas Eve - it is one of our family customs things like mince pies, coconut cheese cakes, school boys ear holes (jam tarts) shortbread, lemon curd tarts, Christmas fruit loaf etc and this year's list so far consists of:-
  1. Pot of Hundreds and Thousands (cake decorating or sprinkled on ice creams or trifles)
  2. Box of Citrus Flavour Strands      (cake decorating or sprinkled on ice creams) or trifles)
  3. Toffee hazlenut and chocolate toffee sweets 6 to a pack - 1 pack
  4. Large pack of mini cheeselets by McVitees.
  5. 2 jars lemon mousse mixture from M & S
  6. 1 pack Smyrna Dried figs (for use in the alternative frozen Christmas pudding full of mixed dried fruits)
  7. 1 pack Dried Physalis       ( ditto)
  8. 2 jars of Silverskin Onions
  9. 2 Large Tins John West Wild Red Salmon
  10. 2 jars of honey
  11. 2 bottles of Rosewater (for Turkish Delight)
  12. Extra jar of mint jelly
  13. Tin of Black Treacle for Parkin and Gingerbread
  14. 2 Tins of Golden Syrup
  15. 2 packets of pecans (for toasted honey and pecan sauce)
  16. Large pack of Almonds (for baking and also for some toasted almond honey sauce)
  17. Ground Almonds
  18. 2 packs of cup cake cases one plain and other pastel colours
  19. 2 boxes of Turners fruit jellies (on offer £1.10 per box at the Co-Op)
  20. 1 box After Eight Mints
  21. 2 Boxes Turkish Delight Chocolate Thins
  22.  1 Tin of Chestnut Puree (I need two tins of this for a very delish chocolate terrine)
  23. 2 Easiyo  yogurt mixes one Strawberries and Cream and Forest Fruits.
  24.  1 box Cadburys chocolate milk fingers
  25.  2 boxes x 12 red and green candy canes for the Christmas tree (from the £ shop)
  26.  1 tube plain Pringles
  27. Meringue Shells
  28. Walkers Sensations Sweet Chilli Crisps - 2 bags
  29. Walkers Sensations Cheese n Chutney Crisps - 1 bag
  30. Cadburys Occasions chocolate biscuits
  31. 1 pack of 7 bags mini cheddars
  32. 2 boxes half coated in chocolate brazil nut cookies
  33. 1 pack of cadburys chocolate biscuits
  34. 1 bottle of Champagne
  35. 2 Pots of Frozen Clementine Juice ready for Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning
  36.  Popcorn kernels for making home made popcorn
  37. Mincemeat (home made)
  38. Christmas Cake (home made)
  39. Christmas Pudding (home made)
  40. Dundee Cake (home made)
  41. Christmas Fruit Bread (home made)
  42. Ginger Beer
  43. Apple Pop
  44. Lemon Cordial
  45. Pickled Onions (home made)
  46. Pickled Shallots (home made)
  47. Pickled Eggs (home made)
  48. Pickled Beetroot (home made)
  49. Ice Cream Christmas Bomb (alternative to Christmas Pudding)
  50. Preserved stem ginger (home made)
  51. Preserved crystallised ginger (home made)
  52. 1 box Terrys Twilight mint chocolates
  53. 1 Box Paynes Just Brazils
  54. 2 bags salted peanuts
  55. 2 Bags Tyrrells Salted Cider Vinegar Crisps
  56. 1 tin Roses Chocolates
  57. 1 tin Quality Street

    You have to start somewhere, even if it is only putting a couple of cans of tinned salmon up on the pantry shelf (I have a big red box that all my stuff goes into a mitts off box until Christmas)  You can make a salmon pate, mousse, fish cakes, sandwiches etc just from a tin of salmon and add some chopped gherkins to pep it up a bit makes quite interesting cooking. or some home made pickled cucumber  So everything has its place and purpose, its just knowing what to do with it that sometimes hurts the grey cells but there is always something interesting you can do.

    I will update as I go along.




    1. Tricia, i noticed yeaterday that T*scos have those big tins right now at £5 each, although the weight has reduced a little (apparently by an average of 11 sweets per tin!!) I was good, I was in there buying petfood, and resisted!! :-)

      Leanne x

    2. Oh to be organised! I'm afraid I'm very last minute these days...Truly, we don't have too many extras anyway at Christmas with us both being diabetic, but of course we do have the odd treat. I'm afraid to own up that mince pies are my failing. Other than Christmas lunch when my Mom, daughter and boyfriend will be here we'll probably have a quiet time, that's not a problem it's how we like it! We will be have friends round for the evening between Xmas and New Year, but it'll be a buffett style spread and help yourself. I'll cook/prepare most of it myself, but if I find any time-saving shortcuts I'm all for that too :o)
      Sadly, I just don't have spare freezer space,or even space for a spare freezer so forward planning and freezing just isn't on the adgenda. I do stock up on a few tins and packets if I see them though.
      Truly, I do envy your forethought and planning Tricia, Christmas must be a joyus time for you and yours - all that lovely home cooked foods and preserves :o)

    3. Thanks Leanne for that - might get OH to take me to our Tesco's for a shifty. Its a while since we have been. I am usually very good if I put stuff up, but I am not going to pay £11 a tin. Something has to give. For a moment I had this vision of George gently unwrapping a sweetie! Naughty - well it is his birthday! I get the catfood and the dog food from Pets at Home, which is a large warehouse which offers good deals. Its handy as it is quite next door to where I work. Hope you are okay and that your son is too.

      Take care



    4. Hi Rose

      I am sorry I hadn't fully appreciated that you were diabetic. That must be difficult at times for you. That makes me feel very lucky indeed. Mind you I can understand your predeliction for home made mince pies. Yummy. I don't class myself as completely organised, you know the saying the best laid plans of mice and men - I usually end up like a mouse in the corner. I have the ideas they just don't always follow through - life gets in the way but I have it on good authority that I am very trying!

      It doesn't matter how you celebrate your Christmas as we all create our own traditions and our own way of doing things and as long as it works for you and your's why change it. I just love Christmas always have - follows on from my family always having good food and family together, gave the family cohesion and a good sense of identity. My Nan only had a small dining room less than 12foot square and yet she had as many as 16 round the table for Christmas lunch like sardines yes; but all tucked in children and adults alike, mostly relatives but also those friends who found themselves all alone at Christmas. Wasn't allowed had to have their Christmas dinner. So I think I have carried on in her footsteps. Equally though my mum always did a lot a Christmas too.

      Take care



    5. I tend to think of myself as being organzied but really not as much as yourself.I do purchase things thoughout Nov and Dec as I agree with you, I think the shops put the prices up the closer we get to the 25th. My family and I do not make Christmas a big deal now that all my grandchildren are getting older, the youngest is now 9 1/2 years and does not believe in Santa anymore, its just not the same. Having said that, I now have a 18month ggs so maybe this Christmas could be different.
      Hope you had a good Sunday.

    6. Hi Patricia

      Lovely to hear from you I hope this Christmas is a special one for you and your ggs. I love to be active and all the preparation and cooking I really do enjoy - simply I like entertaining and hidden away in a corner is my inner child - and its her I let out to play at Christmas. Its a great form of release. Hope your day is a good one too.

      Take care

      Tricia (aka Pattypan)


    7. I did not buy any chocolates last year, I made my own. I was very lucky to find a silicone mold of all the different choccie shapes, so I made a good selection with dark, milk and white chocolate and lots of fillings. Nutella was a lovely addition, it made the chocolates taste like truffles and was quite soft inside.
      I will do the same again this year

    8. Hi Sue

      I also make home made chocolates and sweeties. A particular favourite are home made rum truffles but I do make my own Turkish delight and other goodies too. With my own family and OH's extended family things soon go fast. Hope everyone has a great Christmas this year, despite the difficulties.



    Thank you for popping by. I love to receive comments and to make new friends so please say Hi. Pattypan

    Meet the Moggies

    • Merlin (approx 18 months)
    • Squeak (approx 2 years)
    • Poppy (approx 16 years)
    • Tyson (approx 17 years)
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