I only have a half size oven therefore cooking of any sort has to be planned. Come Christmas or the run up to it I am doing bits and bobs most nights and I try and plan my cooking wherever possible. This year I have quite a bit of time off in December to do the decorating and the cooking. The first stage is making things like pate and home made pork pie and these sorts of things are made usually prior to December wherever possible and in some instances preparing the items and then just freezing them like the Pork pie au natural and then finishing off as we need it.
Then there are those sweet items that are long keeping like toffee and Turkish Delight; then comes the baking like mince pies, Sausage rolls etc.and then I and cooking a large celebrationary meal is and can be somewhat of a challenge.
I have therefore learnt to stagger and do things as I can to enable that everything that is required for the whole of the meal can be in place and cooked as well as the main event i.e. the Turkey,Goose,Beef or Capon. On Christmas Day my little oven is only big enough just for the Turkey and very little else. Therefore I try and get as much done as I can which also saves much flapping about and means I can enjoy the day too and most importantly of all we get fed. I am also very conscious to try and use the oven efficiently bearing in mind the cost of gas in any event. There is a rule in this house that I am quite happy to do all the preparatory work and cook the Christmas dinner but after that it is cold cuts so that I get an opportunity to enjoy Christmas too and get to watch the TV. That's really one of the reasons I started making chutneys etc.
To this end I make things like the bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stocks etc and put them, up in the freezer, once made they can be forgotten about. I also buy fresh vegetables and prepare and freeze them down as well where I can although I try where possible to use fresh veggies (but fresh veggies that you have prepared yourself and then frozen is next best and it can save time). Most of the roast potatoes parsnips sweet potato etc are prepared, the bacon n sausages and stuffing is all prepared on Christmas Eve and then cooked where possible. Things like the Cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier is prepared and frozen and then all I have to do is warm it through in the microwave same with the bread sauce. Bread sauce is a requirement in this household and I have found that if I am in a rush the bread sauce is not quite as tasty as it could be - hence another reason for me making it beforehand because the milk gets to soak and the herbs and flavourings macerate into the mixture. I always make plenty as we like it cold with turkey and cranberry sauce in a sarnie too. And if there are any veggies left we make bubble and squeak and sometimes that goes into the sarnies too.
What do you do for your Christmas preparations
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