Monday, 29 August 2016

Shush its that C Word The Christmas Food Box

Its that time again when thoughts turn towards popping up stuff in my case a very large red plastic box with a lid on it that is stored under my stairs in the house as it is not easy to get in and out of.  I popped round to get an ice cream earlier on as I was a little hot after being in the kitchen.  I was checking the shelves out whilst I was in there and I noticed that a lot of the stock already on the shelves has a long stop date of March 2017.  This particular shelf was biscuits, cream crackers etc.  Some of the items were on offer.  I bought a couple of boxes of some cream crackers and one or two other bits to start off my Christmas food box.  Basically where I can afford it I pop a few bits up on a regular often weekly basis where I can - its not always possible but buying a bit here and there in advance actually helps the budget and means come the beginning of December money will be available to buy those presents as part of the food is already paid for and stored.  All the basics can be bought in advance, tinned stuff, dried fruit - whatever your basics are.

For many years I have been preparing the Christmas box for this reason - and especially when the children were home - in fact if you go back through my blog there are several posts in relation to this.  I also make things when I am quiet and pop them in the freezer things like sausage rolls, mince pies and then cook them from frozen.  It saves time which for me is the biggest thing and also on pennies.  Check the pound shops out especially tinned stuff like salmon or tuna and if it has a long stop date buy it and stash it. you have the filling for a mousse, or sandwiches or for some vol-au-vents.  Although figuratively speaking the food is for Christmas in reality it is for the next six months or so.  It gives you more choice of ingredients and the security of knowing that you have food to eat, not only for Christmas but for the coming cold months.

There are rules  - I take advantage of offers on sweets - although I am selective as to what I have - you cannot have everything but you can have your favourites. Use the pound shops for things like sweets and crisps and savouries.

I bake. 

I make my own Christmas cake, and Christmas puddings at the end of September for the cake, and traditionally the pudding on stir up Sunday in November.  However this year the puddings will be made at the end of September.  They will be stored under the stairs where it is nice and cold - they will keep.  They are full of dried fruit and they also have ale and spirit and or cider in.  They will keep and mature as long as they are wrapped tightly in foil and in a cool place.  Don't fancy that  - and there really is nothing wrong with it make your pudding cook it and then freeze it.  I always give my puddings a minimum of 6 hours cooking so that they go nice and dark, after its cooked  then freeze it.  Take the pudding out of the freezer the night before Christmas Eve to defrost.  Yet again leave it somewhere cold.  Re-cook on Christmas morning in readiness for your dinner.  Don't like Christmas pudding there are alternatives.  In fact going back through the blog there are lots of recipes  if you want to check them out.

No its not too soon for Christmas for all the hype maybe for the practicalities of being comfortable on the food front you have to give yourself a head start.  buy a few things where you can when you can  - some weeks you may not be able to.  Every little helps as they say.

Christmas Eve is the day I bake for Christmas  - this is a long standing family tradition going back to my great grandmothers time.  This is the time that I will make the fancier bits and bobs.  I tend to buy ingredients more than anything then make things myself.  There are shortcuts things that are actually very quick to make but which look impressive.  Everyone has something to bring to the table skill wise its just finding out what their strengths and their weaknesses are.  If you are a big family do things as a family especially if you are all going to be together  for Christmas.  If one mum is good at the baking let her do it  - but help and then split the costs between you - skill sharing.  If one is good with doing the decorations let them do it  - with assistance from the rest of the family of course but you do need a team leader.

Include the children give and delegate little jobs from an early age.  The magic of Christmas starts at home it is a time to believe and enjoy - make your own traditions involve them.  The more you involve them the more they learn on a social level as they really are learning at your heels and how to do things.

My family have been doing this for years.  During the war things were tight.  Things were not available and if you came across a tin of salmon I was kept for a special occasion as was tinned fruit.  You made the best of what you had but you also planned in front and this is what the Christmas food box aims to do.  Apparently for a good ten years after the war was over there were huge restrictions on food and I think it was just prior to me being born in 1959 that foodstuffs started to be available again.  We are spoilt today.

I cook Christmas Dinner and once all my baking and dinner are done.  That's it - cold cuts  - pickles, chutneys, baking filled with my home made jams.  Quiches made from home cooked bacon, home made pates, potted shrimps, home cured salmon.  It can all be afforded with a bit of plotting and planning and budgeting for those essential items and taking advantage of offers.  Salmon is not difficult to cure, just time consuming and you can always freeze any excess.  This year I quite fancy having a go at some spiced beef as well as some Salmon. 

you know what you and your loved ones like to eat.  Christmas is about feasting and sharing - sharing the love of your family with good food is perhaps one of those gifts that evolves from good intentions and wraps your family in love.  Its not complicated if you break it down into segments.  This year I hope to use the kitchen notes post to actually mention what I am going to be preparing that week.  You can even make your own ice creams and sorbets.  Children love ice cream - get them helping you.  You do not need fancy equipment although if you have it use it.  Ice cream can be made with a plastic box and a whisk to break the crystals down once frozen.  Its about blending things at the end of the day with things that work for you with convenience items, to get the balance right with the time you have and the pennies available and still being able to live well.

What do you do - when it comes to Christmas.  love to hear from you.

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Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)