Nollaig shona agus
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoib
Wishing you peace and happiness
for Christmas and the New Year
In case anyone is worried…
I would swap the modern Christmas celebrations for Thanksgiving Day at the drop of a hat. With each year that passes the simplicity of the former has been drowned in a loud opera of noise & commercialism. Unnecessary hours, days and weeks spent on the one-up-man-ship of proving how much people care by buying the biggest flashiest present, no matter whether they can really afford it, or if the gifted really wants or needs it.
Time is the cheapest most precious personal gift that anyone can receive. I mean real time… without the interruption of modern technology – a phones/games off zone!
So on this THANKSGIVING DAY, my message to all my American friends and family, far and near:
If you are travelling, may the roads rise with you,
no traffic and no troubles delay you.
Hoping all of you will remain safe and well,
May your celebrations and gatherings be happy, serene and fun loving.
Your meals are delicious and your dessert sweeten the love in your hearts…
A last hat tip to the festive season of last year. Yes, I know. I know it was only last week, but some of you have muzzy fuzzy heads and are not sure what day it is never mind which year, so where was I and what was I up to?
Well, Elly did catch me with my arm around an elf when she was with me a few weeks ago.
So….. What about the big day?
That Elly wan and all the family think I was sitting at home on my own with my one mince pie and a little glass of wine, but… should I tell them what I was really up to?
I think I have to since I was rumbled.
It was Nancy L who sent this one to me, Do you think she was in cahoots with Mayo?
Our local weather department are warning us of a cold snap over the next few days:
Could be pretty Major storm on the way for Monday which could last well into Christmas eve. Warnings will be issued tomorrow, advice is to stay tuned to forecasts and warnings especially if you have travel plans. This looks to be quite an exceptional storm, which is likely hit not just us here in NI but the whole of the UK. It is currently affecting parts of Canada causing disruption to travel and power supplies. It will quickly move across the Atlantic to affect us over the Christmas period. Keep an eye out for warnings folks.
The snow has already started in Ballyboughal, just north of Dublin, and many other places north of that. Time to light the fire and bunker down for the duration.
I hope it does not end up as cold as in the header, a photo through one of my windows a couple of years ago.
Everyone has their favourite way to cook the turkey so today I will concentrate on dishes to serve with it.
Christmas Red Cabbage
Preheat the oven to190°C
1 head of Red Cabbage discarding the core
3 tablespoons Sherry or Red Wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
9ozs canned or vacuum-packed cooked and peeled chestnuts
Finely shred the cabbage and layer in a casserole with Cranberries, Butter, Sherry or Red Wine vinegar & water. Cover tightly and cook for 1 hour.Stir in chestnuts and cook for a further 15 minutes.Serve immediately or cool quickly and reheat the next day (often better).
Port & Apricot Bacon Rolls
Preheat the oven to190°C
12 ready to eat Dried Apricots
6 slices smoked Streaky bacon
Soak the apricots in the port overnight.Stretch the bacon slices by running a sharp knife along the length of each slice, then cut in half crosswise.Wrap a piece of bacon around each apricot and place in a small roasting tin.Pour over remaining port, and then cook for 20-25 minutes until bacon is a delicious golden colour.
Lemon & Thyme Stuffing
Small Onion chopped
½ tablespoon Sunflower Oil
2ozs white Breadcrumbs
½ tablespoon fresh chopped Thyme
Grated rind of a Lemon
2 tablespoon s chopped Parsley
1 Egg beaten
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
Cook chopped onion in oil and cool.Put all the ingredients in a bowl & add onion and season.Roll into Balls and chill.Add to roasting tin for last 20 minutes of cooking time
Chestnut & Sausage-meat Stuffing
½ tablespoon Sunflower Oil
4ozs Cumberland Sausages
1oz fresh wholemeal Breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon p chopped Parsley
2ozs cooked & peeled Chestnuts
1 Egg beaten
Cook the onion in oil until softened and leave to cool.Put remaining ingredients in a bowl and add onion and season.Shape into balls, cover and chill.Add to roasting tin for last 20 minutes of cooking time
Mincemeat for Mince Pies
12oz Mixed Fruit
2oz Mixed peel
8oz Demerara Sugar
4tablespoons Lemon Juice
½tablespoon Mixed Spice
1 Orange, Rind & Juice
Wine, Rum or Brandy
4 Cooking Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Clean and prepare the fruit and put into a large bowl. Add chopped apples, suet, peel, cherries, nuts, sugar and spices and mix well. Add lemon juice, rind and juice of the orange and selected booze. Mix thoroughly, cover and leave for 2-3 days.
Bottle and leave for 2 weeks in a cool place before using.
Pastry for Mince Pies
8oz Plain Flour
¼ teaspoon Salt
½oz Ground Almonds
½oz Caster Sugar
1-2 tablespoons Water
Beaten egg or milk to glaze
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub in until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and almonds. Add 1 tablespoon of water and with a knife mix to a stiff dough, adding more water if necessary. Draw the dough together with the fingertips and turn onto a floured board. Knead lightly for 1 minute then wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.
Roll out the pastry very thinly, cut out 15 small rounds and 15 larger rounds, re-rolling the trimmings as required. Line patty tins with the large pastry rounds; place a spoonful of filling in each. Damp the edges with the egg/milk and cover with the smaller rounds, sealing well. Brush the tops with the beaten egg or milk, make a small hole in the top and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with icing sugar while still warm.
Now you are all set for Carol Singing!
Nana’s Christmas Pudding (No suet)
2x2pint Bowls greased well
8oz Brown Sugar
2oz Plain Flour
¼ teaspoon each: Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Mixed Spice
8ozs Bread Crumbs
3 large Eggs
18oz Dried Fruit
1 large cooking Apple, chopped
3oz Candied Peel
1 grated carrot
Juice & Rind of 1 Orange
½ glass Spirits
Stout to moisten
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well using your hands – part of the mystery of Christmas! Add the stout a little at a time to moisten the mixture. Finally stir ½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda into a little milk last thing and add to the pudding mixture and mix well. Divide between the two bowls. Cover with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper and tie well. Place each bowl in a saucepan of boiling water making sure the water does not cover the bowls. Boil for 5 hours topping up the water level at intervals. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Boil 2 further hours before use. This second boiling can be done a week or so before Christmas and the pudding heated on the day.