Christmas Eve usually means a last minute dash around the shops for us, there’s always something forgotten. Our habits were fixed in the days when the poor shop workers got a reasonable break after the Christmas rush, so we tend to stock up as if they’re not going to re-open until next year!
Before facing up to that, there was one bit of ‘shopping’ that had to be done if we were to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner. The sprouts and snips needed to be harvested from the plot.
The allotment site was empty and I can’t say very inviting. The sky was leaden grey, the fog was threatening to roll in and the ground appeared wet to say the least. In fact though, the water lying on the paths and plots was just on top of the ice.
An engineer friend once told me that wet leather on ice was as near to frictionless as you can get. Certainly it was pretty difficult avoiding ending up falling down. The air was about 1 degree, just enough to melt the surface but the top of the soil was still well below freezing.
I suppose we’re lucky to have missed the snow that’s hit most of the country. Our daughter’s garden had about 4 inches lying on it, which didn’t exactly cheer her chickens up. The main difficulty in extreme weather is ensuring the hens still have liquid drinking water. The ducks found ice skating on their baby-bath pond interesting as well.
The sprouts hadn’t produced their normal yield for me, but we still had more than enough for dinner and a few meals beyond. Normally I cook Christmas dinner and sprouts only appeared on the menu when I discovered home-grown, cooked properly are actually lovely.
This year I changed the recipe after reading a post on the forum by a chef. They were lightly fried in butter and absolutely delicious. Even Cara, who normally pushes one token sprout around her plate until accidentally dropping it on the floor ate a good portion!
The turkey was from Grannie Annie and absolutely fantastic. I stuffed the neck end with a simple sage & onion plus sausage meat mix, slipped some chunks of butter under the skin and followed Grannie’s instructions to cook it upside down until near the end.
That really worked well, the fat in the sausage meat and the juices went down through the turkey and kept it moist. I don’t stuff the main cavity though – leaving it open ensures the hot air gets into the bird and it’s cooked thoroughly. Apparently an awful lot of people spend boxing day discovering under-cooked turkey can make you very ill.
The rest of the vegetables were roasted, my potatoes, parsnips, carrots and shallots with some rosemary to flavour. Very simple and easy, but mouth watering, none the less.
To me it was the perfect Christmas dinner – my own produce except for the turkey and that was properly raised and had a good life until the end.