How to cope with Christmas

Christmas arrives very early in the hallowed halls of Twyford Cookers. We search in that forgotten place where we tidied away last year’s decorations, and start to pick out endless branches of the artificial Christmas tree. Long ago, we decided that life was too short to spend every day vacuuming pine needles from the floor. Our Christmas tree is an old friend, which takes on its shape from colour coded branches which you have to dig into a central spine. It is usually a good idea to do this construction when you are feeling in a good mood, with hot toddy to hand. Oh, and you do need to play some carols, even though it’s still November. A crisp frost can add to the premature Christmas spirit.

The run-up to the December celebration usually includes the Christmas Demonstration. This year, we have had two, and they were absolutely brilliant for creating an atmosphere of bonhomie. We laid out 25 chairs into rows; placed Christmas recipes into a pack. We made Christmas shortbread and lots of coffee and tea. We stuck cloves into oranges, and mulled plenty of wine. Guests arrived (some too early) to place handbags on seats and then the ritual began.

Sarah, our demonstrator told us all to calm down. It is only a Turkey, she said. She told us we can cook it hours in advance and then wrap it in a duvet. She assured us we can roast our potatoes the day before or even a month before. We have to pretend they are Aunt Bessie’s, because after all, that is what Aunt Bessie does. We don’t need to peel them, just scrub and chop into pieces, bring to the boil, drain, put in a tablespoon of rape seed oil, some seasoning mixed with semolina and perhaps some herbs, shake, and then roast. When they are cooked to perfection, cool and put into a plastic bag in the freezer. On Christmas morning, take them out to defrost and place onto a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Job done, no one will know. The same goes for parsnips. Even gravy can be made and frozen. What were we all so worried about she asked? Pre-preparation is key, she said. Make red cabbage and freeze it in the pot you will serve it in. The secret is to put it into a plastic bag, then in the pot, and freeze. When frozen, take out the plastic bag which is now the same shape as the pot, pop back into the freezer but remove the pot for further use.

“Job done”, she said!

For those of you who couldn’t make it to one of our demonstrations, we’ve created this handy Christmas Cooking Checklist. Print it out and keep it on your fridge or pinboard. Guaranteed to minimise stress! Download the checklist >

Posted in Aga Tips, Christmas

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