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Saturday, December 29, 2007

“Can I have a refund please?”

I appreciate that we all get sick at one point or another throughout the year.

But Christmas? Sick at Christmas?

Is that allowed? Is it even legal?

Well, not in my book Sonny Jim and certainly not all four of us and most certainly not over the entire Christmas period.

Unfortunately this is exactly how our Christmas was spent and Missy is still not back to fully fit.

I guess I shouldn’t moan too much. We were all reasonably ok for the main day – well, except for Annabel – and reading back over Tuesday’s post, I am smiling at the fact that the next day M and I were very, very sick. Your first worried thought is that you may have poisoned each and every one of your guests; “oh no, what if the turkey had bird flu”, or, “oh poop, what if the lamb had bluetongue” or just “maybe an entire bottle of brandy is too much for a Christmas pud’”.

A few quick ‘phone calls however, established that thankfully, no-one else had been poisoned which made me feel a teensy bit better as I threw up for the 8th time in a very short space of time.

But enough of my griping – for your sakes I will keep a stiff upper lip and forge ahead.

I wanted to share the secret of stress free entertaining with you. Unless of course you are lucky enough to be personal friends with Nigella “Queen of the kitchen” Lawson which sadly, I am not.

If you know this already, then I apologise but, as obvious as it may seem, it is all down to advanced planning!

Before you allow your shoulders to slump and you click away to check your e-mails muttering, “time wasting twerp” or other such expletives, let me explain.

Firstly, take a great tip from some chums about perfect roast potatoes. This tip allows you to peel, boil, cool, flour and cover them the night before. Also top, tail, peel and cut (lengthways) your carrots and parsnips, sealing in a bag and refrigerating the night before also. Sprouts get done the same way but the really clever bit, for me anyway, was the timetable for it all.

Ours went like this:

11.35am – preheat oven
11.45am – put turkey in

Go about your business, uncork wine to allow time to breathe, chill beers, soft drinks etc, pour small glass of above mentioned wine for your immediate consumption and relax.

1.00pm – greet guests
1.15pm – preheat potato tray with goose fat in oven
1.30pm – potatoes into goose fat and preheat parsnip tray
1.45pm – parsnips in and open turkey roasting bag to allow skin to crisp
2.00pm – take turkey out of oven and cover, allowing juices to get to work. Sit down to eat cold starters (salmon, prawns, crab pâté, all prepared in advance natch)
2.10pm - pigs in blankets into oven, sprouts & carrots on to steam and warm gravy
2.30pm – switch it all off, carve turkey and lamb and serve to impressed guests, both at the sight and smells of the food, as well as the unruffled nature of their host (yours truly), which is most unusual when he is cooking!

There you go – a step by step guide to enjoying your time in the kitchen.

You’re welcome!

I must say a quick thank you to my Monster-in-law who bought, cooked and delivered the lamb in mushroom sauce which was delicious. I very kindly allowed her to stay as she had worked so hard (kidding) and all in all, I truly enjoyed our Christmas this year.

If I were to tell you one thing that you need in order to carry off this planning, it’s a kitchen timer. No more frantic checking off your watch or the wall clock, making your guests feel like you can’t wait to get rid of them. Not all of them at any rate.

Well, I felt weak before I started writing all that, nose running, shoulder’s aching. I hope you appreciate it???

Ooh, by the way, has anyone ever actually seen Nigella and Russell Brand in the same room at the same time?

No, me either dammit, but I think they might just be the same person! Whether his stubble is sprayed on or she has been strategically shaved I’m not sure but next time you see Nigella on tv, quickly stick your Russell DVD on (if you have one) and compare their mannerisms.

They are one!

Either that or I’m bonkers.

Actually, maybe I’m just bonkers.


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