Welcome to week 3 of Christmas Traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia.
There are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition would be very welcome to showcase them here I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November with turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share your thanksgiving recipes and I will link back to your post…
Christmas if you are like me then I am still thinking I have lots of time but the reality is we don’t as the time just flies past and then, after all, that panic, last-minute shopping and preparation it will be over!
We are then left wondering why all the panic, last-minute present buying, cleaning and cooking. Was it worth it?
All the queues for the sales start Boxing Day and a lot of the presents we have lovingly bought and some of you will have scrimped and saved to buy are now being virtually given away….Why do we do it?
Along the way and through the years the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.
I remember getting a sock with a tangerine in the toe, little packets of sweeties, sugar mice a couple of little presents and being so excited. Tangerines were a real treat at Christmas. My dad would come home on Christmas Eve with the Turkey or Capon, Fruit and Chocolates… We would be so excited as we only had those goodies at Christmas and would be eagerly awaiting to be asked if we wanted one.
The dustman, milkman and coalman would get their Christmas tip and a mince-pie. Christmas was a special time and now it is so commercialised it has taken away the magic…
I would always get a Rupert the Bear Annual, new slippers and a dressing gown. But we were happy…what happened…commercialisation happened…are children as happy with what they get now….I don’t think so…certainly not in the western world….
Yes, you can get the latest iPhone etc and the young teenagers probably hanker after one but also just to have a cheap Nokia is ok too.
Christmas Jumper Corner…
Did any of you see the latest in Christmas Jumpers on FB this week…??
It takes Christmas jumpers to a whole new level…Apparently, it is quite easy to make your own from an old jumper… I don’t think I will be wearing one quite like that…Sorry, I didn’t want to copy the picture but it looks like there are plenty of DIY ones on Instagram for those who want to do a search?…
But please send in Christmas jumper pics… Let’s have a bit of fun…They are ugly but cute at the same time…Christmas Kitch at it’s best…
Gingerbread Houses…I have seen pictures of the most elaborate ones and marvel at the talent of some of the bakers …The intricate icing they do is just exquisite…
Me… I am not a baker…Maybe bread, Christmas pies and puddings… I just don’t have the patience anymore to spend hours… Icing cakes…although covid has changed that somewhat I do a little more cake baking than before…
These little ones look pretty and I know Lily is after me to make one I think something like this will be my limit…Do you make a gingerbread house every year? If so please share …Any hints and tips will be gratefully received and credited to you…
Where did all of this start?
Well despite the quaint tradition of building festive gingerbread houses, gingerbread was once pretty serious business…….
Spices……. particularly ginger and cinnamon, have preservative properties, and it is thought that gingerbread was first professionally baked in Europe around the 11th century when exotic spices were brought back from the Middle East……..
It is said that Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, introduced gingerbread to France, where highly skilled gingerbread bakers were chosen to form professional gingerbread baker guilds that were highly regarded in the bakery profession.
In certain areas of Europe, only invited members of the gingerbread baker’s guild were permitted to bake and sell gingerbread commercially, with the restrictions only lifted by the Guild at Christmas and Easter – when any old cook or baker could give it a try.
Now, of course, cooks all over the world bake gingerbread at Christmas, some more ambitious than others……….
Did you know?
The largest gingerbread house ever created was made by a group of bakers in Texas, the US – they built a 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to raise funds for a local hospital, containing over 7,200 eggs, 3,000 kg of flour, and an estimated 35.8 million calories…Wow, some baking… What a marathon.
This gingerbread house recipe won’t bake you a mansion but will show you how to create some pretty gingerbread houses….. So have fun and get making those houses. This recipe is a Paul Hollywood recipe of Great British Bake-off fame so I think it should be pretty good and one I will be trying…it does look pretty simple for a novice like me…
Did you know?
Every Christmas elf has a bell on the tip of their shoes…
Did you know?
How Santa gets back up the chimney??? He touches the side of his nose with his finger, smiles and nods and in a trice, he is back in his sleigh…Magic
There comes a time in our lives when we are faced with the prospect of cooing our own Christmas Turkey …it can strike the fear of bejesus in your heart but never fear as long as you don’t follow the guidance of Mr Bean you will be fine…
I would say that a smaller turkey would suffice…
Now for the serious stuff…Where to Start…
First of all, relax and all will be well…
I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.
A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.
I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…
The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.
Some chefs also push the butter under the skin of the turkey…..
It really is a personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s a personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options…
Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.
Here is the link to a handy website if you need to calculate your cooking time: http://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeycookingtimecalc.html
This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly
The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.
I used about 6 oz of butter.
Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe them out inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.
I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…
Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.
Calculate your cooking times and preheat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven and how hot it runs…
Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.
Set the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.
Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.
Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.
Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes at 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.
To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.
If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.
Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.
Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..
After all that I think a “Pat on the back” and a cocktail is called for…Don’t you?
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx