This has been, as anticipated, a weekend of food, I guess as in many homes in South Africa and some other parts of the world where Christmas is celebrated, even in secular households like mine: the variety and scope thereof I suppose very much dictated by the personal circumstances and predilections of the individuals concerned…
I felt very blessed and privileged to have been able to have had three separate occasions over this past weekend to cook and share good food and wine with people whom I care for. There was a moment in my kitchen, in the middle of the mayhem of finding the Cornish hen, which had been sizzling away in the oven, totally undercooked: guests waiting to be fed, where I had to stop and remind myself of how utterly lucky I am to have all of these wonderful ingredients and speciality foods and good sparkling wine and beautiful flowers and friends and my sons and my lover waiting patiently to eat, forgiving my total misjudgement of the time it takes to cook an over 4 kgs fat chicken..
In my rounds of shopping, I saw that one can buy a turducken ready assembled: that beast of a dish which I attempted with some success last year. I did for a brief moment consider cooking one again, but since I am a bit of a perfectionist and prideful cook, I would not have bought the ready made: and I did not feel like the huge task of deboning and general preparation of that. So a Cornish Hen was decided on, and in retrospect I probably won’t cook that again either: I promised my lover that I will in this blog make this statement: “The best part of the Cornish hen, was… the stuffing!” In the end though, sliced thinly with a good gravy and veggies(slightly overcooked, groan!, green beans and sweet carrots) everyone seemed to think that the wait was worth it!
The leg of lamb which I also cooked to take cold to my Dad and his girlfriend’s Christmas day lunch table, was a bigger success: very straightforward; I had that cooked and out of the way on Friday morning already. That lunch was very reminiscent of the Xmas day lunches I grew up with: a beautifully set long table, with a sideboard groaning with four cuts of meat: a gammon, tongue, salted corned beef, and the leg of lamb, and three salads. My nephew, a big hulk of a young man, refusing the offer of an electric carving knife, whipped out his equally big father’s hunting knife(he told me the brand, but I forgot, since although I love good kitchen knives, I am not very enthusiastic about the concept: I grew up with a father who hunted and was married to a man who still does, and I like cooking venison, but that’s how far that stretches) and patiently and rather expertly carved all the meat into thin slices and arranged it all on different platters, some of which I recognised as my mother’s, brought with my dad when he moved in with his girlfriend about six or seven years ago.
My twin sister and her family were there too, so was my lover: a first Christmas with him, though I had by last Christmas known that I was falling in love with this man…
And last night I hosted another dinner party: one of the guest vegan, but since my one son had been vegetarian for years, I was well trained in reading labels for non animal products, and though for the carnivorous rest of the party I made lamb sosaties which had been languishing in my fridge for three days in a Moroccan dressing, her sosaties were veggies strung onto the sosatie stick: brinjal, onion, baby marrow, peppers and soft dried Turkish apricots. I served this with pumpkin roasted off in the oven with a dusting of freshly ground cardamom, and couscous with roasted pumpkin and sesame seeds, slivers of dates, finely chopped fresh coriander and mint, and non animal rennet feta cheese crumbled through. My vegan guest brought with her a surprisingly tasty chocolate mousse made with powdered egg substitute, and I attempted again an apricot tarte tatin, which came out slightly better than a previous time where it was more like pastry with apricot jam spread over it!! Maybe apricots tend to collapse too soon: I’ll try again, but not soon I think: puddings are not my forte!
I was satisfied with this meal: feeling that everything actually worked well together and cooked to the kind of perfection I increasingly require of myself: hmm, maybe I should discuss that with my therapist!
And for the rest of the week, once the leftovers have been used up, I will cook light, healthy meals, and not have any wine, until New Year’s eve, when I will be spending New Year’s eve with friends of my boyfriend and some people whom I don’t know yet. Every meal with friends, former spouses, sons: his, and mine, and family bringing a fonder, firmer, festive confirmation of our togetherness….
PS: Prelude to my Xmas eve dinner table….