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Planning christmas lunch

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by cosmos, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Why is it that even after 30 years, or thereabouts, of doing Christmas lunches I still feel panicked into writing shopping lists and lists of things to, whereas if I am doing a roast chicken sunday lunch I just bung everything in the oven with no panic, no lists and it all comes together? Oh, and I always seem to have all the ingredients in the house.
    Is it a conspiracy? I know I shall do it again this year. I need help!
  2. Why is it that even after 30 years, or thereabouts, of doing Christmas lunches I still feel panicked into writing shopping lists and lists of things to, whereas if I am doing a roast chicken sunday lunch I just bung everything in the oven with no panic, no lists and it all comes together? Oh, and I always seem to have all the ingredients in the house.
    Is it a conspiracy? I know I shall do it again this year. I need help!
  3. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Don't panic!! I need big pink friendly letters to write that in!!

    Deal with 1 thing at a time. Now you know what you normally eat at Christmas so list all the things you eat, then break them down into component parts. You can do this on paper or in your head.

    Cooking, simple, do as much as possible the day before, so stuff the turkey, prep the veg, get the sausages, bacon etc ready, then all you need to do on the day is put in the oven, turn the hob on. It may help to work backwards, so say you want to eat at 2, your turkey needs 4 hours cooking plus 20 mins resting, 10 mins to carve, put it in the oven at 9.30. etc, etc.

    Enjpy yourself on the day.
  4. No, no. I know how to do Christmas. I've done dozens of the blasted things. My point is, why after years and years do I feel the need to write lists? It's mad. I feel sucked into the general panic that overcomes otherwise sane women at this time of year!
    Good turkey tip by the way - got it from Jamie last year:
    cook turkey as normal and then remove it from oven and wrap it in foil and a big thick towel and leave for up to 2 hours. Boon if you, like me, have only one oven. It works, bird stays hot (and very juicy), oven then free for potatoes etc,
  5. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    You can do a roast dinner every week like a lot of us do and not think anything of it. If you screw it up on occasion then its not going to matter because there'll be another roast dinner next week or the week after. Christmas only comes once and year and (even though its really just a larger version of your normal roast dinner) its something that people really, really look forward to.
    For some reason, Christmas dinner is built up in people's heads as being different to a normal roast. If you're like me, you will set the table a lot nicer, you'll have more people round the table than you normally would on your average Sunday and you'll probably do a couple of extra things that you wouldn't normally do with your average roast (in my case, I do pigs in blankets as well as stuffing and make flavoured butters to go on the vegetables).
    I don't think list writing is a bad thing - it keeps me focussed, means I don't forget anything and allows me to keep everything under control.
  6. Yes egyptgirl, I think it is exactly that. The weight of expectation is such that we begin to doubt our ability. Ah well, here comes another Christmas, another panic and another set of lists!
  7. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    @Egyptgirl - why DO we let ourselves get into that situation????????????????
    I am <u>extremely </u>fortunate: my husband (dear, sweet thing! [​IMG]and I cook for 4 the same as every other weekend; we don't go in for massive feasts - any extras will be things I have made in advance and frozen.

  8. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    I always cook the turkey upside down, well sort on one side then the other, then turn it over for the last hour. Same with any bird, that way the juices run into the breast and no dry meat.
  9. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    When I was living in Greece, every member of the family brought something to the meal. Over here, when I've spoken to friends and colleagues most of them have been expected to just get on with it all themselves. Yes, the hosting household in Greece would usually do the main meat part but everyone would make their own side dish and bring it.
    I think we're also sold the idea of 'the perfect Christmas' too much. We're expected to bring the turkey out to the table looking gorgeous and glowing with everything perfectly cooked, in its place, everyone smiling and happy, letting us sit down serenely with our family and hearing their murmurs of appreciation.
    I mean, who wouldn't want 'the perfect Christmas'? We try and try to aim for it but sometimes I find that because we don't quite hit the mark, we end up disappointed even though what we've done is pretty wonderful anyway.
  10. I wonder where these expectations come from. Are we trying to recreate the Christmases of our youths, which seemed idyllic because we had no involvement in them, our mothers did it all? Are we trying to give our the children the best possible experience? Are we being manipulated by the media into feeling a failure if our houses aren't full of tinsel and ribbons or the turkey is a little on the dry side? Does it all really matter? I have a dear friend who knocks herself out every year because her (grown up) children expect the fairy book Christmas - "Oh you haven't bought mince pies have you? Why didn't you make them?"
    My children (grown up) appear grateful for whatever aappears but it still doesn't mean that I think I can take it easy. We are fools to ourselves!

  11. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Not here, I cook what we want, this year it's goose. The Christmases of my childhood were always dry turkey, packet stuffing and overcooked sprouts, forced to eat at 12.30. Now we have a leisurely day with smoked salmon and buck's fizz for breakfas, dinner about 5ish and a lazy day, maybe friends in for drinks at lunchtime or we visit friends.

    I cook everything from scratch because that's what I like, I make use of the freezer with prep though.
  12. Oh yes, I think we definitely are. But nowadays, mother doesn't have to do it all alone.
    In fact, neither did my mother or my Grandmother. Christmas Dinner was always a whole family effort.
    And that is the tradition I uphold. I even get my ex-husband roped in [​IMG]
    Kiddies bake the biscuits.
    Kiddies peel the veg.
    I do the duck.
    Ex does the faffing around doing what I tell him needs doing (i.e. sort out the red cabbage and the tatties).
    In the UK, step-dad is so organised, the women get the day off.
    It is quite relaxing [​IMG]
  13. voodoo child

    voodoo child New commenter

    Well I've just done an early Xmas lunch as I saw Sainsbury's had in their freezer section a TtheD frozen free range turkey joint already stuffed. We had it today and it was absolutely lovely. Enough for 3-4 people. No hassle or mess. So if you want an easy way out (and cheap &pound;8) that has to be a good tip. I did the towel on the cooked turkey last year - did work well to keep it warm whilst everything else cooked. Xmas lunch is usually a bit more difficult than sunday lunch as am trying to open pressies and down copious quantities of champagne which means I forget/overcook things.
  14. voodoo child

    voodoo child New commenter

    The recipe for a great Xmas - you won't even care when you overcook your sprouts!!
  15. Ours is going to be interesting this year - got a really crud cooker in the new house (saving to get the very beige 80s monstrosity kitchen refitted so have to suffer in the interim) and I don't 100% trust it to do anything correctly. May either be incinerated or very very late turkey dinner - has to be turkey because hubby is someone you could feed turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing sandwiches to for 365 days a year and he'd be happy as anything!
    MIL writes a timetable of the entire day with time for everything to be done and put on to cook written down on it (it even has the time to open the wine written down) - never something my family went into - although you could set your clock by mini-me complaining about how bad the turkey gynacologist routine looked when my mother was sorting the bird out!
  16. I am slightly worried about the "turkey in the towel".
    It will not stay piping hot, but will cool down to a comfortable temperature and stay there. However, surely this could mean you are giving bacteria a chance to multiply?
    This might not be such a problem, but given that turkey gets reused several times, it makes sense to keep it piping hot, cool it quickly and then bung it in the fridge, not leave it around at a middling temperature.
  17. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    My Sister-in-law used the turkey towel method (took it out 90 minutes before serving) and while none of us were poisoned, the turkey was warm but not hot, which is how I like it. Its my turn to host this year and while the turkey will come out of the oven to rest for about 30 mins (covered in foil and teatowels) while the pigs in blankets go and in and while I make the gravy, it should still be hot when I serve it.
  18. I promise you the turkey was hot. I took it out of the oven and wrapped it in foil and a towel as per instructions. I was then able to do the potatoes, stuffing and pigs. Absolute godsend as I only havre one oven. It was so succulent too. Will definitely be doing it again this year.
    Nobody was poisoned by turkey- one or two slightly unwell after alcohol, but that is another story.........
  19. Meant to add - left it for about an hour.
  20. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    I'm sure it did work for you, Cosmos. I have a double oven so I'm not quite so tight on space!

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