Okay okay, its way past time for Christmas posts now, but I never wrote mine and now I am sitting in Abu Dhabi airport with many hours to kill (13 down, 10 to go) so now is the time.
Oddly, being away from home made celebrating feel more important than usual, so I tried to pull out all the stops (within my limited means) to make up for the lack of family and decorations and what have you. This meant me trying to make food I’ve never even eaten before, such as a yule log, and a Christmas pudding.
The whole menu eventually included (or was supposed to include):
Red Currant “cider” stuff
Yule log (fridge cake rolled up into a log shape)
Rum Ball Christmas Tree
Way more than we could actually eat, but good for getting through all the ingredients still in the cupboard, as we had to move out and head to Turkey on the 28th.
So, how did it go? Well, as usual, a few successes a few ho-hums, and a disaster or two.
My attempt at a red currant-based hot drink was inspired by the mulled wine I saw all over the net. I don’t really drink, Mr doesn’t at all drink, and no non-alcoholic wine was available. I did, however, have way to many fresh red currants (well, I think they were red currants) and no plan for how to use them. I pictured a nice jug of pretty red drink flavoured with cinnamon and cloves. Sadly, what I got was a creepy-looking, mud brown drink with stringy bits, although it did taste pretty good. In the end we totally forgot about the stuff, as I made it the day before, and left it sitting on the bench in a saucepan. It ended up being skulled cold in the hurry to get out the door before we moved out.
The yule log was also a bit ho-hum, but I think I’ll try it again another year. I made a basic fridge cake by crushing plain biscuits, mixing them with cocoa, dried fruit and nuts, and then mixing it with a heated milk and sugar mixture (instead of sweetened condensed milk). I let is half-set in a thin layer on a baking tray, then rolled it up and rolled it in more coca with desiccated coconut. The texture was good, although it was just a little dry, and I though it looked cute, but I over did it on the cocoa and it tasted a little bitter to me. Mr, being a fan of the dark, dark chocolate, loved it.
I made a nut roast out of every nut I could find (walnuts, a few almonds, and some nearly raw peanuts), mixed in with bread crumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, bulgur, cooked onion and garlic, and a little left over millet. I made my usual short crust pastry recipe to wrap it in, and chucked it in the fridge. On Christmas I baked it for about 45 minutes, which as it turns out was a bit long. I’ve never had a bad nut roast, and this was no exception. It will probably never grace my Christmas table again, because I hate using the oven in summer, but it was really yummy. It ended up in a horse-shoe shape, because I made it too long and it didn’t fit in the oven.
The roast vegetables were fabulous, but I have to thank Mr for that. He is probably the very best roaster of vegetables in the whole world. I don’t know what he does that I don’t, though I expect it has something to do with patience. They were served up with the bad chickpea gravy, and some apple and red currant sauce (the same as this recipe, but with some red currants thrown in).
The biggest food success was the rum ball tree. In the end I actually made two trees, because we ate the first one the week before Christmas. The second time I left out the marzipan centres (because I couldn’t find marzipan), and I made extra plain rum balls instead of the white ones, as the vegan white chocolate I had brought with me from the UK had run out. There’s just no replacing rum balls, so far as I’m concerned, and they made the best snack food to accompany our present enjoying in the arvo.
On an un-foodie note, I wanted to share our present giving trick this year, because it worked really well. Mr and I are both not-exactly-stuff-oriented, and to add to that we wanted to spend our cash on trade, and can’t add anything extra to our backpacks. We were going to skip presents, but even my hardened atheist heart just can’t do a December 25th without gift-giving, so I hatched a plan. This year, we each spent some time researching each other’s interests, and gave each other a bunch of free-ebooks, cheap or free movie files, and links for websites. It worked out so well. I found a bunch of obscure survivalist and 80’s electronic music stuff for Mr, and he dug out some new feminist blogs and movies for me. Best present ever.
The chickpea gravy was doomed from the start really, seeing as I had no blender or masher or anything. It got worse, too, as I realise when I went to make it that I was out of onions. Foolhardy me gave it a try anyway, and we had a seriously lumpy, slightly dry, chickpeas in gravy dish instead. It looked kind of grey and thin, and didn’t really end up featuring much on our plates in the end. Too bad, because I’m usually a big big fan.
The really big disaster was the pudding. I have never made a Christmas pudding before, because my family doesn’t really get into it much. Mr’s family always ha a pudding though, so I had a go this time. I scoured the internet, subbed a great number of ingredients, and boiled the thing for the required four hours a few weeks before Christmas. I was really unsure about leaving it for several weeks, but when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning I was happy to see an intact, mould-free, creation. I gloated too soon though. During the second boiling someone (not naming names here) poured the extra boiling water onto the pudding instead of beside the pudding basin. My pudding got totally soaked, and turned into a light brown, great smelling, oily sludge. No pudding for us. Many sad faces.
All in all, it was a fun Christmas day, with much Skyping of family, new movie watching, and lot and lots of food. I had fun planning the whole meal, which never happens to me usually because there are always so many people contributing food in my big and complicated family, and one, fairly obsessive cook managing the food in Mr’s family. I’m looking forward to playing with rum ball shapes more in the future, but I am never, ever making pudding again. All that boiling and worrying! Not for me, Christmas is stressful enough :)