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Mostly Concerning Food.

Christmas use to take some saving up for. It was the only time when there were unlimited apples and oranges. You’d remember Christmas as the only day in the year when you felt really full. It wasn’t necessarily any more special than it is today, but it did stand out as the one time ordinary people experienced true feasting. These days any one on a medium income in Britain or America could eat to excess any day of the week, and unfortunately too many do.

I try to tighten my belt after Christmas but fail very happily. Boxing Day takes us to Frances and Stevens’s and our annual celebration at their house. Steven, as has been mentioned in these pages on several occasions, is a fine cook. He follows recipes more closely than I do and has the ability to produce meals that often have much greater coherence than my own efforts. Boxing Day was a feast in every sense of the word.

In keeping with the spirit of over-indulgence and stupidity, I cannot resist some cold turkey with the fruits of my autumn labours. The beetroot chutney I made is a huge success; sweet, sour, tart and refreshing. The pickled onions are strong and crisp. I’ve made hundreds of them; no one else in the family likes them…I may need some help.


Frances and Steven have made their house look and feel both delightful and welcoming. They have a flair for design that I can envy all I like; I’m never going to emulate it. Sadly, Charlie and Sam cannot join us. It’s a really lovely occasion but they are missed.


The first course is sweet potato and carrot soup with a crusty roll. I think some water is involved in giving the bread a delightful crust. I shall have to uncover the secret. I think it may come from Hollywood. On any other day of the year this hearty, spicy soup and roll would be a decent lunch. It is delicious and perfectly cooked.


Main course is marinated pork with champ potatoes and red cabbage, served with a plum sauce. The meat was flavoursome and tender, the potato was a delight and the red cabbage a good choice. the highlight to me was the plum sauce. It did what good sauces do. It added piquancy and relish while tying the elements of the dish together. I was lucky enough to get some crackling. Good roast pork is a very fine dish.


We don’t get together as often as we’d like and the afternoon passed so enjoyably. Minnie and Jazz came to the window ledge and observed proceedings with a more refined interest than the cats back home tend to show. Seldom have I seen two such good friends.


If a well cooked piece of pork is always a treat, my first treacle tart in years was a very special pudding indeed. I’ve never made one with a lattice and was very impressed with both presentation and taste. It is served with home made apple pie ice cream. Inspired!


To complete proceedings there was a choice of cheese board or mint chocolate bark (from The Brown Eyed Baker … an excellent blog). Some of us had to have a little cheese and a little chocolate. Stories were told, presents shared and commented on, and games played.


I thought I might never eat again. Gratefully accepting a jar of autumn chutney made to a Mary Berry recipe to add to my autumn collection, we make our way home happy and replete.


On Friday we have to address the issue of what to do with a rather nicely cooked 5 kilogram turkey. The Christmas one is robbed of its excess meat and the bones are stocked to make a most delicious seasonal soup. I keep this light and brothy. It makes a perfect prelude to hot water crust turkey and cranberry pies. I’ve never made hot water pastry and make myself follow a recipe. Paul Hollywood may have come in for some criticism this year but I cannot fault him as a baker or a writer of recipes. The instructions are simple and easy to follow; the end result is rather good. The crunchy pastry is a real pleasure




My favourite meal of all is a cold collation of meats cheeses and salads served with bread and butter and cups of tea. Our impressive array of pickles and chutneys give this meal a special touch. I have rarely enjoyed food more.

In the battle of two very good turkeys (both bought from Aldi) the free range wins for me. It has a delightful flavour and the grain of the meat is nigh on perfect. The other turkey was a magnificent second.


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Just as we are thinking we’ve done with feasting a magnificent box of chocolates arrives from Melissa. Christmas lasted for nearly a week. My shirts are a little tighter than they were. I’ve not covered half of what we’ve eaten. I’m going to have to leave my cycling self safely in my Larne hotel and complete the after Christmas and New Year food blog tomorrow.