Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Stress and Food Labelling.

Reading the papers and listening to the radio it seems that unless you get stressed about the Christmas meal you must be doing it wrong, there is lots of advice of how to have a stress free  day, your menus all planned out for you, some supermarkets are even offering to stuff your bird for you (at extra cost) to save you the time and effort. Why I ask myself, isn't part of Christmas enjoying cooking a special meal.
 Now we don't 'do' Christmas, but we do celebrated the shortest day, and mid winter festival, but to get stressed over it, no. I know some people can't cook, and some won't cook, instead they buy their food from the freezer cabinets, it's already done for them, no preparation, no fuss, but they can probably buy the same food any day of the year, now where's the fun in that?
Some people plan weeks in advance, the nearest we got to that was to place an order in August for an Organic Bronze turkey, August being the month that the producers will get their poults.
 Today we should have been picking up our bird from somewhere in Galway but it appears that said bird is still running around the fields, hopefully it will have been captured by now and will be ready for us tomorrow.
 If we put our minds to it we could have stressed out about this delay, after all we do have plans for all of the next few days, but hey, why stress, we can't change it, we can rearrange things a little for tomorrow although we would far rather not have to drive in the dark to a place that we don't know, with very, very loose directions. So, not quite a tick off the list, but getting close.
 Next up, Mince pies.
 Now somewhere we have a couple of pots of mince meat made a couple of months ago and put in a safe place, I'm sure every one knows this scenario. I thought I put it there, no, you put it away, don't you remember? Well apparently not, no doubt we will find them at some time in the future, the same as we did with a Christmas pudding, put somewhere safe to bring out at Easter when friends who could not make it for last Christmas were visiting. I found that a month ago, rather too late to be used. So plan one,  the mince pies, cheat. Buy some mince meat, add some brandy and pretend it was home made. OK, found mince meat, two different brands in a supermarket, then I read the label, sunflower oil and palm oil. We don't buy anything that contains palm oil on ethical grounds, and I have a severe  food intolerance to sunflower oil unless it's organic, probably something to do with the pre-harvest treatment of spraying the crop with glyphosate to make it easier to harvest. Realising that we would have to make a fresh batch of mince meat  I then looked at a packet of Atora vegetable suet ( again, intending to cheat just a little) that also contains both sunflower and palm oil. So to the butchers counter, suet? Um, what is it? Oh, no sorry we don't have that. As I was already at the meat counter, sorry you can't in all  honesty call it the butchers department, I asked about the stewing beef, like in what cut is it? reply, it's stewing beef, yes, OK I get that, but where from the animal did it come, poor man didn't have a clue, and yet the adverts for this supermarket assure people that they have trained butchers. I also  noticed the prices, rib of beef which is what we have for this St. Stevens day was two euros a kg more than we had paid for our Organic rib of beef. So much for supermarkets being cheaper and stocking all your needs, they stock what they say you need and what gives them the biggest profit margin. Thank heavens for Farmers Markets.
We ended up popping to our local butcher for the fresh suet, cost? nothing. The dried fruit for the mince pies is now soaking in Brandy, they won't get made tomorrow, maybe on Christmas day when we have some time, after all, once the bird is stuffed and in the range, the only thing left is to peel a few spuds, pick a few sprouts, dig a parsnip and prepare it. It will take about ten minutes to pick herbs for the stuffing and the veg, another ten minutes to prepare the veg, and a further ten minutes to stuff the bird, pudding put on to steam and brandy butter to knock up, the range does the cooking, nothing too stressful there. I really must find some time to stress, it's what we are told happens at Christmas, maybe that's why we don't 'do' Christmas, we can't stress.
A parcel has gone missing from a close friend in the UK, the odd thing about this is the contents. Back in the summer I had ordered a garden trug, I had wanted to use it to display our veg. at the local horticultural show, but it failed to arrive. I contacted the company, they refused to send another one but refunded me the money. When our friend asked what we would like for Christmas I replied, a garden trug please, but pointed out that it would probably have to go to her address first and she would then have to re- post it, which is what happened, along with the failure to arrive. Someone or maybe some two people in the UK have garden trugs, meant for me, this latest missing parcel  would also have had a box of Green and Black organic chocolates in it, which we would have enjoyed, I hope they choke the un-intended recipient. ( Can't you tell, I'm full of Good will to all men?)
We have received some very nice cards this year but the nicest one was from Simons sister who has just returned to Canada from a bird watching trip in India.
A card to treasure.
Hand made from
 recycled paper and hand painted. We thought it was so lovely we have bought a frame for it and it is now on the wall.
 The most mysterious card this year so far has been an Ecard, we have no idea who these people are, but they know us, they even spelt my name correctly. So, sorry Dave and Marie, if you read this we apologise, but WHO are you?
Misty our very adventurous kitten loves a challenge, her latest feat, the cooker hood, or rather the one inch ledge that runs round it.
The quick way down.
The quickest way down is Simon's shoulder, we don't have any trees in the kitchen.
We now have two of the Copper Maran pullets laying, four more to go,
I just love the colour of the egg shell, I hope our customers do as well.


  1. Best wishes from Asturias, have a great Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015. I hope your parcel turns up... Ian and Luis x

  2. Thanks both, I'm afraid there's not too much chance for the parcel, it was posted three weeks ago.
    Hope you have a great time, give the cats a stroke from us.

  3. I'm with you, I try to cut out any stress about xmas as I really can't be bothered to sum up the energy to get stressed. It's only one day and a glorified roast dinner that I do most weekends anyway. I love the colour of those eggs.

    1. I agree Chickpea, life is far too short to use up energy being stressed, and yes, it is just one day and nothing more than a glorified Sunday roast. There was one year when I lived in a west Sussex village that I ended up cooking a Christmas dinner for 31 people with just two hours notice there should have been just eight people that were supposed to be there, all it meant were a few , OK, a lot of extra veg, the turkey and beef would have been enough to feed the 5000. The starter I improvised a bit with and a bit of extra garnish. Everyone got fed on time and all enjoyed their selves including me, I like catering for large parties, but some people don't I guess they are the one's who get stressed.

  4. I was going to suggest Gannon's in Castlerea for the suet; we get our own lamb kidneys back 'with their jackets on' but it sounds like you have solved that one. As to trugs, I guess you know that the real home of Sussex trugs is the lovely village of Herstmoncuex (pronounce Hurst mon-zoo), right by where I was born (Hastings), also famed for charcoal burning/making.

  5. Yes, Matt to both, we were in Supervalu and thought they might just have proper suet I didn't want to do battle with the traffic trying to cross the road to Gannons, but Gannons it was. And yes Matt I do know where the home of trugs is, I used to live in Sussex, and that's where mine, both of them had been ordered from.

  6. No stress here. It is 10.30am Wednesday and I am sitting here with tea and toast. Baking of mince pies and cakes still to be done. Pastry already in fridge and freezer as I made 2lbs of it on Monday, and no hassle to whip up a sponge and date and walnut cakes, as per family requests. Baked potatoes with salad for dinner tonight. We don't "do" Christmas, but we celebrate the solstice on the 25th as a family all together..Food? A Sunday roast.
    A few gifts, all homemade by us over the past couple of months, or bought second hand by our daughters for the grandchildren.
    I would love those eggs.
    Wishing you all that you wish for yourselves.
    Irene X

    1. We are the same s you Irene, we just don't do Christmas, we used to but realised that for most it is an excuse to do things in excess. We also celebrate the solstice a festival far older than Christmas. A good roast dinner of something that we have not reared ourselves, hence an Organic Turkey only available once a year so a real treat. Decorations from the hedge row with a bit of sparkle.

  7. Your Ecard mystery made me laugh - how strange. Happy Christmas!

  8. Sorry to hear about your parcel, it's horrible when that happens. My sister put together a parcel for me when I was in Hong Kong, mostly photos and things the nieces and nephews had made. Love the pic of misty and Simon!

    1. It turned up! Christmas eve at 4.30, only took three weeks and two days to get here from the UK at a cost of £20 postage!
      Misty has had a cold for the last few days, feeling sorry for herself but seems to be over it now.