This is how I found Annabel when I got home from work yesterday. David remarked that he thought she’d been at the sherry. It just about sums up 2020, an upside down fairy on the tree. Honestly!
Feeling a bit tired, but nearly ready for Christmas. I’ve always hated that constant questioning from November onwards… “Are you ready for Christmas?” This year we don’t even have to bother with asking each other “what are you doing for Christmas?” which is an equally overused and somewhat annoying phrase. We all know in Tier 4 (unless we are one of the few morons disobeying the rules) WE ARE ALL STAYING HOME, SAVING LIVES, TRYING NOT TO GET COVID AND TRYING NOT TO BE TOO DEPRESSED ABOUT IT ALL! Ho Ho Ho! Although it is good to count our blessings I think it’s also important to admit if we’re feeling a bit depressed, which quite frankly this year is completely and utterly normal, rather than pretending everything is fine.
So cooking for me is a little sanctuary, to focus my mind on something different. On a good day I go completely into the zone, meditating and marvelling at the magic in the kitchen when you put some ingredients together in a specific order and a particular way, and something wonderful and delicious emerges at the end. And then you can feel all chuffed and proud of yourself. If you really want to show off you can even take photos of your creations and post it on your blog 😂. The magic doesn’t always happen, of course, sometimes the ratio of effort put in and chaos in the kitchen to end result is honestly just not worth it. I made home made crab ravioli with David once. Only once. We spent what seemed like hours and hours making the home made pasta and cutting out the little squares of raviolis… what a palaver, now I’ll just buy some nice fresh linguine or something. Dried pasta is fine too. Delicious even. I feel life is just too short to be stuffing one’s own ravioli (apologies, that sounded much ruder than intended!).
Tonight I have put the marzipan on the Christmas cake. You need to do this a day or two before icing so it can dry out a bit. Marzipan is actually quite easy to make, but I bought mine this year. I stick it on with apricot jam after warming the jam in a pan…
I will probably ice it on Christmas Eve.
Last night I made Coq au vin. The recipe I use is from a Waitrose recipe card and the whole thing only takes about 40 minutes, which is great. I would usually serve it with potatoes but we’d run out, so we had basmati rice instead. It was delicious and we now have some leftovers in the freezer.
Tonight I’m continuing with the red wine cooking. Mary Berry taught me a little while ago that in order to elevate a humble spaghetti bolognese into something extraordinarily good, you need to cook the mince mixture as normal, then splash in some red wine and put it in a covered Pyrex dish in the oven on quite a low heat for 1-1.5 hours. The difference is amazing.. a much richer, fuller flavour. I also now add a little bit of garlic and half a teaspoon of sugar, which I never used to do.
This will be served with spaghetti with generous sprinklings of parmesan on the top. The smell wafting from the oven is divine.
I’m going to stop waffling on now my friends and leave you with a couple of good Christmas trees I spotted in Windsor today.
I’ve decided that Christmas trees are definitely one of my favourite bits of Christmas, except I did worry the other day whether I should be liking dying trees so much… murdered for our pleasure?! “You think too much, Gail”, a colleague once told me…😷🙃🤔…