Karen Wright writes: Only a few more days and Christmas will be here once again.
We are “getting there” as the saying goes. Last Tuesday we popped over to France to stock up on our festive drinks, we were still down South so decided to take the opportunity while we could. My presents are all wrapped, and I have drawn the line, no more spending. This doesn’t count for food as we always have our fresh groceries to go out for nearer the time, but I have a list and I intend to stick to it.
This morning I have had a baking session, I made some mince pies and a huge tear and share Chelsea bun. All to go into the freezer, the Chelsea buns are for Christmas Day breakfast, ring the changes a bit!
When we returned from our caravan trip last Wednesday it was full steam ahead for me as I had been invited to the Cedar Court Hotel on Thursday as a guest of WACCL. WACCL is abbreviated and means Wakefield Annual Children’s Charity Lunch. The lunch raises money for local children’s charities. There were numerous things to be auctioned off, and I was one of them! I had donated a baking experience with me for up to six people. When it was time to auction me off, I joined the compere on the stage to warm up the audience a bit and get them to bid. We had a bit of fun with that and wallets were well and truly opened. My lot raised £2,600 for the charity and I was absolutely thrilled with that. Over £30,000 was raised in cash on the day and over £100,000 in pledges of other kinds, just fantastic.
Last week I mentioned that I would share my menu for Christmas Day. We will be eight and a toddler at the table and three of them are vegetarian. This is the menu I have put together.
Prawn cocktail or melon medley
Roast turkey or roast tofurky (vegetarian)
Harissa, ginger and orange carrots
5 spiced red cabbage
Homemade stuffing’ and rich gravy
Christmas pudding or tiramisu
The sprouts are a bit different this year as only a few of us like them unadorned. If you make a cheese sauce with a tablespoon of mustard in it and pour over sprouts that have been boiled for just three minutes. Top the sauce with a mixture of breadcrumbs, roughly chopped nuts or chestnuts with a sprinkle of thyme. Then bake for about half an hour until the sauce is bubbling.
The carrots can be cooked the day before and reheated in the microwave. What I did with mine is to cook the carrots in a pan with the juice of a knob of butter, a clementine, a squeeze of honey, a teaspoon of harissa paste and a teaspoon of ginger paste and enough water to cover them. As they cook the liquid evaporates and leaves you with lovely glossy sweet yet spicy carrots.
We all have our traditions around Christmas, and I think that is what makes it so special. We love to think back and remember our favourite bits. For me it is all about Christmas Eve, all the anticipation of things yet to come. It is not always the case of course for everyone. Christmas can be an especially hard time for those that have been bereaved and are facing the loss for the first time at Christmas. Of course, some people must work during the holiday period, and we give thanks for the armed forces, our emergency services and all the staff in our hospitals and care homes who work so hard to keep us safe and well.
This is my last column now until the New Year so I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has touched my life in this magical year that has just passed. I have had an amazing time and have loved sharing parts of it with you. I keep learning new things all the time and love to embrace the challenges that come my way, I try to never say No!
Have a wonderful, peaceful and merry Christmas and let us all anticipate a fresh and exciting New Year ahead.
For more tips and recipes go to http://www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk