Jesus it's been a long time. Two weeks since our last post. You'd think it was Christmas or something. Anyway, not that I have any thing in particular to relate, but I thought I would clutter your readers a little with a few random thoughts and pictures.
We had friends over for Christmas from Istanbul. We don't have a spare room, so we decided to sleep in the living room so that the children could come jump on us and open their presents first thing in the morning. Strike that. We didn't actually want them to jump on us. We wanted them not to jump on our guests.
We had a lovely time opening presents. 'Im indoors and I ended up giving each other the exact same gift! But more on that some other time.
We wanted a breakfast that was special, but didn't take any time to prepare and wasn't too much of a mess to clear up afterwards. So bagels and salmon it was! Special because it's not that easy to get bagels in Ankara, and because smoked salmon is, well, christmassy.
After that it was prepare, prepare, prepare. We were expecting twenty people for dinner so there was plenty to do. Of course some of it was already done: the mince pies you see on the breakfast table, the pudding, and most of the vegetables that had been cooked, peeled and pureed during the week. We had pureed celery, quince and black carrots. Yep. And if you don't believe me, here they are:
'Im indoors also made some red cabbage and apple, but, ever so unfortunately, could not find horrors, I mean brussels sprouts, in the shops this year. So, we had to do without. (Who on earth is responsible for the idea that brussels sprouts are a treat that should be served at Christmas? Because they're seasonal, you say? What's wrong with oysters?)
And of course there were roast potatoes, to go with the duck. And the two geese.
Because I nipped to Paris just before Christmas, I brought back a tin of foie gras and some cheese (Brillat Savarin, the kind that you spoon out). So we made that into little canapes (why are they called that? Canapes are things you sit on, in French).
The birds in question are a fair amount of work to prepare. First, a goose is never plucked properly, so you always have to singe it before you do anything else. Then the little fuckers have this huge digestive tube that, for some reason, you have to take out. This involves sticking your arm up its arse, fiddling with the inside of its neck till you find the cartilage thingy and then pull. And pull. And pull some more till the bloody thing comes out.
Then you have to find the bits inside and sort the ones you can eat from the ones you can't. And from the ones your husband would quite like you to keep but you think it's too much of a hassle to prepare them so you bin them quickly while he's not looking. And all of this must be done at least a day before so you can soak the livers overnight before making the stuffing.
Then you make the stuffing. That's ok, provided you've already peeled the chestnuts. Not having brussels sprouts helped there, as we didn't have to keep whole chestnuts and it didn't matter if we made a mess while peeling them, or overcooked them before. And you need pork, of some kind, of course. And calvados. (Don't even mention breadcrumbs, rice, or sage, please. I do brussells sprouts and pudding for Christmas. Don't think that's English enough?)
The last bit of the bird preparation is the bit that makes me think I'd make a good mortician. You have to saw up the cavities and any bits of skin that may have torn. That's very important people! Don't skip that! Then you cover it with foil (until the last hour of cooking), stick it in the oven for the appropriate amount of time, and let someone else take care of it (which I believe involves getting some of the fat out so the beast doesn't drown. You can keep the fat afterwards as it's nice for cooking potatoes.)
After dinner we normally force our guests to sing carols. They sort of feel obliged to, because we've just fed them goose and foie gras. I'm not sure it's a great idea though, as some of us are very bad singers indeed, and without a piano or a guitar to keep us going, we tend to sing in different keys and keep different times!
So, no recording, but here's a couple of pics.
After that, it was mostly clearing up. Thank god I'd bought some paper plates so didn't have to wash up much. On boxing day we were up as early as usual and sat down to a relaxed breakfast, with leftover mince pies and a pomelo, which is now all gone.
So, you'll understand, I think, you'll forgive us, even, if I say that tonight, we'll be seeing in the new year in bed, preferably with our eyes closed, after a light family dinner and no fuss. But tomorrow we have some friends coming over. And we're doing duck. See you next year. Have a good one.