Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hectoring and Dining

In principle I have little objection to Christianity's co-opting of pagan festivals into the Chritian calendar; unlike the Puritans I am not at all against the celebration of Christmas but, I have to admit that like so many others, of faith or otherwise, I do feel rather sickened by the crass commercialisation of the whole season.

At the most basic level I love the way that the Christmas story turns the world's values upside down. The Messiah King is born in a most humble abode, not in a fine palace and, what is more, born to an unmarried mum. The whole community is being crushed under the heel of imperialist occupying forces at a time of great civil unrest. Of course we read in some accounts of how the Christ child's family are forced to flee the country to become refugees and, finding their refuge in the very country from which God had liberated the Israelites many centuries earlier.

Sadly the unrest in the MIddle East remains unresolved even at the present time; sundry imperialist forces and factions have ensured that throughout the centuries.

Anyway, that's enough of my all too familiar hectoring; I only intended to give a brief account of our quiet family Christmas.


In the run up to the great occasion I lacked the necessary stamina (physical and emotional) to assist my beloved in much of the preparation but, helped where I could and, of course, I took control of the kitchen for much of the final food preparation time. I like to get much of the effort out of the way before Christmas Day arrives and, to that end, prepared the gammon a few days earlier.

I boiled the Gammon in water laden with cloves, garlic and halved onions (skins still attached) for half of the appropriate cooking time, drizzling the joint with honey before placing it in a pre-heated oven, applying a further drizzle for the final twenty minutes or so roasting time.

The capon, a 9lb bird, I prepared on Christmas Eve evening, inserting generous amounts of butter beneath the skin before rubbing in a blend of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Stuffings are prepared separately, partly owing to dietary requirements of one of our guests. Ma belle prepared her traditional sausagemeat, onion and black pepper stuffing and, we also char grilled a few gluten free sausages. The butcher supplied a cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing mixture (unfortunately not suitable for the coeliac in our midst but, much appreciated by ma belle et moi).

Next I par-boiled spicy herbed potatoes ready for roasting on the day itself, and steamed a few parsnip portions, duly drizzled with honey on taking their place in the roasting tin.

Beth came to stay with us for three nights, and three Christmas dinners, whilst Cathy joined us for a Christmas dinner on the 27th. We didn't over indulge on any of these occasions, quite simply enjoying the company and felllowship of each other. Beth arrived on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, having worked an early shift in the bakery but, still managed to prepare herself to head off to Christchurch, where she sings in the choir, for midnight communion, as well as their Christmas morning service.

My familiar aches, pains and sundry discomforts in chest, abdomen, and lower limbs, unfortunately brought out a sensory overloaded  tetchiness from yours truly, but failed in their attempt to mar the festivities. Ma belle as usual found some very entertaining novelties to stock up my Christmas stocking.

Throughout recent weeks we've enjoyed a rich diet of varied Christmas music and, once again find ourselves wondering why we should reserve so much of it to be aired on so few days of the year. If the Christmas message, or any of the Christian feasts, has/have validity there is no need to cloister it/them in such limited time slots.

1 comment:

Raven said...

Mmmmm somehow I always seem to walk away hungry after I read posts about your cooking. ;)

I hope that your Christmas was wonderful, and that you have a very Happy New Year.