Monday, 29 December 2014

That Damn Turkey

Turkey curry with kale

The moaning about turkey precedes the turkey (in this house anyway). Serious foodies in general love to turn their noses up. It's trendy to cook goose, duck, beef Wellington. Anything but turkey. It used to be anything but Chardonnay.

I must admit I succumbed to (the moaning) last year. I went off and bought a piece of organic roast beef that was as tasteless and joyless as quark. I bought a piece of housekeepers cut recently in Aldi for €6 (6 times cheaper than the organic lump). It beat the organic lump under the table and over again. I learned.

This year I bought a small turkey. I saw where it was reared. I saw what it was fed. I was happy about 90% of it's feed, just not the GM stuff. It's not easy to find a bird that had the freedom to gallop about a field and fed the way I would (makes mental note to rear my own next year).

So apart from the stress of cooking the damn thing for Christmas day or Christmas eve (as I do), when you don't taste it until the next day. I have to say I made a turkey curry to die for and cold turkey sandwiches that were almost better than (well you know).

I have a litre of really reduced stock in the fridge and the dogs got the meat off the bones.

Turkey, ham and stuffing with homemade garlic mayo on sourdough

 I have to admit. I'm a turkey.

But you probably knew that.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Just Dad

This photo taken on Christmas Day. Red on red. He had fallen asleep holding a cup of tea and it had spilled all down his front. When I arrived at the nursing home the carers were taking him down to his room to change him. They all had Santa hats on and were laughing and joking. They talked to him but he couldn't understand them. I can see how even now he reads their body language. He's a bit deaf and they speak English with heavily accented Asian, Philipino and Eastern European accents. All the Irish staff were obviously off.

When I walk in the spark of recognition is there. The usual question "how did you know I was here?"

This was our first Christmas he wasn't "with us."In truth he hasn't been with us for a long time now (thanks to dementia/Alzheimer's) but at least we knew he was at home.

They put on some Christmas carols and the residents dozed off after their Christmas dinners.

He had no idea it was Christmas.

Every time I drive away I wonder will it be the last time.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Tiramisu - Pick me Up

Tiramisu or Pick me Up (translated) is an Italian dessert. More often than not, in Italy, it doesn't contain any alcohol. Personally, I think it's the kick that makes it. I've tried all sorts of alcohol but have decided that Martinique rum is the business in it.

I loosely follow a Nigella recipe but as I hate wastage, I always use both egg whites. My daughter makes it every Christmas as she doesn't like plum pudding.

Tiramisu recipe

2 x 250g packs of Marscapone
2 free range organic eggs
75g sugar
200g sponge fingers
4 tablespoons of Martinique rum
1 small cup of strong coffee (never instant, that's not coffee)

In a suitable bowl or dish, lay out the sponge fingers. Make the coffee and add the rum. Pour the mixture evenly over all the sponge fingers.

Separate the eggs. In one bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually add in the Marscapone. In another bowl whisk the egg whites. When they are firm fold into the Marsapone mix using a metal spoon. Spread this over the sponge fingers and dust with cocoa powder through a sieve.

Leave to set for a couple of hours in fridge.

*Always use eggs you are confident in. You are eating them raw.
*Always use real coffee.

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Christmas Tale

It was a competition in the Irish Times. Send in a photo of your favourite Christmas bauble and tell the story behind it. It implied a much loved, battered old family heirloom. Something passed down through generations perhaps. I had been thinking about my tree decorations. A mixture of old and new. The old purchased when the kids were small and we lived in England. Mostly bought in Wilko. Mostly rubbish and now mostly gone. A few pieces left. Every year I take them out and think to myself they need to be dumped. But something stops me.

They were bought when we had no money. We didn't own a house. We lived off one salary and we had two small children. The star is a tinselly, garish gold with a bit of blue through it. It's lopsided when it's not at the top of the tree. The tradition was that my daughter put it on as she was the youngest. She was usually lifted up by her daddy to perform this ceremonial role.

This year my son was here and he laughed when he saw me decorating, reached into the box and triumphantly put the star on the tree saying, "I'm the youngest in the house now." Then he took out the little hand knitted Santa stocking he had made in playschool as a three year old in Lancaster and asked me to always keep it.

The memory of his time in playschool came flooding back. His first day when he cried and kicked and screamed. I was distraught. I ran back to the house and rang his dad in work and burst into tears. He told me not to be daft and go back and look in the window.  I walked back dreading what I might find, bracing myself to go in and rescue him. When I eventually managed to climb up to get a good view he was standing at the top of a slide posing like Batman.

Later when I collected him, he proudly presented me with a little orange Santa stocking that by now had a mushy, empty Smarty container in it. The evidence around his mouth.

This year, as every year I opened the old shoe box and lifted out the little stocking.