Thursday 27 December 2012

Christmas 2012

December 27, 2012 - I'm blogging of a White Christmas

My sincerest apologies as I meant to publish this yesterday. Unfortunately I have caught a rather cruel head cold and spent most of yesterday in bed. I was supposed to return to work today but had to call in sick. So while I'm not in the best of shape today, I am still able to finish this blog post. Aside from falling ill, it has been a great Christmas. I spent this Christmas at my aunt and uncle's house about an hour and a half's drive out of the city. Christmas lives at that house, I'm telling you. My aunt has the spirit of Christmas all year round (including just a few ornaments that stay up all twelve months of the year).

If you are a regular to this blog, then you might recall a few entries from last June when I visited my Canadian cousin in London, England. She is their daughter. Normally she would be present at the festivities but she is on a tour of the world with her boyfriend, Stephen, and they are spending the holidays in Australia with some of Stephen's family. We did get to have a "face time" meeting with both of them though. They are having the time of their lives.
Our Christmas was also spent with my uncle's brother, his wife, her mother, and some friends of the family. We all left with a loot of great Christmas presents. Mine included awesome cooking stuff that will make an appearance on the blog in the coming year. So excited! My aunt is quite the foodie herself. Since she was a host and did most of the cooking, I am unable to share our family recipes (if I told you, I'd have to kill you). I am able, however, to share some of the meals that we prepared so that you can get an idea. That's what we call compromise.

Growing up, my family always had Chinese take out on Christmas eve. This was a tradition passed on from my mom's side of the family. I suppose our nana Jill figured that she would spend all of Christmas day slaving in the kitchen so there was no point in being bothered on the eve. My aunt and uncle however do not live in an urban area and there isn't many options for that sort of thing in their neighbourhood. So my aunt usually makes a tourtiere from scratch in honour of her father (my grandpa and Jill's husband) who was born and partially raised in Qu├ębec. Tourtiere is a French-Canadian pie usually filled with a combination of ground beef, ground pork and vegetables. We ate that with French onion soup, a beautiful salad and Italian crostinis with goat cheese, tomatoes, sherry vinegar-marinated shallot and fresh basil.

Christmas morning is traditionally met with champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice. My aunt also served blueberry-cranberry scones, lemon cake, and cranberry-chocolate coffee cake. For breakfast, we had fluffy and moist lemon and ricotta pancakes with maple syrup, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. We also had low-fat blueberry yogurt and granola. I can't even remember the last time I had a breakfast this good. Even despite having a cold, this was so enjoyable. 
Over the course of the day, and a few drinks, we also enjoyed crackers, breads, cheeses, hummus, spinach dip and asiago dip. We may have even had more but my brain is not functioning at 100% at the moment so I again ask for your forgiveness.

Traditionally, North American families eat turkey or ham on Christmas. We're a turkey family. This year we had a modest 10 pound turkey seasoned with salt, pepper and dried spices, adorned with knobs of butter. The turkey was stuffed with bread, pork and vegetables wrapped up into a ball with cheesecloth. That roasted in the oven for a few hours while the entire house was perfumed with the aromas of Christmas dinner. Here's a little tip for roasting a turkey, if you have a turkey that's 8-12 pounds, allow 20 minutes per pound to cook in the oven. If your turkey is heavier, allow fifteen minutes per pound. Turkey is best roasted at about 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It's a good idea to baste your turkey with the juices from time to time for maximum flavour and to avoid the bird from drying out. For side dishes, we had yams and yellow potatoes that we wrapped in tin foil and cooked on the barbecue along with some cauliflower and parsnips. We had gravy (an absolute must) and a fantastic chunky cranberry sauce that was kissed with Cointreau. We also had carrots that were panfried in butter and a little brown sugar for a festive glaze. 

 Here's a blurry shot of the dinner just before bringing the food out. You can sort of see that we're also the kind of family that uses Christmas crackers (the paper tubes that everyone pulls apart to reveal a paper crown, a small toy and a usually very poorly written joke). 

I just had to include this picture of Mickey, one of our guests dog, begging in the kitchen while the turkey was being carved. lol

Ladies and gentleman, here is my best shot of the complete feast. It was delicious. If only I didn't have this dreadful cold I would have been able to taste it at its full potential, but everyone else at the table did. I enjoyed it very much, none the less. The turkey was moist as well as the savoury stuffing, the potatoes were steamy and comforting, the slightly charred and smokey cauliflower and parsnips paired beautifully with the sweet glazed carrots. The meat was perfectly paired with both the cranberry sauce and velvety gravy. What more could one ask for? 

You might be a fool to assume that my aunt wouldn't go that extra mile to prepare a dessert. As another commemoration of our mostly English heritage, she made trifle. Each person got their own ramekin with layers of fruit and angel food cake topped with fresh whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. Indulgence at its most shameless. 

Well, I hope everybody else enjoyed their holiday seasons this month. With luck I'll be back up and running in full health ready to share some of my own cooking experiences with all of you. Just had to boast a bit about how well I ate at Christmas this year. 

Seasons greetings to all of you and all the best in 2013.

Be happy and stay fed,


PS: Please share some of your holiday food traditions. I'd love to hear about them!


  1. I am happy to have been part of this Christmas and enjoyed - as always - great food and great company!

  2. Aw that all looks so lovely! I would love to have a white Xmas at some stage - well a US one anyway :) we always have my mums lasagna (which includes home made slow cooked mince sauce and has layers with fried egg plant and boiled eggs). And we eat lots of seafood! Well it's 31 degrees here so it makes sense :p.

    Love your blog!!! Merry Christmas Bram. Hope you feel better soon. Xxx