Two weeks today until the big day. Advent calendars nearly on the halfway mark, unless your kids, like someone I know, open all the windows at once and gobble most of the chocs.
Mince pies keep so well that they could be made in advance in this coming week - you really have them before Christmas anyway, at the mince-pies-and-mulled-wine kind of gatherings. In any event both the pastry and the mincemeat can be made and frozen. Or even freeze pre-baked pies though I must admit I've never tried that. Here's a brand new recipe which has already been proclaimed a success - and it contains not a single nut so your allergics will be all right.
Another make-in-advance - of course, lebkuchen. They get better as they age in a tin, like all honest ginger concoctions should. Make them plain, cut out shapes, ice them and decorate with sprinkles and that will keep the kids happy for the whole evening - at a small cost of kitchen covered in sprinkles too. But the best ever lebkuchen are covered in chocolate with a jammy surprise inside - an even better fun idea for the little ones. Spilt chocolate joins the sprinkles on the floor!
I will soon give you the whole range of Christmas bread ideas - or you can find them on these pages yourself - but this one is worth attention as it's not only a beautiful but a damn tasty bread too. It's a traditional Ethiopian loaf - dabo - and well worth being baked all year round in fact.
Some light suggestions for this week's supper - I continue to propose restraint before the feasts in a fortnight. Oriental steamed sea bass or bream or even a large lemon sole - delicious, all done in a wok and great to serve on top of some plain noodles. Another good idea for sea bass - fillets this time - is to bury it in spinach and bake for no more than 10 minutes. So lovely.
And if you don't fancy fish, make the best of the last of game. Pigeon is silly cheap - ask the butcher to fillet the breast if you're not feeling up to it (it's easy though). Excellent light supper, just pan-fried and served alongside a hearty salad.
And the last but not least suggestion: make a pot of veggie chili, and if you cheat (do!) and use tinned beans, the preparations won't take half an hour. Leaving you time enough to have a go at those lebkuchen...