All the lights are up, on and out; the halls are creaking under the amount of decking and hordes of reindeer have invaded front gardens – no holds barred and firing on all cylinders this year. My street has done us proud: we have lights in and outside every house; all the trees, hedges and fences are lit up not counting said reindeer. The light pollution is tremendous. Blackpool Illumination eats its heart out. We’re loving it.
And that’s the right approach – defiance and battery-operated LEDs in the face of pandemic, restrictions, whatever your stance. And cooking of course: the smells of mince pies and mulled wine join the cheer from all the households, not just three at a time.
I have another new recipe for this year: the best Christmas cake from West Indies, Caribbean black cake. It can be made this week and eaten on Christmas Day with a wedge of Stilton or Wensleydale.
If you’re planning a smaller Christmas lunch, think of a goose breast with apples and raisins; if goose is not available you can replace it with a duck breast in this recipe. Or look at cooking blueberry duck; doesn’t sound seasonal but it’s gorgeous.
I find myself eating random things for dinners in the run-up, basically clearing out the fridge. Yesterday I had a chorizo and potato traybake, tomorrow probably just sesame noodles with cucumber sticks. You can do the same – sometimes random things put together taste the best. Lentils and cheese? Yes please, the spicy cheesy lentils bake is a good one. Likewise, smoked fish might sound at odds with roasted turnips (or parsnips, or sweet potato) but it’s seriously nice. Give it a try.
Make a batch of granola this week, or a pot of chilli crab butter for lunchtime sandwiches. Cook a vat of ragu bolognese and freeze in portions. Have a pizza night, cooked properly from scratch. Soon there will be time for festivities even if with a smaller crowd, and afterwards – you know, I think there’s a good glimmer of hope amongst all the LEDs in sight…