After the End of the World according to the Mayan Calendar, the next event on our Gregorian calendar was...Christmas. Did you survive it? Despite my culinary skills being questionable, we are all still alive.
Not wishing to take a chance on Christmas Dinner going down the plughole, I had Aunt Bessie in to do the cooking. For those who aren’t familiar with her, she also cooks for Asda, Tesco and Waitrose. And she didn’t let me down. Honey glazed parsnips, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pud and even gravy sachets were stuffed into my freezer to await The Big Day. Suffice to say that I burnt her Yorkshires, turned her gravy to coloured water and forgot to put the wretched parsnips in the oven. But dinner was edible. The family put their knives and forks together and awaited dessert. ‘Da-dah!’ I trilled and set before them a....treacle sponge. My daughter frowned. ‘Where’s the Christmas pudding?’ I tapped the plastic bowl (yes, a microwave jobbie) and looked from husband to daughter to son. ‘Everybody moaned last year, so I thought we’d have a change.’ There was a slurping noise as the plastic bowl deposited a mound of syrupy stodge onto my reindeer plate. The mess wasn’t too bad smothered in custard. Aunty Bessie’s of course.
Boxing Day was a bit of a different matter. This time family were visiting. Mother and Father Bryant. And sister and brother-in-law. Including ourselves, it was a full house. ‘What on earth have you cooked?’ asked my sister peering at the Red Thai Curry simmering on the stove. ‘Don’t worry,’ I assured, ‘it’s a Loyd Grosman sauce and very nice.’ My sister was unimpressed. ‘I thought we were having cold meats, jacket potato and salad. Haven’t you any leftover turkey?’ Er, no. On account of it being as tough as old boots yesterday and the dog dutifully finishing it off. My sister stared at the vegetables in the pot. ‘Are they organic?’ I should have said yes, but I’m rubbish at lying. She rolled her eyes and served herself a spoonful. I think sparrows eat bigger helpings.
The piece de resistance was my chocolate and coffee cake. It looked impressive. The icing was hiding a multitude of sins...a misreading of bicarb of soda (I could have sworn the recipe said two tablespoons), burnt sponge and charred coffee granules. Everybody helped themselves to a generous slice. For a moment jaws rotated. Have you ever had a synchronised moment where everybody stops chewing at the same time? The cake duly went in the bin. My mother, always to be relied upon in an emergency, produced an M&S cheesecake from the depths of her handbag. She has all sorts in her handbag. Need a tissue? A painkiller? A teabag? Something to eat? I jest not. As Loyd Grosman had failed to impress with his Red Thai Curry, I removed a vast cheeseboard from the fridge and told everybody to tuck in. My sister informed me she didn’t do dairy. ‘Oh. Have some cheesecake instead.’ I pushed the plate towards her. Ah. She couldn’t because...she didn’t do dairy. I couldn’t even get her drunk to drown her foodie sorrows because her husband had nominated her to be the driver.
So that’s it for another twelve months. Next year I might check out the cost of caterers. Which reminds me, how does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas? Deep pan, crisp and even...