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Festive Musings

5083You know how when you hear a snatch of a tune that you know well, even if your attention is elsewhere, some bit of your brain recognises it and immediately sits up to take notice, as if you’d heard your name spoken? Well, I was pottering away on the computer with the TV on in the background, using my built in mental ad filter (the one that allows me to totally tune out all forms of advertising unless I choose to look/listen), when I suddenly caught just such a snippet. It was very subtle and possibly even being spoken over, (my filter was still on for that irrelevant bit, so I can’t be sure), but I caught enough to recognise it as Siouxsie and the Banshees. It amuses me hugely that the rebellious punk bands of my youth are now regarded as suitable soundtrack material for marketing. The funny thing is the often huge inappropriateness of the songs.

I’ll have to look out for the ad again because I really didn’t notice what it was for (I rarely do. It did involve a stick in an evening gown sashaying through some expensive location, so given the time of year, I assume it was some perfume or other. Following a quick recce through my music collection it transpired that the track name was “Obsession”, so it is entirely possible the product was of the same name. I can’t help but feel that whoever dreamt up the ad really didn’t listen to the lyrics, which are more creepy stalker than seductive temptress (and one does assume they would not be aiming for the former in a perfume ad). See what you think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tedxoMlY9LE  In case you didn’t catch the lyrics, you can find them here.

On another festive note, I have begun planning my seasonal food. Early, you may think, but we have never gone in for boring old turkey with all the trimmings (though we do sometimes have a small turkey crown for boxing day or New Year’s day) and not just because of the extortionate seasonal prices. Before we had children, pheasant and duck were favourites, but they have yet to try pheasant and I’m not sure they’d like it. There’s a huge amount of meat on a pheasant, usually far more than on a larger duck, and the leftovers from both make for some nice terrines, pates or game pies. Another favourite of recent years is Beef Wellington (made with wild mushrooms, naturally) – either using a large joint or individual sized made with fillet steaks. The latter is handier for the not-usually-picky child who does not like mushrooms. *holds head in despair and dismay*

I have been scouring all my historic cookery tomes for unusual festive recipes, something a bit different, and will be making proper mince pies, with meat in them (thank you, Mrs Beeton), as well as some Tudor peascods (usually Lenten fare, but they keep well and make a nice snack). I also found a Victorian recipe for Yorkshire Christmas pie, which I would dearly love to try but is probably too epic and expensive. It’s a turkey stuffed with a goose, stuffed with a fowl, stuffed with a pigeon, stuffed with sausage meat and forcemeat and hard boiled eggs, all in a pastry crust (rather like a pork pie). The pastry is there purely to preserve the contents and not for eating. I can see such a dish adorning the Boxing Day Shoot lunch table at Downton 🙂 I think that the closest I’ll ever come to that are the vivid childhood memories of helping my Mum to bone and stuff a whole chicken with ham slices, sausage meat and boiled eggs – it was lovely, but an awful lot of work.

My Victorian cookbook has some other interesting recipes (though, sadly, no pictures) that I won’t be trying, like Beef and Lark pie, boiled Reindeer tongues, Bears’ Paws a la Russe and, for economic reasons, Pheasant a la Belle Alliance, which is a boned pheasant stuffed with minced made from 2 woodcocks, 4 snipes and half a bottle of truffles, basted with sherry. I’m guessing the recipes in this book were not for ordinary folk. One interesting recipe that I did find was for Bubble and Squeak. Boring, that’s just cabbage and potato cakes, you may think, but you’d be wrong. What we think of as Bubble and Squeak is really just refried Colcannon. Bubble and Squeak is fried slices of boiled salt beef, served with fried boiled cabbage. It’s still leftovers, but not as we know it.

So, back to Christmas food. I’ll also be making some Lavender Shortbread (as gifts), a Polish honey cake (Piernik) village at DD’s insistence and loads of Pierogi, though this year I won’t be leaving it until Christmas Eve but making them a few days in advance and freezing them. We’re always too full to eat them on Christmas Eve anyway. Plus a poached salmon, also for Christmas Eve, for which the trick will be finding a smallish one that will fit in my fish kettle rather than the monsters they sell at that time of year. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a big one though as poached salmon freezes well and I’m a master of cooking with leftovers 🙂

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21 November 2013

4 Comments to “Festive Musings”

  1. I am now absolutely starving after reading that!!

    You make me want to bake and cook these things. Almost. I know my limitations, man. And it’s mince 😀

    Ali x

  2. Oh 🙁 ‘Stick in an evening gown’ – thought it was a new variety of Peperami ….

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