The Best Turkey Recipe

If you regularly cook turkey for Christmas, you’ll know one of the hardest things to do it have a moist bird. In 2007, I discovered this recipe by Phil Vickery and it was absolutely perfect. Although we have stopped having turkey at Christmas now, the memory of Christmas 2007 is stolen by the best turkey ever. If you are having turkey this Christmas, try this, I assure you it, won’t disappoint.

Serves: 8-10 adults
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 2½ hours, approx

Ingredients

1 x 5 kg or just under 12lb, Bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large onion, peeled
6 sticks of celery
1 leek
2 bay leaves
2 chicken stock cubes
½ bottle dry white wine
2 pints cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
55g melted butter
2 tbsp roughly cornflour
4-6 tbsp cold water

Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas 6
    2. The first job is to remove the giblets from the bird and if you are using a frozen bird then make sure that it is fully defrosted
    3. Season the bird well inside and out with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the body cavity
    4. Tie the legs and the parsons nose together with a piece of string and secure well, so the stuffing is held inside the bird
    5. Chop all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the bottom of a large baking tray. Place the turkey on top. The tray should be large enough so the bird has at least 2 inches gap around it.
    6. Pour in the white wine, cold water and chicken stock cube, and place the whole tray on to the stove
    7. Bring to the boil and cover tightly with two layers of foil and pop into a preheated oven

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT Simmer for 5 minutes, covered to get the steam and heat going!

  1.  Cook the bird for about approximately 2 hours
  2. To check if the bird is cooked, carefully remove from the oven as there will be a lot of stock, wine and turkey juices
  3. Remove the foil and insert a knife where the thigh attaches itself to the body of the bird. The juices should run clear and if not, cover again with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  4. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and turn it up to 230°C, gas 8. Brush with the melted butter and cook until browned for about 15 minutes.
  5. When nicely browned, remove from the oven and carefully tip off all the stock and keep warm
  6. Wrap the turkey in foil to keep warm, it will keep perfectly wrapped for 1 hour
  7. Reboil the stock and juices, you may need to add a little more water in a saucepan and skim well
  8. Mix the cornflour and water together and thicken the bubbling stock
  9. Carve the bird; the flesh will be soft and juicy. Serve the gravy and stuffing separately.

You can find the recipe here.

There is no S**TA

This Christmas, I would advise you to keep your children well away from mine because they know there is such thing as Santa.

Two years ago, we made the decision to tell them the truth. Yeah yeah yeah, we are mean old parents but:

  1. We were tired of this big bearded man that comes down the chimney once a year taking all the credit for the gifts that our hard earned money provided.
  2. We were tired of keeping up the charade and essentially the lies that went along with it as they got older. It got to the point where  I would have to say that the friend who told them there was a Santa was a liar.
  3. The gift list was getting ridiculously wilder and longer. It needed to be halted. I’m just not cut out to be one of those parents that gives their kids everything they want.
  4. We are mean like that. Hehehehehehe.

Now this year we could ask what do you want and get a list and since they know it’s their parents providing them, there is the understanding that not every wish would be granted.

I wonder if it’ll stop them wishing for those dreamy, magical presents that only Santa can provide?  Who knows. I’d like to think that Santa is not responsible for creativity and high expectations in children.

Anyway, you’ve been warned, keep your kids away or else.

A Simplified Christmas

I wrote this post this last year and it has served as a useful reminder. If last year was simplified, this year will be simplified to the max! Enjoy!

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It’s been a long and busy year. And I am really looking forward to two weeks off work and just simply relaxing. Today is my last day at work this year and I’m pumped – as my son would say. 🙂

So this year, as I’m determined to have a simple Christmas, we did all Christmas presents shopping online, in fact at the same store. Anything that required veering into other stores has been relegated to a nice-to-have list for 2015. Plus we’ve had a chat about being grateful for whatever you get. So I’m optimistic about no I-didn’t-get-the-present-I-wanted drama. 😂😂😂😂😂 I crack myself up. I’ll let you know if that worked out. (update, it did!)

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Still hidden away to avoid hypertension in young children

The other thing that always goes off kilter at Christmas is my food shopping habit. I’ve found that I shop like there’s been a hurricane warning and my family is going into a bunker for two weeks; rather than for one day which is essentially how long the shops will be closed for. So this year I was determined not to do that and I’ve succeeded. I did my food shopping online too so I wouldn’t be distracted by great offers in the stores. I have a few items left but I’ve made a list and I’m sticking to it when I hit the grocery shop shortly.

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The cookbooks begat the shopping list

I like – scratch that – I love cooking and Christmas is usually the time that I experiment with new recipes, but that’s another stressful thing and this year I’m not doing stress at Christmas. So I’ve stuck to what we all like and is tried and tested. For the first time ever, I won’t be peeling potatoes. I’m a food snob like that I know but in the name of a stress-free Christmas we are getting frozen potatoes 🙈🙈🙈 – a suggestion made by my husband which no doubt takes him off potatoes peeling duty. However, I got his point. If you want a stress-free meal then take the stress away. I’m still processing that one though. I might just nip out and get potatoes in the morning and so I can make my gorgeous hassleback potatoes.

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Hassleback potatoes. The best way to do them!

My family and I also made a pact not to get presents for one another until the New Year which is just perfect and I can avoid the Christmas madness out there. I have a super organised friend whose Christmas shopping is usually done by October. Alas, I have not been blessed with such genes so I’m very happy with this unanimous decision.

Another thing that adds to my stress is baking a Christmas cake for church. Well I’ve scrapped that this year. And will do something in the New Year when I’m chilled. Although it’s sounding like my New Year is getting pretty full already. Eek!

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Merry Christmas

Lastly, I cancelled my hair appointment just because the last thing I feel like doing right now is spending a couple of hours in a hair salon under a dryer when I could be home with my feet up. Well-being before beauty for me. My hair will just have to do as it is for one day.

So here’s to a truly simplified Christmas day and holiday. 🍸

Christmas Cracker

We were invited to a Christmas party and my children, along with a friend, spent the whole night pulling every single Christmas cracker at the party – I mean EVERY single Christmas cracker. Never mind that the hosts might have been saving it for their own purposes. 🙈🙈🙈

Of course their motivation was the mini tug of war that takes place as you pull the cracker and ultimately the gift within. They got lots of gifts, seeing as they took ownership of all the crackers, but there was a special gift that my children were very secretive about.

I overheard arguments over who cracked open this mysterious gift. It was me, no it was me. This went on for a few days until their dad banned them from arguing over it. Then I was told this gift would be my Christmas present and of course for the next few days I was begged to open my present.

Unfortunately for them, I’m a traditionalist. I firmly believe that presents only ever ought to be opened on Christmas Day. Not Christmas Eve, not even before Christmas lunch. Only after you’ve consumed enough food and drink to sink a ship can the presents be opened. Every kid’s worst nightmare really.

However when tradition meets whiny, persistent, persuasive and argumentative children, tradition unashamedly takes a bow. I opened the present at 8.00am before we went to church and then I understood why.

The gift was a pair of ‘diamond’ earrings. I’m not sure what the earrings are made of or whether my ears would react to the nickel or rather lack of nickel in it. I had no choice – I was going to wear them. That is the definition of love! 😍

Seeing the look of pride on their faces, It was all worth it.

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Christmas Decoration-less

I’m spending a lot of time in London this Christmas so I don’t see the need of putting up a tree in Cambridge.

However my home is looking very lack lustre at the moment.

I love putting up the tree, partly because it brings back such good family memories and traditions. And also because it’s fun for the children. PLUS you just feel all Christmassy when the tree is up.

Speaking of our tree, my husband never lets me forget that when we first got married I said, ‘I’m just popping out to get a small tree’. I came back with a six foot tree. ROTFL :).

I’ll never live it down, It’s his favourite joke to tell EVERYONE at Christmas.

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Maybe I’ll have to find alternative decorations this year just to brighten up the place but not a tree. I’m thinking wooden or cardboard miniature trees, wreathes and ribbons. Hmmmm. *thinking* I will definitely get a real tree for London though. We’ve got to! Just a small one. 😉

Remake Your Life

I happened to mention out loud that I couldn’t believe that a whole year had almost passed by. My son was in the room but I was really talking to myself.

Then he said to me, “mummy, a new year is a good thing because you have time to ‘remake’ your life”.

I asked him to explain what he meant and he said, “well it gives us time to do good and be better at the things we do”.

I think there is some wisdom there. New Year, New Opportunities. I like his take on it – ‘Remake’ your life!

Non-Speaking Part

Those are two words that no parent wants to see when parts are being given out for the Christmas Play.

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You want to see Mary, Joseph, a Wise man or woman, King or even the donkey – but a non-speaking part? No!

This is what happens when children do not listen to parents. I told my daughter to sing out loud during music lesson so the teacher would hear her voice and select her for a choice part. I even said she should break into song and dance, ‘Let it Go’ would work just fine. But nooooooooooo she had to be miss-know-it-all and even dare to suggest that I was being silly. And now we have it! A NON-SPEAKING PART.

I suppose I am still expected to go along and clap like she had the part of Mary. Such is life!

Christmas Wish

Last year was a very memorable Christmas for me. It was the first time my kids were aware of the meaning of Christmas – presents. 🙂 We had quite a number of family members over so they got a lot more presents than they usually would have.

Leading up to the day, the countdown began. My then six year old son who was able to write, wrote his Christmas wish list. My daughter who was four couldn’t write so did not. My son, who is much more meticulous and takes no risks when it comes to ensuring he gets what he wants, told the whole world what was on his list and wrote several versions of the same list. This year, he started the list in June. That’s how meticulous he is. My daughter, on the other hand is much more …….. let’s say ‘fluid’. Her behaviour is like that of a princess who naturally knows her every wish will be granted. So being more relaxed in character, she kept her list in her head and didn’t really mention it to anyone; as far as I was aware.

On Christmas day, my son got what he wanted from Santa and my daughter got what her parents thought she wanted from Santa. The disappointment on my little girl’s face was comical and disheartening at the same time. Her heart was genuinely broken.

    “Mummy Santa didn’t get me what I wanted” she wailed.
    “What did you want” I asked.
    “A snow globe” she replied.
    “Who did you tell” I asked.
    “No one” she replied, holding back tears of distress.

I tried to explain how Santa only responds to what he hears, blah blah blah. My explanation fell on deaf ears and she spent the whole day being forlorn and dispirited in between the glee of opening other presents, eating and playing with her brother and cousin. We have a tradition of opening presents after Christmas lunch. Cruel you say? Yes I know but we do it anyway. 🙂 We might appease them a little or rather keep them quiet by letting them open one in the morning but generally all presents are opened after the meal. So it was finally present opening time. Amidst the ripping of wrapping paper and the squeals of thank you mummy and daddy, thank you aunty and uncle, a screech over powered the noise. “Mummy! Mummy! I got a snow globe”. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend, whom we had never met, gave her a snow globe and a doll. Of all the presents in the world to give a child, she picked the very one my daughter had asked Santa for.

Call me mushy but I was almost in tears watching the glee on my daughter’s face and the sheer simplicity of a wish granted. A year after, I still marvel at how uncanny that was. Despite the inability of her parents to read her mind and no one else knowing, some how the universe had conspired to grant her wish. What are the chances of that? It almost got me believing in Santa. 🙂

So here’s hoping your Christmas wish comes true and that the year 2014 is much more glorious than anything you could ever ask or think.

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Jesus Is Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (John 3:16 AMP)