Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Christmas Bright and Britishy

I imagine Lydia got the idea for a very Britishy Christmas from the copious amounts of the Great British Bake Off we've been consuming during lockdown.

Pigs in a blanket

We did some present opening.

I think it was Aunt Celeste gave me some nice fruity presents.

Lydia's grandparents got me this fantastic box of chocolate liquor bottles.

I bought a Tronco di Natale which is a delicious chocolately Italian cake shaped like a log. All the best foods are shaped like logs.

These circular friends were mince pies.

Wassail first entered my consciousness in high school. They talked about it a lot at the Madrigal Dinner, which was like a medieval fundraiser performance thing, and they'd do toasts with it often. Wikipedia: "a beverage made from hot mulled cider and spices, drunk traditionally as an integral part of wassailing, an ancient English Yuletide drinking ritual and salutation either involved in door-to-door charity-giving or used to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year."

Lydia went pretty hard on the British theme and crushed it. There was turkey, parsnips, cranberries, and even a stuffing recipe from British Bake Off's very own Mary Berry. A first for me was the Yorkshire pudding with gravy.

I think Lydia did a good job with preparation, but the I'd much prefer a dinner roll or mashed potatoes as a gravy vehicle to the puddings. They are very eggy and sort of lack substance.

I don't seem to have taken any pictures of them pre-destruction, but we played with some Christmas crackers. They are shaped kind of like a giant piece of candy, with a wrapper center and then two protrusions of wrapping on either side. I think the deal was that two people pulled either end, there's a small gunpowder like pop, then whoever has the big end wins, kind of like a wishbone situation. Inside there is a toy of very low quality, a piece of paper with a joke on it, and a paper crown. 

I've played with these only once before a looong time ago, when I spent Christmas in Hong Kong with British Mike.

I bought Lydia this ancient copy of the Household Searchlight Recipe Book a at Goodwill Outlet, the Portobello Road of St. Louis. It's kind of cool because it was clearly someone's go-to book because it has scraps from newspapers and other hand written recipes jammed into its pages. Anyway, 

One of the funnest aspects of the book also makes it less useful: it sometimes calls for odd ingredients or uses unfamiliar terms. For example the Christmas pudding recipe it featured called for a cup of suet. I was unfamiliar with the word but I now know that it's "the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle". I did not have any of that laying around. I want to say we froze butter or crisco or something? There was some sort of higher melting temperature that we were trying to achieve that just normal butter wouldn't accomplish.

The Christmas pudding project took some twists and turns.

We cut up some of the candied oranges we'd gotten as a Christmas present. I was satisfied with the speed at which we put the gift to use.

So with a pudding you're supposed to steam it but we didn't have the correct equipment. I tried different methods to loosely cover the pudding and also exposed it to steam... it was a big mess.

To increase the steamy surface area I put it in a muffin pan then a I think set it on top of another pan filled with water.

I think it came out decently especially considering we had very little idea what we were doing, didn't have all of the correct ingredients or the special appliances necessary... long story short I'm a goddamn Christmas hero.

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