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Decorating A Christmas Cake And More
Those of you who know me or have come across me, or this blog, online in the past, may know that my bad health and disabling conditions don’t let me do everything I would want to do. I can only manage a small proportion of what I use to do. Mostly stuff that can be done sitting down in short sessions with lots of breaks.
Which means that I have to pick and choose what I do, depending on how I’m feeling at any particular time.
So when it came to preparing for Christmas this year I started planning early, working out what shortcuts I could take while still having a Christmas day with most of the trimmings we are use to.
If you have struggled to keep up with tradition and expectation this year, perhaps suffering an M.E. crash afterwords, you may find some tips about short cuts you can take next year while suffering less at the end.
So, everything was ordered online and delivered. I have Amazon Prime so tried to make sure that I ordered items that were applicable for quick, free delivery. I also have a delivery saver deal with Tesco, so frozen food and stuff that would keep were ordered a few at a time in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with the fresh stuff ordered for delivery the Saturday before Christmas. If you don’t have Prime you can still get free Amazon delivery by ordering over a certain amount of cost in one order. And if you don’t order regularly from one of the supermarkets you can still place a big order for Christmas food items for a one off delivery price that depends on the date and time of the delivery.
There was a time when I would have baked a cake, made the marzipan, royal icing, and tree or penguin or snowman to put on top. There have also been years where I have bought a fully iced and decorated cake.
This year I decided to buy all the bits ready prepared and then decorate the cake myself. A sort of cheats way to an uniquely, hand decorated, cake.
So I bought a rich fruit cake, cake board, apricot jam, ready rolled marzipan, ready rolled icing, edible cake decoration (I thought I’d ordered a snowman but I got a polar bear), bottle of mini icing snowflakes, spray bottle of edible glitter.
The cake was unwrapped and put onto the board. I put a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam into a mug and added several tablespoons of brandy before heating in the microwave to melt the jam. This mixture was then poured over the cake and spread all over before the marzipan was laid over the top and then tapped around the sides and out over the board. The rolled icing was added the same way. (Nephews love icing and marzipan more than they like cake so covering to the edge of the board makes it look bigger and gives the boys more of what they like.)
I then stuck the polar bear on the cake to one side before dotting the tiny snowflakes all over the cake, pushing them into the icing to make them stick.
After that I sprayed the cake with the edible glitter. It gives more of an irridescent effect rather than convensional glitter.
Not nearly perfect, but just fine for us – and I can say I had a hand in creating it.
But of course, the cake is only one of the things we traditionally have at Christmas.
I haven’t made an ordinary Christmas pudding for several years (but did use to make a little low sugar one for my late father who was a diabetic), but this year I was given a recepie by one of our carers that involved measuring and mixing the ingredients on one day and cooking the next. So I decided to go for it. Adjusted the ingredients a bit as didn’t have everything as given in the list, but between Mam snd I we got it all measured and finished mixing in about an hour. Then back to bed to rest.
The following day the mixture was put into two pudding basins. This is where I did change the method. Rather than boiling or steaming Christmas puddings I prefer to put roastin tin in the oven with lots of water in it, then put in the covered pudding basins that have been tied with strings.
I then just turn on the oven to about 140 centigrade. A check and top up of the water lunch time and again mid afternoon, and then turn the oven off at supper time. This means there is much less steam in the kitchen all day.
So, what about the actual Christmas lunch?
Well we had a turkey, along with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts, spiced red cabbage, along with cranberry and apple stuffing, sausage meat, sage and onion sausage stuffing, chestnut and something pork stuffing.
But I didn’t peel a single sprout or potato!
It was all planned ahead and ordered in either frozen or fresh.
The turkey went into the oven, with some sausage meat pushed into the neck end under the skin, on Christmas Eve. In at 9am. Turned round every hour. Opened the foil covering an hour before it was due to be cooked to let it brown, off with the oven at 2pm and recovered the bird to keep it moist. Giblets were boiled for stock, and frozen cranberries, orange juice and sugar boiled up to make cranberry sauce, but those jobs took less than an hour so resting a lot between turning turkey the rest of the day.
On Christmas day itself I simply put things like roast potatoes, stuffing, etc., onto metal trays in the oven in the morning and went back to rest. At 11.30am I turned the oven on. At 12.15 pm I got up and set to boiling the sprouts, heating the frozen mash in the microwave, makeing gravy and brandy sauce, etc., etc., and had lunch ready before 1pm, with the pudding being heated in the micto for 2 minutes while we ate our lunch.
Nothing fancy, but a roast turkey Christmas lunch with much more than an usual Sunday lunch of additions.
And for Christmas tea – cake, and a platter of assorted cheeses, sliced meats, smoked salmon, pate, served with fresh figs and crackers.
No taking time makeing sandwiches, no laying things out on separate plates, just sat with platter in front of me by the fridge and randomly pulling out an assortment of lovely food. More than enough for the three of us that were here for Christmas tea after youngest nephews had left with their mother after a couple of hours here opening the presants I’d packed over the last week or so and put under the tree.
The nephews were the ones who put up the tree, decorated it, as well as putting up some decorations around the sitting room. So that was another thing I didn’t have to do – other than sitting down with decorations box and passing things to them.
You’ll notice that I went the simple route as far as wrapping is concerned – a roll of white paper for everything, some clear sticky tape to hold it in place, then wrapping some brightly coloured tape around in two directions to decorate in a more festive manner. Greeting was written directly onto the white wrapping rather than takeing time to make and attach tags – anything to make the job easier. It might have cost more than the several rolls of wrapping paper I usually go through at Christmas, but not a lot more, and there is plenty of paper and tape left for wraping gifts for birthdays, etc., all through the year, and probably into 2020 as well.
So there you have it – Christmas food and gifts our style.
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You can see the cards I’ve made using design sheets from CUP in my “Crafter Showcase Area” on Craftsuprint.com – here
(Just scroll down past the top boxes to see the cards.)
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