In the run up to Christmas Day I am going to share some of my memories of this time of year, some favourite food and drinks, plus some music you might enjoy. I have taken snippets from 2016 and 2018 to share with you.
First some festive music to get the party started….I am a huge fan of Chris Rea .. and here is his Driving Home for Christmas. You can buy his music Amazon
Festive Pet food for Christmas Dinner.
We could not talk about Christmas without preparing something for the pets in the family. In the old days, and that was in fact only about 30 years ago, pets were fed on scraps as they had been for the thousands of years as our companions. I appreciate that most of the animal foods available today may be rich in nutrients and full of vitality but I am afraid that I steer clear of dried food and prefer to go the natural route.
It is tempting to give pets the same treats that we enjoy but I am afraid that at Christmas treats like human chocolate are extremely dangerous. Chocolate is poison to dogs and can cause them to fit. Too many high fat, salty and sugary tit bits can also have a detrimental effect on a dog and cat’s digestion – and their first instinct is to vomit before producing rather evil smelling poop. It is important not to give you pets processed meats which contain a lot of salt or the turkey or chicken that you have prepared for your Christmas dinner because it too will have been spiced and seasoned.
Spread the food over a couple of days, as you can store cooked Turkey or chicken for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Give your pets a small amount on day one; say Christmas Eve, a little more on Christmas day and Boxing Day.
Sam our Collie established as soon as he came through the front door at 8 weeks old that the pellets that had been supplied by his breeder were inferior and he was now prepared for the good stuff. He never did take to dried food. He finally settled on Basmati rice (anything that did not have that distinctive aroma was rejected) chopped cooked chicken and giblets, some carrots and green veg with a little salt free juice from the chicken. I know some may say he was spoiled rotten but he was bright, intelligent and healthy his entire life and he always politely waited until we had started our meals before beginning his. A perfect dinner guest.
Here are a couple of favourites that we prepared for Christmas – we fostered some cats in our time and had a small feral family in our garden in Ireland that also partook during the festivities as payment for the rats caught and left on my doorstep! Sam loved Christmas and threw himself into the celebrations with great gusto…
Christmas Turkey or chicken Loaf for the Dog
Enough for 6 servings for a small dog and 4 servings for a large dog.
- 2 lbs. of minced turkey.
- 4 oz. of cooked and minced mixed vegetables (unseasoned) Sweet potato is a good choice.
- 8 oz. of oats
- 3 oz. of cooked basmati rice
- A dessert spoon of cottage cheese to top it off
Mix the turkey or chicken, vegetables, garlic, egg, rice and oats together thoroughly. Put into a greased pan (use a little butter) and pat down the mixture until level. Stand in a roasting dish of water in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook for around 1 to 1½ hours and then cool. Cut into portions and serve with a little salt free gravy. You will probably be asked for second helpings and third with a small piece of cheese to finish off!
Turkey Surprise – For the Cat
(The cat is likely to be very surprised if it is not out of a tin!)
Should provide 4 servings if you can hide from the cat. If not it will probably disappear very quickly.
- 1/2 fresh unseasoned turkey breast or one chicken breast cooked and finely chopped.
- 3 oz. of cooked carrots finely diced.
- 2 oz. of finely chopped cooked spinach
- 3 oz. of finely chopped green beans
- 6 oz. cooked basmati rice
- Unsalted chicken broth.
Mix everything together with enough chicken broth to bind the ingredients. Serve when lukewarm and watch your fingers.
My feral cats in Ireland waiting for dinner to be served…
The carol today is the wonderful In the Bleak Midwinter sung by Choir of Kings College Cambridge courtesy of drwestbury
“In the Bleak Midwinter” is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title “A Christmas Carol”, in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst. Harold Darke’s anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.
Tenth Day of Christmas
Day 10 (3rd January): Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially ‘named’ in the Jewish Temple. It’s celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!
Today we have ten lords a leaping and in line with the previous mentioned use of the song to memorise catholic tenets during the years of persecution, this would refer to the Ten Commandments. However, it is recognised that as this song was sung by children and the penalty for practicing the Catholic faith was usually death during that time, most experts believe that it was not used for that purpose and that the 10 lords were really just leaping…because it fitted into the wording…
We have always enjoyed Stollen or Christstollen for Christmas with its soft centre of marzipan and luckily we can obtain here at this time of year. Stollen in various forms has been made since the 14th Century in Germany.
The original recipe for Stollen however was very much more austere originally as they were made very simply with just water and flour. This was because during Advent butter and milk were not permitted to be consumed. It was not until about 1650 that the then Pope was petitioned to allow Stollen bakers to add these more flavoursome ingredients to make the bread more palatable.
Eventually over the centuries the dried fruit, nuts and candied peel have been added along with wonderful spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and mace. There are also versions that include brandy or rum and of course the melt in the mouth marzipan that runs along the centre of the loaf.
Legend says that the Stollen in its typical shape with the white layer of icing sugar symbolized the Christ Child wrapped in diapers.
Dry Martini – Shaken not Stirred
We often kick off a with Dry Martinis – and since there is a lot of sugar around over the holidays it is wonderful to have some slightly less sweet to clear the palate. However some people get very creative with the recipes and here is a link to 13 Festive Martinis
If you would like to make the authentic James Bond Martini….. the lads will show you how.
For ours you just need the following per martini…and the real martini glasses do add a little class to the beverage…
- 1 1/2 oz vodka
- 3/4 oz dry vermouth
Shake vodka and vermouth together with several ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with an olive or a twist of lemon peel and serve.
To bring the party to a close today.. here is Aretha Franklin.. with Joy to the World.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that your Christmas preparations are well under way.. Would love to read your comments… thanks Sally.