Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Eleventh Day of Christmas with guests Colleen Chesebro and Anne Goodwin.

Just two more parties to go before the big day and for this celebration I am delighted to welcome writers Colleen Chesebro and Anne Goodwin, both of whom will be sharing their most precious Christmas memories.

I thought that 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)
  • 1 small crushed piece of garlic (anti- worms and fleas – and good for humans too)
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. of oats
  • 3 oz. of cooked basmati rice

Let’s Cook

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…

Here is Leona Lewis to take us into today’s festivities with Just One More Sleep Amazon and courtesy of leonalewis

Time to meet my first guest today… the lovely Colleen Chesebro is a regular visitor to most of our blogs and her Colleen Chesebro Poetry Challenge no. 114, 115, 116 which is the last of the year offers you an opportunity to share your Haiku, Tanka or Etheree over the next couple of weeks. You will also find samples of Colleen’s own poetry on her blog and she is a respected book reviewer

Colleen M. Chesebro is a writer and author of YA fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She loves all things magical which may mean that she could be experiencing her second childhood – or not. That part of her life hasn’t been fully decided yet.  Her debut novel, “The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy,” won gold in the 2017 cover contest.

Colleen lives in Colorado with her husband. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and friends. She also loves gardening, reading, and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.

Colleen shares her most special Christmas gift…

When I was a young child, I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my German/Russian grandparents after my mom died. I don’t remember receiving many gifts. Christmas was about baking and eating, more of a celebration of my Grandma’s culinary delights. She baked up a storm for five days before the holiday. The smell of fresh bread permeated every crevice in their tiny house. Grandma would bake Christmas Kuchen and myriads of cookies that we would decorate together. Those are my favorite memories of Christmas. I still miss my Grandma.

When my own three children came along, including two stepdaughters, that was the gift I gave them, my grandma’s gift to me. I taught them to bake and enjoy the time spent together living within the spirit of Christmas. The presents didn’t matter. The important thing was to celebrate family. ♥

Sounds like an amazing gift to be passed on to generations of family and although I have already shared a song from The Sound of Music…. I hope that Colleen will enjoy another of the songs from the movie that features the whole family together. Edelweiss one of my own favourites..

You can read the reviews and buy Colleen Chesebro’s books

One of the recent reviews for Fairies, Myths & Magic – Nov 30, 2018 Miriam Hurdle rated it Five Stars.

Colleen in her book Fairies, Myths and Magic begins each section by an introduction. In the Fairies section, she describes the origins, the forms, and appearance of fairies. In the Myths section, she explained that myth is the oldest oral or written storytelling method to explain the strange natural or supernatural phenomena. In the Magic section, she points out that magic is defined as the supernatural power over the natural force and magic happens to us every day.

The short stories and poetry seamlessly weave into a pleasant dream that one wishes to stay in. The story of “Just What the Doctor Ordered” grabbed my attention because I have tinnitus. Roger’s tinnitus was cured after the fairs’ visit while he slipped into a dream over the Mojitos.

I love “The Pond” A Haibun/Tanka Poem with the line “As I gaze into the pond, I see the reflection of the woman I’ve become. Past and future meld as one.”

The short story “The Leaving” was engaging from the first line to the end. It’s eerie but not too scary.

I love poetry so it’s enjoyable to read Colleen’s many poems forms.

There are so many intriguing short stories and poems that one must read them to experience the delight of the book. Highly recommended to read for pleasure.

Day 11 (4th January): A very special woman St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), was the first American to be canonized by the Catholic Church in 1975. She had a tragic life in many ways but she established the first Catholic school in America in Maryland and it was also there that she founded the Sisters of Charity the first convent for religious sisters. She had a fascinating life and I have the link to her story on Wikipedia

Eleven Pipers Piping are believed to refer to the eleven Faithful Apostles following the betrayal of Judas. As I have previously mentioned this was according to the coded message within the original song that allowed Catholics to remember the tenets of their faith. And whilst largely discredited there is always a grain in truth in urban legends. However in modern times it has simply become eleven pipers piping…

Another beautiful carol O Holy Night from Kings College..The Carol (French: “Minuit, chretiens”, “Minuit, chretien” in original edition,or “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) written by wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). In both the French original and the English version of the carol, as well as in many other languages, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and on humanity’s redemption.

Now it is time to meet my next guest, author and book reviewer Anne Goodwin, who loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. You can find articles and posts on her own writing and also her Recommended reading

During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in May 2017. Her most recent release is Becoming Someone.

Anne shares her most special Christmas memory…..

My best Christmas present came forty years ago when I won the Sunday Telegraph Student Travel Writing Competition. Those being pre-internet days, I’m relying on my dodgy memory for the details, but the remit was to pen a postcard message, my first ever flash. Later, itchy feet took me to Asia, Africa and South America but then I hadn’t been beyond northern Spain. Unable to depict exotic settings, I mined my emotions, as I travelled backwards, literally and metaphorically, home by train. The prize money bought me an inter-rail ticket; the kudos brought the confidence to pursue my writing dreams.

What an amazing achievement and so pleased that Anne found her way back to her own stories and perhaps she will find more inspiration with this virtual Christmas Gift…a trip on one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.

You can read the reviews and buy the books by Anne Goodwin:

An early review for Becoming Someone Dorothy Winsor 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended December 15, 2018

This collection of short stories caught and held my attention throughout. I enjoyed the stories themselves, and loved the way the author was willing to play around and try different techniques, including one story in second person. Highly recommended.

Time for desserts and today it is Christmas Pudding with Trifle tomorrow – save some sherry to put in that…..

Like the history of Stollen earlier in the posts, The Christmas pudding that is available today for those of us who do not have the skill to make our own is very different from the original. It actually began life in the 14th century as a porridge that was savoury and made with beef and mutton with dried fruit such as raisins and the addition of wine and spices. It was actually the ‘slim shake’ of the day and eaten before any festivities during the year presumably to leave room for all the goodies they had back then such as a whole deer poached or otherwise..Nothing new in history then!

By 1600 the pudding had evolved to more of a cake consistency with the addition of stale breadcrumbs and eggs. It still contained the spirits and also beer and began to be associated with Christmas. However, there are always spoilsports and in the mid 1600s it was banned by the puritans for being too delicious and sinful by half….

Thankfully it received Royal approval and in 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal and by Victorian times most who could afford it were enjoying the same kind of steamed pudding that we do today. .

Although eaten at Christmas the pudding itself, like the rich Christmas cake is made several weeks if not months in advance. With the liberal addition of brandy to the mix it would probably last for years! It is then steamed to reheat while the turkey cooks and served with thick custard, icecream or whipped cream…

Carol Taylor our food expert provided a recipe for Christmas Pudding earlier in the year which is when it is best to make the dessert to allow to mature… here is the link for both the traditional and gluten free recipes

One of the  final drinks is one that you will be familiar with if you have been frequenting any of the high street coffee chains in the last few weeks… Festive Coffees...

When I did my management training with Schooner Inns steak houses in the mid-70s one of my jobs was to man the bar during busy periods. It was the in thing to finish the meal with a liqueur coffee which could be a pain to make since you could only serve a perfect finished glassful.

Into the wine glass you placed a spoonful of brown sugar, followed by the liqueur of choice – Irish coffees – Irish whisky – French with brandy – West Indies – Rum etc. Then you three quarters filled the glass with hot black coffee and stirred to dissolve the sugar. As that settled you then turn a teaspoon upside down over the mixture and gently poured double cream over it so that it settled on the top of the coffee in a thick white band. You should be able to see the coffee still jet black with the creamy topping. The glass would then be placed on a saucer and taken gently to the table to the eagerly awaiting diner. On busy Friday and Saturday nights it was not unusual to make and serve over 100 of these popular beverages. I got quite fast at preparing them and could usually make a perfect coffee in around 45 seconds.

However, there were times when the cream would break the surface of the coffee and it would become cloudy and those could not be served. In the spirit of waste not, want not those coffees that did not pass muster were then consumed after closing whilst the process of cleaning glasses and the bar was underway… Dreadful job but someone had to do it.

If you are planning to get in to get into that little black dress for the festive season…. I think you should just bear in mind that a Peppermint Mocha Latte with whip comes in at over 500 calories….

Thank you for joining us today and I hope you have enjoyed.. Tomorrow the final party before Christmas with a slightly different format… please drop in…thanks Sally