I am proud to say that this year I will not be cooking a turkey. In fact, I have never cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner as it bores me. I rarely eat turkey any other day of the year, so why must I at Christmas?
When did we forget that this time is a holiday? I have two children and would much rather play with them and get slightly squiffy at an inappropriate hour of the day, usually with my Mother.
My Mother is responsible for this liberating attitude to Christmas dinner that I have, as one year growing up we had a curry banquet because as my Mum so honestly put it: ''We all like curry instead of a glorified roast dinner'.
Last year my family and I went and enjoyed a Christmas dinner at a large chain pub a week before the big day, and they had even dressed the table and had supplied crackers. I think more and more people now actually book a table for Christmas lunch and enjoy a relaxing meal, as there's not any washing up or huge, ominous turkey carcass taking up residence in the fridge.
I do enjoy a good traditional festive meal as much as the next person, but not if I am to be tied to the kitchen all day, looking like a mad women, hands smothered in goose fat.
Cook What You Love
In most European countries, a special meal is enjoyed on Christmas Eve. I like this idea, and this is what I plan on doing this year by cooking a Swedish style meal for my close family and friends. Just a buffet or in Swedish a smörgåsbord of mainly pre prepared dishes like a large ham, cured salmon, cheeses, red cabbage, potato bake called Jansson's Temptation and meatballs. All washed down with glog a kind of mulled wine containing spiced vodka. Then, rounded off with coffee, ginger biscuits and small cinnamon buns.
This is my idea of festive heaven.
All the dishes are simple to cook and prepare, and most can be made a day or two in advance. Everyone gets to pick and choose what they like and there is plenty left over for the following day when a simple meal allows more room for chocolate and candy.
I can understand that the tradition of cooking a large turkey surrounded by oodles of veg and all the trimmings is something that makes Christmas what it is. But for me, it's about relaxing, making the most of time without us all rushing around, working, emailing and running to and from school. It's alos important not to beat yourself up if you explore the ready made or pre-prepared options, I certainly have and it has saved much time a few tears!
If you want to learn more about Scandinavian festive cuisine then have a read of this "Scandinavian Christmas Food" piece by former Master Chef finalist Alex Rushmeer on his charming foodie blog. Alex recounts his childhood memories of Christmas with his Swedish grandparents, the warmth, aromas and days that barely saw sunlight.
Here's to more time with friends and family and less time with your arm shoved inside a large bird.
Image via Aidan-Sally's Flickr