pmsumner: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:44pm on 27/12/2011 under , , ,
Jane and I wanted to do something different than just going to her parents' place for Christmas day this year. We talked to each other's parents and offered to have them all at our house for lunch/dinner/some other mutually acceptable combination of food & drink. We thought it would be a suitable introduction to preparing a Christmas meal and hosting. Cooking for six - not too different to what I'm used to, and at home.

Well... this changed fairly soon. This changed in almost every imaginable way.

Jane's mum wanted to do it at her place, partly out of a feeling of being bound to do dinner for some family friends (they've alternated at each other's place for the last 5yrs or so), and partly because I think she likes having it there.

Then, as well as the six of us, there are the five family friends that Jane's mum felt honour bound to invite. So now instead of a nice cosy meal for a manageable number in a familiar kitchen, we're doing dinner for eleven in an unfamiliar kitchen.

Eeep.

Doing it there is not a bad thing, not at all. Our house is small, only a 2-up, 2-down but we could have fitted six in easily. We agreed to do it on one condition: Jane's dad promised that he would feed her mum sherry and keep her out of the kitchen.

Jane's parents offered to buy the turkey (a crown), and the wine. We would do the rest. Then at some point, they gave us £50-worth of Morrison's saving stamps. We got occasional phone calls from her mum telling us not to buy X, Y or Z as she'd got it, and then she went and won a 2-minute trolley dash around a local supermarket!

We made plans, lists, and bought stuff. In the end, we really only bought veg, and stuff for puddings. Everything else was provided for us.

Overall the food all went really well. We arrived at their place on Christmas Eve, and immediately set about preparing veg, making puddings (all cold), cranberry goop, and soup (easy to prepare in advance). Apart from a silly mistake about plain/self-raising flour (seriously: don't make a pie-crust with self-raising flour, it's just wrong) it all went to plan. No emergencies, no disasters.

My parents arrived at their hotel in Oswestry and threw our plans a little bit, asking if they could come to Jane's parents rather than going for coffee/drinks in Oswestry as we'd planned. Despite her mum flapping like crazy about the state of the house, a good night was had. Wine, carol singing and amazing ham (really need Jane's mum to write down what she did to it).

Christmas day came around, we had little to do now except actually cook! I'd planned out timings in my head and knew what needed to be done and when. We were calm, and bar occasionally needing to ask Jane's mum where X, Y or Z was, or how best to use the hostess trolley (things I'm unfamiliar with), and the gravy at the end, it was done on our own. Jane was ace, she claims to have just been a helper but in reality it would never have been done had she not been there.

I was pleased with the outcome. There were a few bits here and there that I would do differently were we to do it again. I would take the turkey out a little earlier (Jane's mum was a little over-cautious about this in my view), I would cook the broccoli a lot less and I would do one fewer pudding (in retrospect, 4 was too many. Even if 2 of those were fruit-based and therefore not really "pudding"!).

We got lots of compliments and fun was had. Hurrah.

I'd do it again, but I would do it at home and I would want to be responsible for buying everything. Using someone else's kitchen, someone else's equipment and not knowing exactly what you've got is more stressful than you might expect.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: LL11
Music:: BBC News on BBC HD

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