When in Rome, right?
Since we’re spending the holidays in England, I’ve decided we should try all the most iconic of England’s traditional Christmas treats this year — homemade whenever possible.
We have decided to forego turkey and ham this year (turkey seems to be what everyone makes here on Christmas, but it’s VERY expensive) in order to try a roast goose, local venison, salt marsh lamb, and other local game meats. I keep running across recipes for pheasant terrine, so I might attempt one of those as well (yikes!).
A few weeks ago, I made my first chutney with the green tomatoes left on the vine. Amazingly, just this morning we ate our last red, ripe tomatoes from the garden. We still have a few green ones that I hope might ripen on the counter. It’s been a very warm Autumn here.
Anyway, the green tomato and red onion chutney is in jars in our garden shed, waiting for a special occasion. Next to it is a batch of Piccalilli (English mustard pickle) that I made right after the chutney with a gorgeous cauliflower from my organic veg box delivery. I’m looking forward to opening a jar while Brad’s folks are here for Thanksgiving. (We’ll be roasting pheasants from the local game farm for Thanksgiving this year.)
Yesterday, I made my first batch of mincemeat. There isn’t actually any meat it in, unless you count the beef suet. It’s mostly dried fruits, sugar, and booze. There is booze in basically everything here having to do with Christmas. They do like their brandy, sherry, and rum over here!
Today, I made a batch of Delia Smith’s (one of the most beloved British food personalities) Christmas Chutney. It smelled divine. The recipe says it needs at least a month to mature before eating. I can hardly wait!
On Thursday and Friday, I will hopefully prepare and bake a Christmas Cake (It bakes for hours!). After it is baked and cooled, it’ll need “feeding” (with booze, of course) on a weekly basis until Christmas. I’m also going to attempt 4 Christmas puddings (2 different recipes). That’s right folks, we’re doin’ it up right here this year. We have lots of company coming, and we’d like to have things on hand to make their visits special.
I can’t get enough of the Christmas cookbooks and seasonal magazines here. Since they don’t have Thanksgiving here, after Halloween and Bonfire Night all the shops start peddling Christmas. The holiday lights are starting to go up all over the place, and in the next couple of weeks, Christmas markets will start opening here and there throughout the country. We’re hoping to visit several, and share some with our friends and family who are coming to visit.
This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of time to really think about our family traditions. I hope that some of the traditions we start here in this wonderful place might stay with us and become part of our regular holiday celebrations.
Does any country do Christmas better than the Brits?
More posts to come on our attempts at traditional British Christmas fare (with photos). Also, hopefully in the next few days we will share some of our memories from the beautiful Yorkshire Dales…