Cooking and cleaning in preparation

Cooking and cleaning in preparation

So, Christmas is nearly here and there’s something I like doing before Christmas but for Christmas.

And that’s cooking. But cooking something unusual. In this case, a Sauternes Jelly and a Smoky Beetroot Ketchup, both to be used with cheese. I do this both for me and for Al and P who are likely to come on Boxing Day for our usual day long feast. I say likely because this year then might come on Christmas Day instead. In any event, the menu will be the same:

Antipasto (meats, salami, Russian salad, English cheeses with the things mentioned above, olives, etc.)
Cullen Skink
Individual Cottage Pies with mushy peas and some other vegetables
Roast Duck with Orange Sauce and vegetables as above
Veneziana (which is a little like Pannetone but better)
Maybe English Trifle or something else if I decide to do it.
Wine/Prossecco/other things

We have to do plenty of food because Al eats … a lot!

Anyway, that really wasn’t the point of this post.

So there I am, in the kitchen, making the things above. It’s time consuming (although not difficult) and uses lots of pots and pans – so I am washing up often to reuse pans and utensils. I don’t have any problem with this and really enjoy it as it’s going to be something home made to be presented for our Christmas or Boxing Day dinner.

F, meanwhile, is cleaning in the lounge. The cleaning is spread over a number of weeks before the final BIG CLEAN, a few days before Christmas. These weekends, cleaning involves taking everything out of a cupboard, cleaning and/or washing everything, cleaning the inside of the cupboard and then putting everything back. The dining room, with all the plates and things that “might” be used, has already been done last weekend. Now it’s the turn of the lounge.

And there are things to be washed up and so he does. This is a bit of a pain because he’s at the sink sometimes when I want to use it but, hey ho, such is life. Most of the time he’s out of my way.

At a certain point I need to grind some spices. I can find the mortar but not the pestle. I ask F if he knows where it is. He doesn’t but thinks it might be in the same cupboard as the mortar. I tell him not to worry and I’ll have a look. I do and it’s not there. I look in a couple of drawers where it might be and still don’t find it. I find an alternative to a pestle – in fact, what I have used before.

He arrives in the kitchen. “Did you find it?”, he asks. I tell him no but not to worry. He decides to look in the cupboard. He takes everything out and puts it on the table – the very table that has my recipe sheets, the Sauternes Jelly stuff currently going through the sieve, the jars I will steralise shortly and several other things.

He then states that he needs to clean this cupboard. I have my back to him stirring something on the stove. I am gobsmacked. He can see what I’m doing and still wants to clean in the effing kitchen! I don’t say anything for what could I possibly say? (BTW, the pestle wasn’t there, as I already knew.)

I think, possibly because I didn’t say anything or possibly because I had to go to one of the recipes and, in order to see it, I had to move something he’d placed on top, he went away, annoyed.

But this was 100% not my fault. But he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t do the cleaning as he wanted, for sure.

And that continued for the rest of the time. He went back to cleaning cupboards in the lounge. Occasional mutterings were heard.

Eventually, in a break between things (I’d finished the Ketchup but the Jelly still needed more time through the sieve), I told him I was taking the dogs out and then going to the supermarket.

By the time I got back from the supermarket, all the stuff (well, nearly) on the table had been put back. I don’t honestly know if things were cleaned or not and didn’t ask.

Later, I took a shower and went out with A, as we do on a Sunday.

By the time I got back for dinner, everything was fine. Cleaning was not mentioned.

And, in case you were wondering, the Jelly was perfect (but it only made two jars) and the Ketchup was, erm, different. Not as good as I would have liked but, still, worth doing and I shall still use it with cheese (it made 5 jars).

Christmas, geese and, really, Christmas Card Stamps

So, the new stamps arrived yesterday.

To those few in far-flung places, I’ve already sent off the cards as it included our news for this year, so they have old stamps.

But for everyone else, the new stamps will be used. All the cards are ready and I’ll put on the stamps tonight.

This is the one I’m using (suitable for Europe and, as usual, the best one.) Actually I really quite like this year’s stamp:
Italian Christmas Stamp for Europe

And, although I don’t get them, this is the stamp for just Italy and it’s the religious one:
Italian Christmas Stamp for Italy

And …… relax – well, maybe.

It’s really difficult to explain (here or in person), my feelings regarding Brexit and how it might affect me.

But I felt a little bit better today to read this. Of course, my distrust of things that are said or written, especially by Governments, is high but, you know, this gives me a little hope.

What isn’t entirely clear is if the pension rules, currently in place, will actually be the same after 29th March. But there is nothing I can actually do about that.

But it’s a kind of Christmas present and gives me some calm, so better than nothing.

And, speaking of Christmas, here is our tree:
Our Christmas Tree

Last Saturday, we had people coming round for an aperitivo. Nothing grand – but, of course, the house had to be sparkling and there had to be lots of food and drink. So, late Saturday afternoon, around 5, we went to get some last-minute things. And on our way back, at the Piazza just by our house, I heard singing – as in, carol singing. Now, in all the years I’ve been here, I have never, ever seen or heard carol singers. A big thing in the UK with the chances of not hearing them around zero, here, just like Christmas cards, it is definitely NOT a thing. Sadly, as we had guests coming, we couldn’t stay but, as I hadn’t heard any for so long, it was kind of wonderful and we stopped for a moment. I recorded a short video which might or might not work:

So, on that note (pun intended), I’ll wish you all a very Merry Christmas now. I hope it’s a good one for you.