Goodness me, there is still lots of food to be had in our house. Except for the 2.5kg leg of lamb, which was near enough finished in one sitting on Saturday. The beef was augmented and trimmed, leaving us with a lovely joint to have when my mum arrives, a fillet to be cooked tonight and the 2kg joint we cooked on Friday night. We cooked it according to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall instructions, but it could have done with a bit longer, as it was a bit too rare for some people. However, it was beautifully tasty. The ham is still going strong, no surprise there given it was 5kg, but the flavour is just amazing. It was fantastic cold with pickles and cheeses, and was also lovely with a couple of fried eggs on top too.
We had a great time eating and drinking, but most of all spending time with people we care about. I listened to the Graham Norton Christmas Special podcast a few days before we ramped up for Christmas proper, Celine Dion was on as a guest right at the end of the programme. She talked about how she is the youngest of a large family, so to get everyone together, her mother had ‘Christmas’ in November, she said “You don’t need a specific date to tell people you love them” and it was very true. Our dinner on Saturday for thirteen people was truly a group effort; we were lent platters and furniture, food and alcohol were brought by nearly everyone who joined us and when the weather decided that it wasn’t going to be comfortable enough to eat outdoors (which was the original plan), Hanno helped to move all the furniture out the living room to various other rooms in the house and moved the four trestle tables inside, while Peanut was looked after by his grandparents on a walk to the shops. The tables were decorated by my in-laws on their return while Peanut had a snooze, and looked exactly like I’d hoped for with bowls of baubles and candles.
Nellie the Thermomix made the cheese sauce (well dollop, as a runny cheese sauce in my house is frankly sacrilegious), vanilla custard for the puddings, a garlic and herb dip, a tomato salsa/pickle (to go with the ham) then chopped up some left overs for the worms. The roast potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, the gravy was hand-made on the hob (runny gravy is also grounds for divorce) and the 7 varieties of green vegetables were simply boiled al dente (ready to be dolloped on, either by gravy or cheese sauce or indeed both). All the planning and preparation paid off, as lunch was served at 1pm on the dot. We cooked enough to feed an army, and most of it went, Hanno very sweetly asked if he could go back for seconds, we laughed and said no one else had asked! However, this caused problems when we served up the desserts, three full hours later, as people were still full. If anyone fancies any biscuits and cheese? Let me know, we could open a cheese shop with the beautiful cheeses my cousin brought round, we’ve still got one Christmas pudding, not gluten free alas, but lots of GF mince pies. I only forgot to make brandy butter, but I handmade bread sauce which worked wonderfully well with rice crumbs, and made the roast chicken taste like heaven. It also means I can have it cold in chicken sandwiches too.
Hubs very sweetly had been letting me have a bit of a lie-in each day, running around after Peanut till between 7-8am for me. Yesterday I was exhausted, a total come-down from the high of planning, preparation, the final execution followed by the cleaning up, (more in a minute) and a disturbed night from the wee man who got into bed with me, then got out, then got in again, then proceeded to fling his arms around with abandon. After breakfast, we all waved goodbye to Hanno, packed up a picnic, then went for a walk in St Kilda and Port Melbourne. Very windy, in the afternoon, very sunny and guess who didn’t have sunscreen on? Yup. My arms are pink, my décolleté is pink, the back of my neck is pink, my nose is pink. I feel very, very stupid. So does Hubs, as he also forgot to put some on as well. I’m looking forward to the peeling stage. At least it won’t be as blooming hot.
Back to the cleaning, as you know, Hubs and I have been trialling the FlyLady routines. Basically getting on with getting on with stuff, no excuses. I detailed the living room at the beginning of the month when I put the tree and decorations up, late last week I dusted the shelves again and vacuumed under everything, the weather forecast was giving us an indication we needed to be ready for Plan B. but because the majority of the hard work had been done, dusting the shelves took me twenty minutes. Vacuuming took me fifteen minutes. But it meant that when we needed to move everything out, we just moved it. When the dinner was completed and the last of the guests had gone home, the tables and chairs were taken back outside, my father in law vacuumed the carpet again (mostly to get the salt up from the wine stain), we moved the furniture back in and sat down to watch the second half of Jaws. When I take the tree down later this week, we’ll only need to pick up random needles, job done.
There are some photos from the day on my Tumblr site, but going to bed with the kitchen, dining room and living room all clean was the best feeling in the world. Yes I know I need to retrieve the ironing basket from one cupboard and sort the office out, but the beauty of FlyLady, you jump in where you are and declutter as you go, doing a bit each day to manage the spaces throughout the house. In the past month we’d concentrated on the areas where we knew we’d have heavy traffic over the meal and with also having an additional seven people stay with us over the break. But when it counted, both Hubs and I were relaxed and happy, except when I turned the wrong gas ring off and wondered why the sprouts weren’t boiling. That caused a few tight words as the hob lighter for the gas rings had gone AWOL and we had to light the rings with matches, singeing fingers in the process. We brought a new lighter yesterday as it’s still missing. So one tiny blue all day is not at all bad, and knowing those areas are still clean, uncluttered, neat and tidy means they can be maintained while we then get on track with the study and the aforementioned ironing. Mt Foldmore isn’t going to disappear on its own, unless we all go about crumpled.
Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, I’ll be the one grumping at the flagrant waste of money fireworks cost, ok? But that is a whole other soap box. For those people I owe an email to, I’m looking at *you* – fret not, one will be forthcoming imminently.