Twas the Night Before (the Night Before the Night Before) Christmas

What better way to spend an evening during the festive season than hanging around a horrendously short staffed and half-shuttered pharmacy.

Yes, a new Christmas tradition, but not a particularly pleasant one. Perhaps it could be improved with the addition of mince pies and a glass of mulled wine? Even with that, a mismanaged pharmacy is still that. But enough moaning about the state of our health service (thanks to the steady application of austerity over these last twelve years), it’s almost Christmas. You know what that means? Inordinate amounts to eat and drink? Of course!

The spread from last year. Can it be topped?!

Christmas Preparations

Tomorrow is not just another Friday, no. It’s turkey pickup day. We’re getting our bronze turkey from Rosamundford Farm in Perkins Village near Exeter. Ordinarily these are free range, but thanks to avian influenza the birds have had to be kept indoors. Picking up the turkey from a local farm has long been a tradition in our family, with my grandfather bringing the turkey to the table. We even had a weigh-in on the scales in his utility room. This year we’re getting a 5.5kg bird which I’m going to brine and spatchcock. It’s the same method as last year, and hopefully it will work just as well.

The turkey of 2021

The rest of the trimmings will be the standard fare: braised red cabbage, roast carrots and parnsips, roast potatoes, chesnut and sausage meat stuffing, Brussels sprouts, pigs in blankets, and Yorkshire puddings to name a few things. As usual, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, and gravy will also be on offer. It all makes for a rather full plate, and is not conducive to much activity later in the day.

For the starter, I concede and allow (one day a year) a classic prawn cocktail, served with lettuce and Marie Rose sauce. The desserts will include chocolate yule log with brandy buttercream and a rocky road cheesecake pudding. On either Christmas Day or Boxing Day I also intend to make a mango white velvet cake (my old nemesis).

This affliction of making too much food and creating unncessary stress and panic at the holidays is hereditary, having been passed down from my mother. At no point over the holidays should there be a clean mixing bowl or spare inch of worktop. Of course I’m being hyperbolic, but it’s not far off, and I can’t get enough of it. I love experimenting with food and this is the time of year where it’s actively encouraged.

Mango white velvet cake from delicious.com.au

Even though all of this hectic preparation still needs to take place, what I’m most looking forward to is a break from work. It has been a busy and (somewhat) stressful few weeks, on top of one of the most stressful years of my life. Although a lot of cool stuff has also happened in 2022, I’ll be glad to draw a line under it and move on to a new year.

Grim Fandango Remastered

Before I go, I’ll spare a few words for one of the formative games of my childhood which I’m rexploring on the PS4. Grim Fandango is still an impressive game with razor sharp wit and clever puzzles. Puzzles which will have you banging your head against a brick wall if you choose to walk the path sans walkthrough. It’s a tough game to work out from first principles, and certain levels are next to impossible with no discernable guidance on how anyone normal would complete them. By all means pick this game up, but feel no guilt in looking online for tips – even the bits that feel intuitive have additional steps that are not. I’d still dress as Manny Calavera for Halloween, though.

Myself pictured alongside legendary composer Calum McCormick

Speaking of games, Fallout, Fallout 2 and Tactics are free on the Epic store right now! Check them out.

I’ll be back next week with a post-Christmas dissection. Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!

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