Outsourcing Christmas cooking is the way forward
PUBLISHED: 10:30 30 December 2017
Preparing Christmas dinner always reminds me of the year my father excelled himself. Rather than get up at the crack of dawn to put a family-size turkey in the oven, he thought he would use the oven’s automatic timer to kick things off.
Around 3am he got out of bed to go to the loo. He was greeted by a house filled with the mouth-watering smell of cooked turkey. How he managed to achieve this we never did establish. Lunch went ahead with braised turkey.
With Mrs H’s planning there was no possibility of this happening last Monday. She had a comprehensive list of all the constituent parts of the meal. This was accompanied by a schedule of what went in the oven when and at what temperature; when to turn, baste and part-boil.
With such military precision, what could go wrong? Well there was just one problem.
I was told to assist wherever needed, and I have to say things did get a bit fractious at times.
“DON’T stand that there! There’s been raw meat on there. Do you want to kill us all? Right chop the potatoes. Not too big and not too small.”
Rather a wide brief for someone as clueless as me.
“DON’T do the parsnips too small. They’ll be burnt to a cinder.”
I couldn’t win.
Surely I could lay the table. Oh no. I didn’t put the mats square-on; and oh dear me, the crackers weren’t placed correctly. Some were red and some were white. I hadn’t alternated them, red and white - and on a few the “Merry Christmas” message was upside down.
Brat Minor and Catherine had come for the duration and sensibly were keeping well out of the way of hostilities.
Then disaster struck. The lights went out, the radio fell silent and the phone chirruped before cutting off communication. But worst of all…the cooker died.
The worst possible nightmare at Christmas. Loss of power in the middle of cooking a dinner for eight people. We looked at each other in disbelief.
The sparring stopped and we exchanged a few unseasonable comments. I checked the fuse box. The mains had tripped. I turned all the switches off, then back on one by one. The lights came back on, the phone chirruped but as soon as I switched the cooker back on, everything went dead. I tried that a couple more times, to no avail.
Time was slipping away.
We held a quick board meeting. Thanks to a separate combination microwave, the turkey would be okay, and the pigs in blankets could go in while the turkey was resting. But no hob and no roast veg.
Mrs H’s sister and husband were due shortly. They live only a couple of miles away so following a quick phone call Mrs W stepped up to the casserole and said she would cook the veg.
Brat Major and Bond then arrived, looking forward to their dinner.
“Got a crisis,” I greeted them.
The look in our daughter’s eyes told me what she thought. Mother again; what’s she getting in a lather about now?
“Oven’s just blown,” I explained. “Yer aunt’s going to do the veg. Got to get it to her pronto.”
“I’ll take it,” she offered with a change of heart. So she and Catherine drove off loaded with veg in various stages of preparation.
Mrs H had a final flap over the turkey. With the on/off electricity we didn’t know how long cooking had been delayed.
“I hope it’ll be done,” she wailed. “I don’t want to make us ill.”
The turkey was tender, and we sat down just an hour later than planned.
On Wednesday we tried turning the cooker on. You’ve guessed it, it was working perfectly. Nevertheless we phoned the cooker doctor.
And thanks to Mrs W, outsourcing the cooking of the vegetables didn’t half reduce the stress out of it all.