I love Christmas food. Perhaps it’s a bit greedy of me, but it’s one of my favourite things about the whole festival. Delicious roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, homemade mince pies and Christmas pudding. Fantastic.
What I don’t like about Christmas food, though, is the annual trolley dash. Panic seems to set in the closer to Christmas we get and a pleasant shopping trip turns into WW3. There is strange air of hostility and aggression sometimes in supermarkets that only occasionally rears its head during major bank holidays, but with nothing like the intensity. In our local store they employ queue police to prevent arguments and queue jumping. This year I am trying to buy as much of my festive food from local independent outlets as I can, and thought that this might help me avoid seasonal aisle angst. But will it?
My first port of call was my local butcher’s and I came up trumps. I’d spotted that they were taking orders for everything from free-range turkeys, duck, pheasant and partridge to venison and wild boar. So I rolled up and ordered a free-range duck. The butcher told me it would be about £10 for 2kg and, compared to supermarket prices I’ve checked online, that seems pretty reasonable. I’m quite tempted to go back for the venison and wild boar as I’ve never tasted either. However, it sounds like this butcher’s gets as busy as our supermarket at Christmas. The guy there told me to show up at a non-peak time on the collection day as they usually have a line of people queuing down the street on Christmas Eve. I hate queuing but it’s good to see so many people supporting their local butcher.
On the veg front, we’re spoilt for choice with good quality, well-priced produce in local greengrocers and farm shops – nearly all cheaper than our main supermarket. Not that we’ll be needing parsnips this year as DJ has a stash in the veg patch. I tried one the other night and it was deliciously sweet. But getting my hands on a good quality but reasonably priced non-supermarket Christmas pudding has proved trickier.
I asked in our local bakery if they sold them. The woman behind the counter looked blank. “I think we sold little ones last year but we’re not getting any in this year. It’s a good idea, though,” she said. I’ve made my own two years’ running but I cocked it up last year – I didn’t steam it for long enough the first time of cooking – and have lost my Christmas pudding bottle. Plus it takes hours on the gas hob to steam so, with my Energy Saving Trust ‘green voice of the UK’ hat on, I wondered if it might save on the gas bill to buy one and microwave it.
I scoured a couple of farm shops for an independent pud. One I found in a posh part of town had a couple, but they were tiny and £7 each, so I passed. But I did pick up some reasonably priced pork sausages and some lamb shanks there which will do for other seasonal meals. At another cheaper farm shop I discovered some Christmas puddings for just £1 each and which were produced in Essex. But – perhaps unfairly – I was suddenly stricken with pudding snobbery. Would a £1 pud be good quality? There was only the choice of one variety, too, so I decided to go away and think about it first. We have guests for Christmas this year, otherwise it wouldn’t worry me. But perhaps we could try it out first and, if it’s a goer, buy another.
Booze is the only other item we have yet to sort out. We are ok for white wine as DJ has some homebrew still to bottle, but we may have to nip to the supermarket to stock up on red. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some mulled red wine after all.
A very frugal and merry crimbo to you and thanks for all your great comments, suggestions and emails this year. Wishing you all the best for 2010, and see you in the New Year, Piper xxx
How will you be celebrating Christmas 2009? Have you trimmed your budget or are you going all out to enjoy yourselves, recession or no recession? Leave a message and let me know.
|StumbleUpon||Technorati||Yahoo! My Web|