Today we were having a mini Christmas with our neighbours Sean and Sharon. Fortunately we were going round a bit later which meant it gave me time to prepare for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tomorrow Mum and Dad will arrive for their little Christmas sleep-over and we will be joined for a meal by Sheila and Klaus - they came last year and it was a nice start to the festivities and you know me I love cooking so it is nice to have people to cook for. We had decided on a menu which will include a starter of little Yorkshire puddings filled with a bacon, apple, onion and sausage concoction in a cream, mustard and brandy sauce. We would normally use chicken livers but I remembered that this isn't something that Sheila and Klaus like to eat.
My cooking is overseen by Charlie the Chancer who waits for any little morsel to come his way. I can't say he waits patiently as he is often found with his head wedged in the fridge or the food cupboard or crawling halfway up my leg. He is tall enough to reach to the top of the work surface and would swipe away food if it was within reach - he adopts a 'starving' expression at all times but fools no-one as he is clearly more than well-fed.
Christmas Day it will just be Mum, Dad, John and I and we spread our meal out over the course of the day. I still like to make it special and John had seen a recipe for special stuffing balls so we are going to try it. Inside is sausagemeat and apple which is then wrapped in onion which is wrapped in bacon. An alternative to the standard pigs in blankets. Will report back on how successful or otherwise they turned out.
Klaus raised the bar on Sunday with his table decorations so I have taken up the challenge and made some new place markers for tomorrow night. I love entertaining - I know I get a bit panicky about getting everything done but I so love having people round the dining table for an evening enjoying nice food, wine and conversation - you really can't beat it in my book and the food could be something as simple as beans on toast - I really don't mind.
It was lovely to be going round to Sean and Sharon's this year and I finished making the crackers that I was going to take for the table. Silly little things inside but hand picked for the recipients. We also exchange a main present which is to cost no more than €10 and each buy a small €5 gift for the 'present game' which is our take on the Danish game which John from Arodes was telling us about. We were introduced to it by my sister and we play slightly different rules mainly because there are generally only four or six of us playing and so we have to make the gift you win more of a surprise.
Basically you are trying to shake a six in order to qualify for a prize - ultimately you continue until everyone has a six so that everyone ends up with a prize but in the interim there is a lot of exchanging of the prizes until time runs out. Anyone wanting our rules can let me know and I will publish them. It is a bit of a laugh and can run for as long as you want. You may end up with your own gift back but if you buy something everyone might want then it really doesn't matter!
In a very short space of time Sharon has got 12b looking very festive and bless her she had cooked meat for Sean, John and I which we hadn't expected. She was worried about the starter but John and I loved it although she said that she would normally have made it with puff pastry and had had to make do with filo. If she hadn't said anything I would have been none the wiser.
So here is Sean and Sharon investigating their Present Game wins and thereafter a bit of negotiating went on to swap a couple of the gifts!!! This was followed by our regular cribbage challenge boys v girls and the girls felt that having been champeens all year it was only fair to let the boys win what is likely to be the last game before 2016 - actually to be fair Sharon and I picked up crap hands all night.
Update on the little ginger kitten in their garden - we looked out of the window last night to see it snuggled up to Miss Jazzy-B Peanut and having a good wash. The minute it clocked us it was gone but apparently it is getting a bit braver every day. It looks like a mini Chivers although a bit more girlie.