My wee wifee was not well for Christmas, in fact, I think she had the flu.
So, it was up to me; I had to fix the Christmas dinner. All the supplies were there: turkey, veggies, cranberries, etc. All I had to do was figure out how to put it all together.
Fortunately I had seen a recent episode of boy wonder, Jamie Oliver, whose instruction for the Christmas bird was essentially butter, spices and more butter. Sounded easy enough.
So I enlisted a sous chef in the form of my daughter Elisabeth (12 yrs.). For some months now she has demonstrated a growing interest in cookery and had herself offered to make the whole meal. I wasn’t ready to surrender my pride to that extent, so I stepped up to the plate.
Elisabeth made the cranberry sauce, smeared the bird with butter, helped with the sausage stuffing and then vanished for the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately she made a cake the day before, so dessert was covered.
I put the bird in the oven, then turned my attention to the remainder: roasted carrots and potatoes, baked squash, etc.
Then I remembered the bread. The day prior I was cooking “breakfast for dinner” and found a bag full of homemade rolls in the freezer. I pulled them out and tossed them in the microwave and was about to put them on the table when Lisa wanders into the kitchen and says, “You know, those were for Christmas dinner.”
So we needed rolls. I know how to make rolls, really I do. I taught myself when I was back in Wichita Falls, and I must say they were delicious, though I haven’t yet made any here in Scotland. The trouble is finding a warm spot to leave the dough while it rises. In Texas everything was warm, you could just about leave the dough on the counter most days, but I had a nice quiet spot on top of the hot water heater that never failed me. But, here in Scotland our boiler is in the back room where it hovers just above freezing most of the winter.
Then I remembered the upper oven, the one above the roasting birdie. And to my delight it was nice and toasty inside. In went the dough.
Lisa awoke from her afternoon nap to the delightful smells emanating from the kitchen and came downstairs just in time to tell me, “Your bird is done.”
I was on the verge of burning it because I had no idea how long to cook it. It looked magnificent, so I covered it with foil, put it on the counter and slid the veggies into the oven.
The rolls were the last to come out of the oven and by then my bird and veggies were a bit cold…no matter, a small detail considering the mountain of ignorance I had just climbed. A friend here counseled that all cooking should begin with a whisky for the cook, advice I was quite happy to follow. A glass or two makes everything seem just fine.
The rolls were perfect and quickly inhaled by my hungry brood. Lisa was able to do her magic with the gravy and even felt well enough to join us for a bite.
After dinner I put all the kids to work cleaning up, while I stripped the bird and put some stock on the boil.
This was not my first bird mind you; I used to deep-fry them when we lived in Texas. But, this was the first time I was the chief cook. You ladies will know that it is a lot of work, but for me it was work done happily, and made a fine way to spend the Christmas day.
I just hope my Lisa is feeling better next time.