Christmas / life / money

Christmas Dinner for One

So term has ended.

I am now back in the comforts of my familial home. For the first time in a while I have heating in abundance and a well-stocked fridge (well I went and did most of the stocking myself).

While I am glad to be back, I have some lovely memories from this term- the most recent being my Christmas dinner with my flatmates.

Yes, yes, like clockwork, a Christmas feast was planned for the six of us, namely by our head chef, our very own Nigella …or Nijecca as my flatmate to call herself (catchy right?)

Nijecca is our very esteemed flatmate who loves to cook and do ‘homely’ things. She abhors anything pre-packaged and ready-made – a real crusader for the home-made meal.

Among her tools of the trade are some very cool things, from the mundane but essential electric mixer to the pasta maker (yes we’ve had pasta made fresh from scratch-how posh are we) and even the all-mighty blow-torch (yet to be witnessed in action but there’s no hurry).

So the rest of us were cast aside; with Nijecca around, who would even dare to suggest anything for the menu! (now, I’m making my flatmate sound uber mean, but she’s incredibly lovely, just a bit scary with her giant knife!)

On the Saturday before our feast, the ingredients were bought. The bill was split. Then all the rest of us had to do was wait.

On ‘The Day of Food’, as it was so named by anonymous flatmate on our kitchen whiteboard, I was out for most of the day with work etc, so when I came home, the warmth of the kitchen immediately hit me as I opened that door. Inside, a slightly weary-looking yet determined Nijecca stood there doing some checking on the big bird.

Everything was chopped and ready for the oven (with the help of other flatmates). The table was laid  with wine glasses at the ready and we even had lit candlesticks held in wine bottles.

We sat in the kitchen from 5pm to 7.30pm as we waited for the food to cook. (Did I mention we have one tiny oven that takes forever to cook something and about five different plates of veg along with the turkey!)

While we played some charades in an attempt to pass the time, Nijecca was there still tending to the vegetables, doing the gravy (also from scratch) and playing jenga with the oven shelves like you wouldn’t believe.

Finally the hour came to sit down.

The Menu:

Roast Turkey (for the omnivores of the house)

Brussel Sprouts fried with Bacon

Roasted Glazed Parsnips

Roast Potatoes with paprika

Brussel Sprouts (just for me!)

Carrots (somewhere between boiled or steamed?)

Gravy

Sage and Onion Stuffing

I’m sure there was something else which alludes me at this point…oh yes…

Pigs in Blankets

Truly starving, the feast was gobbled down at such a pace. Everyone was fit to burst. After Nijecca had been praised heavily, the topic of making dinner came up.

only a portion of the food is on display

only a portion of the food is on display

My friends were so jealous when I told them we were having Christmas Dinner’

,said Leader of the Pack.

Some of them aren’t having any sort of Christmas meal’

‘That’s sad’, said another, ‘well what about people who are on their own? How hard it must be cook Christmas dinner for them!’

Mistakenly I  jokingly said, ‘well they could always pick up a prepared one in Tesco or Asda or something’ . Why. Why did I say that, I’ll never know.

‘Nooo!’ ,Nijecca said in outrage, ‘no, no, no, they should make it! It’s not that bad’.

‘It’s just so much cheaper aswell!’, she went on ‘Buying it pre-cut or pre-made is such a rip-off’.

‘Some people don’t have the time though‘, I argued in defence. ‘It’s only economical if you’re actually cooking for that many people. I mean what about all that food leftover!’

Brilliant! Turkey sandwiches for weeks and weeks!’

, Leader of the Pack exclaimed in delight. I shook my head.

Yeah she’s right. It’s called breakfast, lunch and dinner’, Nijecca added.

‘I don’t see why people would make that effort if there’s only them though. They’ll just go out or something. That’s why pubs/restaurants do Christmas dinners’ ,added another.

It’s not like home though’, Nijecca replied.

Well not everyone is as excellent a cook‘, I said trying to sweet-talk her.

Appeased for the time-being we all began to get up.

Right. Onto dessert!, Nijecca proclaimed.

She proceeded to pull out of the fridge a pastry cake thinly spread with fruit jam she had made earlier that day. Jeez, this was like a children’s art show –‘here’s one I made earlier’ style.

She then got out the electric mixer and proceeded to make the cake batter.

Apparently we were having a Bakewell Tart. But not one of those ‘fake store-bought ones with too much icing’. Bakewell Tarts are apparently a concoction of pastry with a layer of jam and topped with almond cake.

Not being a fan of standard Bakewell Tarts (mostly because of the icing), I was intrigued to find that dessert, served with ice-cream or clotted cream (your pick) was utterly delicious. I could have gone back for another slice….or two (in fact I had a slice the next day).

'a big slice please!'

‘a big slice please!’

So completely off-topic now; maybe this wasn’t a great title. I should have called this ‘Ways to make yourself incredibly hungry’.

The point being that in total, this Christmas dinner cost per person:

£6.something if you’re an omnivore

£2.80 if you’re not.

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that is MUCH less than what you would pay in a restaurant. 

(Maybe Nijecca was right?! Don’t tell her I said that).

Then again there is an opportunity cost of time. This meal took the whole day to make.

So if you’re home alone this Christmas with oodles of time, ditch the pub, grab a basket head to a supermarket and pile up the food. Go home, put Christmas TV on, dance around and make yourself a feast to gorge on for days.

If you are in the far less fortunate position of  actually having to cater for a lot of people on a busy schedule, M&S do catering?

Nijecca might frown, but hey, I won’t judge.

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