There's not much time left for Christmas, but, with good planning, and a little help from us at Thursday Life, there is no reason why you shouldn't be prepared for the flurry of feeding your family and friends throughout the season.
After last week's suggestions, your dried fruit should be soaking (you may want to give it a stir this week) and some sauces ought to be made and in the freezer already. If not, take a quick look back at last week's issue and move forward with a few more items for the freezer.
Sweet Corn pie is one of them, needing only a few ingredients: 3 cans Grace Whole Kernel Sweet Corn, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2-3 fl oz milk, 6 eggs, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of mustard, and a few tablespoons of Belcour Blue Mountain Preserves — Pepper Jam with Herbs and Honey. Mix all together in a large bowl, grease a deep ovenproof dish, pour into the dish, wrap well with foil, and store in the freezer until ready to bake at 325ºF for an hour.
Another handy item to have at the ready is a bean dip: 2 cans of Geddes Broad Beans; 2 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons Spur Tree Jamaica Reggae Table Sauce (which promises to "lively up your favourite food"), juice of 1-2 limes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Whiz all in a food processor, or mash well in the bowl with a fork, scrape into a plastic container, seal with the lid and keep in the freezer until day of serving. Defrost in the fridge for a couple of hours.
What's next on the agenda? When we overheard some customers in a supermarket nattering to one another about the countless cups and plates to wash up every night, as teams of teens are due to gather in their houses during the holidays, it made us realise that there is a need for plastic, no matter how posh you like to think you are about tableware. Pick up the colourful collection of Rumbo and Hefty supplies at the likes of Loshusan and MegaMart, so that you are ready for the hordes, without having to do the dishes!!
Of course, that's just one side of it. You can be guaranteed these young people will be thirsty and hungry! Grace Tropical Rhythms has some special drinks out at the moment: Sprinter, which is a watermelon-flavoured drink with pear and pineapple juice; and Legend, which contains pineapple and mango. Both are packed with Vitamin C, and are very refreshing when served ice-cold. While you are stocking up on those, throw a few cans of Grace Coconut Water with Pulp (Jelly) in your trolley as well. Then there's V8, which has a new V-Fusion Vegetable & Fruit Smoothie line, each with a full serving of vegetables and one of fruit: Mango; Strawberry Banana; and Wild Berry. For the adults dropping by, any of these mixed with Stolichnaya or Grey Goose vodka will make for a fabulous impromptu Christmas cocktail.
Snacks are a necessity for teenagers, so why not spice up the microwave popcorn on the market with sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg, grated cheese, or perhaps even melted garlic butter? You could pour some popcorn into a Ziploc bag with a touch of red or green food colouring, give it a good shake, and presto! You've got another Christmas snack on the list. These won't hold the hunger off for very long, but a nice chicken stew will.
The beauty about stew is that it freezes very well. Buy a couple of chickens this week, cut each into eight pieces, sear in a hot pan until nicely golden, pour in a bottle or two of Levi Roots Reggae Cooking Sauce (mild or medium) or Caribbean Stew, both of which promise to "put some music in your food", add a little water to cover the chicken, and cook down for an hour. Cool and freeze in lidded plastic containers. Defrost and reheat in a pot over low to medium heat. Serve with baked sweet or Irish potatoes, or white rice. And for dessert, you can't go wrong with vanilla ice cream, topped with Waitrose Seriously Fruity Blackcurrant Coulis, stocked at Loshusan.
What else can one do from now to prepare for December 25th? You should have organised your main meats and sauces for the day last week Thursday, so now you need to think about your starches and vegetables. Things like string beans, carrots, yams and potatoes will have to wait a while longer, but there is one carbohydrate we can't do without at this time of year: Christmas lunch/dinner is incomplete without rice and gungo peas. However, that extra day to soak and cook dried beans, or even the added hour of cooking and seasoning the fresh ones, can be too much for those who really don't like to be in the kitchen. That's why tins of Linstead Market Gungo Peas in Seasoned Coconut Milk are a must in your shopping cart this week. All you'll need to do on Christmas morning is put them in a pot together with white rice (buy this week, too), get the heat cracking, and in less than half-an-hour you'll have your staple starch set on the table!
Next week we get exciting ideas and favourite Christmas foods from shoppers, including recipes.