I woke up yesterday morning with the dawning realization that Christmas was only days away! As I left home for another frantic day, Joe heard me muttering once again about how I long to live in a secluded cabin in the woods where Christmas could be spent in quiet contemplation. It’s a fantasy of mine which never fails to bring me a few moments of pleasure before reality comes flooding back. One hard look at my list sends me into pruning mode.
The truth is this, we expect far too much of ourselves. Finding the perfect gift, having the decorations and tree look perfect, cooking the perfect Christmas dinner — if it leaves your nerves feeling jangled rather than jingled with joy, then it must be time to simplify. My Uncle Alan loved Christmas more than any other time of year. Which seems at odds with his quite non-traditional lifestyle, an understatement of massive proportions. Uncle Alan was the first one to request Christmas Carols sung around the piano as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over. His favorite Christmas Carol was The Twelve Days of Christmas. After yet another Hot Buttered Rum, I’m pretty sure that the neighbors down the street could clearly hear him tonelessly bellowing out all 12 verses at the top of his lungs. He read Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol” so often that he became a bit obsessed with experiencing hot chestnuts and a roast goose.
One year his hints became more than I could continue to ignore. I talked with the butcher at Swansons and ordered a goose for our dinner and tracked down some official English Chestnuts. I poured over old cookbooks in my efforts to recreate the Dickens feast that Bob Cratchett and Tiny Tim were so excited about. My mother’s recipe of Plum Pudding had been made months before and I religiously doused it each week with more lashings of rum. It could’ve stayed preserved until the next millennium with all the booze it soaked up. Thankfully the goose didn’t have to be plucked — I’d have drawn the line at that! There was no mention in any cookbooks about putting stuffing in the goose and luckily I didn’t waste my time trying to improve upon culinary wisdom. Why is that, you ask? Because that goose produced more fat than I ever imagined possible! The goose was swimming up to its wing joints in a pool of fat when I took it out of the oven. I hadn’t been prepared for this result — I was expecting it to be worthy of a King’s table with a rich, crisp golden brown skin. Oh dear, oh dear! The goose was oozing fat and my stomach did a quick flip-flop as I stood with potholders in hand and a look of complete dismay on my face. I decided that Uncle Alan needed another Hot Buttered Rum before his Dickens goose was presented at the table. I poured off the fat (later I mixed it with bread crumbs to feed to the birds) and shoved the goose back in the oven to brown. Maybe a goose is meant to be roasted on a spit over an open fire. If ever I cook another goose, that will be my method.
Just in case your Christmas dinner doesn’t come out of the oven exactly as you envisioned, I suggest that you whip up a batch of Hot Buttered Rum mix to have on hand.
Even a Dickens of a goose can be quite tasty when you’ve had some Holiday cheer first!
Hot Buttered Rum
1 lb. Butter ( do not substitute!)
1 lb. Powdered sugar
1 lb. Brown sugar
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 pinch of Allspice
1 Quart of Vanilla Ice Cream, softened
Beat together until smooth, put in containers and freeze. Scoop about 1/4 cup into a mug, add a shot of rum, and pour in hot water. This is quite delicious even without the rum!
Wishing you and yours a Blessed Season of Joy!
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market in Hoquiam. Open Christmas Eve until 5:30.