To be frank, I was not really into any Xmas mood until the last weekend before the big day. Blame it on the overdose from Christmas songs played repeatedly at work or just slight envy from knowing everyone is heading off somewhere on a holiday and poor me is stuck in London.
Turnaround came when I went grocery shopping for the big Xmas lunch during the weekend with my flatmates. Yours truly is the honorary cook for some invited friends, and it will be my first mega cookout since coming to London. Excitement kicked in when we finished the evening at the supermarket with trolleys laden with heaps of food, snacks and drinks. At the spur of the moment, we decided to hunt down a cheap live pine tree for our house and managed to find a bargain at $5. Trust the Chinese for being “kiam sap” for picking up a bargain tree 3 days before Xmas day, which would normally have cost more than $20 each.
Our cheap Xmas tree was not without complications – the stem was much bigger than the tapered hole in the middle of the plastic tree holder. Spent more than 1.5hr on Sun morning shaping the bottom into a conical shape with a small handheld saw and meat cleaver. Next was the tricky bit of keeping the tree stable and upright by leaning it slightly against the living room wall and stuffing gaps between stem and holder with wood chips. Luckily Audrey was up early in the morning to give me a hand with the tree setup, and Joseline spent rest of the day decorating it and parts of the house.
Xmas tree beautifully decorated
Xmas tree lighted up
Spent a lovely Xmas eve dinner at Audrey’s aunt place next door. Wonderful sit-down dinner with roast turkey and all the traditional vegetables, complete with starters and pudding as desserts. Was my first time tasting boiled parsnips and brussel sprouts – vegs usually more abundant around this time of the year. It was a nice change for me since I haven’t had a proper sit-down home-cooked dinner for so long, as I tend to have simple dinner alone with the TV as my only companion.
By the time we finished Xmas eve dinner, it was close to midnight. With much eagerness, us flatmates decided to unwrap all our pressies – in that brief moment we became kids again gleefully ripping through the wrapping papers. Amidst the excitement of unwrapping pressies and taking photos, we accidentally tipped the tree from its stable position. And so, began another episode of tree surgery as we spent awhile setting our poor tree upright again and repositioned some of the trimmings that fell off.
I was very happy with all my pressies – 2 books & 1 cookbook, coffee mug set and a boxful of goodies sent by a friend from home. THANK YOU!
Family picture – Me & flatmates (Joseline & Audrey) with all our lovely presents
Started the day early at 8am to start the turkey roasting in the oven. I was kinda zonked out due to the lack of sleep – blame it on the coffee during Xmas eve dinner or jitters that my cooking will turn out horrible. With the help of more coffee and my trusty sous chefs aka flatmates, preparation went smoothly indeed. My other friends – Hema, Angie and her friend arrived 12.30pm and by then, starters were done by Jos & Aud and I was putting the final touches to all the main dishes.
Sous chefs putting final touches to brussel sprouts in the kitchen
– Parma ham wrapped around melon & mozzarella cheese
– Salmon served on biscuit with cream chese
– Roast turkey with sausagemeat, lemon and chestnut stuffing
– Blanched brussel sprouts served with softened onions
– Roast potatoes with thyme
– Honey carrots with sesame seed
– Fusili with mascarpone cheese and sundried tomatoes
– Assorted peppers and cheery tomatoes in light dressing
Lunch officially started about 2.30pm after guests have been pigging out on the starters, chips and nuts. It was amazing how time flew by as we finally ended the day at close to 10.30pm when we drove Angie and friend back home. For close to 10hrs, our lives revolved around the dining table as we ate and nibbled away; drank heaps of Pimms, wine and concoctions made by Shean with his new cocktail shaker, played cards and chatted like long lost friends.
This is how Christmas should be – spent in the good company of friends and family. Not the frenzied shopping for presents or elaborate festive menu. I am indeed thankful for the close ties with my extended family members and supportive friends. Once again, Merry Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy New Year!