Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Savvy shopping

I had thought, I had hoped, I had prayed that I had done the food shopping! I vowed not to enter the portals of a supermarket until 2009 - but I had an opportunity too good to miss today. My cousin's husband works for a huge food processor in Lincolnshire and she takes me with her very occasionally to their staff sales shop - where things are unlabelled, cheap and occasionally out of date. I spent £32 and got a whole trolleyful of goodies - pickles, Fray Bentos pies (45p!!), spaghetti, jam, lemon curd, pasta sauces, Turkish Delight, tinned biscuits (which I have to confess I bought for the decorative tin and not the biscuits!), Christmas puddings, all sorts of stuff...and now I have it all stashed away in my stores. I do truly believe that all I need to buy before the end of the year will be the fresh fruit and veg. Thank goodness!

This afternoon when we returned home, I spent a little while curled up on the sofa enjoying watching a film, content in the knowledge that no-one was expecting me to be anywhere for a change! That slot in the week on a Tuesday afternoon is usually spent at gymnastics, but that finished for the holidays with the party on Sunday, so I have a little more free time, and since I am not feeling 100%, I thought I deserved a rest!

These past two evenings, the FH and I have enjoyed watching Nigella's Christmas Kitchen programme, and although the FH loves to watch her, he doesn't ask for many of her recipes as he is always exclaiming about the amounts of butter and cream with which she has such a generous hand. He fears for his cholesterol just watching. I love Nigella's use of language - she has such a wonderful command of English and her vocabulary is a lot more extensive than some TV chefs. Not sure that she wants to be known as a "chef" in that sense as I feel that she is more of a home cook who loves to share what she makes for her family and friends with the rest of us. I did treat myself to her new book, Nigella Christmas, with some WHSmith Privilege Club (Sign up on their website) vouchers - the book was £12.50 but I paid £7.50 with the voucher! It makes good reading, and I will be trying out some of the recipes next week, I think! I have been offered the use of my neighbour's empty-ish freezer for some of my home baking, so I can afford to make more now, as the freezers chez nous are full!

I have found the ultimate mince pie recipe - and I am not sharing - yet! I sent some mince pies to church on Sunday morning and one of the ladies caught me in the school playground yesterday to tell me that her husband hadn't stopped talking about them all Sunday afternoon saying that they were the best he had ever had.......I was very pleased to hear that! It is a real struggle for me as a cook because I am wheat and dairy intolerant, and eating any of either makes me really ill, so I don't, but that means that I rely completely on people's opinions of what I make. The FH is not a good critic as he loves his food, and was in the RAF where he was told not to criticise food or the cook would "sort you out" so he tells me that most things are lovely, never offering any helpful criticisms. The FGs are OK, except that the EFG will almost eat anything, whereas the YFG can love something one week and "hate" it the next, which usually means that she has got bored of it. Kids!

The last of the gifts I had ordered online arrived through the post this morning and are wrapped and hidden away. I just need a gift for my uncle and my sister now, as I had planned to get them gifts from Lakeland and just left the ordering too late! I may be able to dash to their shop in Peterborough or I may just look elsewhere this week. I have a tradition of giving the FGs a Christmas Eve book, which they are allowed to open in the evening and then are hopefully interested enough to spend some quiet time reading. Each year, I hope that this will give them a calm space in the midst of the sea of anticipation which threatens to overcome most children on Christmas Eve! Some years it works, others are not so successful. I have yet to choose the books this year, and I am looking forward to a quiet half-hour in my favourite bookshop in town to search out the perfect gifts for them. That may well happen on Friday.

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