Sunday, 25 December 2016

Santa shows us how to stuff a turkey

Friday 23rd December 2016
So here he is. Santa!
This is what he does in the run up to Christmas,

I'll let you into a little secret. It's not really Santa. It is, in fact, Paul from the Cambridgeshire Self-Sufficiency Group, our friendly butcher but also one of the founders of the smallholding movement who has led a fascinating life. He still leads a fascinating life, for that matter.
It was pretty windy and there was a chill in the air, but Paul's Christmas poultry prep workshop was still held outside and Paul made no compromises with his wear. He always wears tee-shirt and shorts!

Of the two of us, Sue takes on most of the butchering duties. Today's task was to debone and stuff the turkey. We had deliberately not gutted the turkey as it would be good to get Paul to show us. There is always something to learn from an expert. In particular, we had not taken the tendons out from the legs. We had been shown this once before, but could only remember about half of it, enough to remove them with a moderate degree of success.
But Paul showed us how it was done properly and I took photos to aid our memories next time.

Paul sharpened our knives for us and we all then spent the next half hour or so anxiously watching Sue's fingers and periodically issuing reminders about how sharp the knives were.

With Paul's expert and patient guidance, Sue successfully cleaned and deboned the turkey.

We had improvised our own stuffing recipe, based loosely on the percentage ingredient list off a packet of Sainsbury's Taste The Difference stuffing which we found on the internet. We added a few more little luxuries and plenty of herbs from the garden. The result, I have to say, was the nicest stuffing I have ever tasted.
When I get round to it, I'll work out the exact ingredient quantities and post them. Without quantities, it was onion, celery, garlic, bread, sausage meat, cranberries, porcini mushrooms, citrus peel, brazil nuts, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, egg and chestnuts.

We spent all afternoon with Paul and his wife, Anne. They made us feel so welcome and Anne's cake went down very well indeed. Paul kept trying to persuade me to try one of his special malts, but I'm afraid I am no fan and it would have been wasted on me.

We headed home just as the sun was about to go down, but it wasn't long before a warning light came on in the car. I pulled over to discover that it was actually telling the truth. We had a puncture!

I know. I'll clean it!
Less than an hour later I had fitted the spare, we had gotten ourselves to our tyre shop just before it closed and the original tyre was back on, repaired with no charge.

Saturday 24th December 2016
To bring us bang up to date for Christmas, we spent Saturday in Stamford Christmas shopping for ourselves! I go shopping literally about twice a year, but I am quite good at spending money when I do go. Mountain Warehouse were having a sale and I treated myself to some proper wellies, some warm boots and some proper thick socks.
Prize for most exciting purchase of the day went to the packet of Arran Pilot seed potatoes I found in Wilko's. The 2017 growing season begins. These will go into the polytunnel for a super-early crop.

The main reason for our visit was to drop in at Moles Country Stores and pick up some new sheep wormer. Very Christmassy!

Finally, if you're reading this on the day, just to show that I am not a total bah humbug (though I am always disappointed when Scrooge gets 'converted' at the end of that story), MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

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