What – Christmas in July? On which planet have I been living? For a moment I felt like I lived in cloud-cuckoo-land but discovered this is how it worked behind the scenes of media; working ahead of schedule.
On a sweltering hot summers day last week, I finally decided to attend my first Christmas in July event. In some ways it reminded me of growing up in South Africa where Christmas is celebrated in summer. As a child I always looked at Christmas cards quizzically because snowmen seemed like such a foreign concept. Even though we celebrated in shorts, t-shirts and sandals, it didn’t mean we didn’t eat well. Sometimes we even barbecued and one year we spent it on the beach! At large family gatherings we used to have quite a big spread of different platters but when it came to presentation we simply couldn’t compete with Iceland who managed to make every single dish look stylish yet moreish.
When browsing through freezer aisles, the pictures on the packaging might look pretty but when you look at the actual product, it’s frozen hard and looks rather unattractive. Based on that it’s pretty easy to leave the freezer section and make a beeline for the fresh produce.
Yet, Iceland has clearly shown just how good frozen food can look once cooked and styled with the right garnishes. The joke is that since freezing conserves a product’s freshness and quality, the frozen products are most likely to be in better shape than their fresh counterparts!
If you’re thinking of hosting a Christmas party, there are plenty of the traditional canapés, starters and snacks to choose from. You can’t go wrong with smoked salmon, pork pie and cold cuts. Even sushi is on offer!
Christmas is a time for decadence and you can’t go wrong with lobster. Lobster cocktail as a starter. Lobster bisque as a warm one. Lobster Thermidor as a main course. Lobster ice cream for dessert. Okay, I made up the last one but there are so many ways to enjoy lobster!
This year one of Iceland’s new offerings is salt-baked sea bass. Trust me, it was succulent.
Everyone loves Beef Wellington but it might be out of some’s price range. Fret not, there’s an alternative one of offer that comprises chicken, ham and stuffing. Of course, gammon is a must. An added novelty to this one is that it’s been smoked with spruce, an actual Christmas tree. You can literally taste Christmas!
You can’t celebrate Christmas without the obligatory centrepiece, the turkey. Iceland brought something new to the table this Christmas with a Victorian spin on it. You buy the turkey frozen, which has been covered in butter and wrapped in muslin. This is then baked for two hours and afterwards you open a sachet with the gild sauce, comprising of saffron, mustard and thyme and glaze the meat to give it its fabulous golden look.
Below the turkey…. have you ever seen such a voluptuous bird? Believe it or not, this is a whole deboned chicken that has been staged and wrapped in streaky bacon. Forget accidentally biting on little annoying pieces of chicken bone. Read the cooking instructions, slam it in the oven and you’re done.
Is your mouth watering yet at the sight of these luscious desserts? It’s literally chocolate heaven coming in every shape and form.
Did you know that Iceland’s mince pies were the top of the lot in a competition between supermarkets last year? They even beat Harrods, which just goes to show that you pay more for the brand name than for actual quality.
A lot of women wince at the thought of Christmas coming up; their minds filling up with all the shopping, gift wrapping and, let’s not forget, cooking involved. Although times are changing, a lot of the Christmas chore burden still falls on women and I’ve met quite a few disgruntled ones in December. Fortunately, I’ve somehow dodged cooking duty all these years.
Ladies, if I were you I’d take shortcuts. Focus on preparing one, maybe two, recipes that make you fill with pride but buy the rest ready-made. This will free up your time and make Christmas a more relaxing experience where you can wind down and enjoy the day too. Lastly, get the men to help a bit more!
Looking for more perspectives? Here are what other bloggers thought:
- Celery & Cupcakes
- Jo’s Kitchen
- Kerry Cooks
- Emily’s Recipes and Reviews
- Super Golden Bakes
- Domestic Gothess
- The Petite Cook
P.S. This is a sponsored post.