Christmas was always an exciting time when I was growing up in the sixties. It was the only time I would receive presents, with my birthday on the 23rd December gift givers would always say that they spent a bit more on my Christmas present. At the time I believed them, not now though. Mum and Dad would always buy presents that we could all play with, like Ker-Plunk, Buckaroo and my favourite, Mouse trap. Christmas was always the time for playing cards, with Newmarket being the most popular for us kids, while the grown-ups would play Kitty Nap and 3 card Brag for pennies. The festive season was also defined by the food we had in the house, food that was never eaten at any other time of year. Tangerines (no mandarins and clementines then), nuts, candied figs and dates were only eaten at Christmas. As a treat Mum would bring out a tin of chocolate biscuits on Christmas Eve, and Dad always had a box of Black Magic chocolates, if us kids wanted sweets we were allowed to have some of the foil wrapped chocolate coins off the tree. Christmas breakfast would consist of chocolate bars from the selection boxes we received as presents. One of my most lasting memories was visiting Nana and Grandad on Christmas morning where Grandad would give us children a good slug of whiskey in our tea, I’ve always wondered if that was just a Suffolk thing.
In the sixties the classic drink at Christmas was the iconic Snowball, my Mum loved them, but only over the festive period.
Juice of ½ lime
Pour lemonade and lime juice into an ice filled tumbler. Then add Advocaat and stir. To be authentic, spear a Maraschino cherry with a cocktail stick and balance on the glass.
Even though us hardened pit masters have been cooking outside throughout the winter, the coming week-end offers some spring like weather for the seasonal BBQ’ers. Now is the time to hone your grilling skills for the coming year. Learn how to make and control a charcoal fire and add wood chips for extra flavour. Perfect the two heat system – direct heat for burgers,sausages,steaks and for searing and colouring meat; indirect heat for larger and thicker cuts of meat. Make your own burgers and kebabs, use chicken thighs instead of drumsticks, make you own rubs and sauces. The more you practise basic grilling skills the more you will be confident and relaxed cooking for your family and friends. I am always happy to pass on tips and skills gained from over 40 years of BBQing, just pop in the shop or phone me. Two tips that I can pass on to make your BBQ gathering go smoothly are, firstly, buy a temperature probe, a cheap one will do, this will take the guesswork out of cooking meat, especially chicken ( at least 75C ), and will negate the need for you to use the kitchen oven (this is frowned upon in BBQ circles!). Secondly, if somebody asks for a ‘well-done’ steak, ask them politely, but firmly, to leave!