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January 2021 Food Challenge : What did you have for Christmas dinner and the good the bad and ugly of pre prepped and pre prepared meals

This months Challenge falls into two parts . FIRSTLY

WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER ?

Whether you are a traditionalist who likes to favour the more cooler weather "white " Christmas type meals by eating cooked hot food or are you one of the growing number of Australians who are adopting a menu to suit our hotter conditions . We would like to know .

SECONDLY

PRE PAKED , PRE PREPPED , CONVENIENCE MEALS WHETHER AVAILABLE AT THE SUPERMARKET OR THROUGH A HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

We would like to hear your opinions regarding the above . Tell us if you have subscribed to a prepared or prepped food service or are the supermarket alternatives where you look .

It is really good to hear from you all and your input is always appreciated .

THE WINNER OF THE DECEMBER FOOD CHALLENGE IS

@sydneydowers Congratulations on an interesting post .

Thank you to all who posted .

From the Food Champions Gaby @Gaby Peter @phb and Mike @vax2000 we wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous and safe 2021 .

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My wife and I had Xmas lunch at her sister’s residence outside Mareeba.

A whole leg of ham from a local butcher who produces his own, baked on the BBQ with her daughter’s marinade on it. Absolutely delicious as always.

Roast loin of pork with garlic inside it.

Roast chicken with stuffing.

Morteon Bay Bugs, Tiger prawns and Endevour prawns.

Salads including my wife’s mango & walnut salad, by populat demand as always.

Pavlova.

Stone fruit including cherries.

Assorted nibblies.

Booze everywhere of course.

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Nothing baked this year and only one main meat. Trying to keep it simple and make less work. Several dishes were made the day before to save slaving on the day.

  • Carpaccio beef. Thin slices dressed with fresh egg mayonnaise, capers and Vietnamese mint.

  • Duck in aspic. Braised duck meat set in a jelly of the cooking broth with tarragon and orange.

  • Beans salad according to a traditional German recipe.

  • Potato salad with pine nuts and olives.

  • Garden salad.

  • Fresh homemade bread.

  • Homemade semifreddo with mango coulis.

No meals are delivered to my area. I am not time poor so supermarket meals do not appeal. For the odd time I have a long hard day and can’t face cooking there are a few things in the freezer.

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My husband and I celebrated Christmas alone this year due to the lovely COVID-19! Our daughters have long since moved out of Sydney and it was not practical or possible (our youngest is in WA) to visit, so I decided to indulge ourselves. I ordered fresh seafood delivery from the Sydney Fish Markets. We had oysters kilpatrick, fresh oysters, and tiger prawns, with fresh bread rolls, avocado, lemon, seafood dressing, salad and sparkling red wine. We were so stuffed that dessert of pavlova, ice cream, cream, fresh berries and a dab of chocolate sauce became dinner. Hopefully next year we can do the same but with the kids and grandson.

For the second part, I am not a fan of the pre-prepared meals. I have a wheat allergy which makes it a little difficult, but, when I look at the prices and calculate how many home made meals I can make for the same price, I just can’t justify them. Besides, I have always liked cooking, it’s amazing what you can make with good quality ingredients!

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Wasn’t doing anything for Christmas, apart from a summery meal for two, then got an invite to help in the kitchen for a Christmas Eve children’s lunch and adults’ traditional roast dinner. The two husbands entertained themselves talking “workshop” as the other guy’d just had a serious accident and couldn’t do anything physical. We worked non-stop in the kitchen.

Kids had invited friends and lunch was a wide variety of healthy summery treats. Several parents turned up too. Apparently this is “a thing” now, if you invite the child, a parent (or two) comes too and stays. These came bearing supermarket prepared stuff - most of the junk food - cake, chips, KFC etc. Then the adults started arriving.

Hectic house full of people wanting to put stuff in a fridge which was already full. Rush around to find old fridges, car fridges, large eskies, ice etc. Younger adults had come unprepared and were badgering for wrapping paper, bedding, alcohol; while we were flat out trying to wrangle kids & turkey.

Turkey fitted in the oven and everything else was stacked in & around with trays of roasting potatoes stacked one on top the other, leaning on the turkey and stuffed where-ere they be a void. Too many people opening the oven to look. Turkey came out but was declared “not yet cooked” and went back, some spud came out to be “finished off” in the microwave. Very little green/yellow veg.
Finally about 7:30pm the main meal was served and we started assembling the desserts. Several trifles, acres of cream, one Pav. Finished at 10pm having sat for about 20 mins, but all agreed the turkey & roast spud was good. Lots of left-overs.

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I didn’t have Christmas Dinner per se. I had some cold roast port (supermarket cooked and purchased) nd chicken with salad. I didnt even get to my friend’s house for brekkie, having got nearly no sleep the night before for reasons…

as for Prepared tucker: I’ve had

  1. Lite’n’Easy: Used to really like it but as time wore on and they added more and more pepper to the meals, I stopped liking it and buying.
  2. Youfoodz: Like the idea of it but they did the same with the pepper. Also their meals are a lot smaller than the average for that price.
  3. The Good Meal company: They provide some good basic foods, pepper is not overdone price is reasonable, and if you happen to be on the NDIS or have a MyAgedCare file with food approval, the prices are ridiculously low (all of which goes to show just how much profit these companies make, usually)

I’ve tried some pre-prepped supermarket meals and find that pepper is overdone in most of them. Thats anathema to someone who never uses pepper except cracked black on scrambled eggs. Cannot stand white pepper which is what seems to be added.

During the past months of Covid, I have also ordered from local restaurants and takeaway places, using Menulog as the delivery service, because I can use Paypal with them.

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Do you still stay awake to try to catch Santa?

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I had a massive nosebleed. 4 hours with a “nose peg” eventually stopped it.

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What a catch? He only works one day/night of the year! :wink:

We finally got to our Christmas lunch around 3pm. One of our sons who was visiting on holidays did most of the final preparation and setting up.

Us three oldies had been at the SCUH (hospital) with our mum (92years and far from well) Xmas eve till 7:30pm, and again till after lunch time on Xmas day.

Fortunately we had planned most of the meal/s and had all needed to hand. Our son had cooked the day before including a stuffed chook, his stuffing, chook fresh from our local butcher. Desert was a wonderful mango tiramisu. There were plenty of fresh prawns and spicy seafood sauce, fresh baked potatoes, a locally cured ham thinly sliced, and plates of green salads. We like to use soft Persian feta in the salads, and use the herbed oil as a dressing.

Food makes the meal, but it was having 5/7ths of the family at the table that really made the day the best it might be given how the year has been.

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We went non-traditional this year and had:

  • lobster on crispy baked wonton cups and salad
  • Tassie scallops with homemade gnocchi
  • warm rhubarb (from the garden) cake with custard.

Delicious and hit the spot.

And the second part, we don’t buy pre-packaged/made meals. We prefer to cook our own.

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So do we… oh wait… its just me, and sometimes I am too exhausted to get it done.

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Love the photos Peter… all looks very delicious!

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Kids grew up in a cold climate and although we live in a warm one now, salads just don’t cut it as special to them. Mainly men. Thank goodness for air con!

We had 2 dinners on different days. One at home just for 4 was prawn starters,roast pork, vegetables, ham and pudding.
With a larger gathering at someone else’s house it was cold roast meats -pork, turkey and potato bake plus salads. Lots of yummy nibbles and both pudding and pavlova for dessert.

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While Tassie often gets a bad rap about it’s weather, one of the advantages is, it is usually cool enough to enjoy the traditional roast (turkey and pork for us), with roast veggies, plum pudding and all of the trimmings served around 1230.

Then seafood and salad for tea, with fresh baked bread to finish off the day.

As is the case for many others, I haven’t tried any of the pre prepared meals (interestingly a number don’t operate in Tassie), as I prefer to prepare my own (and it is cheaper). Mind you, don’t think there aren’t days when I wish something pre pared would materialise!!

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Cheese on toast and Vegemite toasty

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We had chilled smoked Snowy Mountains trout with about 16 different salads for Christmas lunch – seafood is an Australian tradition, as is not cooking for Christmas, when our December temperatures here in Canberra can reach over the century in the old money (over 38°C in the new).

I had intended to get a cooked and chilled lobster as well, as they have been absurdly-cheap with the local market flooded with all the lobsters that were grown to export to China before the Emperor for Life decided he needed to punish Australia for speaking truth to power, but the three supermarkets I tried had sold out when I was shopping on Wednesday afternoon.

The only remotely-original salads I made were two of the easiest and quickest ones, a recipe I kept after splitting with my ex. Just put a spoonful of light sour cream in the bottom of a small bowl, and pick a handful of seedless grapes (red or green or both) from the bunch to toss in and stir until well-coated. Repeat the process with a second bowl and a handful of pitted fresh cherries (or combine with the grapes for something in traditional Christmas colours!).

I also had a small plate of apricots freshly picked from my own tree, which somehow also screams Christmas to me.

As for your second question, I have no experience with those services that provide you with a box of ingredients for a meal, nor with ordering takeaway through UberEats and the like, but I have been a regular consumer of Woolworths’ Indian convenience meals since they had an Indian chef actually cooking the range to sample in my local Woolies many years ago. (I bored him rigid with my tales of disappointing Indian meals during the many months I spent in India over many visits back in the last millennium, and my theories of why Australia cooks better Indian food than India does!)

I find they freeze well (even the ones that are half rice half main) and I always have a couple in my freezer for those many occasions when I don’t feel like cooking.

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It’s always struck me as odd, when choosing to celebrate Christmas as a Christian based holiday (piously).

Even today Italians, and the home to one notable religion tend to celebrate based on what is regional and seasonal. This also includes seafood, although more likely served warm or hot than cold. It seems that Australia is being consistent when choosing regional options. Roast lamb would seem far more regional than roast turkey, as would local seafood, roo meat or whole baked emu. Having some relatives from over the big ditch visit might also open up the possibilities to include backyard pork, NZ mussels and …

Some of us are more inclined to the notion of family gatherings and gift exchanges. In other times the feasting had alignment with the ancient celebration of the winter solstice. A seasonal event that would fall around the 22nd of June down under. No complaints with our realignment of the same family gathering and gift exchanging to the summer solstice. Although some from the northern hemisphere must think it odd that we ruin a perfectly good summer holiday season, by pretending it’s mid winter and sticking Christmas in the middle of it. :wink:

P.S.
It’s almost as if we want our children to believe they are missing out on 25th Dec each because it’s not bitterly freezing cold, not snowing a blizzard, and definitely not a good time to light the fireplace, or any fire!

Excuse the digression. I still enjoy Xmas, mostly. :slightly_smiling_face:

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“We’re goona need a bigger oven”.

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We were originally set to gather the “olds” with our family at a local pub on Christmas Eve, for lunch. Half the party were unwell on the day, so the rest of us gathered at ours for a cold lunch. It was what we had originally planned for Christmas Day:
Cold turkey buffe
Ham
Caesar Salad
Fruit platter
It ended up being a lazy day, with tons of leftover meats (for sandwiches) for our household to eat on Christmas Day. 2020 was an exhausting year, and I was feeling quite the Grinch by Christmas, so I was well pleased with our celebrations. The turkey was as good, if not better, than what I could have prepared (as I have done in the past when hot weather was predicted) and the ham was worth the $ spent on it. A request has already been noted for the turkey buffe next year!

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