Countdown To Xmas

23rd December 2016

Whether you’ve got a fabulous family kitchen-diner or a bijou space for two, here at Harvey Jones we know that the kitchen is the heart of the home and this is never truer than at this time of year. However many people you’re catering for, keeping the big day stress-free is as easy as turkey pie if you follow these tips for a fabulous rather than frantic festive season.

Create An Efficient Working Space:

At a time when there is so much to think of and prepare making it easy for yourself is the best way to ensure everything goes smoothly over Christmas. The cleverest way to do this is to dig out those things you might only use once a year such as pans and platters big enough to hold the mountain of spuds and turkey and your best china and glasses. If you keep them at the back of a high cupboard year-round, now is the time to fish them out, give them a wipe and do a stock-take of what you already have and what you might need to buy. Clearing worksurfaces of equipment you’re not likely to need over the holidays, replacing it with small appliances such as mixers and choppers that are likely to see more use than usual is also a good idea – think of it as a pre-spring clean. Getting rid of clutter will help to ease the strain when cooking Christmas lunch, particularly if you struggle for space in the first place. We all have a tendency to let our workspaces become filled with bits and bobs, particularly when it’s a room that doubles as a kitchen, dining area and workspace, so be ruthless. Make the children tidy up their pens and paper – homework can wait for a couple of days at least – and organize that tangle of wires and plug for all those mobile devices and tablets that often creep into kitchen spaces. Pop them neatly in a drawer but close at hand just in case your tablet runs out of power as you’re halfway though that recipe for perfect mince piece you’ve found online.

 Fill It With Fabulous Labour-Saving Appliances:

Christmas is when appliances have to really earn their keep, so it’s important you have the best models for cooking, cooling and dishwashing. Picking ones with the best features and functions will help the day to go as smoothly as possible. Ovens come in all shapes and sizes but when you’ve got a large family to feed, it’s as best to ensure yours is big enough to fit the turkey. While buying an oven based on the size of a dish served once a year might be a little excessive, working out your oven’s capacity is actually a good idea anyway. Oven sizes are generally given in net or gross sizes – the gross capacity is the size of the oven without shelving and internal fixtures while net is the actual cooking space available. This translates roughly as a 54-litre oven will fit a turkey weighing up to 30lb, a 66-litre oven will fit both the turkey and a tray of roast potatoes. Of course how much you fit in will very much depend on the interior of your oven and the placing of the shelves and also the type of fan cooking system it has. For instance a two-oven range with one standard oven and one tall, thin one provides more smaller shelves on which to place all those extras we love for Christmas lunch such as stuffing, roast parsnips and pigs in blankets.

A fridge with an interior compartment that can switch from freezer to refrigerator could be invaluable at a time when you might need extra freezer space leading up to the big day, and then more fridge space for leftovers for Boxing Day brunch.

If you don’t already have them, a whisper-quiet dishwasher and extractor are a great investment for a kitchen diner, so you can all chat comfortably without having to talk over your appliances.

A warming drawer is also a good idea and companies such as Miele and Neff have ones that complement their ovens and sit well in a bank of cooking appliances. As well as being good for keeping plates warm ready for dishing up lunch, some even operate as slow cookers and can prove bread beautifully.

Plan Ahead:

Avoid a last-minute Christmas morning panic by checking the week before you have enough plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins for Christmas lunch. This will leave you enough time to find replacements or shop for more if you need to. It’s also a good time to get out any faithful favourite table decorations you plan to use to see if they’ll be fine for another year. If not, then there are plenty of ideas for how to use this year’s crop of decorations on Instagram and Pintrest. This year’s trends include fabulous jewel coloured baubles and decorations, pretty Scandi felt animals and lots of natural flora and fauna. A few days before the big day, sit down with a glass of mulled wine and run through everything you need for the Christmas table, organize the the table plan and write place cards for everyone.

Take a good look through your store cupboards, too – if you’ve chosen one with our clever pull-out drawers then this will be a nice and easy – checking well ahead of time that you have festive ingredients such as mulled spices and mincemeat. This is the time to chuck out anything that’s well out of its use-by date, too as it’ll help release space for the inevitable ‘big shop’. Finally, assigning everyone a job on the big day will help to ease the workload and give you the relaxed, enjoyable day you surely deserve.

Have a great Christmas and best wishes for a prosperous 2017.