Let’s (not) talk about tax.
Let’s talk about a couple of Christmas related things.
Christmas thing one – Holy Innocents Day.
Many many years ago when I was a late teenager and a Christian I went to church with my father on the Sunday after Christmas. Taking the service was one Canon John Froud. The Canon. A retired priest who took the unglamorous – 8am – or the respite services after the major festivals for the main priest.
The Canon also looked after the Servers of which I was one. Main advice for us was – particularly if something went wrong – ‘whatever you do – do it slowly’. Could be a yoga motto. He loved us young people in a fairly direct unsentimental way – all completely appropriately so sad I have to say this – and had time for us in the way the main priest who had a parish to run couldn’t possibly.
He did however like things done properly and the crewcut may have reflected a military background at one time. I still have a memory of turning up for serving duty at the 8am service – what I thought was on time and correctly presented. No idea what time I had got to bed tho. But before entering the church I was told ‘Open your eyes Andrea – they are at half mast.’ I duly opened my eyes.
Now on the Sunday after Christmas, the Canon as he was leading the service gave the sermon. And the topic he chose was Holy Innocents Day. As apparently that is the Sunday after Xmas in the Anglican calendar. What he said has stuck with me to today. And I can’t think of many other things that have had a similar impact.
Holy Innocents Day is to honour all the baby boys that were slaughtered on the orders of Herod when he heard of the birth of the King of the Jews. Now in the mid eighties there was no Wikipedia link to challenge the veracity of the Canon’s sermon. But to me it seems quite likely given what a nasty bugger Herod was – better to be his pig than his son – and would explain the whole going to Egypt thing.
At this point I could start to reference ‘trade-offs’; or make yin/yang or omelette analogies. But I won’t. All I wish to do is note that even with a festival as joyous as Christmas – there is another side that should be remembered. As that was what the Canon wanted us to do.
Christmas thing two – Pavlova
Changing the subject completely. Because dear readers you have all been so fabulous – I am going to give you my pavlova recipe. I make an absolutely state of the art top draw pavlova. And you can now too.
This recipe comes from my grandmother and the proportions are one egg white to 2 ounces of caster sugar. Yes ounces soz. I have a jug that measures sugar in ounces. I don’t think it is too critical though as I have used less than that in the past and it all worked fine. I have also used this recipe for 4 egg whites and 16 and the proportions still work. I use – broadly – one egg white to one person. But then I have been feeding teenage boys up until now.
Also – key message- it needs to be made the night before.
- Turn oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a tray – or even roasting dish if a big pav – with cooking paper.
- Get out cornflour and a vinegar like white or red wine. Not balsamic vinegar. Put on bench.
- Get a large bowl and make sure it is scrupulously clean and dry.
- In a measuring jug or equivalent measure out the caster sugar you need in the one egg white to two ounces proportion. Leave in jug/container until needed.
- Separate egg white from egg yolks. Use actual eggs. Tried egg whites in a packet once and could not get the proportions right. Make sure there are absolutely no specks of yoke in the white. If you crack an egg and the yolk breaks – put it all with the yolks. Much like the dry bowl. Any speck of yolk and the pavlova won’t work.
- Beat egg whites until they are so stiff that you could upend bowl and nothing would come out. Up to you if you actually want to try it.
- Beat in caster sugar.
- Add a slurp of vinegar and a teaspoon or so of cornflour. Beat again.
- Take pavlova mixture and mound as high as possible on tray.
- Put into oven at 200 degrees. Immediately turn it down to 125 degrees and cook for an hour. Possibly a bit longer for very large pavlovas.
- After an hour turn off the oven but leave the pavlova inside. Leave everything exactly as it is overnight until the pavlova and the oven are completely cold. This technique should give you a pavlova with a crunchy outside and a marshmallow inside.
- Cream and fruit immediately before eating. Not before. Otherwise the crunchy bits will go soggy.
- You’re welcome.
But otherwise dear readers – Merry Christmas and Happy New (election) Year to you and yours. Back sometime mid January.