Tuesday 17 November 2015

Christmas Cravings Blog Tour...

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the 

Christmas Cravings Blog Tour

Christmas Cravings is a festive romance standalone episode from the Greedily Yours series.

How could everything suddenly have gone so wrong for Mia Maxwell? She’s published her own foodie book, travelled around the world blogging her new recipes and has the perfect boyfriend in rugged, countryman Tom.

But since being spotted with her ex-boyfriend Paul, Tom has refused to even speak to her let alone see her for Christmas as planned. The warm, spiced wine of the German Christmas markets is little consolation for the hole in her heart.

Will Mia's Christmas turn out to be sugar and spice and all things nice – or a deflated soufflรฉ of loneliness and regret?


Christmas Cravings is published on 20th November, price £0.99 in eBook.

 Greedily Yours Episode 1-8 are also all now available, price £1.49 each.


Here's a delightful guest post from Emma all about those dreaded Christmas Cooking Disasters...

It is Christmas 2013. Perhaps I should have seen that as a bad omen, given how superstitious I am, but I didn't. So I was happily looking forward to, for the first time in my life, hosting my very own Christmas dinner. Let me be clear, this is something I had been dreaming about and, in a way, preparing for since my teens, or at least early twenties, when every year, from the Sainsbury's magazine and the Observer food monthly I would cut out the Christmas food specials. I would drool over Nigella's accounts of how to host the perfect few days of friends and family. Jewelled couscous stuffing to go with an artful goose or a crackling duck perhaps. Or even if I stuck to the traditional turkey which I'd grown up with, I knew that I'd caramelize those parsnips, delicately sprinkled with cinnamon and serve up the perfect starter, cocktails and twist on a Christmas pudding as if I'd been doing it all my life.

In all my poring over Christmas recipes and dreaming of a house I've never had, ie. perfectly organised, huge oven, every cooking gadget known to man and an ability to cook a huge meal, while looking as polished as Nigella does on telly, I failed to pick up on the reality of Christmas. Early rising, huge stress about whether you will manage to time everything to perfection and the weight of expectation that hangs, somewhat heavily over the whole affair.

So when it finally came, I decided to stick to what I knew, or rather what my Mum knows, (in case I needed help) and ordered the biggest turkey Germany could provide. I think I was the talk of the town that year as I proceeded to order all sorts of other “weird”, ie. English, ingredients from my local butcher, so that I could make sausage rolls with my own stuffing, the Turkey, the stuffing for the turkey, rashers of bacon, sausages etc. etc.

Weighed down by a huge bag of meat, I then realised that I do not possess an American style freezer or oven.  Fitting the whole lot in the fridge and then oven was going to be a challenge; when 6 people's food, milk, cheese and vegetable needs were already stuffed in the fridge and needed to last for the several days of Christmas when German shops totally shut down. There would be none of that popping to the corner shop or to Sainsbury's on Boxing Day for those forgotten bags of peas in Germany. So I over catered, for fear that I would forget something; and had large plastic boxes stacked outside on the balcony full of food that we couldn't have possibly devoured in a month, let alone a couple of days.

Christmas day dawned, and I put on the Pogues, “Fairytale of New York” and proceeded to attack the tasks in my usual haphazard manner. All thought of planning and timing had gone out of the window. I refused all help and scrubbed and peeled the potatoes, the Brussels and made the sausage meat stuffing. Mum stepped in for consultation on the bird and we put it in the oven, stuffed with pork and apple and swaddled in bacon and then tinfoil. The oven was humming away, 40 mins on about 250 and then turned down to a lower heat. I had started on the cranberry sauce and was feeling quite good about my abilities to have done all this without recourse to tears or shouting.

Everyone else set off for a walk and I fended off my mother in law quietly coming over to check how things were going by shooing her away. (This is something you don't understand, I thought smugly) and proceeded to stir my sauce and check on the marinating onion in the milk and bread for the bread sauce. Delia was my only companion for a few hours and I ticked off the tasks. In retrospect, I should have worried that I couldn't smell the delicious aroma of roasting meat. But I was so busy thinking “I have this sussed” it didn't even occur to me to check the turkey.

Then the clock turned 3pm and the ubiquitous Kaffee und Kuchen were brought out to respect my German in law's traditions. I refused (who wants to eat a big slab of stollen when you've got a delicious Turkey to come) and carried on cooking, feeling virtuous. Then my mother in law asked me again “how is the Turkey, do you think we should check it?”. Sighing loudly, I humoured her, and opened the oven, to a blast of, well....nothing. No warm air, no delicious sizzling or golden flesh. The Turkey was still well and truly flaccidly pink and white and was totally uncooked. The bloody oven had broken down. It had been ticking merrily away on timer, but the fan and heat function had, well, ceased to function and all those hours of prep, were wasted.

That's when I broke down in tears and ate a huge slab of stollen, all my build up to this big day had totally crumbled, and I looked like the novice I am.

Luckily, my mother in law and mum rallied around and we managed to get the oven working on the baking function. I'm not sure what temperature we finally cooked that turkey on and the lovingly prepared stuffing had to be scraped out and cooked separately, as did the potatoes because there was no more room in the poor beleaguered oven, but eventually, at about 9pm, we sat down to Turkey and all the trimmings. And you know what, despite the tears and despite my bruised pride, it did taste good, well, at least our English contingent thought so. The Germans politely tucked in (but later said there were too many things on the plate for their taste); by that time, several bottles of wine later, we were all passed caring and the most important thing, Christmas Day had been saved. The following year? It was back to my Mum's for a stress free Christmas Day when the most I do is prepare a few Brussels and stir the bread sauce.

One day though, I'm still hoping to serve up that jewelled couscous and a goose or duck, but next time I do so, I think I'll wait until I have a fully functioning double oven at my disposal and a MUCH bigger fridge. What did that disaster teach me? that my mum all these years has done an amazing job. Something I should really have acknowledged a long time ago really, instead of thinking that I could do better.

You can find Emma Hamilton with all of her foodie and writing photos on Instagram: EmmaHamiltonAuthor.

Huge thanks to Emma for her Christmas Cooking Disasters guest post 

and also to Hayley at edpr.co.uk for her invitation to join in with this delightful blog tour.

Do visit the other stops on the tour...


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