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WOMEN to WOMEN
THE CHRISTMAS DINNER.
With s little method I sec no reason why the preparation of the- Christmas dinner need he the exhausting proceeding which bo often causes the ordinary house- keeper to Eigh as she thinks of the work ahead. Of course in the country the house- keeper has the additional worry of dressing her poultry, and this is one which many city dwellers are freed of, but still there are hundreds of suburban dwellers who sac- rifice the fowls, ducks, or geese which they have reared for the festival, which is almost as much a national one as it is of the Church.
To such as these I -would advise leaving the killing of the poultry until the last thing, for in our variable climate the weather must not be depended on, and of course the "execution" will be carried out by a man of the household, or else by the friendly butcher. The first thing for the
ould-be hostess to do is to get together all the best china and silver, and have them cleaned and brightened. This is par- ticularly important when one is "dining" relatives, for no woman cores to be unpre- pared when her mother-in-law or sisters arc coming to share the hospitality. The criti- cal eye of feminine relatives is, as most women know, a very keen one, and one's reputation in the family circle as a good housekeeper may hang on a thread. It is a good plan to get ready on Christmas eve the dishes of almonds and raisins.' salted almonds, and the other little decicacics
with which most of us like to grace the 1 table. Also the flower vases can lae filled, ' and if these can be put aside into a cool, 1 dark place such as a cellar ,it will be found ? that they will be quite fresh the next day. In any case flowers should always be cut first thing in the morning.
It is also an excellent idea to prepare a simple soup such as cream of tomato on Christmas Eve, and also cold delicacies such as boiled custard, iellies, and any other sweets which are all the .better for being made the day bo lorc. Should it be considered desirable to have a cold dinner, the lettuce for salad should be put into slightly salted water, beetroot should be boiled, and the salad dressing made. But, should a hot dinner be arranged, such provisions'may not be considered necessary, except, perhaps, for supper on Christmas night, and in this case it will be' found that the anticipation of work has been well worth while. Another point not to bo forgotten is putting the ham to soak, and to make the stuffing for the poultry. One must not actually stuff the birds the day before, for the risk of sourness is too great, but the parsley, thyme, lemon rind, and suet may be chopped, and the bread crumbs prepared, also the bread for the bread sauce and ..Its addition of spices and onion
may , be,Vr>ut * together, and_ if goose
is to bo'iatcn, the apple sauce can be made, for it will easily rc-hcat, and the onions for the stuffing can be parboiled and the sago chopped. It is the attention to these details which makcB tho work of pre- paring ,tho dinncr.on Christmas Day strenu- ous and tiring. An excellent thing to have
:ndy on Christmas eve is the shallow i
half of a kerosene tin, cul lengthwise, j
and its ultimate use I will describe
Inter on. Other labour-saving acts are lo get the vegetables ready beforehand, and to set the dining table over night, and sec that the glassware is nice and bright, and that the knives arc polished. If this is, im- possible,' al any rale see that the extra leaves are put in the table, and that every- thing ii. ready for the setting next day.
On Christmas morning (that will bo to-moirow) the housewife will find it nil advantage to make an early beginning, and if the dinner table is no1 ready lo set, it bhould be the first thing. She lind bet- ter see that the dessert is set out, and that the cream, if any is required, is «hipped. Then the ham should bo put on to boil, and a very good plan is to boil it in the copper, and the pudding can be safely put in -nilli it, for they will not hurl in the slightly salty and greasy
ate r. The cleaning of the copper will not make much extra work afterwards if done at once. The cooking of a full sized lain is always difficult, unless, of course, one has an extra large iron boiler, but this requires that the oven fire be lighted, and in the end it all stands for additional work. Then the. sauce and graVy can be made and thickened, and here comes the use for the half kerosene
If this is filled with boiling water, the sauce tureens can stand in it, and their contents will keep beautifully hot until required. The tin will require to be kept on one turned-low gas-ring, or on one side of the one-fire stove, and probably a piece of clean board or tray will have to be put over the top to keep the "boats" steady in the water; but it is really quite a simple arrangement, and is equivalent to Ihe "bain marie" which French ccoks use so much.' Its use on Christmas Day will mean that the saucepans can bo washed up and put away before dinner, nnd thus some of the subsequent work is lessened. _ '
When the poultry or joint is once in the oven and all preparations ure well in hand, there should be an interval of at least half an hour for a rest. Of course the birds will require hasting, but this will only take a minute or so. Next the after-dinner coffee can be made and drawn off into a jug ready for bealing,later on. Then the cold puddings should be put into their dishes, and these can then be cairied with the pudding and dessert plate* into the dining-room on to the sideboard, for it is hy such forethought that the work of ¡hanging Ihe courses is lessened. The meat and vegetables should be carried in ns ox peditiously as possible during the soup course, and the best way to borve soup is to have each hot plate filled and in its place before the guests assemble.
Should there be any doubt as to the skill of the carver, by all means have the birds cut up outside and serve the joints and slices neatly arranged on a hot meat dish
in entree dishes. I have seen previously carved poultry served admirably from a large heated silver soup tureen. Such a proceeding muy no1 be elegant from a for- mal point of view, but it answers excel- lently when convenience and a quick ser- vice are essential. Needless to say, the food should lie kept hot while being carved out- side. When the pudding comos to table, do not forget to see that it is alight, and be sure to pull down the blind«. Then "May good digestion wait on appetite."