Christmas Cheer and Hello! New Year

So 2016 is speeding to a close. It’s had good bits, it’s had bad bits but, like every other year it’s passed in a flurry of lambing, growing, harvesting, cold pressing, bottling, sampling, labelling, markets and food festivals. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing what we do together with being a part of the wonderful community up here in the Yorkshire Wolds but, once every year, we look forward to slowing down just a little bit to spend time with close friends and, more importantly, family.

Christmas is when we get to be the Palmer family, rather than the face of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, for a little while. Christmas for us means time spent together chatting, laughing, playing with the kids, plus a fair amount of singing takes place (alcohol’s not always involved in the singing but it definitely contributes!) and cooking (of course!).

Our Christmas dinner tends to be a traditional roast turkey (always from a local producer!) together with all the trimmings followed by Christmas Pudding and, later on, we start on the Christmas Cake we made back in October. We then pause for a short break, maybe a quick race around outside with the littlies, then back inside for mince pies.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the food we usually eat on this one day of the year (I may have eaten a few mince pies prior to Christmas Day but we’ll gloss over that for now!) but have you ever wondered when some of our Christmas traditions started?

I know that some people write ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas’ and I’ve always thought of this as a sort of slang, shorthand way of writing Christmas but actually it isn’t; it’s been around for thousands of years. The ‘X’ stands for the greek letter chi, which was the early abbreviation for Christ or the greek ‘Khristos’ and also symbolises the cross on which Christ was crucified.

Is everyone looking forward to a group of Carol Singers on their doorstep around Christmastime?! We don’t often have this pleasure seeing as we are a little windswept and isolated but did you know that the literal translation of ‘carol’ is to ‘sing and dance’ in a circle. The tradition of going door to door to sing carols started in mediaeval times when carol singers were banned from churches for making too much noise and ruining the more sombre Christmas services of the time. We tend to sing only amongst family you’ll be relieved to hear!

Back to our favourite food based facts; specifically our favourite easy to make, easy to eat mince pies! In mediaeval times mince pies were baked in rectangular cases to represent the infant Jesus in his crib and the addition of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg was added to symbolise the gifts from the three wise men. It was thought lucky to eat one mince pie per day for the twelve days of Christmas (hooray! This is one tradition they should bring back!). Mince pies were meat based in those days though and it wasn’t until Victoria’s reign that mince pies were made with fruits and spices only.

Although we all refer to a ‘traditional roast turkey’ Christmas dinner; turkey was only introduced to England in the fifteenth century after the Americas were discovered. Prior to this a Christmas meal would have been goose or venison. At the time the poor of the parish were not allowed to eat the best cuts of meat although, if they were lucky, their wealthy Lord may donate the remains of his families Christmas deer, the offal, known in those days as ‘umbles’. To make the meal go further the ‘umbles’ were mixed with vegetables and made into a pie; an ‘umble pie’. Hence today’s expression of ‘to eat humble pie’ when someone falls from grace.

With all the planning and preparation that goes into Christmas, the food, the presents, the build up and excitement from children and grandchildren, it really wouldn’t be half as much fun without these familiar yearly rituals and the familiar annual feast to look forwards to. We thought we’d leave you with our favourite recipe for gorgeous crispy Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes to set off your roast dinner – they’ll go a treat with beef, lamb, venison or any roast meat your family tradition calls for! Happy Christmas and we’ll look forwards to seeing you all in the New Year! 

Garlic and Rosemary Roast Potatoes Ingredients:

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Garlic

6-8 medium potatoes

2 tbsp Plain Flour, seasoned

A handful of fresh Rosemary sprigs, chopped

Salt

Method: Pre heat your oven to 220C. Peel and halve the potatoes, boil for 5-6 minutes to part cook them. Drain and toss in the seasoned flour. Remove the potatoes from the flour and toss in lots of garlic oil. Fry on the hob for a few minutes until the edges are crisp then transfer into a roasting tin. Add the rosemary and sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 30 - 40 mins or until golden brown.

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