We're calmly counting down... 🎄
With 16 sleeps to go, we chat about Christmas cake baking, go ham-shopping, and get excited for fun festive picnics...
We may have passed the traditional date known as ‘stir-up Sunday’ (five weeks before Christmas), but there’s still enough time to get your cake or cakes mixed and baked and ‘put to bed’ so that the flavours will infuse and mature, while you ‘feed’ it with rum, brandy, or whisky so that when you slice in to it on Christmas Day – or on the many days after when Christmas cake feel exactly the thing you need with a morning or afternoon cuppa – it’s juicy and flavoursome.
Our tips for Christmas cake triumph:
Give your kitchen a late spring-clean – making the cake requires a decent-sized workstation, you’ll need space to store the cake, and it’s also just a great opportunity to get this job ticked off before the festive season really kicks in.
If you don’t already have a tried-and-true recipe, go shopping for one with both your taste buds and your available time in mind. In our unscientific experimentations over the years we’ve tried baking traditional methods alongside all-in methods that promise to save on time (generally that means no butter in the mix and therefore no time spent creaming butter and sugar, and perhaps also forgoing the brushing or drizzling with booze of the cake while it rests). Our findings are that a little more time spent on the process leads to more delicious results – you’re spending time and money shopping for ingredients so our view is you may as well aim for the best result you can get!
Once your cake is baked and ready to be put to bed, if you’re opting for the topping up with booze approach, wrap the base and sides of the cake in several layers of greaseproof paper secured with string but leave the top open for drizzling or brushing over the liquid. When your cake’s done with its night-time snacks, replace the greaseproof paper, then wrap in foil, and store in an airtight container.
How to Ham in 2021
First up – an important message about our hams!
If you’re in the market for a Freedom Farms ham please don’t wait too much longer to track one down. If you can’t find the Freedom Farms ham you’re after in the ham display fridge, head to the butchery/chilled department and ask them if they have any more deliveries coming… if they do ask them to pop a ham aside for you. If you’re in Auckland, you can still place a pre-order online at your local Farro store. Moore Wilsons still has stock in Wellington, if your local grocer has sold out.
If you’re in the market for a Freedom Farms whole ham… they’re rare as hen’s teeth at this point. Buying a mix of half and quarter sizes is an increasingly popular choice – you could do a half ham for your festive table, and take a quarter away with you to the bach, or even do two smaller hams with different glazes to add some choices to your Christmas table.
We source our hams from a group of farmers in Aotearoa New Zealand who value the same things we do: a farming system that is kinder for farm animals, takes it easy on the environment, and supports a food system that we feel really, really proud of.
Which ham to buy?
We all know choice can be overwhelming. In terms of portion size, 180g per person for Champagne ham, and 200g per person for ham on the bone is about right. You might like to mix and match… grab a large ham for the main event, and a half or quarter for casual get-togethers before or after the big day. Let’s break it down...
A more modern version of traditional ham on the bone, the ham is partially deboned (leaving just the hock) and massaged back into shape. It’s super tender, and takes up less room in your fridge. Our Freedom Farms Champagne hams come in three sizes:
Whole Champagne Ham 7-9kg – a crowd-pleaser
Half Champagne Ham 4-5kg – great for a smaller gathering
Quarter Champagne Ham Approx. 2kg – perfect for picnics and wee get togethers
Ham on the Bone
Our traditional Christmas ham – we produce a limited run each festive season. Expect spectacular flavour imparted by cooking with the bone-in. Our Freedom Farms hams on the bone come in two sizes:
Whole Ham on the Bone 8-10kg – a centrepiece for any big festive table
Half Ham on the Bone 4-5kg – big on flavour without the headache of too many leftovers
Christmas in the Park
Feel like you’ve kind of lost your mojo when it comes to hosting or attending indoor gatherings? You’re not alone. So many of us have gotten accustomed to picnic life this spring, that reverting to entertaining indoors feels like unfamiliar territory. If the weather plays ball, taking Christmas lunch outdoors will be the plan for many households this year.
Here are some of our fave picnic-friendly adaptations to keep the festive vibe alive but achievable…
Opt for a smaller format ham for ease of transportation – Freedom Farms Quarter Champagne Hams are brilliant for picnics. If you’re meeting with multiple families, you could put two or more families on quarter ham duty and see whose turns out tastiest!
Chill, chill, chill…. Chill down anything that will benefit from it well before leaving the house, then carefully pack into chilly bins with lots of ice packs.
Pack salad dressings separately and dress just before serving.
Pack your whipped cream and pav toppings separately to avoid an accidental Eton mess! A pavlova roulade makes an easily sliceable alternative to a round pav.
Bring a bunch of clean containers to pack up and distribute leftovers in.
Flexitubs are born for picnics – earmark one to stack dirty dishes in and it can simply be rinsed out at home once the dishes are in the dishwasher!
Pack some more physical games as well as some cards or board games to enjoy after the meal when a little rest is called for.
Have your Champagne flutes at the ready because that nicely chilled bottle may have gotten a little shook up on the journey!
Five Good Things
1/ Dunedin writer Victor Billet’s “ode for the author of a stupid column about sausage rolls” published in Newsroom may have satirical intentions… but for sausie roll lovers like us, it rings true.
2/ Swap out the merguez for Freedom Farms Fresh Chorizo Sausages in this recipe by The Guardian’s Thomasina Miers.
3/ Taking a break isn’t lazy – learning to recharge is a skill that has hit some serious headwinds in the midst of lockdown, Zoom meetings, home schooling, and now trying to get back to ‘business as usual’. You don’t need to wait until you hit the wall on Dec 24 to prioritise taking a break.
4/ We can’t stop thinking about GROW, an art installation that highlights the beauty of agriculture. In addition to being delightful to watch, the science says these light recipes encourage growth and reduce the need for pesticides. Auckland loves to light up our landmarks… the Sky Tower, the Museum, the Harbour Bridge… will we see the fertile plains of Pukekohe lit up in the future?
5/ This quote:
Thanks for diving into The Omnivore with us this week. If you like what you read, check out our other newsletter – The Breakfast Club – where we chat about arguably the best meal of the day!
If you’re not familiar with Freedom Farms… we’re a 100% NZ-owned company that set out over a decade ago to bring you bacon farmed the Freedom way… from NZ farmers who care about the same things we do… farming that is kinder for farm animals and takes it easy on the environment. When you buy our bacon, eggs, pork, sausages and ham you are supporting a wonderful little group of NZ farmers… and we’re really really grateful!
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