Thursday, November 05, 2009

Castle (Hampers that is)

Theme Thursday (God I love Theme Thursday) and this week a different take on "Castle" . . .



Well it's November. Half of you are beginning to lament the waning of autumn and the onslaught of winter, while the rest of us are moving into spring. The October Labour Day Weekend is over, Thanksgiving is round the corner but the next celebration for us is Christmas. Now I don't know about you but for me, Babysis, Clarebear and our newest member to the family Jessicapom (my newly returned nephew's girlfriend) are all about mucking around in the kitchen before Christmas. We love the preparation, trying something different, cheap, fresh ingredients and working on spectacular presentation. It never costs much but we adore putting in the effort to make simple food look and taste awesome.

Yet, every January . .there is a massive TV advertising campaign for Crisco Castle Hampers. The idea is that you start paying off your Christmas pogathon early and in December you receive a nice bundle of goodies to set you straight for the festive season. Just open the box, crank up the microwave and Christmas is spread before you in all it's culinary wonder.

So, while we prepare a menu of degustation entrees, glazed ham (often free because someone gets one for a Christmas bonus), Caesar Salad my awesome potato bake and rocket, pumpkin and almond salad and chocolate dip with assorted fruit and marshmallows,working class Australian seems to prefer a rather expensive, pre-prepared hamper.

Pushed for weeks after Christmas as fine yet inexpensive fare. Delivered to their doorstep, paid at $13.60 a week for the cheapy (that's $707.20 a year) and finger's crossed it will arrive on time. What perturbs me is the contents of said hamper, the look, the lack of nutritional value, the awesome boringness and lack of imagination and of course the cost! I manage to feed 12-15 on a couple of hundred dollars each year with breakfast included and plenty of leftovers for the following week. (I don't include alchohold but a Christmas staple is Bacardi for daquiries and a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. Now here's some Castle Christmas fare:
NutriGrain - Breakfast cereal? Crikey doesn't everyone splash out on mangoes and croissants with strawberry preserve, at least at Christmas?

Cadbury Dairy Milk - now I don't know about you but I haven't a problem with the old Cadbury and you yanks could take a lesson from the chocolatiers of the world because you just can't make chocolate (No . .Hershey's Peanut butter lip smackers do not qualify as chocolate!) But at Christmas? Lindt at the very least!

Moccona Instant Coffee: Oh please.

Arnotts Shapes: Supermarket hexagonal flavoured biscuits that would taint the flavour of a nice brie or Stilton with little salty snippets of chilli and 'barbecue' seasoning

Cadbury Roses Chocolates: Awful gooey centres and guess who always accidentally bites into the Turkish Delight. Sorry Turks but jelly made out of rosewater is disgusting.

Masterfoods Sauce: BBQ rather nice on eggs or steak. Tomato, an Australian Staple but you DON'T put bottled sauce on yer gobbler! Jesus I spend a day marinating the thing in apricoty sticky honey clovey stuff not to have it spoiled by a splodge of tomato sauce!

Chocolate Frogs: Now I don't know about you but I have a problem eating frogs, chocolate or otherwise but any chocolate that comes in a plastic bag with a hole in the top to slide onto a supermarket prong is not Christmas food!

Steggles Frozen Turkey: OK I suppose if you must go the Turk but frankly, I think it's bland, boring, nobody likes the dark bits and you have leftovers for months. We haven't done a Turkey for God knows how long although I'm tempted to do a Thanksgiving for friends this year because you yanks post some bloody nice recipes for stuffed Turkey.

Bird's Eye Oven Roasted Potatoes: No they're not! They're twice the price of the real deal and are reconstituted potatoes shaped into perfect little chopped spuds with unflavoured caramel on the outside to make them look brown. Potatoes just don't taste like that and they're cheaper to buy fresh.

Frozen Veg: The only frozen veg I ever buy are peas because I simply find it too hard to get the ones in the shell so I'll forgive the peas but hardly Christmas food.

Sarah Lee Sticky Date Pudding: Shove it up your date! Stodgy, expensive, tasteless . . .and not Christmassy at all!

Sausages: No comment other than a collection of lips and arseholes . .what beast I cannot say. To be fair to Chrisco's Castle collection, there is a ham. A yucky de-boned, wet ham so you don't even get to make pea and ham soup from the luscious centre.

Canned Fruit: In Australia, it's summer. Stone fruit is plentiful and cheeeeeeeeeep. I mean really cheap you can pick up a tray of peaches, nectarines, mangoes for less than $15 on a good day.

Vegemite: OK I'm now speechless, without speech.

Nobby's Nuts: Oh yes, only in the country where you have Coon Cheese (I kid you not) could you nibble Nobby's nuts?. . . no thanks.
OK they've thrown in some Blue Ribbon Ice Cream (kudos cos it's really buttery and delishy with strawbs) . . crappy bon bons (crackers) and spaghetti. Also a couple of tins of salmon, processed mince pies and wait for it . . Magie two-minute noodles (Pot Noodles for you Oirsh) Call me a snob, because when it comes to cheap, delicious well presented food, I am! Totally and unequivocally a food snob and the queen of the castle. My home is my castle and there'll be none of this going down! And just how far do they think one bottle of Yellow will go between 15 of us! Sheesh! Break out the thimbles!




Ok I was a little frazzled in 2007. My hair doesn't look like that any more even if my waistline does and I've reverted to screw-top chardy rather than the bubbly stuff but I still love preparing Christmas dinner, in my castle, with my subjects assisting in the kitchen rather than breaking out the can opener.

50 comments:

Ribbon said...

You make me laugh... You're beautiful and I love ya :)

I was just about to look for your email address when this post appeared.
I wanted to ask What's happened to Bimbimbie?

xx Maybe I will email you, but gotta go now and sort dinner...
Ribbon :)

Mrsupole said...

All I can say is that is one expensive Castle Dinner. And I bet you that anyone who bought one, and then reads what you wrote, that they would probably now want a refund.

Your dinner sounds so much better. My youngest sister always does our family Christmas celebration dinner and we all just bring different dishes to help her. We always do this the Saturday before Christmas and then everyone goes to their in-laws on Christmas Day. It works out really well. My oldest daughter has been doing the Christmas dinner for the last few years and that is just fine with me. I supply the food and she cooks it. Oh how I love that arrangement and I will really appreciate it this year.

I hope your spring blossoms well.

God bless.

Brian Miller said...

yis the season though i could not imagine paying for it all year to het what you described...someone might get hurt. ack, lay off yerself, your a beaut baino...smiles.

Rowe said...

Crikey, that pre-packed hamper sounds like a very sad and unmerry Chrissy dinner; and that's what you get for 700 smackeroonies? A lovely photo of you being the queen of your castle.

i beati said...

any bubbly in that hamper? I have heard of none of these things and that's the fun for me cheers !!

Hails said...

Yay! I love Christmas food posts! :) I have to disagree with you on the Cadbury's Roses though. Now, I don't eat much chocolate, I don't have a sweet tooth. And to be perfectly honest, at any other time of the year I would choose a nice plain bar of Dairy Milk, preferring chocolate over sweet centres. But at Christmas... I can't quite explain it, but there need to be Cadbury's Roses. Or Nestle Quality Street. It doesn't feel like Christmas without them. Last Christmas was my first ever away from home, and that was the thing that it seemed really terrible not to be having! Weird what the soul craves... :)

But well said on the Cadbury's in general. American chocolate just doesn't do it once you've had Cadbury's.

ian said...

Christmas hampers always seemed to have odd things - like tinned chestnuts - in them that no-one wanted and they would go in the cupboard only to reappear months or even years later.

nick said...

My God, pre-fabricated Christmas fare, what a travesty! Of course the whole enjoyment of Christmas is preparing your own food, even if it's hard work and it's gobbled down in five minutes. As for the disgustingly unnutritious stuff their customers go for....

Poetikat said...

That photo doesn't look anything like your shot on FB!

We have those hampers over here too; they've just dropped the "Castle" and they're strictly "Crisco".

It must be fun when they arrive.

Kat

California Girl said...

How fun to see a photo of you!

You're right, the contents sound dismal. Your take on them is hilarious.

Another great angle on TT.laine

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Isn't Vegemite that yeast paste that you all spread on 'biscuits'?
Wow what a list..... -Jayne

Leah said...

Incredibly fun and detailed, so many things I'm not familiar with, so they seem exotic.

I am not-so-secretly glad, however, that I don't celebrate Christmas. I am way too lazy for such an undertaking. Although, I certainly wouldn't mind being invited round to your place... ; )

Roy said...

You're right, that's a fairly bland hamper for such a special occasion!

Oh, and American's can too make good chocolate! Ignore Hershey's and go right to Ghirardelli, from San Francisco. I'll put Ghirardelli chocolate up against Lindt or Godiva any day. I always have a tin of Ghirardelli's natural unsweetened powdered cooking cocoa in my kitchen; I use it to make my Winter hot chocolate. And yes, I put in a pinch of cayenne pepper (I learned to do that from the movie Chocolat); it really does make a difference.

Absolutely interesting take on the theme, Baino. I bent somewhat off the usual track myself this week.

JeffScape said...

I didn't get a Christmas ham last year... my girlfriend at the time got in a car accident on the way to my house. Apparently, my ham wound up in a treeline!

I feel so left out. :(

Hah!

otin said...

The way you described yourself, I was expecting to see some ugly old woman! You look wonderful!

We have Cadbury here!

You have to cook me something, without frogs in it! LOL

Kate Hanley said...

That's it, I'm coming to your house for Christmas! I want to learn how to make fabulous meals on the cheap. Great TT post!

AngelMay said...

I think you look perfectly lovely. :)

And glazed ham! YUM! THAT's what I call Christmas dinner. (It's a Southern - USA - thing)

laughingwolf said...

gotta agree, for the most part, baino...

got a post in my blog from bimbimbie: she's taking time off [prolly to prepare for xmas] but will return

Dot-Com said...

Now all I can think of is chocolate frogs. In Denmark, they have a cream/rom filling and are so good! Mmmmmmm :)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great contribution, completely unexpected and delightful.

especially love the loverly snap you you!

isn't it fun to great fun to cook with others during the holidays!!

happy tt!! to you and your subjects, oh queen of the castle

e said...

That hamper of yours and your hilarious take make me glad I don't celebrate Christmas, too, although if I were invited to your house, I would certainly come. It is nice to see your photo.

Colette Amelia said...

I could never for the life of me figure those hampers out...glad you did! Great photo of you...but doesn't the queen usually have help to do all work?

Wings said...

Learn something knew every day. A bit confused by the whole 'hamper' thing, but I guess it's like food on a lay-a-way plan? Or am I just befuddled?

:)

Darlene said...

You are lovely in your kitchen where you turn out scrumptious sounding meals. May I come to your house for Christmas dinner? I'll bring the bubbly or white wine (Pinot Grigio okay?)

...mmm... said...

Hey, a picture of you --how marvelous is that!! Love it.

Love these hampers and all that stuff. My mouth s watering for the chocolate in particular. I'm right there with you in terms of preparation.

A very nice take on Castle, btw. Loved it. You are soo funny too.

Megan said...

Hail to the Queeeeeeen!!!!

This post is wonderful. Made me smile, made me laugh, made me think of Christmas!

Grannymar said...

IF Darlene is going, SO AM I!

I will even bring my apron!

Susan at Stony River said...

I love the photo!

And amen, tell 'em like it is. We get flyers for a similar gig, and every time I can't help but wonder WHO falls for it? Feasting is too wonderful to put it in the hands of these folks!

CatLadyLarew said...

I could really go for a weekly hamper delivery to my castle!

Leah said...

Heh, e said the same thing I did. Jews united!

But, will we get an invite to your unbelievable-sounding feast?

; )

Renee said...

That Christmas food looks like crap and all boxed and no nutrition.

Now you, you look fantastic. So beautiful.

And talk about beautiful, what are the flowers.

Love Renee xoxo

Kath Lockett said...

I completely agree re those godawful hampers. If the food isn't 'un-fun' enough, they don't even deliver real value, let alone taste.

And if that's you looking 'frazzled' then keep drinking - you look great!

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, Baino, your irreverence always impresses me. You are the wind beneath my wings.

That is so funny (sad?) That people put away money a week at a time to have this royal? aray of food at Christmas. That is the kind of stuff we go through our pantry and put in the donation bucket for the needy and have-nots. The stuff no one in the family will eat. Okay, I also always put something very nice in too. But I'm just sayin...

Betsy said...

You are so funny!

Babysis said...

Here Here Baino!
Bring on Christmas....lurve the glazed ham!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your people will have to get together with my people and discuss this year further darls!

babysis said...

Oh I love those Santa's Little Helper pinnies! His antlers are just peeping out....

(sorry forgot to add this)

Tom said...

we have prime rib every Christmas eve, and Lasagna Christmas day...but always at the mom & pops and mom & pops...just thinking of it makes my stomach hurt...

it is hard to imagine a Christmas season without the snow, but i guess that is what you are used to! My, it's sure coming up fast. Happy Holidays!

Candie Bracci said...

First of all,let me tell you that you look great!And I really mean it!Then,it was a delicious castle that one!Lucky you got family over wondering about meal and all.I remember it too.Now..no one really cares about Christmas anymore.Thanks God there are children coming to enlighten this.Only my dad is coming for Christmas,all my family is split apart!My mother is working she can't come either.Well..but Andy's going to be 2 so we will do his first Christmas tree.And because I have lived in UK I know a bit of your products.Cadbury is awesome!I really like it specially the one with fruits and nuts in it.But Turkish Delights,no way!I'm right with you on that one!Beurk!Have a nice day!:) I'm thinking salt and vinegar crips with a pint of Fosters..nice memory!:))

River said...

That's quite some rant you've got going there and I have to agree, those hamper contents really aren't very christmassy. BUT, in previous years I have bought a hamper two years in a row, (from a rival company Chrisco),I chose hampers that contained pantry staples and these came in very handy in the months AFTER christmas when money was a bit tight after the chrissy spending. I did find, however, that each hamper contains a few items I don't like or use, these were given away to family members or friends.

River said...

P.S. Wonderful photo!

Marianna said...

Now you made me laugh, hungry and await Christmaslol

xoxo

Alan Burnett said...

What a smashing Theme Thursday post. And what an original take on the subject. Happy TT from somebody who will be enjoying a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk on Christmas Day.

Melanie said...

Every time I see the ad for them and look at their fliers I do the sums in my head and think to myself that I would have to be a Turkey to pay THAT MUCH mark up. Insane!!!

lettuce said...

wow thats some picture

nope, can't say I fancy any of that

(though I would say a word in defence of PROPER REAL turkish delight which is not much at all like that Frys stuff...)

how lovely to see a photo of lovely you!

Betty said...

apricoty sticky honey clovey stuff mmmmm sounds good. Any chance of posting a recipe, please? Your post made me laugh - those hampers are really expensive. For that price I think they should at least throw in a tree and a couple of reindeer!

Ces said...

You are the queen! I agree with you. Preparing dinner parties are fun!

Jaime said...

ooh... say no to vegemite! that stuff is vile!

Dreamhaven said...

The only place in my castle that glot of overpriced goop (sans ice cream) would go is the moat.
Happy TT

Gayé Terzioglu said...

No need to say Sorry Turks, that is not Turkish delight, but some bullshit jelly thing they made. Nothing to do with Turks and it's yucky.

Hampers said...

This is what a hamper sin't! it is such a shame to basically get a few shopping trolleys worth of groceries delivered and think that it is something along the lines of a Christmas hamper.
PUHLeeese!