Monday, November 08, 2010

A Dickens of a Christmas



"...Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course-and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurray!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't at it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone - too nervous to bear witness-to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose-a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered-flushed, but smiling proudly-with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly struck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
At last dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put on the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed:
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"
Which all the family re-echoed.
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
This holiday season a group of us are planning a Dickens of a Christmas blog hop:
April of21st Century Housewife
Ken of Ken Albala's Food Rant and many, many books about food which you should check out
Heather of Mama O Knits, Craft Lit and the upcoming book What Would Madame Defarge Knit.
Margo of Hat Shadows, a professional milliner for film, theater, opera and ballet. She teaches hatmaking courses so check out her blog!
Sarah of Toronto Tasting Notes
Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Annette of Sustainable Eats
There will be recipes for the traditional foods Dickens wrote of in A Christmas Carol, or found in Victorian England around the holidays. There will be a professional reading of the book. There will be giveaways, themed knitting patterns and quite possibly hats! There may be smoking bishop and suet cooked in organs. And there will certainly be much making of merry.
The blog entries will be rolling out starting this week and culminating Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your holidays in Victorian style.
So please do bookmark all our blogs and add them to your rss feeders. We'll be using the linky below to link all the blog entries for the entire shebang so that you don't miss a single one. We hope you enjoy this as much as we know we will! And we hope that you have a DICKENS OF A CHRISTMAS!

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