As a youngster, when a disillusioned adult said something puzzling, like “I hate Christmas”, I used to feel sorry for them. It seemed odd to have such bleak outlook, and I distinctly remember thinking ‘I’m never going to be like you.’ Sure enough, the Saturday before last at our local shopping mall, as I waited in a queue the length of The Great Wall Of China, I’ll confess to a host of unmistakably grinchy thoughts. I realise my presence alone technically made me part of the mayhem, but in my defence, I was moving house and desperately short of necessities.
If you crunch the figures, you’ll work out pretty quickly that two Saturdays ago we were still in November. That’s pretty early to have the frenzied shopping behaviour typically reserved for mid-December; you know, the ones dispelling any illusion that we live in a civilised society.
Is it just the natural course of our consumerist world? Or perhaps just the result of population growth? When I moved here just over a decade ago, I heard there’d be 200,000 more people in the region in the next ten years. Based on recent traffic, house prices and my traumatic trip to the mall, I think that’s true. Unfortunately, the extra 200k seems to have arrived in the last 18 months alone, without the grace of a decade to adjust.
Now that I no longer have to field tricky questions about how Santa gets down the chimney or how he could fly around the whole world in one night (‘Magic, darling’), I’m toning it down. The kids are primed for a couple of good presents or maybe one extra good one. Not only will this minimise my exposure to the uglier side of Yuletide, but I won’t have that sick feeling upon calculating how much I overspent on cheap stationery and toys made by a nine-year-old factory worker in China, just so my fortunate children can learn to want more.
The appearance of Christmas mince tarts at the supermarket in September is another bone of contention, but as this is clearly out of my control, I’ll refocus my energies. The Christmas recipes can wait in my house – instead, here’s a good old Kiwi favourite which won’t hit you in your Christmas budget pocket in the least.
1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons fruit chutney
½ cup apple sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
salt and pepper
fresh coriander (to garnish)
- Cover the sausages with cold water; bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, cool, remove skins and cut each into 4 or 5 pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 1-2 minutes, then add carrots and potatoes, stirring until the onions are soft. Add the curry powder and cook a minute or two.
- Add the tomato paste, chutney, apple sauce, stock and coconut milk. Stir well, then return the sausage chunks to the saucepan.
- Bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and cook 15 minutes more to reduce the sauce.
- Add 1 cup of peas in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped fresh coriander