Any Christmas dinner tips?
Keep it simple – Christmas dinner is always special anyway so it doesn’t have to be overly complicated; share the work and always get someone else to wash up!
Is life too short to make your own gravy?
Not on Christmas Day it’s not. If you are using good meat you should always make your own. After all, you’ve paid for that gravy in the juices; do it justice.
Everyone loves roast potatoes. What’s the best way to cook them?
Use beef dripping or goose fat to get them nice and crispy. We sell both in the farm shop.
And the best potatoes to use?
Red Duke of York from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes. They make the crispiest and crunchiest roasties. We are selling them in the shop this Christmas.
What makes a good Christmas dinner starter?
It’s got to be something simple; something like a crab salad or game pate always goes down well.
You either love or loathe sprouts. What veg will you be eating on Christmas Day?
Love sprouts, so we will be having plenty of those with chestnuts and bacon or pancetta. Roast parsnips and other winter veg will also be on the menu.
Hordes of people suddenly turn up unannounced at your house. Any tips on rustling up party food in a trice?
Make sure you’ve got plenty in the freezer. I’m not too grand to recommend the supermarkets for this one. They have a great range of party nibbles. Then you have time to uncork the champagne and join in the fun.
Are you a homemade or bought mince pies kind of person?
Buy them! We’ve got some lovely pies from Heatherslaw this year and Malcolm, the head chef in Wallington’s Clocktower Cafe, has been supplying the farm shop with some really special homemade ones. I leave the mince pie-making to those who know what they are doing.
What are you secretly hankering to find under the Christmas tree?
It has to be chocolate. I got a hamper of ‘death by chocolate’ last year. I tend to be good on the chocolate front throughout the year so I feel I can have a blow-out at Christmas.
National Trust opening hours
THE grounds and walled garden at Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland, (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington) , are open 365 days of the year, but the facilities will be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The farm shop only will be open 9am-12 noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The Clocktower Cafe and gift shop will close on December 23. All, including the farm shop, will reopen between December 27-30. Normal opening hours resume on January 2, 2012, from 10.30am-4pm. The Clocktower Cafeé will be serving a seasonal menu over the festive period.
Gibside near Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside), will also be open between Christmas and New Year, and a range of events have been planned, including a Boxing Day Breather guided stroll around the grounds from 1-3pm, and the special Winter Adventure Week December 27-30, with lots of outdoor fun activities for children.