Fanny is well known for her ideas for Christmas, not least because her weird and wonderful TV series of Christmas specials are shown on TV (at least in the UK) without fail each year. However, I'm not entirely convinced that Fanny actually likes the festive season as much as we all imagine. The booklet accompanying the TV series is of course essential reading, especially if you fancy trying the infamous mincemeat omelette, but the tone of her descriptions elsewhere do leave you feeling it's all an unwelcome chore. Her first Christmas book was lovingly called 'Coping with Christmas' which doesn't really ooze positivity as a title. Fanny details her way of coping as planning of course, and outlines her master plan which starts really in January and continues at pace throughout the year!
Fanny condenses her plans in this partwork, but maintains her slightly disparaging tone about the whole thing, providing a selection of menus for almost every occasion, with matching wines from Johnnie too. Most of the recipes feature in future parts of the Cradock Cookery Programme leading up to Christmas, so I am sure I'll be making them then! For now though it's plan, plan, plan! Hang on though, Fanny says that she's giving us these menus so that we can dispense with at least one bit of planning, so maybe I can just sit back and relax for a few months...
No such luck. Fanny wants me to save my precious pennies for The Day so gives lots of crafty ideas for decorating my home. They mainly seem to revolve around making faux feather boas from tissue paper to trim the tablecloth and hang round door frames, and endless ideas involving swans. No idea why,just because Fanny likes them I guess.nFanny says it's important to have 'ideas not money' to make your home a festive sensation, no matter who pops round. I'll need to stock up on tissue paper and spend the next six months cutting out little squares, threading them together and scrunching them up to make the boas. That'll certainly keep me busy and clearly impress my Christmas guests.
There are a couple of recipes included, but only a few. They mostly involve cheats ideas for The Day - things like using the ingredients from a classic Christmas pudding to make a frozen cream dessert, or using a Swiss Roll formed into a ring as a Garland Cake - invented by Fanny herself for those that hate plum pudding. Fanny urges us to make our a Brandy Butter now and store it wrapped in cellophane in our ordinary domestic refrigeration. I'll pass. Fanny also shows us how to make little Petits Fours and chocolate truffles - using Canache as she calls it, we know it as Ganache - that we can give as presents. Fanny reminds us that is absolutely essential to 'keep the friendship of tradespeople' at this time of year. So, the table and decorations are covered, plans are in place, recipes will be coming and I'm feeling calm. But hang on, Fanny gives no clues whatsoever how to dress oneself impressively to wait nonchalantly at the door for guests to arrive. Panic! What the heck will I wear?