Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Adventure 45/50 : Dickensmas!

One of the odd items on my 101 things in 1001 days list was "Dickensmas" -- to read all 5 of the Dickens Christmas books between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year I searched for a book in vain -- left it too late, I fear -- but was able to get the book with a nice 11-month cushion for this year.

This collection, Dickens at Christmas, contains all 5 of the Christmas books, plus an early story ("The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton"), some selections from Household Words magazine, including "The Seven Poor Travellers".

Let's just say it. There's a reason that "A Christmas Carol" is the most famous Christmas story Dickens wrote. It's great.

The others were less so -- though "A Cricket on the Hearth" was sweet, "The Chimes" was charmingly weird, and "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain" was something I'd like to see made into a movie as it was the darkest of all. Oh, and "Battle of Life" was boring.

We had hoped to top it off by finding an old cassette -- yep, a cassette -- I have, somewhere, of Patrick Stewart performing "A Christmas Carol" as a one-man show. But I couldn't unearth it, and the internet wasn't helpful.

Luckily the BBC saved the say with a very dark reinterpretation of "A Christmas Carol" starring Guy Pearce -- which was amazing.

While we watched I set to work on the final piece of my Dickensmas project: making Smoking Bishop -- the celebratory punch a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge promises to treat Bob Cratchit to. First, roasting a clove-studded orange for a little over an hour. Then I combined equal parts ruby port and red wine, added some water, sugar, and spices, and set them to simmering. Finally I juiced the orange, added it to the wines, and served it in our lovely Tom and Jerry cups with a slice of orange as a garnish.

And? Well, it was surprisingly good. Really just a mulled wine, fortified by port, served hot. We made a quarter batch -- the two of us didn't need to drink a bottle of wine, a bottle of port, and the juice of 4 oranges on our own -- but it was pretty easy to make (hello, crockpot?) apart from the time to roast the oranges. So next year I'll actually make a big bowl of smoking bishop to celebrate.

Till then, wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and an amazing 2020!

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