Christmas in July

For those in the Northern Hemisphere this may seem like a very strange event but here in the south we like the idea very much.  The day is not about presents, it’s all about the food.  It allows us to experience and enjoy all the Christmas fare that is best cooked and enjoyed when the weather is cooler.

Table decorations

I enthusiastically embrace December 25 and battle through the day cooking traditional fare in sweltering heat, often standing near a hot oven for hours on end with sweat dripping down my back and stirring the gravy while turning puce in the face and feeling my mascara slide down my cheeks.  And that’s just how it is when you have Christmas during summer.

8kg Turkey. His left leg was like that when I bought it!

But many Australians have long since given up the battle of cooking Christmas fare in the heat and now opt for a selection of cold cuts or a seafood buffet paired with a variety of salads.  Steamed puddings have been replaced with a frozen version made not with a cake base but with ice cream being the major component.  Mulled wine and hot chocolate have been passed over for chilled rieslings and beer – plenty of beer handed to you in a cooler.

Dark meat, white meat and two seasonings

So for those feeling a little ripped off or slighted that Christmas just isn’t the same without all the traditional fare, Christmas in July is a fun day where you can enjoy the cuisine that is often too difficult to embrace during a heatwave.

Free-range, nitrate-free glazed ham cooked in the BBQ

Last Sunday Carl and I and five other couples grouped together to celebrate Christmas in July.  I was responsible for bringing the turkey.  I phoned my butcher to order it a week before the event.  He told me I wouldn’t have much choice of size at this time of year and that it would probably be 6kgs (13.22lbs).  When I collected it, it was free-range and it was fresh but it came in at 8kgs (17.64lbs).  I’ve never cooked one that size before.

Steamed green beans with a little butter and toasted almonds

I decided to stuff it with two seasonings, a forcemeat stuffing in the neck and a bread (substituted quinoa to make it gluten-free) stuffing for the cavity.  I also made a hazelnut, parsley and garlic butter to rub under the skin to stop the bird from drying out in the oven.  When I went to stuff the turkey I found that all the neck skin had been cut away so there was no way I could stuff that part of the bird.  The skin around the cavity had also been sliced away so I could only put a little seasoning in the bird.  I wrapped the seasonings in baking paper and then foil and put them in the oven for the last hour of the cooking time.  I made a gravy using the pan juices, some cornflour, white wine and chicken stock.  I wanted to make my own cranberry sauce but frozen cranberries were unavailable so we had to make do with jars from the supermarket.

Fighting my friend for oven space. His rolled loins of pork cooked with apples, chestnuts, French eshallots and apple cider

I was feeling the pressure in the kitchen because a certain friend brought a rolled loin of pork and he was toe-tapping beside the oven asking, ‘Have you finished yet?’ and ‘Is that bird cooked yet?’ and ‘How much longer are you going to be?’ and ‘Surely you’d like to rest it now?’  as he needed the oven to finish off his pork.  I pulled out the turkey after four hours and despite myself it was perfectly cooked and everyone said it was the highlight of the day.  Relief!

The buffet

Another highlight was that my two teenagers made an appearance.  Arabella was only one hour late and Archie, who needed to sleep off an all-nighter after his gig at the Roxbury, arrived three hours into the event and as punishment I made him entertain the crowd and belt out a few tunes with his guitar.

Butterscotch Pudding

Here’s a selection of images not taken by me because I had a few projects I was overseeing in the kitchen plus my i-Phone was being used to play Christmas music.

Steamed Plum Pudding laced with Chivas Regal

A cool wine gadget, 30 people seated, a teenager on the bag pipes, and Archie sings

Merry Christmas!

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Comments

  1. Vanessa Carnegie says:

    I have not yet had a Christmas in July but I LOVE the idea. I’m sad that proper Christmas day has basically turned into a BBQ/salad affair. That’s what Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are for, people!!!

  2. We have done Thanksgiving in July, but not Christmas. Both are my favorite food holidays! All of your food looked absolutely delicious and beautiful!

  3. I’ve never been organised enough but I would love to have a Christmas in July. This weather is soo chilly at the moment though and perfect for all that delicious looking hot Chrissy food!

  4. A_Boleyn says:

    Sounds like a perfect strategy, Christmas food when it’s cold and the Christmas celebration in December. :)

    http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/

  5. GourmetGetaway says:

    All the food looks so delicious!! I have never actually participated in a Christmas in July??? I don’t know if I want to do Christmas twice?? Although, I would be very happy to attend yours the food looks amazing, and as you said, it is the weather for stodgy food.

  6. Nic@diningwithastud says:

    Nothing makes me happier than Christmas. We actually went to a CIJ at our local last weekend. So much fun :) makes me wish our Christmas was in Winter

  7. YUM. That ham looks mighty fine. I was thinking of doing one for Christmas this year, as we did turkey last year. I hope you drank plenty of mulled wine.

  8. Jeno@ Weeknite Meals says:

    WOW Bam, that looked like a wonderful party, a very large party! You must have cooked for a long time, but by the look of things, it was very very successful and the food looked delicious!

    I’ve never had butterscotch pudding, what does that taste like? The glaze looks divine!

  9. that turkey!!! my mouth is watering looking at your delicious stuffings. cant wait for December now…

  10. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    It looks wonderful! What a massive turkey-well done! :o And I love the fact that you play Christmas music too! It really helps to put you in the mood! :)

  11. Juliet Batten says:

    I love it! Every year my family joins with another for a midwinter dinner, with all the Christmassy food. My speciality is a steamed pudding, dowsed in brandy and then set alight. I love the look of your beans with almonds – will definitely try that. We need lots of good cheer and good hearty food to get us through the winter and make up for not having it at our summer Xmas.

  12. We have never done Christmas in July but as a child I always wished we would. Looking at the preparation that went into your meal, I now understand why my mum may have preferred to skip it! It sounds like a lovely day though, and one seriously impressive turkey.

  13. niasunset says:

    What a beautiful day… Merry Christmas dear Charlie! Thank you, love, nia

  14. Now that is totally how you do Christmas in July in Style! One year I promise to myself I will do this and I will toast you for the inspiration :) xx

  15. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    So interesting to learn about your Christmas in July celebration and see all those foods. I’d love being a guest at this party. Given the weather, it certainly makes sense to have this annual celebration.

  16. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    I’ve often wondered what it’s like to have Christmas in summer. I assumed you just all went to the beach or something. I can’t even imagine cooking turkey, etc., in the heat of summer. So much better for to have it in July as you’ve done. Looks so good (even to me and it’s going to be a sweltering 100 here today!).

  17. That looks so lovely!! The food, the wine, you even had live entertainment! What a great Christmas in July!

  18. Amy @ Elephant Eats says:

    I never thought about the fact that it’s warm at Christmas for those in the southern hemisphere…how odd! If I were you I’d totally have a Christmas in July too…it’s just so comforting eating all those foods in cold weather :) Sounds like you threw quite the party!

  19. After reading about your upcoming Christmas in July my husband cooked a turkey breast, made a corn pudding, baked sweet potatoes and dressing. Invited out bet friends and had our own celebration. As we are in Florida it was probably similiar to you winter (hot) cooking experience. Thanks for the idea.

  20. Looks like a wonderful reason to get together with friends!

  21. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    I think Christmas in July is brilliant. Although I grew up in the Northern Hemi, I did grow up in Florida, where I was bombarded with constant media scenes of snowy Santas, fireplaces, and sledding. We had palms and water-skiing with our traditional fare (although sometimes it was cold too). I longed for a snowy day to eat my turkey. I think you have the best of both worlds and the food (and friends) look delightful. And with your teenagers–an added plus!

  22. What a festive table and food! (I’ve been eyeing that plum pudding with Chivas for several minutes…) Sorry to hear about your turkey woes, but your “punts” saved the game — hooray!

    We just returned from our annual Christmas in July and it was 100 degrees. (Most of my in-laws live in Minnesota and Wisconsin and we’ve been snowed out too many times in December, so July it is.) Summer or winter, gathering ’round the table with friends & family is a celebration!

  23. I have wondered how you handle that “down under” and always thought it must be tough to stand by a stove when it is so HOT, though you sound like a trooper, mascara running and all! :) At Thanksgiving, we can catch an unseasonably warm day here, so my friend always bakes her turkey overnight in a hot, then just warm oven. It is done in the morning and she strips it and lets it sit in juices for dinner later that afternoon. It doesn’t give her a bird for presentation, but I guess we all deal with hot days and serious comfort food hankerings in our own way. ;)
    I love those green beans with the butter and almonds — so simple! Your turkey does look truly gorgeous too. Thanks for sharing your Christmas dinner with us, now you have me hungry for leftover turkey sandwiches. Ha!

  24. Just looking at all this traditional Christmas holiday fare is making me so hungry…and wanting turkey and dressing, I might add! That pudding looks to die for. Living where I do, we often have an unseasonably warm Christmas day in December. I can remember sweating through quite a few of them and wishing for snow…or at least cold weather. Looks like a super fun event…and 30 people, wow, I bow to your ability to handle that!

  25. Cakewhiz says:

    Christms in july sounds like fun and al the food looks beyond delicious! I wish it was christmas already….hehe
    - abeer@ http://www.cakewhiz.com

  26. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    Christmas in July is certainly different for us Northerns, but I totally get it and would be dong the exact same. Now what type of wines were you enjoying? ;-)

  27. Sounds wonderful. Glad the older two made it to the celebration. I love the idea of having taditional holidays at non-traditional times.

  28. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    This looks like an amazing feast to me, how fun to celebrate with friends, any time of the year!

  29. Merry Christmas to you too, Charlie! Oh my that looks like such fun. I’d love to do that, but then we’d be sweltering for hours in this heat. I absolutely love the idea, though, perhaps one day I’ll be able to make my way to Australia to experience Christmas in July! The food looks absolutely scrumptious. I am a little surprised at the colour of the dark meat on the turkey, our’s is never quite that rich looking. I would have loved to try the forcemeat stuffing. I am definitely adding it to my turkey dinner in the fall (we do Turkey for Thanksgiving too). Thanks for sharing your lovely event with us.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  30. Cucina49 says:

    Please post the recipe for butterscotch pudding sometime–that looks wonderful! I love the photo of you and your friend with the rolled pork loins, because it has such great movement.

  31. Lovely pictures – so glad that you had many wonderful friends to share this occasion with. (I do love any excuse to have a chilled riesling, but this is an especially good one.)
    We do have Christmas in July here in the states, but it is really a commercial event at the malls.
    Lisa,
    http://bigmamalisa.com

  32. Suzanne Perazzini says:

    I’m glad the kids turned up and made it a family occasion as well. People do celebrate Xmas in July here in NZ as well but not us. Christmas in December is enough and I must say we still do the whole traditional food thing then. Thanks for letting us be a part of the event through your pictures.

  33. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    What a lovely feast you had! It’s so much more comfortable cooking in the winter time. Love the look of both the puddings. I don’t know what it is but the holly decorations got me ;)

  34. Merry Christmas Charlie! What a lovely idea. When I host my own Christmases I will be sweltering it out by the stove too. I really don’t like the idea of cold Christmas food. Your turkey looks delicious!

    The butterscotch pudding looks mouth-watering! Glad Archie and Arabella made an appearance. Archie doesn’t look much like he’s been punished though. I think he rather enjoyed entertaining the crowd!

  35. InTolerantChef says:

    What a gorgeous day- good friends, good food and lots of fun!
    The entertainment sounds good, I adore bagpipes and I bet Archie was great too.

  36. I never thought about the limitations of cooking a traditional meal in the heat of your summer! Of course your Christmas in July makes total sense! I love the look of your pudding! And what a wonderful gathering! :-)

  37. That’s a great event Charlie :) I wish we celebrated Christmas in July at work or at home lol I think i’m gonna have to do it next year :) or in December hehe and get a Christmas tree yay our first one in the apartment hehe ~

  38. Merry Christmas in July! This looks like a fabulous meal and evening. I’m so happy the teens dropped in. :)

  39. Merry half-Christmas! In my family we always do the big hot traditional roast meal in December, even if it’s 38 degrees, so I’ve never felt the need to “experience” it again in July. But one day I’ll have the Aussie seafood Christmas, and then maybe I’ll want to do this :P

  40. oooh!! I get it..!! It’s the 25th! hahaha.. I was initially confused as to why one would celebrate Christmas in July but I remember that in OZ it’s cold at this time!! haha.. http://sweetsamsations.wordpress.com

  41. I love Christmas in July and have done it a few times. The best event however was when a crowd of us went off to a big country house up at Mt Macedon (where it snowed just to add to the drama of it all) open fires, piano playing, Father Christmas, egg nog, and far too much Christmas dinner! Perfect!

  42. love2dine says:

    a big feast, yummy

  43. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Fantastic day and food – Merry Christmas. :-) Mandy

  44. gardencorrespondent says:

    This is such a great idea. I bet you all really enjoyed those Chrismasy treats. And you even got a little Miracle thrown into the mix with two whole teenagers present…

  45. what a lovely idea! looks like you had a fun party and a delicious dinner.

    http://www.bake-online.co.uk

  46. I love Christmas in July… i went to an irish restaurant last weekend for a Christmas in July dinner… it was perfect. A hot fire, raining outside, and a hot meal to share with friends.

  47. What a feast, Charlie! I’m so glad the kids made it to the event!

  48. yummychunklet says:

    I think Christmas in July sounds fun!

  49. I love Christmas in July. I must confess that I have never gotten used to Christmas in the summer. My brain is wired for 5pm to be dark o’clock and luminaria everywhere. My husband is NOT a Christmas person so imagine the look on his face when I said, “there’s a boat parade down the canal so we have to decorate like everyone else?”

    I love your dinner and could easily eat that meal every single day.

  50. ChgoJohn says:

    I think Christmas in July is a great idea, Charlie, for you folks in the “Other” hemisphere. I’m not one to eat that kind of holiday meal in Summer and don’t see why you all must. Better to do it when the weather is more forgiving and you can do the meal justice.It certainly looks like you and everyone involved did it right!

  51. I love the Christmas in July concept :-)

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