Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Dinner from a Tiny Oven

We managed to have a lovely Christmas Day, despite a few minor but predictable difficulties. Our greatest challenge was to cook Christmas dinner despite having a tiny oven and limited access to Christmas goodies.

Taiwanese kitchens don't come with ovens. Not only do most people eat out a lot of the time, Taiwanese and Chinese cooking is based around cooking things quickly on open burners, so most apartments are only equipped with a two-burner hob. This is more than adequate for 90% of our cooking we've found, but Andy missed his roast dinners and bread-making so went out and bought a small worktop oven.

Cooking our Christmas poussin
As you can see, it fits four baby chickens very well.

It's very basic, with two electric bars top and bottom and a small fan on the side. It's badly insulated but now that the weather has cooled down it heats the flat nicely! Amazingly, we've managed to cook anything we've wanted to with very few problems. The main disadvantage is the size and the inevitable effects of cooking things very close to a heat source.

The challenge of cooking Christmas dinner in this oven was met with success I think you'll agree.

Unfortunately we didn't find a Christmas pudding in time for Christmas. I've no doubt they can be found here, it's just that I didn't look very hard. Instead, we had apple crumble, which, after four months of no apple crumble, was a pleasant novelty.

As far as Christmas decorations go, we didn't fare so well. In fact, I relied entirely on things Conrad brought home from school. This isn't because Christmas decorations are difficult to come by here, or because they're very expensive; it's because I'm too lazy to bother. So, the sum total of our decorations were/are: the stocking Conrad decorated in the school library, the Christmas tree he made in class and the Christmas tree kit he was given by one of his additional tutors at school.

Here's the tree he made:

And here's the result of the kit he put together:

This started out as plain cardboard which he slotted together to make the tree. Then he poured a clear solution over it all. After a few hours crystals started to form at the ends of the branches, and after a couple of days this is how it looked. Amazing! I've no idea how it works.

We had a truly lovely Christmas, despite being so far from home. My son Kim arrived from his exchange year stay at Hong Kong University so nearly all the immediate family were here (missed you, Rohan!). Also, so many people made the effort to send cards, messages, presents and letters we were very touched and felt close to all our family and friends in other lands. Many warm thanks to all of you.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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