On the Twelfth Day of Xmas: Fish & White Hot Chocolate

Routine and predictability bore me and I strive to be as unpredictable as I can be, as a person, a writer and a photographer. This desire to be passionately unpredictable transcends into my cooking style as well. Measurements are like those deer crossing road signs – you know they are there but know that you can basically ignore the sign and just use your eyes. Same with recipes: I learned to guesstimate pretty well over the years, or use my nose, the caveat being a strong sense of what goes well together and what doesn’t. With all the time at home this year, I had ample opportunity to up my game in certain culinary corners, and the Christmas culinary repertoire for 2020 certainly saw a few changes. Yesterday it was Glühbier and today was white hot chocolate (or is it hot white chocolate?). I found the recipe quite by accident yesterday while surfing around for the right Glühbier concoction, and decided that it would make the perfect Christmas drink.

Did I follow the recipe to a tee? No. Did the final product taste good at all? Let me tell you that anything with chocolate and marshmallows is guaranteed to be a hit, be it s’mores or this white hot chocolate brew. The ingredients are to die for: milk, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, star anis, and sinful amounts of chopped white chocolate. which are brought to a boil before adding a generous amount of rum and topped with marshmallows. Mind you, the original being a German recipe doesn’t have the marshmallows, but my daughter and I were thoroughly convinced that they most certainly belong in any hot chocolate drink! Oh screw the diets, what’s the point of a hot chocolate if you are going to cut corners? This, my dear friends, is an absolutely brilliant (ha! KH, this one’s for you) drink to sip (do not, under any circumstances, chug this down, tempted though you may be), and don’t forget to light all the candles around the house and light up the Christmas tree as well. It will give you that perfect tingling sensation that makes even the grumpiest cat purr.

What are you making for Christmas Eve dinner? Thankfully I grew up in a family that never had a steady formula menu, and Mommy never knew what she was going to prepare either until about 48 hours before. I take after her although this year, because of the lockdown, I had to plan ahead. Since going flexitarian, a meat dish was out of the question, Christmas or not, and chicken for Christmas Eve is not my thing, A turkey or a goose is far too much for just the two of us, so seafood was the only remaining option. Ah, my roving butchers to the rescue!

I placed the order for the slab of salmon two weeks ago with my absolute favourite guys Fleischrebellen and it was delivered today. A very harassed young man ran up the stairs, sliced open a sealed box in front of me and handed over this packet

I almost had a heart attack on the spot, and wondered what North Atlantic monstrosity was being delivered to my doorstep. With great trepidation and curiosity, I wished the delivery man a Merry Christmas and waddled back to the kitchen. I have to say, unwrapping this paper package was an experience!

The bulkiness was due to the bubble lining, of the temperature guard wrapping! Once I got through that layer I found three solid ice bags hugging the vacuum sealed fish. It looked like an organ transplant delivery, and I had a blast going through the packaging. The days of the butcher just hacking and wrapping up the goods in old newspaper are long gone! So your next question is, how big is the actual fish?

A solid 1,5kg filet of Atlantic salmon folks! Perfect for hugging, bigger than either of my cats, and if you need to practice burping a baby, this would be the right size.

My point is not to entertain you this evening, although I do hope I did, but to share my gratitude moments of the day. I am thankful for having food in the house, a roof over my head, a running heater, hot water coming out of the tap, and milk in the fridge. None of these things should ever be taken for granted. Three years ago today I was desperately trying to check myself into an emergency psychiatric ward due to the cruel fate I was dealt. I am coming up to the end of my three years in psychotherapy since then, and it has been a long uphill battle with many pitfalls along the way. This year dished out a few additional blows that I didn’t see coming, but am glad I got to experience because now I know better.

Gratitude. Resilience. Faith. Hope. Courage. Kindness.
These are the ingredient for the perfect Christmas recipe – and like all other recipes in life, the idea is to share your blessings with others. This year we may not be able to share our table with those we want to, but the magic of internet and telecommunication makes it possible to share the moment nonetheless.

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