Christmas Dinner On a Budget

HELEN G. CAMPBELL December 15 1934

Christmas Dinner On a Budget

HELEN G. CAMPBELL December 15 1934

Christmas Dinner On a Budget



Director, The Chatelaine Institute

THESE ARE stirring days in the kitchen, with Christmas just round the corner and all the family coming for dinner. Stirring in every sense of the word, as any housekeeper busy with preparations will tell you. Make your plans early—that’s the secret of unfettered hospitality when the guests arrive. Settle the menu in every detail, make out grocery lists and get things under way in plenty of time. Then your 1934 Christmas is likely to be the best yet.

Is it to be a real spread this year or just a good, plain meal with a few extra trimmings in honor of the holiday? Consult your budget and abide by its decision, then plan the best dinner you can with the money you have to spend. If you have a fat pocketbook go the limit, but even if you’re bound to be economical you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you make up your mind to it. Here’s where your skill as a manager and cook comes in. And what an interesting time you’ll have if you go at it in the right spirit.

It’s a mistake to think you must follow any particular menu, for there are appetizing alternatives for each course—varying in price. Just because you’ve always had a turkey and a rich plum pudding is no reason you would not enjoy, equally well, a plump chicken, a fine roast of beef or some less expensive meat and a simpler dessert. Better perhaps—when you don’t face a lean January because of them.

The thing is to decide on dishes which go well together. Keep in mind, besides the cost, affinities of flavor, harmonizing color, contrasting textures and appropriate garnishes. Then, if you start off with the right combination, season everything to perfection and cook to the desirable turn—well, what more could anyone ask?

We have planned for you menus on different cost bases. One of them may suit you just as it stands, or it may give you a few ideas for a menu of your own devising. Perhaps you’ll add a few clever touches which cost little but make it more of a banquet—special relishes from your own store, accompaniments with a bit of originality about them, or some new twist to an old favorite dish. I hope you do, for that’s half the fun of it all.

Menu No. 1 is the least expensive. It is built around a beefsteak pie of not quite such magnificence as you get at the Cheshire Cheese on “Ye Pudding” night—full of skylarks and oysters and kidneys and strips of beef—mighty good, nevertheless; a delicious blend of ingredients bathed in thick brown gravy and imprisoned in a tender crust. Or, if you like, topped with potatoes, mashed and beaten to snowy whiteness. Or again, capped with baking-powder biscuits —the soft dough dropped on the hot cooked mixture by spoonfuls a little distance apart, and baked until light as a feather and delicately, beautifully browned.

If Expense Doesn’t Matter

"DUT ALL THIS is just for those who don’t know what a lordly dish a meat pie can be. Make a monster one, bear it aloft and lower it tenderly, for it is goodly Christmassy fare. With this, beets—for the red color as well as the flavor—and another tasty vegetable. A lettuce salad; fine green shreds and bits of pimiento in a well-seasoned jelly. There’s the season’s colors for you. The fig-and-date pudding suggested is worthy of any table—delicious with its hard sauce accompaniment, or a well-flavored liquid sauce for that matter.

With a little more leeway as far as expense goes, you may prefer the second menu, which starts off with a soup, then loin of pork and vegetables for the main course, followed by a cool salad and a hot, fragrant mince pie. With the pork there is, appropriately, fried apple rings, the centres filled with brilliant jelly. Browned potatoes, buttered onions and a few well-chosen relishes round out the course. The cole slaw has a piquant crispness—just the right note after and before the hearty dishes on the menu. And mince pie needs no words of mine to recommend it.

Begin with a tomato cocktail in menu No. 3 to lead up to the duck with its savory stuffing. Mashed potatoes and peas go with it, and a cranberry relish which is a little different—the easiest thing in the world to make and so delicious. Next in this procession of red and green, steps a beet salad, and then a universal favorite in any menu—ice cream. Many people prefer it to a richer dessert, and indeed anything very substantial does seem rather an anticlimax at the holiday feast. And if this suggestion seems sensible to you, here’s an excellent choice from the many varieties you can buy or make.

And, of course, if expense is no concern, here’s a grand menu which will make you feel as generous as Santa Claus.

The lordly turkey has a proud look which matches the taste. Have you ever served him with an oyster stuffing? Try it—for talk about affinities of flavor! And those vegetables only make it all the better. For salad just a bit of green with a perfect dressing, and for dessert the traditional pudding with a sterling sauce. And going on the principle of a savory nip at the end of the meal, there’s a cheese and fruit platter from which to pick and choose your favorite varieties. You will already have eaten too much, I know, but this will tempt you to another bite or two.

Now if you invite me to your Christmas dinner I’d hardly know which one I'd have you choose. Whichever it might be, I’d feel certain it was the best of the lot, for it would be a good dinner—a combination of appropriate dishes, well cooked and served with great good cheer in the knowledge that it hadn’t done mean things to the budget.


Meat Pie

Fluffy Mashed Squash Creamed Celery

Cucumber Pickles Cranberry Sauce

Jellied Lettuce Salad with Dressing

Steamed Fig and Date Pudding Hard Sauce

Tea ___ Coffee

Barley Broth Roast Loin of Pork Apple Rings with Jelly Centres Browned Potatoes Buttered Onions

Dill Pickles Chopped Relish

Cole Slaw with Pimiento Hot Mince Pie

Tea __ Coffee

Tomato Cocktail Cheese Wafers Roast Duck with Dressing Cranberry and Orange Relish Mashed Potatoes Buttered Peas

Stuffed Olives Sweet Pickles

Molded Beet and Celery Salad Maraschino Ice Cream Shortbreads

Tea Coffee

Nuts and Raisins

Cranberry Appetizer Canapés

Ripe Olives Pearl Onions

Stuffed Celery

Roast Turkey Oyster Stuffing

Giblet Gravy

Potato Puff Creamed Cauliflower

Green Beans Crisp Green Salad Roquefort Dressing Melba Toast

Plum Pudding Sterling Sauce

Cheese and Fruit Platter Salted Almonds Bonbons

Coffee Tea

Meat Pie

(Steak and Kidney)

2 Pounds of round or chuck steak

2 Beef kidneys, approximately one pound

2 Teaspoon fuis of salt Y¿ Teaspoon fu! of pepper 2 Tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley

2 Tablespoonfuls of vinegar 2 Teaspoon fuis of Worcestershire sauce

1 Yi Tablespoon fuis of oil or melted fat

1 Medium onion

2 Tablespoonfuls of dripping 3 to 4 Cupfuls of water or stock

(meat or vegetable)

3 to 4 Tablespoonfuls of flour

Wash the kidneys in cold water, scald and remove the skin. Split and cut out the veins, cords and fat. Soak in cold water for half an hour. Drain and cut into small cubes. Combine the salt, pepper, parsley, vinegar, sauce and oil; add the cubed kidneys, stir well and allow to stand for half an hour. Cut the beef steak into cubes, chop the onion and add both to the dripping in the pan. Heat until the meat is seared on all sides and the onion is lightly browned. Add the kidneys with the dressing in which they were standing, brown slightly, add the water or stock, cover and simmer until the meat is tender— about 1 Y¿ to two hours. Add more liquid during the cooking if necessary.

lh.it the meat into a casserole or meat-pie dish, thicken the liquid in the pan with the flour which has been mixed to a paste with a little cold water, and pour it over the meat in the casserole. Cover with pastry or biscuit dough and bake in a hot oven until the crust is nicely browned. Approximately eight servings.

Jellied Lettuce Salad

2 Tablespoon fuis of gelatine }4 Cuplul of cold water Cupful of mild vinegar H Cupful of lemon juice 2 Cupfuls of boiling water

1 Teaspoonful of salt Yi Cupful of sugar

2 Cupfuls of leaf lettuce

(finely shredded x/i Cupful of pimiento (finely chopped)

1 Teaspoonful of grated onion

Soak the gelatine in the cold water for five minutes. Add the vinegar and lemon juice, boiling water, salt, sugar and grated onion. Stir until dissolved, strain and cool. Arrange the lettuce and pimiento in individual wet molds, and pour the cooled liquid over it. Chill until set, and serve unmolded on lettuce with mayonnaise.

Steamed Fig and Date Pudding

Yi Cupful of finely chopped suet

Yi Cupful of milk y. Cupful of mild molasses 1 Egg

1 Y> Cupfuls of figs, cut in small pieces

1 Cupful of stoned dates, cut in small pieces 1 y Cupfuls of flour Y¿ Teaspoon ful of baking soda Y¿ Teaspoonful of salt

Yi Teaspoonful of ground cinnamon

]/x Teaspoon ful of ground cloves

Combine the milk, molasses and beaten egg, and add to the finely chopped suet. Combine the cut figs and dates with a little of the flour, and sift the remaining flour with the baking soda, salt and spices. Add these sifted dry ingredients to the first mixture and mix well. Add the fruit and turn into a greased mold. Cover and steam for three hours. Serve hot with hard sauce.

Cranberry and Orange Relish

1 Pound of cranberries

1 Large orange

2 Cupfuls of sugar

Wash and pick over the cranberries, wash the orange and cut into pieces, leaving the skin on. Put these through the food chopper and mix well. Add the sugar, stir and set aside to dissolve the sugar and ripen. This relish will keep in a covered jar in a cold place.

Molded Heet and Celery Salad

Y¿ Tablespoonful of gelatine 2 Tablespoonfuls of cold water

Yx Cupful of boiling water

Yi Teaspoon ful of salt

1 Tablespoonful of sugar

Yx Teaspoonful of prepared


2 Tablespoonfuls of vinegar 2 Tablespoon fuis of minced


2 Cupfuls of cooked beets, diced

Y¿ Cupful of finely cut celery

Soak the gelatine in the cold water for five minutes, add the boiling water, the salt and the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the mustard, vinegar and onion, and set aside to cool. When the mixture begins to set, fold in the diced beets and the cut celery and turn into cold wet molds. Serve unmolded on lettuce with mayonnaise, garnished with celery curls.

Maraschino Ice Cream

18 Marshmallows iy Cupfuls of milk

Yx Cupful of maraschino juice 1 Cupful of whipping cream Chopped maraschino cherries

Put the marshmallows and the milk in the top part of a double boiler and heat until the marshmallows are melted. Set aside to cool. Add the maraschino juice and fold in the cream, which has been whipped until it will hold its shape. Add chopped maraschino cherries, as many as are desired, and turn into the tray of the refrigerator. Freeze until firm. Or pack into a mold, cover tightly and pack in ice and salt—four parts of ice to one part of rock salt—until firm.

Oyster Stuffing

6 Cupfuls of soft bread crumbs

Yx Cupful of melted butter \y¿ Tablespoon fuis of salt 1 Teaspoon ful of pepper 1 Quart of oysters with their liquor

Yx to Y¿ Teaspoonful of powdered mace if desired

Mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs, add the seasonings and the oysters which have been chopped. If the liquor from the oysters is not sufficient to moisten the dressing, add a little milk.

Sterling Sauce

Y Cupful of butter 1 Cupful of brown sugar 4 Tablespoon fuis of cream 1 Teaspoonful of vanilla

Cream the butter until light, add the brown sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the cream gradually, stir in the vanilla and serve with plum pudding.