I’m exhausted. I’ve been Christmas shopping with my husband; we have staggered round Meadowhall carrying four heavy bags, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a large part of the load consisted of chocolate for ourselves.

Not to worry. Tomorrow I intend to balance the unhealthy future intake by cooking up a batch of braised red cabbage for Christmas dinner. No, it’s not too early, because this dish tastes so much better if you make it, leave it to stand overnight, freeze, then defrost and reheat when required. I am a big fan of cooking ahead; I am not so good at a fiddly dinner where the cook is working herself into a lather watching six different pans and an oven.

Husband and I also made a decision: no big Christmas party to get stressed about for us this year. Instead I will phone the people I really want to see and work out when they can come to brunch, lunch or supper. Far more civilised and enjoyable. I foresee meals such as chilli (much much tastier if I cook it in advance), full English breakfast (my husband’s department), fried chicken (another husband speciality) and cheese and onion potato cakes (made a big batch last week and already in the freezer). I might do a ham (possibly Nigella Lawson’s ham in Coca-Cola which is divine) so that’s a little bit fiddly but most of that can also be done in advance.

This weekend we are off to buy our Christmas tree. Nothing but good times ahead…

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