Food news: Waste not, want not
Now that we've got Halloween out of the way, it's time to think about the next big festival.
If my own house is anything to go by, the Christmas season generates more food waste than any other time of the year - and this year I'm determined to do everything that I can to minimise it.
There's an expectation at Christmas that certain foods have to be in the house, and even those of us with minimal baking skills, for example, are expected to produce a Christmas cake. I stopped making a cake years ago, when I realised that, after a first flurry of enthusiasm, the cake would moulder in its tin for a few months before I emptied it surreptitiously into the bin.
It wasn't that it was a bad cake - God knows I spent enough on premium fruits and nuts and doused it with good brandy - it was just that no one in my house had any interest in eating it. Turns out that we are not really a Christmas cake family, and now we don't have one.
The same goes for pudding. My mother-in-law makes an excellent pudding for us, so there's no need for us to make one of our own. One is plenty. (There have been times when the kitchen cupboards were full of puddings uneaten from one year to the next. I threw out several when we moved house.)
We do like mince pies and so we make mincemeat, although I can't claim any credit. My son has perfected a no-suet recipe that is a twist on Nigella's and is happy to take charge of a production line that results in Kilner jars full of boozy fruitiness, so long as the rest of us are on hand to do the washing up.
There's an undeniable smugness that goes with being able to produce home-made mince pies at short notice, so we make sure that there's plenty of pastry in the freezer (shop-bought is fine, so long as it's all-butter. Now is a good time to stock up.) Mincemeat lasts for ages, and doubles up as a gift if we're going to someone's house, so it all gets used.
If you find that you always end up with too much turkey and ham in the house after Christmas dinner, and you don't have the fridge space to store leftovers safely, then think about getting a smaller bird, or half a ham rather than a whole one.
It sounds obvious, but it's worth taking the time now to figure out the sizes that you actually need to feed the number that you're cooking for, before the madness sets in.
NEVER TOO EARLY
Those wondering what to buy for the person who has everything this Christmas may want to nip down to their local (select) independent off-licence for a bottle of Hennessy Paradis Impérial, priced at €1,775. The bottle is a collaboration with artist collection Marshmallow Laser Feast.
To coincide with the release of Paddington 2, Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel is putting on a daily Paddington-themed afternoon tea until November 22. Expect plenty of marmalade, chocolate suitcases and Lost & Found milkshakes. €28 per child, advance booking essential; theshelbourne.ie
In Vienna they call it 'Martinigansl', and people eat goose for breakfast, lunch and dinner for three weeks. In Mount Merrion, Goose Week will run from November 21-29, and customers of local restaurant Michael's will be able to enjoy all manner of dishes by Gaz Smith, who says he is giddy for goose; michaels.ie