Christmas fare tips from a pro

Familiar face . . . Hospice New Zealand patron Jo Seagar shared Christmas Day food hints at a Gore River Valley Lions Club Hospice Southland fundraiser last Thursday night. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

What former television cook Jo Seagar’s family will be eating for Christmas dinner was a hot topic of conversation in Gore recently.

The Hospice New Zealand patron shared her Christmas Day menu with about 280 guests at the Gore River Valley Lions Club Hospice Southland fundraiser at the Croydon Lodge on October 20.

Like many people, she was feeling “the pinch” financially as Christmas approached, Mrs Seagar said.

The ideas she shared looked great but did not cost much, she said.

“[They’re] quite impressive but not that difficult to make once you know the tricks.”

The menu included starters of savoury pikelets and gluten-free Brazilian cheese bites, followed by a prawn salad.

“[Prawns] are surprisingly cheap at the moment,’’ Mrs Seager said.

Value for money, frozen prawns were “cheaper than mince”.

The main of slow-cooked shoulder of lamb would be served with flat breads and bay leaf-infused baby potatoes, and for dessert, a Pimmsflavoured jelly.

“Loads of these things can be made now and tucked away in the freezer,’’ Mrs Seager said.

“I would rather be rushing with all the grandchildren opening presents and having the excitement of Christmas rather than slaving away on the stove.’’

She would be cooking Christmas dinner for about 22 people, she said.

Her interest in hospice began when her father was a patient about 28 years ago.

“He was cared for at home. Hospice took care of business and did the nursing care of my father’s final weeks.

“Hospice allowed us to be Dad’s children and my mum to be his darling wife. It was a very special time for my family.”

Helping out . . . Gore River Valley Lions Club members present an $18,000 cheque to Hospice Southland events co-ordinator Suzanne Prentice (fourth from right) which was the first installment of the money raised on Thursday night during Hospice New Zealand patron Jo Seagar’s cooking demonstration. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

When she became well-known after appearing on television in the late 1990s, she had many requests from different groups to help with fundraising.

It made her wonder where she should focus her energy.

She heard about hospice and decided it was the charity she would support.

About 26 years ago she became an ambassador for the group and was later made the patron.

“Most of my cooking demonstrations are all to the benefit of hospices round the country.”

Gore River Valley Lions Club fundraising co-ordinator Wendy Goodwin said about $18,000 was raised on the night but that amount was likely to increase, which was ‘‘an amazing result’’.

‘‘Gore River Valley Lions thank the wider community and businesses for their support in donations and services to make this such a fantastic night for Hospice Southland,’’ Mrs Goodwin said.