Hogswatch 2011


Well, it’s over, we survived – our epic Hogswatch cook-athon was a success, even the first attempt at cooking a duck.  I figured, before I get too into the entire weekend, recipes and all, I should explain Hogswatch.  I’ll probably make this all into a few posts, because there are a lot of things I want to mention, and I don’t want to post a novel instead of a blog.

As stated in an earlier post, there are a few people out there who are, as they read this, going “oooh, cool.  You celebrate Hogswatch!”  The rest of you are wondering what it is, and if it involves watching pigs, which probably isn’t entertaining enough to take up an entire weekend and multiple blog-posts.

Firstly, an explanation of the inventor of Hogswatch – Terry Pratchett is the author of the Discworld Series, along with a few books set outside the Discworld.  His books are full of hilarious British humour, with a very eclectic set of characters, including a not-so-tyrranical City Tyrant, Gods for every possible prayer, Witches, Wizards, and Death. 

The Discworld

The Discworld is a flat world supported on the backs of four giant elephants standing on the back of a massive turtle.  If this intrigues you, there are lots of Discworld books, and I am doing my best to think of one that could stand out as a good place to start.  The Colour of Magic was the first one written, but they don’t really need to be read in order.  Regardless of which book you read first, you will encounter characters that are barely touched upon in this story, but who might have an entire book to themselves later in your reading.  Some of my favourites are The Truth, Soul Music, and Going Postal.  They’ve now made movies out of The Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, and Going Postal – I’m fairly sure that someone who has never read anything by Terry Pratchett will be a bit confused, or, at the very least, miss some really good jokes. 

The Hogfather and his Wild Boars

Hogswatch is the Discworld equivalent to Christmas.  The Hogfather (a slightly mutant looking guy with tusks coming out of his lower jaw and a piggish nose) travels all around the Discworld on Hogswatch night (around the same time as Xmas), riding in a sleigh pulled by four wild boars.  He delivers presents to children, and children leave out meat pies and sherry for him, along with turnips for the boars.

Hogswatch for me when a friend/fellow Pratchett fan and I wanted to meet up and celebrate Xmas well after the holiday season was over.  For one year, we’d both ended up in the same town, both for school.  Life at school is hectic, especially around the holidays, so the first time we both had free of all the other life-things was in February.  We figured that, instead of doing Christmas in February (which just sounds depressing), we would do Hogswatch.  It might not technically be the right time of year, but it was close enough.  The next year, I was moved back home, post-grad, and K was back in her home-town as well, but we didn’t want to let our new tradition die.  So, we expanded Hogswatch from an afternoon of cooking, eating and watching movies for the two of us to a weekend in one of our homes, for both of our families (my 5, plus Adoptive Neighbour Sister, and 4 of K’s family).  My parents and K’s parents had been friends for years and years before we were around, so Hogswatch was an ideal excuse to get everyone together and party.  Suffice to say, it was a bit chaotic.  We used two kitchens and a dozen pots and pans, dinner was a bit late, and sleeping arrangements involved couches and cushions on the floor.  We had a blast, and there was never any doubt we’d be doing it again this year. 

This year, Hogswatch involved my family, Adoptive Neighbour Sister, K and her entire family (5 total this year), and M, a friend who more recently got into the Terry Pratchett series.  Oh, and, of course, the newest addition to our family – Dog.  If I’d thought that 10 people in my house (only 9 sleeping over) for Hogswatch was busy, I was wrong… 12 adds exponentially to the planning process.  Cleaning up the house, getting beds ready for new guests (some of which were already occupied by family members), trying to get some of the ingredients ready for cooking, and planning the non-Hogswatch meals took some time. 

In my quest to clean and tidy, I discovered that the basement showerhead no longer works – the tub tap is functional, but will not let you pull the toggle that transfers the flow up to the shower head.  Ah – 1 shower, 11 overnight guests.

My perfect room-assignment plan involved shifting both Tall and Short Sisters to my bedroom – that was messed up by Short Sister’s acquiring the plague in the days counting down towards Hogswatch, since suddenly she was out of both the musical-rooms plan, and the help-clean-and-tidy plan.  Out came the layered yoga-mats and camping pads to produce an extra bed.

The Duck… well… reiterating a past blog, once it was purchased, the main obstacle in the duck plan was the fact that it had its feet and head still on – that was a learning experience.

The Griswold Family's Turkey

The Chicken – when I was imagining a ‘li’l chicken’, I was imagining it considerably bigger than the ones I did find which were definitely not enough to feed 12 people.  The solution – instead of the already not-simple task of cooking one duck and one little chicken, I had the task of cooking 2 little chickens and a duck to look forward to.  I’ll admit, I foresaw a re-enactment of Christmas Vacation – only with three little dusty carcases instead of one big one.

By the time the weekend arrived, I really thought I had planned for most things.  My partner in crime and her family would be arriving sometime early on Saturday, we’d spend the afternoon doing the last-minute shopping and trying to get some of the meal items prepped, and we’d bake the cake.  I’d have the dog walked in the morning, and he’d be tired out enough after that epic journey that we’d be able to give him one or two shorter walks in the evening time to keep him settled.  What actually happened – The 402 between here and Sarnia was shut down due to the weather, at least until sometime in the afternoon.  K’s family didn’t arrive until after 4, and I had done the last-minute shopping alone, and forgotten a fair number of things.  The cake finished cooking sometime around midnight, and the duck and chickens had had their final pre-day-of prep.  We might not have gotten everything done, but we did enough.

Oh, the beautiful chaos – Hogswatch is upon us. 

Stay Tuned for the details of our celebration’s food and beverage!

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