Friday, December 26, 2008

One last Christmas Tradition

Dad actually broke with Tradition this year and had his nap before the food as well as after. Must have been all the excitement of receiving a copy of The Mountain Muse from his favourite daughter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

100 posts and the Christmas menu is decided

Well - what a suprise - I went to create my post and what do you know - it's my 100th post! Just popping in to say that the Christmas countdown has begun. The present shopping is done, the food shopping is done - even the booze is bought and stashed away!

So - Christmas meal (it's never lunch or dinner - it's somewhere in the middle) is decided. We will nibble on Bar-Bits (see left) along with slices of fresh bread and Mum's bringing her chicken pate (receipe from The Old House at Wickham circa 1972) - then it's boneless roast chicken with waterchestnut stuffing, Nigella's couscous with pomegranate (which my sister-in-law served up on Sunday and it was YUM) and a spinach and walnut salad. Oh and we have to have crispy potatoes with sea-salt and rosemary because Emily said so.
Trad. Christmas Pudding (courtesy of Mum again)with mandatory Hard Sauce and then a cornucopia of sweet things to pick at till we all feel like throwing up - Christmas Cake (made by me - we'll be making it tommorrow), rumballs (ditto) and Crostoli (from Harris Farm) and Magenbrot and other little lebekuchen from Aldi. Oh - and cherries, white peaches and mangoes for anyone who thinks that eating some fruit will make them feel virtuous. Drinks will be Champagne cocktails for me, Mum and Kylie (my sister) to start and then either a white or fruity red according to how people feel - me I think I'll stick to the Champagne! Dad and Steven will no doubt start with a beer and join us at the wine. One of the good things about hosting Christmas is - no worries about drink driving!

Receipes are as follows:


1 box of Cheerios
1 box of Kelloggs Shredded mini wheat
1 box Kelloggs Crispix
bag of mixed nuts
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 tablespoon garlic salt
250g butter

Put all the dry cereal, nuts and pretzels into a large baking dish. Cut up the butter into small pats and spread around the dish. Sprinkle the different salts over the top. Bake in a slow oven (150 C) for 1/2 hour or until toasted - stir every 10 minutes or so to bake evenly.

Chicken Liver Pate from The Old House at Wickham

1 lb chicken liver
1/4 lb chicken breast OR pork fillet
4oz smoked bacon
3 cloves garlic
1 chopped onion
Salt and Pepper
1/4 pint of cream
1 glass of sherry or brandy
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon water

Method: Toss the meats and them toss in hot butter. In a separate pan sweat the onions and garlic till translucent. Chop the meats and retain any juices (for a smoother pate you might want to process half or so in the wizz). Put mixture in a large bowl with herbs and seasonings. Mix the eggs, cream and sherry separately. Mix the cornflour and water. Combine the whole. Line a greased casserole dish with the bacon. Fill with mixture and cover with more bacon. Cook in a bain marie for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 300F or 150C

Boneless Chicken with Waterchestnut Stuffing

4 rashers bacon
1 clove garlic
90g butter
2 small red capsicums (that's bell peppers for those in the US)
Salt and pepper
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2.5 cm piece (1 inch) piece of green ginger (or a big dollop from a jar if you can't get fresh)
6 shallots (that's spring onions if you are English and scallions if your American)
2 sticks celery
250g can waterchestnuts (see asian food aisle in the supermarket)
2 eggs
1 large chicken (or turkey) or 2 smaller chickens

Cut down the backbone of the chook making sure not to go all the way through the carcass. Use a paring knife to remove all the bones except for the wings and the drumsticks. (Bones make great stock by the way!)
Heat the butter in the pan and add the peeled and chopped onions, crushed garlic, peeled and grated ginger, seaded and chopped capsicums, chopped celery and chopped bacon. Saute gently until onion is tender and remove from heat. Place in a bowl breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, chopped shallots, drained and chopped waterchestnuts, lightly beaten eggs and sauted mixture with any of the fat from the pan and mix well. Stuff the carcass of the chicken - sewing it up with needle and thread as you go (use a bright colour it's easier to find) Sew it up completely - turn it up so that the sewn side is facing down in the pan and truss the wings and legs if needed to further keep its shape. Stuffing is enough for a 3kg (6lb) turkey. To serve - let it stand for 15 minutes covered in foil. Prior to serving pull out the cotton thread (make sure you got all of it!) Serving is as easy as cutting into quarters and putting onto the plate. Each chicken generously serves 4.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rumballs - or would you like to smell my Grandma?

There are certain family traditions that are handed on from year to year. Every year my grandma would make rum balls. I make them every year - mainly because the smell of them is a sense memory that makes it feel like she's in the room. Is it possible to have a tear in your eye and and a smile on your face at the same time? I think so!

Now there are many ways to make rumballs - left over Christmas Cake is one of them - this receipe uses wheat-bix (or for the English - weeta-bix and in the US - not sure what you call them but I'm sure you have them on the supermarket shelves). So - if you make them up think of my grandma who's been gone for 20 years this year - but lives on in happy memories like this one.


1 Tin of Condensed Milk
1 cup dessicated coconut
8 wheat bix (crushed)
1 cup finely chopped mixed fruit
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 generous (!) tablespoons of dark rum

Mix altogether - leave in the fridge for a few hours. Take small balls and roll in coconut or chocolate sprinkes to finish. Store in the fridge if you live in the southern hempisphere!

Favourite Christmas Carol

Well thanks to Erica for nominating "The Nightmare Before Christmas" - I'd thought about that one and then promptly forgot - we own it on video and it usually gets an outing. Have to say I like Tim Burton - he's favourite movie of mine is "Big Fish" which I thought was very charming.

Now all time favourite Christmas carol? Well hands down for me is "O Holy Night" - having searched You Tube for appropriate renditions - I can't really go past Celine Dion. Not usually a fan of Celine - but her voice does it justice in this version and the diva voice theatricals are kept to a bare minimum. There is a version that I sometimes hear being played in the shops - I have a sneaking suspicion it's Mariah Carey - it reduces me to tears for all the wrong reasons - there are so many trills and vocal aeronauticals it is truly appalling. Anyhoo - here's my all time favourite Christmas Carol - what's yours?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Wreaths

Cruising through the stores feeling pretty good because I've mostly done the Christmas shopping - went past the dreaded Lincraft - they already have their Christmas decorations at 50% off. They these wreaths for $4.99 each and the box of balls or $6.00 or $7.00.
I'd been wanting to get a new wreath for the front door - maybe even two as it's a double door. I used some beautiful Vandoros ribbon from Idyll Pleasures (how convenient to shop there (lol)) and created these beauties. Even my 15 year old was impressed! "I'm not going to lie to you Mum - they are seriously impressive."

So - what do you think?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Your Favourite Christmas Movie?

Every Christmas we (ok well - I) head up to the local video store and rent an armful of Christmas Classics to get everyone in the mood.

My personal all time favourite is a movie that came out in 1983 when I was living in New York. I think it went straight to cable (which is where I saw it) but I loved it then and I love it now (I even bought the video when MGM released it a few years ago). It is called "A Christmas Story" and is a charming tale about a young boy living in the 1940's whose greatest Christmas aspiration is to own a Red Rider BB Gun. He is thwarted at every turn by his mother, teacher and even Santa who tell him - "You'll shoot your eye out!"

This movie has given us a family saying "Quickly - I whipped up some tears".

I love this movie - it's narrated in the style of "The Wonder Years" if you remember that tv show from a few years back. Funny scenes include the dad winning a truly atrocious leg lamp, a boy getting his tongue stuck to a frozen lamp post and my personal favourite the "Oh Fudge!" scene where Ralphie helps his dad change a tyre (in the freezing snow) only to drop all the lug nuts and drop the "Queen Mother of all swear words".

So what's your favourite? Others naturally include It's a Wonderful Life

or maybe the Grinch?

Miracle on 34th street - the Natalie Wood version

value="true" name="allowFullScreen">

and also the modern one with Mara Wilson (aka "Matilda")

what about the Little Drummer Boy ?

or maybe Frosty The Snowman?

or Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer?

Or maybe A Christmas Carol?

Then there are Christmas scenes in movies like "Little Women"

So what about you - what are your favourites?