As I write...we have only four sleeps to go – not
taking into account Nana naps, snoozes and cat naps, of course!
How do I know this mind-boggling fact?
First off - it’s
impossible to ignore the clues at my place e.g. fruit mince pies, shortbread,
Liquorice Allsorts (I’ve already succumbed to temptation), chocolate-coated
ginger; the ham hogging space in my fridge; the rather large, chicken hiding in
my freezer waiting to be defrosted, stuffed and roasted – it’s plucked. I’ve a couple of bones to pick with those
two! Along with a pile of fresh
vegetables and an over-supply of stone fruits, the hints are clearly all there
for all to see.
By the way, it really
isn’t an “over-supply” of fruit. Fresh
fruit is always a staple....I always have lots of “staples”. It’s a must because, daily, I eat a lot of
I’ve enough food to feed an army! Considering there are only three soldiers in
this army of mine....the two generals, Remy and Shama...and me, the very
private private, I’ve enough to last us three until Christmas 2018!
Every year I say – “This Christmas I won’t go
overboard”. Naturally, I don’t listen. With a giant splash in I go, boots and all. No one listens to me, anyway...so why should
Further evidence Christmas is nigh - my two furry
mates are scampering about, between cat naps, clad in their Santa suits, tinsel
flowing freely – a fib, of course.
I’m in the grip of the Christmas Spirit; not the
spirit from a bottle, as you may have mistakenly assumed. My Christmas cakes demolished the bottled
Nowadays, I enjoy the Festive Season in my own quiet
way. Once upon a time I catered for and
When I was married Christmas Day was always held at
our home, beginning with “open house” in the mornings, kicking off around 9 am.
The morning festivities were followed by a sit-down hot Christmas lunch, consisting of
roast turkey, roast chicken, (Yes....chicken, too), roast pork with golden,
crisp crackling, glazed ham, and all the obligatory vegetable accompaniments -
as well as cold fresh seafood to begin with for up to 14 or more, with extra
treats such as bowls of lollies (candy) crystallised ginger, nuts in their
shells, and bowls of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines and cherries on the
side for good measure.
Christmas lunch usually began around 1.30 pm....lasting through until
after dusk had descended.
Naturally, plum pudding with brandy sauce and a huge
over-the-top trifle completed the fare.
Sometimes, a pavlova was added to the mix.
And then later, when I was working within the
hospitality industry in one form or the other my Christmas Days were spent
catering for others who preferred dining out for Christmas lunch rather than in
the comfort of their own homes. Being catered
for and waited upon was a more favourable option, apparently.
When I was a kid, like kids still do to this day, a
drink of sorts and a slice of Christmas cake were left out for Santa’s
It’s not Santa’s fault he’s a bit on the chubby
side. We’re to blame because of our
willingness to feed him. With everyone doing similar, how could he not be
Year after year Santa, in all
sincerity, tried to stick to a diet. In
desperation, when everything else failed, he consulted Oprah and Jenny Craig,
but nothing worked in his favour.
Accepting his fate, Santa is now content to be the
jolly, portly fellow he is. On the plus
side, he didn’t have to waste any money buying a new outfit. His suit still fits, and its colour blends
with his complexion.
However, Rudolph has a new LED nose. He and the
other reindeers were also treated to a week at a spa. They’re squeaky clean, relaxed and super fit,
keen to begin their annual lengthy trek across the world on Christmas Eve.
Last night I attended my landlords’ annual Christmas
party where I caught up with people with whom I’ve not socialised since this time
last year. Everyone was in party mode. It was a fun time...a very pleasant, enjoyable
And that, by choice, is the limit of my socialising over the
Festive Season. Enough is enough already!
From this moment forth the partying will be confined
to Remy, Shama and me - otherwise known as the “Three Musketeers”!
2017 is rapidly winding down to a close.
Sadly, many among us lost loved ones during the
year. Many suffered unimaginable pain
On the flipside, others – one would hope the
majority - experienced and shared joy, patience, respect and love.
The Festive Season should be a happy time of the
year, regardless of one’s religion; whether one is religious or not.
Furthermore, goodwill shouldn’t be confined
exclusively to this time of the year.
Without a doubt, our world would be a far better place if, continuously,
we did our utmost to spread encouragement, decency and confidence – tossing
nastiness and thoughtlessness away.
My thanks to everyone who, over the past 12 months,
shared with me their smiles, laughter, irreverent words of nonsensical
nonsense; and for the rare moments of wisdom (again, I’m being facetiously
tongue-in-cheek with my latter comment).
Be considerate to others; to their feelings; to
their life’s situation.
Let us never take our world, and those with whom we
share this paradise, for granted.
Have faith in the goodness of others...and never
lose sight of the goodness within your own self....
Christmas! Happy New Year! Be kind to one another at all times. Make 2018 the best year ever!
Spinach and Feta Roast Chicken: Combine 200g steamed
baby spinach, finely chopped. 1/2c crumbled feta, 2tbs sour cream, 1tsp fresh
thyme leaves, juice and zest of 1 lemon; season; mix well. Generously season all over 1x 1.5 whole
chicken; put in roasting pan. Loosen
chicken breast skin, careful not to tear; carefully stuff spinach mixture under
the skin and into neck cavity. Add 1 head
of garlic, halved to pan; drizzle chicken with a little olive oil; top with
thyme sprigs; tie legs together. Pour 1c dry white wine into pan; roast chicken
at 180C, 70-80mins.
Beans: Cook 455g green beans, about 5mins; drain. Heat 1tbs olive oil and 1tbs
butter in pan; add 6 crushed garlic cloves; cook about 30secs. Add 6 cooked,
chopped, thick, bacon rashers and beans. Sauté 1min on med-heat; season. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan or crumbled
feta, if desired.
together 1/4c white wine vinegar, 2tbs cider vinegar and 3tbs sugar until the
sugar dissolves. Stir in ½c olive oil, 3tbs honey, 1tbs finely minced garlic
and 2tbs toasted sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Put 455g baby spinach, 1c toasted
almonds and 1c dried cranberries in salad bowl; drizzle dressing over; toss.
Cheesecake: Drain 375g maraschino cherries; reserve
2tsp juice. Quarter cherries; Beat 454g cream cheese, 1/2c sugar and reserved
juice; add 2 eggs; beat until just combined; fold in ½ semi-sweet chocolate
chips and cherries. Pour into crushed Chocolate Ripple biscuit crust (22cm pan); bake at 175C,
30-35mins, until centre is almost set; cool on wire rack. Serve with
Chocolate Cherry Berry
oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Mark an 18cm (7¼-inch)
circle on paper. Place 100g dark, chopped chocolate (70% cocoa) in a small
heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (don't allow bowl to
touch water); stir until just melted. Cool slightly. Beat 4 egg whites in a
small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually add 1c
caster sugar, beating until dissolved after each addition, and mixture is thick
and glossy. Fold 1tbs cornflour (cornstarch) and 1tsp white vinegar into
meringue mixture; swirl in chocolate. Dollop meringue inside marked circle on
tray. Bake meringue for 1-1/4 hours or
until dry to the touch. Turn oven off, leave meringue to cool in oven with door
Meanwhile, make cherry-blueberry compote: Place 2c cherries,
halved and pitted, 1c blueberries, 1/3c caster sugar and 1/4 water in a
med-saucepan over med-heat; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until
cherries and blueberries have released juices. Using a slotted spoon, transfer
cherries and blueberries to a small bowl. Stir 1/4c cherry jam into juices in pan; bring
to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Pour syrup over
cherry mixture. Cool completely.
250g softened cream cheese, 2tsp vanilla extract and 1/4c icing sugar in a
small bowl with an electric mixer until smooth; gradually beat in 300ml
thickened cream until smooth and combined.
before serving, spoon cream cheese mixture on pavlova; top with compote.
Decorate with fresh cherries.
Tips:- Make ahead: The pavlova can be made a day
ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Topping is best made
close to serving. To check that you have beaten the meringue
sufficiently, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers it should feel
silky smooth, without any grainy sugar crystals.
Peach Melba Pavlova: Preheat oven 120C/100C
fan-forced. Line a large baking tray
with baking paper. Mark a 12cmx28cm
rectangle on paper. With electric mixer,
beat 6 egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in 1-2/3c caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until
dissolved. Add 1tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp
white vinegar and 2tsp cornflour. Beat
1min. Spoon the mixture onto prepared
tray. Use palette knife or spatula to
spread mixture in marked rectangle, making sides slightly higher than the
centre. Bake 1hr 20min or until firm.
Turn off oven. Cool in oven with
oven door slightly ajar. Meanwhile,
place 150g thawed frozen raspberries and 1tbs icing sugar in processor; process
until smooth. Place cooled pavlova on a
platter. Whip 600ml thickened
cream. Top pavlova with cream, an 825g
can of peach slices, drained and 150g thawed raspberries, and/or strawberries,
if desired. Ready to serve.