I can’t believe Christmas is this week. We have now been living in the house for three months but work has continued both inside and outside during this time. I know all the tradesmen by name and exactly how they like their coffee. I am resisting the urge to counsel one of the tilers who has been complaining about dental decay yet takes three sugars in his coffee. That might just be over stepping the mark.
The new kitchen is fantastic. I am enjoying the layout and especially the island bench. I am also really loving my ovens for cooking. I have even made some killer meringue in my warming drawer. The laundry/butler’s pantry is working well too as it houses my cook books, kettle, coffee grinder, toaster and bread bin. I also have a sink and extra bench space for preparation.
We have started cooking and baking for Christmas. In Australia, Christmas is associated with cherry season and it has been a bumper year. We have practically ignored our garden this year and managed to produce many, many cherries off our one tree. I’m still astounded that the birds or possums didn’t get them first.
Firstly we made a Christmas cherry compote. This is not unlike cranberry sauce and is designed to be eaten as an accompaniment to meat. This recipe has cherries, port, garam masala, nutmeg, fresh sage and onion. We plan to have it with roast duck on Christmas Day.
We then also made a cherry stuffing which I have frozen ready for the day. It has sourdough bread crumbs, cherries, walnuts, pancetta and sage in it. I was forced to sample a small bit before I froze it and it was particularly tasty.
We also made a batch of cherry jam. I had been a little concerned it would not set, but it did and we have all been enjoying it on our toast in the mornings. I was able to sterilise all the jars in my Miele steam combi oven. I love my oven. I really love it.
One of our Christmas traditions is to make our own pudding. I have been making this one for many years. It is packed with fruit and I think the secret to it being so moist is the addition of prunes and dates. This year, I had a pudding apprentice. She was a delight and I like the idea of passing on this tradition to her.
The weekend before last was not too hot, so I was able to boil the pudding for the requisite 5 hours. It will require another hour on Christmas day.
I have also made my fruit mince for my fruit mince pies. The fruit is macerating away nicely allowing the flavours to meld together. I am yet to bake them as the weather in Melbourne over the past five days has been blisteringly hot. I think pastry always turns out better in cooler weather. I was also reluctant to slave over a hot stove. The cool change hit yesterday, so I plan to don an apron later today and get the pies ready as they are one our favourite Christmas delicacies.
Christmas day is forecast to be hot this year; possibly 34 degrees Celsius. On my menu thus far is:
- roast duck
- roast pork with crackling
I usually do a mixture of salads and roast vegetables, but I think I am leaning towards just salads this year. Family are always good at bringing food too. My in-laws are always very generous with seafood, although I suspect lobster is off the menu this year as it has reached $150 a kilo. My mum will bring the ice-cream pudding and she usually does the roast potatoes but we may need to rethink that with the predicted temperature. My sister-in-law will bring nibbles and a salad too. Their contributions are always welcome.
The tree is up and the lounge and dining areas are looking suitably festive.
At least we should be able to take a dip in the pool this year on Christmas Day. As I type, the tilers are tiling around the pool and a new pool fence is being erected. It is so very nearly finished.
2015 has been a big year for us and we are looking forward to relaxing and spending time with those we love over the Christmas and New Year period in our fabulous renovated house.
Merry Christmas to all.