Archive for December, 2011

Our Christmas Day continued the tradition of sharing our special celebrations with our smallish biological family and our wide circle of chosen family. The weather was kind to us during the day, sunny and about 25c, so we could do the full turkey lunch and the ham that Oli and I had glazed the night before.

Ham recipe

Before glazing we cut the skin and fat off our ham, and score the flesh into diamonds. We use a glaze of mustard, brown sugar and maple syrup with about 10 cloves pushed in randomly into scored ham. We bake the ham for about two hours on 170c, inside an oven bag for the first hour, generously brushing the glaze up over the ham every half hour.

Christmas Day still begins with the children waking earlier than on any other non work day, keen to open their presents, although thankfully the 4am days have been replaced by a more respectable 8am.


After prezzies we have a family berry breakfast of all the red summer berries, including our Christmas day luxury of pre pipped premium cherries (pipping is an Oli job) it is the only breakfast all year in our house that you are allowed to eat with ice cream.


Then my family arrived, dad, my sister Dianne and her two kids, and miraculously we got one photo in which everyone is satisfied that they look ok (including my dad who vetoed any shots which he thinks disclose his bald spot/s)


We were joined at the end of lunch by my brother who made the long trip down from Cairns. It was a great opportunity for dad to have us all together.

We did break with tradition and give Nicola the task of finding a new recipe for the stuffed turkey. She came up with plum glazed five spice turkey (recipe on epicurious)

We finished today with our friends the Guthries with whom we share our traditional Christmas night dinner, a tradition which has been going on since they lived in Sydney 7 years ago. In spite of the fact that none of us thought we could eat another mouthful we ate, we drank and we danced the night away. The children even danced with us for a short period of time, until the embarrassment grew too much, but even the pained looks on their faces could not spoil it for us!

Boxing day we headed down to the beach, with the leftovers and my new toy the iPad in tow. The only cooking we’ll be doing in the next few days is assembling a Summer Pudding, post to come.

Happy days,




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Bing Crosby and Family Rituals

There is nothing like a special family ritual, especially one that involves Christmas. Being a fussy family our Christmas tree erection comes with rules as well as rituals. It must be a live tree; for the smell, (we’ve fallen into buying the tree from the same charity each year). It can only be erected when the whole family are present. It should be bought the first weekend in December. This week we had a minor adjustment as Oli wasn’t back from Schoolies the first weekend in December, so we had to do it Monday afternoon

Oli secures the tree to the car (benefits of having a 6ft 2inch son)

We also seem to have fallen into roles over the years. I have become the enthusiast and keeper of the Christmas rituals, Nicola has moved to all things purely decorative. Oliver does a bit of whatever is needed (and heavy lifting) and Mark is king of the practical and becomes the true family elf, wielding the vacuum cleaner and cherry pipper.

One of our favourite rituals which I can recommend to anyone with young children has been  the selection and purchase of one new Christmas ornament for each child every year. As we unpack the box Nicola and Oliver re-discover the ornaments that they have chosen (or made)  over the past 15 or so years to be part of the Christmas tree. Another tradition is that the first ornament on the tree is the Christmas Angel, which Oli and Nicki put up together. (their technique has changed a bit over the years)

Another tradition is the Bing Crosby CD which used to be on a perpetual loop, until Nicola imposed a limit of one play only. We now have Bing Crosby interspersed with Sufjan Stevens, Paul Kelly, Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell, all loosely linked into the Christmas theme.
One highlight of the pre- Christmas season is a dinner at Araliya. It is our favourite local restaurant and a first choice for birthdays or special nights. The food is a wonderful combination of fragrant Sri Lankan dishes. They have a tradition which I am not aware of for any other restaurant in Melbourne, each Christmas they host a small function for some of their loyal and long term customers and treat us to a special Christmas dinner. It is a reflection of their generosity which is evident in every aspect of the way they run Araliya. Those of us who are lucky enough to get an invitation look forward to it every year.
This is the beginning of a wonderful, drawn out few weeks of anticipation. There’s no special food tonight, as after the Christmas tree decorations we had leftover Paella and a cheese platter. However, we savoured our special family time, even though, just for a change, it didnt revolve around lots of cooking for me! But now we are getting in gear for Nanny’s Christmas cake, twice baked ham, special Christmas Morning Berry Breakfast and lots of other yummy food and family traditions.
Recipes for these to come as they get made.

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