Wednesday, 8 December 2010

This joyous Yuletide

Firstly I have to apologise for the writer's block. Not that I'm thinking any of you check this blog religiously, dying for another post about my cat, but I do feel aware that I've been neglecting my writerly habits. I enjoy it a lot, so when I cannot think of a single interesting thing to say, I get a little sad. I do have a theory though. Since I'm on Twitter quite a lot now, I think I've lost the ability to write what I'm thinking about in more than 140 characters. As an aside, I also think I've lost my curiosity about things. I used to love researching something that was interesting to me, maybe Boudicca, or the Amish, or arcane Simpsons trivia. Now I'm all, let's just Wikipedia the hell out of that and call myself a genius. Won't somebody think of the children?

Anyhoo. It's December. And December has been very nice so far. We have had the most lovely early Summer in Tauranga. I have been for 3 swims in the sea! It only counts if you get your hair wet. My garden is growing like crazy. We are eating zucchini and plums, waiting on the tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans, peas, chilis, capsicum and cucumbers. I have fresh gardenia by my bed every night, giving Richard hayfever and me the sweetest dreams. The cat is already at full stretch in the shady bits, and curls up on the warm concrete steps at night, when he's not chasing moths.

I have a beautifully decorated tree in the lounge, advent calendar on the pantry door, Christmas presents wrapped and piled artfully. This year, we are having Christmas with my side of the family, pictured below. Except my Dad, cause that would be kinda awkward. Also I have another niece (Mia, 4) and nephew (Daniel, 7ish) who weren't at the reception.

Back - Kirk (BIL) Regan (BIL) Melinda (SS)
Middle - Colin (SF) Mum, Kathryn (SS)
Middle - Ben (BIL) holding Stella (niece) Megan (sister)
Richard and Me
Front - Dad, Amelie (niece) Samantha (niece)

We are a very large family, due to get even larger, because these two:

...are about to get a younger brother or sister in April. My step sister is also pregnant, due in May, so it's just lovely all round. Who doesn't love a newborn. (Weirdos, that's who).

We're having Christmas in Napier at Mum and Colin's. They have built a new home which we're all dying to stay in. It has a LIFT. And a wine cellar. In which I will probably spend most of my time.

Because I love to cook, I have offered to cater Christmas Day. Mum took some convincing. I think she thinks I'm going to have too much champagne and forget to put the turkey in or something calamitous along those lines. But I love cooking, and so does Richard. We are a very good team in the kitchen. I am however bored of cooking the same old things every week so the challenge to cook for 10 adults and 4 kids is a big one. Here's what I'm going to be doing.

When we all moved in together in 1994, a tricky Christmas was had where Mum tried to please everyone and cooked a turkey in one of those plug-in frypans, and did a big roast pork in the stupid tiny European oven they inherited with the house. We always had pork, my new steppies had turkey. It was a bit of a stress out and since then she's just done pork cause everyone loved it. BUT this year, finding a pork roast that'll feed 14 is going to be too hard. Plus, v. hard to cook without drying out the outside. So we're going back to basics and I'm doing a big Crozier's turkey (free-range thank you very much). Turkey is hardly seen at all in NZ so I am going on a wing and prayer and a lot of research (thanks Wikipedia) when it comes to roasting it perfectly. So far I've seen recipes for covering it in butter and a piece of muslin, to brining it for 24 hours, to removing the drumsticks and wings before cooking (sacrilege). All very confusing. Tips welcome.

To appease those who are pork fiends, I'm going to include it in the entree. I'm going to do a super yum coleslaw with grated apple, and will roast a piece of crackling to cut into squares as a garnish. Homer drool. Richard actually came up with this idea. One year, Mum burnt the crackling, and you should have seen the faces around the dinner table. Frowny, they were.

Trimmings are going to be kept simple - roast potatoes in duck fat, green veggies with feta and lemon, cranberry sauce and gravy. I'm also going to attempt a stuffing but haven't quite decided what flavour to make it yet. Anything with chestnuts gets a big hell no. Urgh.

Pudding is going to be trifle, because it's easy and I can make it the night before. And it's quintessentially British, which I like.

What's not British is our Christmas Lunch, intended to be eaten around the pool whilst admiring new presents that float and are waterproof, and lamenting those that were not. We have the same every year; crayfish (for those not gestating a foetus) and cold meats (for those that are). Ciabatta, brie, tomatoes, basil, lemons, avocado, all artfully arranged. Washed down with lots of chilled bubbly. Om nom nom nom nom.

After Christmas we're heading back to Tauranga fairly quickly as Richard is working through. I have over three weeks off in which to read thousands of books, weed the garden and go for lots of swims. Heaven.

Well best be off, Basil is wrapped around my feet demanding his Jimbo's for the evening. He has this thing where he lies right in front of me, so if I have to get up, he's in prime position to sink a claw into my ankle to gently remind me that he hasn't eaten in ten whole minutes. Sometimes I get backed into a corner and have to wait for Rich to come home. Cats. I like them.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Basil helped me decorate the tree today. It tuckered him out.

But then he got back into it!

I'm guessing tomorrow there will be a large mess to tidy.