Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 eve

Something tells me I'm not going to make it to midnight tonight - probably the same thing that prompted me to stay home for the holiday weekend, avoid the fireworks, and not attempt dinner out. You could call it an attack of grinchiness, or just sheer laziness; I attribute it to my deep-seated resistance to going along with the one night of the year when you're supposed to have plans. Instead, I cooked a regular Monday-night dinner, and made Miss B and DP's favorite dessert, suitably decorated. We ate outside, and talked over the things we liked best about 2012 and our hopes for 2013. That's my kind of New Year's Eve; hope yours involves your favorite kind of celebration too.

Thanks for another great year and see you in 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Calling birds

Well, nobody has sent us any live fowl yet, but thanks to the vagaries of Australia Post delivery, we're enjoying the 12 Days of Christmas to the full with random present deliveries. Here's some of today's haul:

Note The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook in the top photo - I am a happy, happy cook today.

Speaking of cooking, reveling in the 12 Days of Christmas also includes some festive socializing, now that everyone's done with gift and prep stress and most people have some time off from work and can enjoy the season, rather than feeling like they're checking off another obligation on their seasonal To Do list. We had friends over for dinner last night; I made a big batch of turkey risotto, a kale salad, and some rolls. Since I had also decreed, late last week, that some of the Eight Days of Christmas Baking could come after Christmas (a revolutionary concept that not only preserved my sanity, but also made the baking a lot more fun), Miss B and I carried out our plan of festive cupcakes:

I also made a batch of coconut clusters, in case there was anyone attending who wasn't interested in cupcakes (even though this has never happened yet).

How go your holiday shenanigans? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas recap

One of the perks of living in the British Commonwealth is that the day after Christmas - Boxing Day - is a holiday in its own right, and the majority of people have it off from work. We went for a walk this afternoon, to get some fresh air and run a couple of errands to a couple of shops we knew would be open. We strolled along deserted streets and 90% of the businesses we passed were closed - some of them just for today, some until after New Year's, and one for the whole of summer vacation (it is scheduled to re-open February 5!). It was pretty much the only serious exertion in a day that included staying in pajamas until almost lunchtime, skyping with various North American relatives, and reminiscing about yesterday's Christmas lunch (while plotting what to do with a fairly enormous stash of leftovers).

There were six of us for lunch, and we ate outside! That's a Christmas first for me. Here's what we had:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

The guests have gone home, the turkey carcass is already poaching in the slow cooker, and I'm just popping in for a moment - before I go flop on the couch to watch Christmas Vacation and peruse my obligatory Christmas cookbook - to wish everyone else as peaceful and joyous a Christmas as the one we're just finishing up.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

20 December

Finally made my mincemeat yesterday. Four days is plenty of steeping time, right?

Two editorial deadlines looming.

Trying to wrap up, or progress, or just keep straight, various workstreams, large and small, before everyone goes offline for the holidays.

End of the academic year for DP and Miss B: teacher presents, colleague presents, holiday and good-bye events.

Determined to write and stuff 10 cards per night during my nightly hour of TV time – which I haven’t had yet this week.

Four loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded.

How many days since I updated my blog?

Drawing up workplans for 2013.

Locating and digging out boxes of Christmas decorations from  the storage piles and making the house festive, little by little. (Must remember to put them all back in the same place.)

Must get to the post office and buy stamps, even if it’s already manifestly obvious that no one’s going to get their cards by Christmas.

I can’t keep using up the easy options on the Eight Days of Christmas Baking list, otherwise I’ll have nothing but complicated  things ieft at the end.

Have I paid the balance on the vacation cottage yet? And the Missouri year-end tax bills? And the quarterly utility bills which all came in at once?

Bought 12 gifts this morning – might be 75% of the way through the list now, if I can bring myself to count.

Strategizing how to get a Christmas ham home from the butcher without a car.

Wondering if Christmas cards are enough to make it up to the friends to whom I’ve owed emails for 6 months.

Uh-oh, I really need to make those apricots into jam. And those peaches. And those strawberries….

Etc., etc., etc. Until:

Reminding myself, when it all feels like too much and I can’t deal anymore, of the important thing: that everyone I love is safe and well. And that that’s all that really matters, in this or any other holiday season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Puff pastry

Is there anything that you can't improve by wrapping it in puff pastry?

We're coming to the end of the Australian school year, and that means that in the canteen we're cutting down on ordering fresh food, and trying to use up what's already there - EDF on a large scale. Puff pastry does an excellent job of packaging up odds and ends of food, and makes them look great - and easy to eat out of hand - in the process. We've been serving up lots of "puff" specials for morning tea, and after watching hordes of schoolkids scarf them up, I've been inspired to come home and scavenge in my own fridge.

Some things I've wrapped in puff pastry lately:

- leftover sausage (either alone, or with spicy mustard and cheddar cheese - see above)
- leftover chocolate ganache
- blackberry-apple butter
- leftover meat and veg
- leftover apple pie filling (or any pie filling, or jam, or...)

I'll stop there, but I think you get the picture. Please feel free to share your puff-pastry excesses with the rest of us.

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