I'm not into dissing the commercialism of Christmas, rather I choose to wallow in this time of celebration. I have Jehovah's Witness friends who bite my ear off about the pagan festival enjoyed by Christians, that's okay, but to me the spirit of Christmas is still thankfulness for a civilized life in a civilized country which I did nothing to deserve. Nor did I deserve the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what Christians celebrate.
I teach students from Iraq, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other such troubled areas of the globe. They don't have a problem wishing me a Happy Christ-mas. They are so thankful to be living in Australia and celebrating their own new-found freedom however they wish.
Now, to me, Christmas is about sharing with family, friends and the community. How about you? Carols by Candlelight is HUGE in Australia, with cities and country towns alike all offering outdoor venues for celebrating Christmas together in the spirit of well-loved hymns, with Santa arriving with much pomp and circumstance, showering children in sweets and gifts. Large stores and libraries offer places where we can donate food and gifts which are delivered to struggling families and the homeless. There are plenty of Christmas Dinners provided for those with no families, so no-one misses out unless by their own choice.
|Christmas at the beach house|
|A snowy Christmas in Paris|
Alongside writing, reading, travel...food looms large in my life. I adore cooking and especially love trying new recipes for Christmas. Not just dinner, but all the other meals we take together.
MY FAVOURITE TRIED AND TRUE CHRISMAS RECIPES for a heatwave-infused Christmas are below. My aim is to cool off, so no heavy, hot Christmas pudding or eggnog or whatever you have 'up there'. Most Australians gave up the British tradition a long time ago. Seafood and salad works for us, followed by cool desserts and leaves us more time for the pool or beach.
1 cup plain chocolate biscuit crumbs - our only option these days is Chocolate Ripple
500g block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup thickened cream - I'm guilty of having a heavy hand when it comes to cream (((licks lips)))
200g TOBLERONE Milk or Dark Chocolate, melted
Here we go:
Combine biscuit crumbs, butter and almonds, press into the base of a lightly greased 20cm springform pan. Chill.
Beat PHILADELPHIA cream cheese and sugar until smooth using an electric mixer. Beat in the melted Toblerone and cream until well combined.
Pour onto the prepared crumb base and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours until set, or overnight. Serve topped with the TOBLERONE shavings. I often add sliced strawberries.
This cheesecake is easy as...only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. I always bring it along when asked to provide dessert to a gathering.
We like to make what we call a Toblerone Cocktail (like a mudslide) for after Christmas Tea or for cool (ha ha, not exactly snowy) nights on the deck. It makes a delicious change after all the wine or whatever you've been sipping during the day along with the odd majito or two! And it really takes the place of dessert if you want to feel especially pious.
Artistically drizzle (if you can keep your hand steady by this stage), melted Cadbury's chocolate or Toblerone chocolate or at the very least, chocolate sauce (ugh), around the inside of the glass, then gently pour in the mix. Top with whipped cream if you're absolutely disgusting! And why not some hunks of Toblerone or chocolate sauce if you're determined to milk this for all it's worth!
Sip reverently and dream about Christmas 2016 when you can drink this again.
13 Desserts of Provence
Christmas Quiz sent while travelling from Malaga, Spain
Christmas in Brisbane
- Now I'm interested in your Christmas or cultural celebrations. What do you do? What do you eat?
- Would you share a recipe if I asked nicely? I love to try new things and I'm sure others do too...
Thanks for calling!