Well, we're well into December, and my life has been so crazy with travel and now renovations at our beach house that I've hardly given a thought to the upcoming festive season. When I do I crumple in a heap as we're having our usual sweltering weather which makes everything take twice as long. And writing? What's that again?
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|
When I'm not overseas checking out white Christmases, I always celebrate Christmas at our beach house. Plenty of room on the deck to eat, drink and be merry, and an excellent Carols by Candlelight in our little village...yes, it is called Peregian Beach Village. So European and cute.
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.
Gather all this yummy stuff:
1 cup plain chocolate biscuit crumbs - our only option these days is Chocolate Ripple
1/4 cup ground almonds (OPTIONAL - but lowers the GI, ha ha)
500g block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar (OPTIONAL – I don’t add any!)
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
200g TOBLERONE Milk or Dark Chocolate for
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.
I’m not a measurer, so pretty casual with the amounts.
In a blender throw some icy cold milk, a few scoops of
vanilla ice cream, shots of any liquor you have left - (Tia Maria,
Kahlua, Frangelico, Cointreau, Bailey's Irish Creme - get the drift - not
all!! You definitely need the Bailey's and about three others). Whizz for a bit
in that blender you usually use for your health-giving green smoothies. Get
some parfait glasses or somesuch out of the freezer (or snow, lol!)
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
Sip reverently and dream about Christmas 2016 when you can drink this again.
Here are some of my Christmas Posts from the past if you've got nothing better to read:
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!