Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Picnic and a Boiled Christmas Cake



On Saturday I slept in.

You should probably read that last sentence again. Think about doing it yourself, it is worth it!

I was exhausted after a busy week at work. It wore me down so much that I had to postpone a long drive to the country to be fitted for a bridesmaid dress for the wedding of my dear friends Lachlan and Kailee. Thankfully I can be measured on New Year’s Eve, which suits me perfectly as I will be fitted AFTER the Christmas feasting- Hello Summer curves!

Now, don’t get me wrong… My weekend was still filled to the very brim with activities. On Saturday I helped one of my friend’s move houses. I actually loathe packing and dread the idea of having to move my own belongings again one day as I’m currently living in a share house in the city so you can imagine how tiresome the whole experience must have been for my friend. At least she had many friends on hand to assist and she did move closer to the beach- that is always a bonus in the Summertime. Ahh! Who am I kidding? It is a bonus at any time of the year, I am in love with the ocean.

I am currently listening to La Mar by The Beautiful Girls and daydreaming about surfing as I type this blog entry.

‘I've grown old on this ocean,
Gave her all my stronger years.
Gave my wife my devotion,
When she died, the ocean my tears.’

I see as much beauty in a dark and stormy grey sky over turbulent seas as I do in a calm clear sea dotted with fishing boats on a hot, blue day... Sigh...

Getting back to my Saturday- I began cooking a boiled Christmas cake in the evening. This recipe required one kilogram of dried fruit and this is where you can have the most fun with the colour of the fruit cake. I selected lighter fruit in the form of dried apricots and red glace cherries to add to the darker currants, raisins and craisins (dried cranberries). I don't particularly like candied orange peel as I find the flavour overpowering and so I only added a small amount of peel (Seriously, I even buy peel-free Hot Cross buns at Easter time).

Growing up I was never a huge fan of Christmas cake but this one is quite lovely. It is sweet but not too strong in flavour and can thankfully be adapted to suit different tastes. Best enjoyed served warm with vanilla, cinnamon and orange custard and a glass of egg nog after Christmas dinner or in the case of our Sunday summer picnic: Following a delicious meal of prawns, potato bacon and avocado salad, sliced cold ham, mango coconut cucumber and butter leaf lettuce salad, wholemeal bread rolls and chilled drinks with new and old friends.

We also shared a soft cheese platter and shortbread on a grassy hill under the shade of a tree by the Redleaf pool in Rushcutters Bay. This pool is situated at the base of a steep hill, beneath a local library. It was a windy day, with irregular gusts causing us to place our shoes and cooler boxes on our picnic rugs to prevent them blowing away. We took turns snapping bon bons (surprisingly with only one casualty in the form of a colourful paper hat blowing up, up and away!) and reading out the jokes, which my family affectionately dub ‘Dad Jokes’.

Where do snowmen go to dance?
A snowball...
Hardy ha ha!

We had time for a swim and a laze about on a floating pontoon before the sky turned an ominous shade of grey and the wind picked up, blowing small waves from the bay onto the dancing, small anchored watercraft. With this little warning we piled the remnants of our devoured picnic into baskets and eskies, and hurried up the hill to head home. Had we left ten minutes earlier we would have avoided the heavy downpour that caught us as we tried to hurry down the steps to the apartment entrance. Mind you, I have not laughed so much in quite some time. It was a perfect Sunday.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to cook something delicious for a memorable Christmas this year. I’m feeling very happy indeed and it’s still four sleeps away!

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Love Bella xx

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