Turns out there wasn’t quite as much time before Christmas as I’d initially thought and my plans for making everyone and their neighbour a bevy of sweet treats was left somewhat unachieved.
It seemed possible at first, two or three recipes a week until the BIG DAY, but then life happened. Wonderful, laughter drenched (rain drenched) life!
Parties. Catch ups. Lunches (oh lordy me the lunches…) Picnics in the rain. Post-dinner conversations huddled in blankets.
And when I (finally) caught a breath, well, a breath. Down time. Sitting on my floor in a nest of covers watching penguins trying fling themselves in and out of water.
Which is all a very long winded way of saying that hey! I found a treat that will make your recipients swoon and will take you not even half as much time as you may think! Hurrah!
I spent yesterday (Christmas Eve Eve Eve) in a rip roaring foul mood. Running through the city in little black suede heels and shielding a trolley full of documents with a tiny umbrella didn’t help. Neither did having breakfast at a time that would usually be deemed far too late for lunch. I almost threw in the towel on that evening’s plans in favour of finding a dark, quiet room and curling up in a ball.
But I didn’t. And tell you what, it was one of the best decisions I’d made all week.
I joined a motley crew of new faces and some I’d known for most of my fairly short and not-at-all diverse life.
There was turkey and ham and a scramble of seafood. There were crackers and fizzy drinks and paper party hats. We spoke of mix tapes and clear lakes and throwing in a good career for a life that actually makes you happy. And, like every year before this, we acted out a pantomime full of jokes as old and lame as we well may be in some years time and sang carols.
It wasn’t until half way through the second verse of “We Three Kings” that I started to feel the tingle. That hint of excitement that comes with the season. The gratefulness for all things past and a heady mix of excitement and apprehension at the year to come. It happens every year, half way between a fumbled verse from the first wise man – shocked at his sudden solo in amongst a crowded room – and the roar that comes with the “Ohhhh-hhhhhhhh” of the chorus.
We sipped red wine concoctions and milky mugs of tea. We laughed at awful Kris Kringle presents and stole boxes of pink salt and babushka measuring spoons from each other. We were glad. We were tired, but we were glad.
Today I’ll be heading home from work early to start cooking for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Chocolate and rhubarb meringue tart. Mango cheesecake. Ribs, turkey, ham. Radish and goat cheese salad. Caramelised garlic bread.
On Christmas Eve, we will celebrate. Our little family of four. Plus two lovely, gorgeous boys. Plus a funny, hungry cousin who will eat the leftover dessert. Plus one of my best friends in the world.
On Christmas Day I’ll head to the morning service at a church I’ve been at since I was a mere two days old. There will be cuddles for the kids whose parents’ pregnancies I still remember. There will be gifts handed out in clear plastic bags. There will be singing. And laughter! There is always so much laughter. Then Christmas dinner with a family that might as well be my own. His sister will eat all the cheese and fall asleep before the night is done. Billy the beagle will howl until he is gifted with a giant bone.
I’m looking forward to it all.
But before the season hits with full force, I want to say a huge thank you to you – readers silent and not-so-silent – that pop onto my page from time to time in amongst their lives. Because when I was sitting and sipping my red-wine-concoction and thinking about the things that made me grateful this year, I couldn’t help but add you to the list. You who email me questions and write me notes when I’ve been gone too long. You who favourite and pin and facebook my creations.
For those who Christmas, I wish you the merriest and most blessed, and for those who don’t, I wish you the happiest holiday break you could possibly muster.
Much love xx
chocolate compost clusters
you will need:
350g dark chocolate
6 candy canes
how to do it:
1. Melt the dark chocolate whichever way suits you best.
2. Crunch the pretzels between your hands so they are no more than a couple of centimetres long each. Tear or scissor the marshmallows into manageable, thumbnail sized bits. Chop the almonds roughly and pulverise four of the candy canes into chunks.
3. Tip the chocolate over the mixed ingredients and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into patty pans or, alternatively, spread clumps out on baking paper.
4. As a special finishing touch, I put two broken up candy canes in my coffee / spice grinder and pulsed them to a fine powder. Use a sieve to sprinkle the candy cane dust over the top of each mound. It will harden into a pepperminty glazed finish.