Blue Skies and Then A Starry, Starry Night..
December the twenty fourth is very hot here in Launceston, with blue skies and heat haze on the mountains (we always look twice at heat haze, to make sure it is not smoke). Our wee cottage is very small, and dark with little rooms, like a burrow, which makes it marvellously cool in the summer. Rosy's attic and the kitchen do get the full glare of afternoon sun though. This means that she has been forced to come downstairs from her lair and mingle with the hoi polloi this sunny Christmas Eve. It also means unbearable summer sun in our eyes which beats down on the only kitchen bench space all afternoon, so this morning I bought a bamboo blind, and The Girl and I installed it outside the window. It is providing marvellous and wonderful shade which is a huge relief, especially for The Girl as she is whipping up a glorious dark chocolate pavlova for tomorrow's lunch, and making pastry for mini caramelised onion tarts. She and I are very proud of our DIY job, especially as it involved teetering precariously on a ladder.
We spend our Christmas lunch with three other families, all the assorted grannies, plus a smattering of waifs and strays who have no other Christmas plans. Each year we have the same menu. Sometimes we think we'll change it up, but then can't bear to because it is all so yummy. Everything is as local as possible, and it is all served cold. We have platters of cold stuffed turkey, ham with fig jam, and smoked salmon with cream cheese rolled up in crepes. We all have gardens so there are myriads of interesting salads - I'll be doing a green garden salad with masses of sugar snap peas from the garden. I have discovered tarragon - it has the most intriguing and delicate flavour when tossed through a salad. I will also be roasting a tray of vegies tonight to make a roast veg and feta salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. There will be local cheeses and marvellous condiments, because none of us can resist making new preserves. The Girl will make her signature chocolate pavlova for dessert, topped with cream and raspberries from a friend's garden. Then all the enthusiastic folk will pop down to the local pool for a swim, after which we will smash up a home-made gingerbread house for afternoon tea (in case anyone is hungry). After that we will come home and nap and well, I think we will just nap.
Today in preparation we are eating very sparingly. I ate peas and strawberries out of the garden for breakfast and we had apples and crackers with cream cheese for lunch, and the girls are helpfully eating up all the fruit so we can fit the salads in our little fridge. We will have salad and boiled eggs for dinner, and no doubt Posy will attempt to just eat eggs.. then Rosy will make us more fabulous egg nog, which is a specialty of hers, then we will go to sleep under the shining stars and dream of a world of peace and goodwill.
I'd love to hear about your Christmases, when you have a minute.. or your Solstices or Hannukahs or your cunning plan to hibernate and pretend Christmas isn't happening at all..
Wishing you all the joy of family, friends and feasting..
Updated to add: First Christmas cooking disaster - I was pre-heating the oven and chopping up vegetables when I smelled burning, and ran shrieking to the oven where I had singed the pav that The Girl had left cooling in the oven all afternoon. Aargh! Luckily The Girl is very calm and assures me that she can trim the edges and cover it all with lots of cream and all will be well. Deep breaths now..