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..


fran7narf said…
Merry Christmas Jo and family :). We are having a lovely luxurious completely vegan Christmas this year after Steve decided to become vegan. I have been beavering away preparing everything in new and interesting ways. I have found recipes for vegan mayo that is just as delicious as regular, a halfway decent vegan butter sub and the very BEST recipe for a vegan fruit mince bakewell tart that is sitting waiting to be devoured in our fridge. I even made the vegan fruit mince myself. No suet but about 3/4 of a bottle of whisky so a very merry tart indeed and I figure after I eat a slice or two, I will probably be the same! Here's to a lovely, sustainable and (in our case) HOT Christmas 2016 and SO glad you could salvage the pav!
Jo said…
Merry Christmas Season to you Fran! Some of our Christmas guests are dairy free and brought a vegan dessert - a blueberry 'cheese'cake made with cashew butter, with a date and and almond base. Oh, it was divine! I hope you enjoyed your very merry tart, and managed to keep cool, and keep your garden hydrated xx
Anonymous said…
Best puppy and I went with hibernating and pretending. We had a lovely quiet day and a long walk when it finally cooled down a bit. Times must have changed: I didn't see any kids out on shiny new bikes???

Congrats on your ladder teetering. I have to do it from time to time and it's certainly not my idea of fun.

Regards, Specks.

Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

What a lovely day you had!

We spent the afternoon and evening in the shade of two enormous old walnut trees whilst we were fed course after course. The heat was tolerable but after about 10pm I was thinking serious thoughts of sleep. The food was good and the conversation was lively. All up a good Christmas. The previous year was also hot (35'C) but that year we had a massive water balloon fight which was excellent. Unfortunately, feathers were ruffled because one of the notable downsides of water balloons is that people get wet, and there was a ban on water balloons this year.

Jo said…
Specks, what better companion for Christmas hibernation than a Best Puppy? I could be absolutely tempted to do the same:)

Chris, your Christmas under the walnut trees sounds divine. And maybe I'm just odd but being drenched with water on a mid-30s day seems like an excellent plan..
GretchenJoanna said…
That Girl is amazing! I love hearing about your food. I am trying to get up the energy to write about mine, which was all sorts, traditional and not... But right now I'm still eating it!
Anonymous said…
Growing up Christmas Eve was a family thing - my mother being German. While Mr S wouldn't allow presents for our boys on Christmas Eve, we did have a special, but small, family dinner and build the excitement of the next day. Now our boys are men, Mr S and I planned to go to the city for a walk around the lights, a drink in a pub down The Rocks and catch a few tunes from a pub band. Well, blow me down, youngest son was disappointed we were not having a family dinner for Christmas Eve.

Mr S and I did go out and it was a lovely "date".

The next day, we hosted Mr S's family. Smaller number than previously. 11 all up. Each family brings something. The ham. The turnkey. Dessert. We supply roast veggies and lamb and beef. Yes, we have a hot dinner. And traditional pud, cooked by mother-in-law.

Enough leftovers for the next three nights! And plenty of snacks.

Glad the pav was saved. What a shock for you! I love roast veggie salad with baby spinach leaves and feta. May make some for my sis who is coming tomorrow and is a vego.

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