Christmas has passed, New Years Eve is gone and I’m back from Australia and once again sat behind my desk in the office, so I feel it was time to write another post. And no, Christmas was not spent with a barbecue on the beach, rather we stayed in a ski lodge in Thredbo, a lovely village in the middle of the Snowy Mountains, right by the highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko (which we climbed, not once but twice in the space of one week, with the baby).
It’s a beautiful part of the world and after travelling 30 hours and driving six more from Sydney International (my darling sister, her partner and my beautiful nephew came all the way to pick my mum and I up) it was refreshing to get out of the car and into the cool mountain night air. Our days there were filled with going for lots of walks, not being able to get enough of my nephew – my mum and I were seeing for the first time- playing lot of board games, enjoying the sunshine and warmth and cooking and eating lots of delicious food.
We hadn’t spent Christmas together for a few years and we always enjoy it so much when we do. It’s just not the same celebrating Christmas apart, no matter how old we are! True to our German tradition, we put up and decorated the tree on Christmas Eve with mince pies and homemade ice cream. The mince meat came all the way from Waitrose and caused me a lot of trouble getting through customs. Turns out they didn’t know what mince meat was – for mince pies that is – and thought I was trying to get meat into the country. There were sniffer dogs involved and a lot of palaver, but we managed to convince them of the meatless nature of the product in the end and got it safely into the country.
All four of us are big cooking and food fiends and so I happily succumbed to
playing Sous Chef, chopping assistant or overseer as required. Christmas day’s feast was an eclectic mix of traditional and some alternative dishes - to Christmas that is. For starters we had homemade Greek village bread, Spanakopitas, cheeses, a divine Chinese cabbage salad and a selection of cold meats. The main Christmas dinner consisted of delicious turkey courtesy of my sisters partner – it turns out I’m very squeamish about touching the uncooked bird and wasn’t a great assistant in that respect- German Kessler their neighbours brought along, vegetables, sage an onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and for dessert a delicious trifle made by my mum and homemade Rocky Road as an after dinner treat, also from their neighbours. We all pitched in cooking, and it was loads of fun, almost more so in the preparation than in the eating.
We baked a lot of breads and pastry based products over Christmas; from mince pies, to Stollen, Greek Village bread and my attempt at sourdough. I think the word attempt gives the story away a little. So I had the great idea of making sourdough, which I’d planned out meticulously to be ready for Christmas Day. So much care and nurture is needed in making sourdough that I decided to name it Charlie – the German sourdough Herman had a name, so I thought it was only fair. Everyone started calling him Charlie and I was asked on a daily basis how Charlie was doing. Turns out, not so good. When I took him out of the oven he hadn’t cooked though properly, despite re baking him nothing helped. It tasted great, but sadly Charlie ended up in the bin as I didn’t want to poison anyone, plus we had plenty of food going round. So one of my 2013 culinary resolutions is to learn to make sourdough successfully. Tips and advice are welcome!
I could go on citing all the delicious food we ate and the things we did but I think that could take a while. Before I sign off, however, I will briefly mention one final dish that I took rather a fancy too, it was my sister’s absolutely delicious goats cheese soufflé with creamy mushroom sauce and salad. Creamy, delicious and lighter than air it was absolutely divine and relatively simple to make. Butter, breadcrumbs flour, milk, goats cheese, eggs and chives are all you need to make this amazing soufflé. The recipe has been safely copied and brought to London for future use.
All in all it was a fantastic holiday, a great break, vitamin D intake and it was just so great to spend time with my family and my little nephew who I adore and miss a lot. It was hard coming back to London, especially into the misery that is London in January but c’est la vie.