Christmas Wrap-In My Kitchen & of course, the Gingerbread House.

Well I’d have to say this has been the loveliest and most ‘Christmassey’ Christmas in quite a long time. We held our now traditional backyard Christmas Eve gathering of friends and family, it was a little cool but not so bad that we couldn’t stay outside. Such a relaxing evening and I get a kick out of planning and preparing food for the night.

I try to make things that are simple but have just a little wow factor when served. This year we had potato and pea samosa from the lovely Sandra’s blog Please Pass The Recipe. They are made using spelt flour for the pastry and were an absolute hit. Didn’t remember to get a pic of the inside, but trust me, they were delicious!

We also had the “If I don’t make them the family will kill me” Annabel Langbein Pakora. For the recipe click here. These are also vegetarian and are made with besan (chick pea) flour and beer batter, for the filling I used cauliflower, peas, pumpkin and zucchini then served with a simple Indian style mint dipping sauce. Once a year I bring out my little el-cheapo deep fryer for these, it then goes back into to cupboard for another year.

Then there were the mussels with nam prik (Thai chilli dipping sauce) and topped with  cucumber salsa. Last year I made Turkish Stuffed Mussels and my poor dodgy hands took weeks to recover from the pain of opening the mussels. These were easy peasy, the recipe is from Annabel Langbein’s Simple Pleasures cook book.There was a couple of huge platters of assorted breads, dukkah, antipasto, dried fruits and cheeses. This is some of the breads including  potato and roasted garlic focaccia, pizza filled baguettes, plain baguettes and an olive parmesan batard.I made yet again Celia’s Tupperware Meatballs. These are from the River Cottage Cookbook and I love the seasoning and spices, served purely with greek yoghurt sprinkled over. Winner! By the time I got back from grabbing my camera, they were gone. These are great as they can be made ahead then frozen and just reheated in the oven. This pic is from a previous time I made them but they were cooked in a tomato sauce as a main meal then.I had planned to serve chicken tikka kebabs too, but the food intake had slowed down so I left these and we had them Boxing Day along with some left over pakora mix that I cooked on the  griddle. No where near as nice as the deep fried version but ok.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day was lovely, beautiful weather, very relaxed and all but my daughter in law were there for lunch. She joined us soon after lunch so the whole family were together which is a first for a while. Lunch was hosted by my son and his partner and they did a great job. I did take a bit of a contribution to lunch………….he lives only 10 minutes away so no problem  transporting, put it down as meat resting time.

Roast turkey, roast pork, roast potatoes, plum pudding, tomato and onion layered bake, gingerbread house, gravy, brandy sauce.

The turkey was stuffed with crumbs made from my bread, capsicum, thyme, 2 eggs & salt and pepper. So easy, so delicious, we cooked the turkey and pork in the Weber at home. I’d made gravy from roasted bones and veg a few days before, stored it in a milk bottle and reheated it at Cameron & Graham’s place.We sat outside under the shade of the trees, ate, drank too much and of course there was the gingerbread house to demolish (see below). My mind had been tossing a couple of ideas around as to its demise and it went reasonably well. We probably could have gotten a bit more mileage and a few more cracks but it is what it is.I received a pack of these beautiful beeswax wraps from my D.I.L as my Kris Kringle gift. They work really well and as a bonus they are made by a local business. Little Bumbles have a range of plastic free shopping and storage items and they are beautifully presented. Love their catchphrase! Another local item I have In My Kitchen is a jar of Grandmas Delights Tomato Chutney. I cannot believe I actually ran out of both my sauce and tomato relish. I cannot remember how many years it would be since I bought sauce, but its been a long, long time. I refuse to buy that crappy, plastic bottle, mega factory made stuff, so was thrilled that our local IGA stock this. Was good, not as good as mine of course, but definitely good.

And now we close the year, the post and In My Kitchen for 2017 with the now famous annual demolition of the Gingerbread house. Very “straaylan’ to use the iconic Hills hoist as the  moving mechanism and the weapon my son used to ‘hack’ the house is his Japanese Samurai sword (demo only) which he bought back from Japan when he was an exchange student. Once again it proved a little upsetting for little Charlie, but I imagine in a few years he’ll be coming up with his own ideas on how to do the demo. There are views from 2 different angles here just to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Thanks to Sherry from over at Sherry’s Picking for her linking up of bloggers and thanks to everyone who shares their posts or takes the time to read ours. Happy New Year everyone.

 

Gingerbread House Blues

Question: What’s the best way to feel cheated when you look forward to the annual smashing of the gingerbread house?

Answer: Having it self implode without any help from anyone!

For years and years (34 I think) I have made a gingerbread house that gets taken to wherever Christmas is celebrated and at the end of the day great delight is taken among the group coming up with ways to demolish it. For the last few years I videoed the smashing and we were all working on ways for the demolition to happen this year.

This what the gingerbread house usually looks like sitting in pride of place at the Christmas venue.

gb house 2014

I made a decision this year to try a different gingerbread recipe. Not sure if it was this or the fact the house was sitting in a spot that captured the morning sun to cause this happening…..

1421109_10153888428939455_989080835971192103_oThis was taken with my dodgy phone, apologies for the grainy shot. It went from that to this in a very short time. Wish I had thought to use time-lapse photos.

Self destructing!
Self destructing!

We had a gathering of friends over on Christmas Eve and as I was starting to set up, smarty pants son (who likes to push my buttons and knew I was a little upset) asked sarcastically “why don’t you bring the gingerbread house out mum and put it at pride of place at the table?” So I did!

IMG_3483As much as I was disappointed with the unassisted demise of the GB house, I must admit the gingerbread tasted nicer than the original recipe and it was the first time in years the kids actually got stuck into eating it! Here are 2 of them picking at it and the lollies.

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Much to the disgust of  ‘Smarty Pants’ son, I didn’t react at all to his barbs and quite enjoyed the fact it created such a good talking point. I did miss the planning of how to smash it though!

Merry Christmas to all the Around The Mulberry Tree Followers.

It’s been a fun year and big things await us in 2016.

 

 

Well, it’s nearly Christmas.

I never feel as though it’s Christmas until the kitchen is covered in chaos with mess everywhere and yummy things slowly taking shape. Today I hit that moment! I started off with the making of mango ice-cream followed by making the stuffing for the turkey. I then made the gravy for Christmas lunch ready to reheat on the day. The annual construction of my gingerbread house was next on the list. Because no one really eats it and it is purely the fun of “smashing” it that counts, I wasn’t that fussed when I didn’t have any golden syrup, just treacle. Just means it’s a bit darker than usual. It takes ages doing this sort of baking in my ‘toy’ oven.  I sincerely hope this is the last year I have to contend with this limited kitchen space.

I start by making individual pieces, 2 X roofs, 2 X side and end walls and a door.

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Using royal icing and a small palette knife I ‘build’ the house by sticking the pieces in the following order. One side wall, then the front or back wall piece, the other side wall then the other end piece. Then, very carefully the roof. Experience has taught me to have a couple of supports ready to stop the roof from sliding off until the icing goes hard.

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I then use the icing to make hanging icicles around the roof edges.

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Lollies are then stuck with icing around the roof and house and the board is decorated with an assortment of treasured Christmas decorations. I’ve been making this now since 1983 and it really does feel like Christmas when I see it in its place and the smell of gingerbread wafts through the house.

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Merry Christmas everyone. Have safe and happy festive season.