Ben’s Birthday Lunch at Red Hill

December 14, 2011

Last weekend we carried on Ben’s Birthday celebrations with a beautiful little party for four at my parent’s house. It was perfect. We spent a casual lazy five hours in Red Hill, watching my parents cook food and pretending to help. As it was the day after Ben’s work Christmas party, I was most definitely lacking in sparkle. Tracksuit pants and the couch helped me along. As did a beautiful meal, Christmas Tree decorating, plum pudding prep and cocktail sampling (hey, the hair of the dog!).

Oh Christmas Tree…

Although Christmas is a hard time for our family (we lost my brother 4 years ago, 3 days before Christmas), we all still cherish this time of year. Being together. It’s all that matters.

Mum always makes sure that I’m there to help with decorating the Christmas Tree. I love that she saves it for me.

My favourite decoration, my Plum Pudding.

Although when I made it at school I had no idea what it was supposed to be… and so I added eyes and a nose and made a face. Naturally. He’s kind of adorable.

Mandatory dancing with tinsel to Christmas Carols. Yep, I’m one of those people who absolutely love Christmas Carols. My favourite this year? She and Him.

Time for food? I thought so…


The Eats

May I present, my Dad’s homemade fetta. That’s right. He’s been to Cheese School (cute!) and now makes his own cheese. Who knew it was possible for him to be even cooler?

For entree we delighted in Toasted Grainy Bread topped with Smashed Homegrown Broadbeans and Dad’s Fetta. This was so so so delicious. Favourite.

And for the main event?…Rabbit Ragu with Homemade Pasta (recipe link). Mum and Dad really outdid themselves. This ragu was cooked for 6 hours. Mum added a mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) to the base, and cooked it in oil and a little butter until soft. She felt this added a real depth to the base, and I agree. It. Was. Beautiful. Truly beautiful.

A simple Salad made festive with fresh red currants off their bush.


Hey there, Puddin’

Each year I eagerly anticipate Mum’s Plum Pudding. Last year I documented her making it (see the post here), and this year I watched her again. Perhaps next year I’ll be more hands on, but honestly, I love sitting back and watching Mum do her thing. The recipe was passed down to mum from her Aunty Daphne, who was given the recipe from her Great Aunt in England. Special. This year we made the pudding a little late, but mum compensated by soaking the fruit in alcohol for longer. Bring on Christmas Day, when we’ll combine this perky pudding with Boozy Sauce. Favourite.


Woks, Mulberries, Cocktails and Cake

For Dad’s birthday in November we bought him a wok plus some cooking accessories. He’s keen to smoke, stirfry and steam! Ben helped him with seasoning the wok following this video (link).

Later on we sampled some Cocktail Creations. We’re searching for a second cocktail for the wedding. I didn’t fancy the Old Fashioned as much as I’d hoped. Any suggestions for a great, old school, non-fruity cocktail? I’d love to hear some.

Freshly picked Mulberries. Favourite.

To end our day? A Birthday Brownie. A leftover Salted Fudge Brownie to be precise.

Thanks for a gorgeous day, Mum and Dad. You spoil us so much, every time. You just can’t help it. But we hope you never stop. Being spoilt by good food, family togetherness, homework in the form of cheese, laughter, bad carol singing and dancing and long lazy lunches is the epitome of happiness to me.

Heidi xo
  • Leah December 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    What a perfect day!!!!! Thanks for sharing this lovely moment.

    Btw I would be right next to you singing my heart out, but im afraid i would throw us off with my bad carolling voice heheh 😀

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    what a perfect day indeed 🙂

  • Blithely Unaware December 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Oh Heidi!!

    YOU USED THAT FANCY WORD MIREPOIX which Hamish uses when he's making FANCY THINGS. You two are far too fancy pants for me :p

    Love the broad bean bruschetta that's my favourite combo, except when broad beans fail me I use peas. Peas and fetta and lemon on grainy bread = bliss!!

    I LOVE Christmas carols and have all the golden oldies in my car so I can belt out carols when I'm driving along. Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and OF COURSE Mariah Carey.

    I'll be thinking of you next week lady. Keep smiling, feel the warmth of the sunshine as it streams through the trees and know that there is an immense amount of love and peace around you.


  • KittyCate December 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    ZOMG total food porn! I want to eat everything, especially that ragu. My parents have been on a cheese-making course and made lots of nommy cheese, but have been unable to find non-pasteurised milk to make their own at home *sadface*
    Oh, I totally bought the She&Him; Christmas album off iTunes last weekend, we listened to it while decorating the tree – new favourite, for sure xx

  • Carly Findlay December 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    This feast looks amazing! I love seeing the time you spend with your family 🙂
    And Happy birthday Ben – my birthday buddy!!

  • Hannah December 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I just love you and your family. It makes my heart soar to know there are other families who genuinely like each other as people the way that my family does 🙂 HEART!

    Also, I think your decoration now looks like Jack's dog in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

  • Sonya Harris December 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    As Hannah said, your family seems so lovely. I always enjoy reading about your get togethers. 🙂

  • msihua December 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Ahhh what a beautiful family and love love love 🙂 Ur plum pudding tree ornament is very cute 🙂

  • Michelle Chin December 15, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I wish my dad would go to cheese school too. 🙁 compared to my mom, he doesn't have that curiosity to learn about food…

  • Heidi December 15, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Leah – I think it's all about carolling passion, if you're passionate then surely it can't sound bad…right?

    Lisa – thanks!

    Blithely Unaware – it was totally my mum being fancy, but look at me, taking her notes and copying her 😉 Peas are a great substitution now that broadbeans are gone form the garden! Must get onto Ella Fitzgerald & Nat King Cole carols! I'm all over Bing 🙂 Thanks for your lovely words and thoughts xo

    Cate – how good are she & him?! Love.

    Carly – yay for birthday buddies!

    Hannah – I don't know this Jack character! I shall search him out. Thanks for the love, it's lovely to read about your gorgeous family too 🙂

    Sonya -awe thank you 🙂

    Msihua – hehehe thanks!!

    Michelle – maybe one day he will! At least you and your mum can chat food 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Sherilyn @ Wholepromise December 15, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    What a wonderful post. I love all things family – especially at this time of the year. So special and so warming. Oh and the food looks great! I am a sucker for a homemade plum pudding for sure.

  • The InTolerant Chef December 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Whata perfect day! We ve been enjoying that album too, its nice to chill to. I don't think you could beat a perfect gin and tonic for a sophisticated wedding tipple, my favourite!

  • Lisa December 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Wow, what a gorgeous day, I bet Ben absolutely loved it.

    I'm so impressed by your Dad making cheese! And that ragu looks awesome.

    I'm sure you are set for a wonderful Christmas.

  • Iron Chef Shellie December 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Your family is adorable! And lucky Ben being spoilt so much!

    bahaha I have ornaments I made at school too but I dunno where they have gone… my favourite was my macaroni angel! 😛


  • Heidi December 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Sherilyn – thanks so much 🙂

    InTolerant Chef – good point, it's a fav of mine too…. hmmm…..

    Lisa – thanks, we are indeed 🙂

    Michele – we were some crafty kids 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • hollypop December 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    oh noes, google ate my comment.

    i think i said. AHAHA the pudding looks like a rodent! with a happy rodent face and all 😀
    AND then i said NO HOME MADE PUDDING for me again this year D:
    i got as far as marinating the fruit and then i had to leave so i couldn't finish it.
    i love eating the fruit that grows along the roads in red hill. we dont do it anymore because it might be sprayed. SAD. i wish we had our own. e always thought they were blackberries but they might have been mulberries!


  • Heidi December 17, 2011 at 10:53 am

    holly – a) boo for google! b) exactly! a happy rodent! perfect description. c) I think everyone should have their own berry bush, It should be the law. somehow. It's happiness.
    Heidi xo

  • Ashley December 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Oh my, what an amazing looking meal, home made fetta sounds just amazing!

    Have you tried a Moscow Mule? Vodka, lime and ginger beer. Excessively simple to make, but quite refreshing and too easy to get drunk off…. 🙂

  • Heidi December 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Ashley – thanks for the moscow mule suggestion! I think we're going with something similar, it will reeeeaaallllllly hit the spot 🙂
    Heidi xo