Christmas was always a special time for my family. Not in the pious sense - we are not Church goers by any means. And not in the superficial, exchanging of material goods sense. We do exchange gifts, yet it doesn’t define the day (although flash back to my seven year-old self and this statement may have not been true). Rather, this day is really about togetherness. We all have a real glow inside us on this day, which I think relates to the fact that we are all together, joking, laughing, preparing food, eating said food and feeling lucky to have such a special family. This tradition has not changed as we have grown up, which I love. We may not still go on September family holidays to Noosa, we may not camp over New Years Eve at Depot Beach, however we are all together on Christmas and do things exactly as we did when my brothers and I were little kids. Although these years I am more of a help in the kitchen, rather than simply stirring the gravy (which actually does remain one of my favourite jobs).
Yesterday I woke up at 6am, as I always seem to do on Christmas morning. I love how the childhood anticipation of presents and fun still persists even into my twenties. My younger brother, Jackson, however was not filled with such excitement. As kids we would get up early and watch Christmas cartoons together until the rest of the house stirred. *Sniff*, it seems that my little brother has outgrown this tradition. I felt too guilty to wake him, so I went for a run instead. Upon my return, the house was still asleep. At this point I felt it prudent to jump on Jackson’s bed yelling, “Santa’s been here! Santa’s been here!” Naturally.
The house was now awake...
Ben and I prepared a fruit salad, as is our Christmas breakfast each year. I find that a lighter, albeit delicious, breakfast leaves more room for a bigger lunch ;)
On Christmas Eve, however, I did find a recipe for cinnamon buns. If it weren’t for lack of ingredients and time, my dear fruit salad may have been bumped from the menu. Perhaps next Christmas, or at Easter, I will make these buns, which look absolutely heavenly.
The fruit salad consisted of: mango, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, nectarines and apricots. With a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh mint, it was delightfully fresh and tasty.
The family gathered around the tree and opened presents, whilst eating breakfast.
Here is a snapshot of some Classic Thornton Christmas Morning moments.
Jackson actually cried when I bought him a Twinkie. True story. We have a personal joke about them going way back. He never thought he would see one. Best present ever, apparently. He his easy to please.
Dad with his Paella spoon, a present from Jackson.
I got a vintage 1940s dress. It is absolutely beautiful. I decided to dance around in it wearing an English hat from the op shop and holding a cane. Of course. Pictorial evidence.
Ben outdid himself yet again and bought me a gorgeous Veronica Maine dress without any help. Smart boy. He got it for half price, to boot. Such a smart boy.
I bought Ben David Thompson’s Thai Street Food (for half price too! Snap.). I also showered him with many other little vintage finds from op shops and brick-a-brack stores. We are going to have absolutely no trouble decorating our house when we buy one.
I was so spoilt, we all were. I received many gorgeous gifts. I will show the food related ones in future posts, no doubt.
Ben and I also bought an antique iron cooking pot for my brother, David, which will go in the garden. My parents want to fill it with water and have an orange water lily (orange was his favourite colour).
On to the food preparations...
Each year, mum cooks the pork overnight, which means that on Christmas morning we wake up to the heavenly, fennel-infused sticky sweet smell of long braised pork. Mmmmmm. It is intoxicatingly good. The recipe mum uses is Jamie Oliver's Overnight Slow-Roasted Pork. We are obsessed with this dish in our household.
Upon mum’s request, I prepared an entrée of prosciutto 'sandwiches' with a ricotta and pesto mixture as the filling, along with rocket and fresh basil. I wasn’t in love with these little sandwiches, I would have preferred the prosciutto sans all the fillings. Dad bought 5kg of proscuitto on the bone from Peter Watson (Bangalow Sweet Pork).
Dad also bought 9kg of their Dolce Ham.
That is 14kg of pricey pork purchases. True story. Mum used this as leverage to get her kitchen drawers re-done. Smart girl.
We then scrubbed up a little and got our festive dress on. I wore my green dress, which has a bow at the back. I love this dress, I bought it 3 years ago in Noosa. I originally planned on wearing my beautiful new white dress, however Ben reminded me that I always, without a doubt, spill food on myself. No dice.
On Christmas Eve I got my nails done in a festive red! I never get my nails done, so that was a real treat. Here I am showcasing them, as I did throughout the entire day, along with my engagement ring, which I realised I have never shown on the blog. It was a ring that my nana bought as a present for her mother. So it was my great grandmother's ring. I am a little in love with it.
Nana and Roo (we call my grandpa ‘Roo’, David gave him the name when he was 2 and it has stuck) gave Ben and I a hamper filled with foodstuff I feel too expensive to buy on a regular basis. It included black rock salt, organic natural peanut butter, saffron threads, Crunchola and some tea. It was such a great present!
My aunty and cousin arrived soon after, and it was so nice to spend some time with these two lovely creatures. It was a small Christmas this year, only 9 of us, but it was just perfect. We ate outside on our long table, which is a lovely perk of having Christmas during Summer. It was overcast but warm, and really very pleasant.
Overnight Pork, which was accompanied by a Gravy made from all the pan juices, and Crackling. I can't do crackling. The texture freaks me out, I despise it. This pleases the rest of my family greatly - more for them!
Rolled Turkey Breast with mum’s Cranberry, Blueberry, Apricot and Macadamia Nut Stuffing (with fresh herbs from the garden). Lingonberry Gravy accompanied the turkey. This gravy is really light and fruity. Mum uses this recipe for the gravy (step 8).
Each year mum also buys stuffing from Houghton's. It is a Pork, Nut and Herb Stuffing that is beyond delicious. It is such good value and so scrumptious, hence we only feel the need to make our turkey stuffing.
The Bangalow Ham, which is free range, as well as antibiotic and hormone-free. You can really taste the difference between this quality ham and others. Just beautiful.
For the roasted veggies we had Potato, Carrots, Parsnip, Pumpkin and Onion. There were also Peas, for a little touch of green. The carrots were my favourite. So sticky and sweet. I love anything sticky and sweet it seems.
We drank Bleasedale Sparkling Shiraz as we filled our bellies with delicious Christmas eats. Ho Ho Ho!
Cranberry Sauce for the turkey
I went back for seconds of the turkey, pork and stuffing. I was all about the meat yesterday, which is so not like my usual veggie-loving self. Maybe the tide is turning for my taste-buds?
Lastly came the Plum Pudding. This pudding, which we made in November. Mum warmed it in the pot of boiling water whilst we were eating. We served it with Boozy Sauce. Yes, you heard me, boozy sauce. This sauce, my friends, is pure decadence and deliciousness. You whip thickened cream, which you then combine with port, sherry, egg, brown sugar and butter. I always request a double batch of boozy sauce. I would have requested a triple batch, but by the time we arrived on Christmas Eve, mum had already starting making the boozy component of the sauce. *Sigh*, I will have to wait until next year…
It was a really lovely day, filled with fun in the kitchen, delicious food and wine, laughter and family. Christmas is one of my favourite days of the year for these very reasons. Another fabulous reason to love Christmas? All the leftovers...
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope your day was as special as mine. I really do feel very lucky. Merry Christmas!