And now it's Christmas
So, what's been happening, peeps?
This month has been FULL on my end. Wonderful, even. Here are some snaps and words from my December brain to yours.
I hope you're set for a Happy Christmas (if you celebrate). For us it's an excuse to stop our regular routine, hang out at my parents' house and eat pudding. We keep it pretty low key and local, gathering with our immediate family and a few close friends. It's the opposite of overwhelming, it's familiar and easy and for that I am thankful. On Christmas morning we still open presents together, from the same stockings as when we were kids. I make fruit salad, dad makes coffee and we all drag Jackson out of bed. Mum is always thoughtful and indulges us just the right amount, dad always gets socks, about which he is more than appropriately thrilled. Tradition warms my heart, I am comforted by it, it is what makes Christmas special, as every year you anticipate joy... and that is a grand feeling. It's the same every year, but every year is different, as we bring twelve months worth of colours and experiences, all wrapped up in our older, wiser selves. Another year lived. How special is that?
And there I go again, rambling on. Back to the snippets of my world at present. I think I'll number them to keep me on track...
1. Last Sunday we spent the day at mum and dad's house with friends we have known since forever. Us kids grew up together, spending school holidays camping and composing inappropriate, though catchy, songs. Dad made pizza and we ate Monika's stollen and raided the raspberry bush. It was nice to be together on the anniversary my brother's death. 7 years on and more then ever I wish he was here, because now I feel like we're all finally living again and he's missing it.
2. We've been exploring the hiking spots in our area, from Arthurs Seat to Bushrangers Bay. Hiking is my most favourite activity. It's like IV nature, straight into my veins.
3. The bunches of carrots we've been receiving in our weekly vegetable box from Transition Farm has seen me whizzing together some sort of carrot top pesto with great regularity. Lately it's been a carrot top and caper sauce with walnuts (see my recipe here), which I serve alongside scrambled eggs, salads or any kind of grilled, baked or steamed meat, chicken or fish. It's an efficient and tasty way to get even more vibrant green into my life. I've been seeing more and more clients come to the clinic with a simple but awesome desire to eat better and learn how to make healthy, crazy delicious meals. Walking them through recipes like this, and how to assemble nourishing meals is just the best.
Also, each week when I collect the veg and pick a few flowers from the farm I have a hard time leaving....
4. Gingerbread granola continues to be made for gifts. It's a case of "one batch for presents, one batch for me". I tried it with pecans. YES.
5. We recently watched "Submarine" and freakin LOVED it. It felt very Wes Anderson. Watch it. We have the following movies on our "to watch list" at home: Short Term Twelve, Ever After (right?!) and Twelve Angry Men. At the cinema, I am itching to see St Vincent and Foxcatcher. I love movies.
6. This guy helped me shoot a piece for Tucker. I made cultured butter with mix-ins and we now have a freezer full of maple bacon, blackberry vanilla and oregano lemon butter. I'll repost the article on the blog shortly, as I think you'll appreciate it, but for now check it out on Tucker and go browse their killer site.
7. Morning walks along the bay with my assistant/intern have been so great lately, getting all sweaty (from the sun, folks, from the sun) and then running back home to change into bathers and go for a swim. Living less than 200 meters from the beach is nothing short of rad.
8. Serial ended and I don't even know what to do. I just... I need some direction. What do I listen to on morning walks now? Oh, that's right, This American Life and The Splendid Table. But GUYS!?!?!! Did Adnan do it? And what's the deal with Jay, seriously?
9. Sucess! I re-tested my Nut, Seed and Oat Loaf as a double batch, using a more common, larger loaf tin (6.5 x 19cm), and it worked splendidly, with just a slightly longer cooking time! I've updated the recipe. Go forth and loaf!
10. Here is our Christmas tree. I picked him because he was on the small side and also on the round side. I like a plump tree rather than a tall one. We named him Wallace and he smells like presents.
11. I bought Ben Fushia Dunlop's much revered cookbook Every Grain of Rice for his birthday earlier this month (did I mention he had a birthday?). It's both traditional and modern and the recipes appear to be wonderfully achievable. We cannot wait to get stuck into it.
12. Speaking of presents, I treated myself to a dress from Pop Basic. It's black and figure hugging and I LOVE it. I feel like Kim Kardashian in it. In a good way.
13. Also purchased, two pairs of shoes that actually fit + are comfortable!! One black pair and one cream (I'm wearing one of each here). Having an oddly shaped foot means shoes are rarely a comfortable thing and are certainly not an easy shopping endeavour. This was such a win.
14. We have family from Hong Kong coming to stay and I am beyond excited to squeeze some little children, play on the beach and get lost in mazes. I'm hoping to lure my in-laws to move back with all our local eats - cider, beer, cheese...surely they won't go home?
15. Last year our Aunt gave Ben and I a giant towel for Christmas and it's been our constant sand companion. Summer days, friends. Sorry for the double foot shot, I am just in love with the crinkled towel + sand image here...
16. I think this detox flow session is my favourite Yoga with Adriene video. I did it for perhaps the fifth time on Saturday morning and was hitting all the spots.
17. The birthday celebrations continued (is that possible?) when Ben's parents arrived home from Hong Kong. They came around for dinner and I served Muriel's Chicken, a recipe on Clotilde's website (recipe link). I am so in favour of cooking a chicken this way (you put the chicken into a cold oven then turn the heat to 150 degrees Celsius and cook it for 3 hours, basting every 45 minutes). We adored the results, though next time we'd remove the lid and crank the heat at the 2.5 hour mark (to get a crisp skin), rather than letting it go for the full 3 hours. The chicken was served with its hella good gravy on mashed potatoes, with nasturtium leaves and steamed Transition Farm carrots.
18. Lastly, cake! This flourless salted chocolate cake by Teresa Cutter was BONKERS good (recipe link). Seriously. It will be a staple in our household, that's for sure. Beating the eggs for 10-15 minutes transforms them into a golden, airy stream into which you fold the cocoa, buttery goodness. UGH. Magic.
Some adaptations: I used panella sugar because I got a bag of fancy the other day, and I used 2.5 tablespoons, not 2 - this is not a super sweet cake! It is, however, super rich. I also used a combination of Green & Blacks dark cooking chocolate + Plaistowe + Lindt 70% as that is what I had in my chocolate drawer that Thursday afternoon. I also baked it for about 28 minutes, not 35, and it was perfectly moussey. Again, UGH. And I refrigerated it for about four hours before serving modest slices with cherries, blackberries and generous spoonfuls of creme fraiche. We've been eating slithers as dessert following breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past few days.
19. I did an interview recently for Lou in Paris, which was super fun. I stumbled across Lou in the instagram land (a girl from the UK living in Paris and posting pretty pictures? FOLLOW) and we got to chatting. She is so lovely and I was absolutely chuffed to be featured on her site. Go check out her blog and the interview (link).
And there you have it, my December brain dump.
Merry Christmas, from my 1992 family Santa photo to yours.