My family has never been one for the traditional trappings of Christmas, especially when it comes to food. Hot Australian summers weren’t very kind to roast-cooking mothers back in the days before airconditioners, and the cold meat and salad dinner has become the norm.
Well, except that I’m not one for sticking to norms. While I don’t do a roast, I do play a little with the meat and salad idea. And this year I decided to do a ‘disappointment free’ Christmas lunch. It’s roots are in a rather traumatic experience I had as a child…
Relative at Christmas event: Hello child. Do you like mince pies?
Relative: Here, have one of these.
Trudi: Thank you. (Bite.) YEEEUURRRRRK! They’re not mince pies!
Relative (puzzled, or maybe smug): They’re fruit mince pies. For Christmas.
Trudi: Is this a trick? Because it’s MEAN.
So this year I made mince pies filled with turkey and cranberries, and lamb, spices and dates:
I also made Waldorf Salad without the celery, sauteed brussell sprouts with soy sauce and pine nuts rather than those squishy grey things, and ‘Mangomisu’ which contained orange and mango and, most importantly for me, no coffee.
It all worked very well apart from the Mangomisu. Once it was released from the springform tin, the sides gradually slumped. We managed to cut slices before the whole thing began to collapse, and eventually tipped it all into a bowl and called it ‘Mango-mess-eww’ – or ‘trifle’.
While disappointing, I have to admit to some smugness that I hadn’t used any recipies for the rest of the food, while the one recipe I did try – which happened to be the cover recipe on a Delicious magazine issue – was the one that failed. As to why it failed… I suspect a combination of not beating the cream enough, the fridge not being cold enough, and it being a warm afternoon.
Even so, it tasted great!
I gave Dad his socks:
They fit perfectly. And this is how the table setting looked:
The base was a piece of styrofoam covered in crepe paper, and on top was a length of shredded paper that I’d strung onto lengths of cotton at either end. I took photos of the making of it, but it was a very hot day, the blinds were closed, and the photos came out too grainy.
I even wrapped the presents in old printed paper, glued together, with little triangular windows cut out and celophane stuck behind for colour. This amused my parents no end, and Dad kept trying to work out what the printing on the back of the wrapping and placemats was from.
It was a fun, though exhausting, day.
I’m particularly relieved that it all came together, because we had such a stressful week and there’ll be no lazing about on Boxing Day for me. First the courier that was supposed to deliver some work for me missed us on Monday, didn’t notify us until Tuesday, and didn’t deliver the work until late Wednesday – and then the cat suddenly became ill on Wednesday night so we rushed him to a late-night vet, then had to get him xrayed on Thursday. So now I have four days to proof a manuscript.
But at least there’s lots of yummy leftovers to eat! And the cat should be okay, in the short term. (He’s 15 and it looks like he’s got spinal cord degeneration.)