I love giving gifts at Christmas. Obviously, for retail outlets, it’s the prime time of year to make lots of sales, but I don’t see gift-giving at Christmas as getting “sucked into commercialism”. For me, it’s an excuse to spoil people I care about, to make a fuss over them and bring a smile to their faces.
I thought you guys might like to see some of the cooking/food-related gifts I got for Christmas this year – they certainly brought a smile to my face!
First, on the left, a gift from our friend E (who cooks us lovely food from time to time) – a jar of her homemade vegetable pickles. On the right, Christmas cake from my work friend D. I love fruit cake and haven’t had much this festive season, so I know I’ll enjoy this! D wrote a lovely note about our friendship in the card that came with the cake – I felt very touched when I read it. I do hope we’ll continue to be great friends and colleagues in the coming year.
There is a label on the other side of the jar with the date the pickles were made. They look delicious, and I’ve been eyeing them off. So far, I’ve identified cauliflower, carrot and cucumber. The cauliflower looks especially good. I can’t wait to get into these pickles.
Next – some pressies from Jac’s family. I know this isn’t food-related, but I love this book – it’s the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition! If you’re a fan of video games (especially if you’ve owned multiple gaming consoles in your lifetime, and even more so if, like me, you currently own multiple consoles) you’ll find this book interesting and enjoyable – I certainly do! I also got the Australian Women’s Weekly Bake cook book, which has lots and lots of great recipes and baking tips. I got the Two Fat Ladies Compleat (sic) Fourth Season to complete (or is it compleat?) my collection, and Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen DVD – I know lots of people, mostly women, who can’t stand Nigella, but I remain a loyal fan – I haven’t seen this series, and am looking forward to watching it. I also got some pointy-tipped ironwood chopsticks, which look like they’ll be lovely to eat with, and a cute cat tea towel. The set of sushi rice moulds are not really a Christmas gift, but I received them on Christmas day – they came from my eldest sister CW. She bought them for me from a $3 Japanese shop she discovered on her recent trip to New Zealand. From her description of this shop, I think I would’ve squealed in sheer delight had I been there! Lots and lots of items, cute accessories and knick-knacks and bento gear, all for $3 each! Rabbit, bear and dog-shaped sushi rice should taste extra delicious! :) On the right are sauces, dressings and jams – details with the next photo.
My sister CW and her hubby M gave us the first three items from the left – chakalaka tapenade from the Oxfam Shop, quandong dessert sauce and lemon myrtle dressing. The two items in jars on the right are homemade onion jam and chilli jam, made by my brother and my sister-in-law Angela. I know how much you guys love details, so I’ve included more information about each of the items below, taken from their labels.
Chakalaka tapenade – “This curried vegetable relish from Soweto is traditionally served ‘the morning after’ (as a hangover cure), with putu (stiff maize porridge). Excellent on rounds of fried polenta or flatbreads served with flame-grilled beef, game, fish or chicken”.
Quandong dessert sauce – “Quandong, native or wild peach, a favourite among Outback Australians”.
Lemon myrtle dressing – “The wonderfully fragrant leaves of the tropical rainforest Lemon Myrtle tree have distinct lemon, lime and lemongrass flavours. Aboriginal people of Australia’s eastcoast rainforest use the leaves to season fish and seafood…”
Onion jam – “Delicious with sandwiches, lamb, beef and BBQ meats”.
Chilli jam – “Delicious with seafood and salads”.
Not surprisingly, I am looking forward to cracking them all open and trying them out. We have a nice piece of barramundi in the freezer that I’ve already earmarked for some lemon myrtle dressing, and no doubt there’ll be sandwiches and burgers made with onion jam and chilli jam. I’ve already teased Jac that she’ll need some of the chakalaka tapenade the morning after her next big night out – she does like to party hard once in a while! I am quite interested in trying the quandong sauce as I don’t think I’ve ever tried quandongs – maybe on pancakes… or poured over vanilla ice cream.
My mum and dad bought Jac and me a new electric frypan – we’re chuffed as the thermostat on ours isn’t working and we haven’t replaced it, so we haven’t had an electric frypan to use for ages. They are so handy to use. I am very very thrilled with my new Royal Dutch Pancake Maker, a gift from my sister Juji and her boyfriend Jay. These were on sale at Myer way back in August. Juji and I went to Myer to buy one and were told they’d sold out in record time and there were none available anywhere in Australia, and stock was not expected until at least December. Well, they returned just in time for Christmas. The basic pancake recipe is included in the manual in the box. I’m looking forward to making mini pancakes – plain ones, and ones stuffed with cheese, and with jam. Juji’s going to come over to make them with me! Stay tuned for that. I reckon they may be good for bento too. :)
Thank you, everyone, for my lovely pressies (including the others not featured in this post). I feel very spoilt and have lots of pleasure and enjoyment ahead of me when I use or consume your gifts.
We spent Boxing Day at home, avoiding the bargain-hunting crowds at the sales in town. I love shopping and don’t mind crowds – to me, the big crowds mean there must be great deals and bargains to be found – but Jac gets really cranky and has no tolerance for crowds. I wouldn’t subject her to Boxing Day sale madness! We watched Law and Order SVU Season 6 (one of the presents I gave to Jac – she’s a big fan of the show) for hours while I sorted through and uploaded my latest photos.
I made up a plate of ham, turkey breast and thigh and stuffing, and also had a piece of buttered toast. It was a tasty meal, no sauce or gravy necessary. I know I’ve been raving on about the turkey thigh these past couple of posts, but I could honestly keep eating it for days and not get sick of it. I’ve frozen the last small chunk of turkey thigh roast as I didn’t want it to sit in the fridge getting too old while I worked my way through it, but turkey thigh will definitely make an appearance in one of my bento lunches this week.