Tuesday, November 17, 2009

creative christmas: recipe reminiscing

is it too soon to mention the 'christmas' word? i'm sorry i can't help myself. i love christmas. its been on my brain for the last two months and i can't hold it in anymore! i've been busy busy busy making ornaments, and planning all the food i can eat make, and whipping up a few top secret present projects for certain small family members. i'm super annoyed at myself though, i made up a bunch of very sweet little felt gingerbread ornaments (available for you to buy at little sparrow - pop in and see all the beautiful other toys and treasures if you're in melbourne!) but forgot to take a proper picture before they went off to be sold! here is a low quality peek at my creations...

run, run, as fast as you can! you can buy me at little sparrow, north caulfield, for a limited time only!

christmas time when i was growing up entailed a lot of 'making'. my mum and grandma rowie would get together to make the christmas pudding months in advance. closer to christmas we'd have a little production line set up to make delicious gifts for teachers and friends. i remember still being in junior primary school and helping my mum construct a very elaborate chocolate truffle topiary tree for my teacher!! it was in a little terra cotta pot, with some cristmas ribbon tied around, and i was so proud i'd produced something straight out of the pages of 1991 gourmet magazine! haha

one christmas my mum sewed me an advent calendar of pockets. each day i woke up to find a sliver of paper in a different pocket with mysterious instructions: look in the microwave... or look behind the tv. and there would be a shiny new packet of hairclips, or a handmade voucher for 'late night supper at spats cafe'!

food played a huge part in our family all year. i still have my mum's recipe books, and my grandma rowie's... and even my great grandmother's! a lot of it i'll never cook (chilled tounge in aspic, anyone?), but each time i search through for some half-remembered dish it's like i'm back at my grandma rowie's kitchen table, with my mum copying out recipes from the woman's weekly and something delicious baking in the oven.

recipe lift out book from the australian women's weekly 1967

its amazing just how much personality can be found in a scrap book of cut-out recipes, label-backs, and scrawled notes on envelopes. recently i found a scrap of paper with a menu plan for my mum's christmas lunch, from probably 10 years ago. it was so moving, and just reminded me of what a super hostess my mum was. my grandma rowie's recipe book is as conflicted as she was - half filled with rich, french cuisine and dessert recipes and the other half with dieters recipes!

recipe lift out from the australian women's weekly, 1971

this year, as i do my own christmas planning, i get to revisit with my mum and grandma rowie. i wish it was in person, but they will be with me in spirit as i make rowie's hard sauce and christmas cake, and toast to the season with my mum's favourite cocktail, a pimm's and dry ginger ale. the traditions they created are what makes christmas for me. now that i have my own family the thought of passing on the silly and the meaningful things we used to do together, as well as inventing my own new "traditions" makes me hear sleigh bells from about october 1st! just 16 more sleeps til i can have that fresh pine smell in my house!

are you a christmas lover too? what christmas traditions does your family have?


Miss Sofia said...

I loooooove Christmas (even though I'm agnostic)! I spend the night of the 24th with my family and my grandparents' house. There's always a huge dinner, present giving, catching up with relatives I don't see a lot and cheesy Christmas songs. Very typical family Christmas. And on the 25th I normally have lunch with my dad and my grandfather (my dad and my mom are divorced), and then I spend the day relaxing and going through my presents with my little sister.

neopostretro said...

In the "Sweet Food for Christmas" cover are those mini-fruit cakes? If so, I am intrigued.

Maureen said...

I just love cold pressed tongue - it is almost fat free and delish.

Back in the 50's and 60's here in England, any working class wedding breakfast was 'ham and tongue salad' with trifle to follow.

My grandmother's recipe book would have been thrown away by my mother - it would never have occurred to her that anyone might want it. Sigh!

strawberry lemonade girl said...

Christmas is my favorite holiday/favorite time of year. I just found some amazing xmas coloring books from the 70s at the thrift store that were never colored. Weeee! But alas I have to wait for our American Thanksgiving before I can give in to the Christmasy feeling!

Sarah said...

Ooh, I love Christmas too - and no, it's not too early to start talking about it! Our family always used to make a gingerbread house together, which involved attempting to pack as much sugar on top of sugar on top of sugar...now that we're all off on our own we all make our own gingerbread houses and then compare pictures of whose looks the best!

Christmas in Malta said...

I just stumbled across your blog. I absolutely love your flower designs at the top ...

I really liked reading your post ... what a trip down memory lane. I remember my mum copying recipes or cutting pages out of newspapers, etc ... I'm 100% sure that between us we have enough recipes to last for a lifetime lol

One Christmas tradition that is a MUST in our family, is to buy a huge box of Quality Street and open it at lunch ... nothing special when you come to think of it, but it's something that has stuck and all the family looks forward to it - it's hilarious how everyone kind of jumps on his/her favourite chocolates, year after year. The toffee ones wrapped in orange silver paper are the last ones to go, because nobody likes them lol

Hope you have a fantastic Christmas :)



Sara said...

Hi lovely - just spotted these on How About Orange - http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2009/11/felt-gingerbread-ornaments.html
I love your felt gingermen so much, they do look good enough to eat! I reckon you should make a few bitten ones too though, how cute would they look hanging on the tree or on a garland with a few bitten ones scattered in here and there?

apparentlyjessy said...

Loved this post!
First up I think your gingerbread men are so sweet, if I lived in Melbourne I would be snapping them up for sure.
I love getting all nostalgic during holiday seasons, one of my favourite holiday traditions is one my Grandpa does every year, which he got from his mother. After pudding, we all sit around the table and Grandpa gives us each one last present and it is always something silly like a giant sponge for washing the car or a years supply of glue sticks or sticky tape, something that we can use, but is quite funny to receive!

I love what your Mum did for you with the advent calendar pockets, was that spats cafe on King William Rd? I love that place!

Pilgrim Lee said...

wow, thanks everyone for your comments!

miss sofia - sounds like a lovely eve and day! my parents were divorced too so i spent my xmas times split too.

neo/lindsay - they're not fruit cakes i'm afraid. i don't know if its just an australian thing, but its white christmas (the pale ones) and dark christmas (the fruitcakey looking ones, i guess). its vegetable shortening, melted chocolate, rice krispies, glacé cherries and coconut. they're disgustingly festive. very 50's.

maureen - mmmm trifle. i'll take the trifle, you take the tounge haha

strawberry-alex-ade - oooooh those sound awesome! i kinda envy you americans and yer thanksgiving. i feel lacking in an extra day of stuffing my face. also, as Pilgrim, the opportunity for thanksgiving jokes in australia is pretty limited ;)

sarah - aww i love gingerbread houses! let us know how yours turns out this year! i must make one. i always intend to and forget.

christmas in malta - ooh can i come to your xmas? i love the toffee quality streets! haha

sara - haha the very first gingerbread guy i made i messed up his leg so i chopped it off. when i get the xmas deco's out i'll show you a pic.

jessy - that sounds hilarious. in that context i'd be happy to recieve some sticky tape for xmas! and yep, it was king william rd Spats :) its just the best place isn't it?

apparentlyjessy said...

Yeah Spats is the best, I must visit soon! THE best dessert plating!

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