At this time of year, it's not only food bloggers that are preoccupied with food and its preparation. People who haven't preheated an oven for 12 months suddenly start preparing gingerbread, while the keener cooks go into overdrive. I tried not to go too crazy but with some family meals scheduled, it was important to me that I contribute something to the table. Firstly, because making and giving food is my primary method of showing people I care; secondly, because I didn't want feeding two vegetarians to make anyone else's Christmas more difficult.
We didn't need to worry about that on Sunday night, Christmas Eve Eve. We visited Emma and Simon's home and were spoiled with five incredible Indian-inspired vegetarian dishes. The entree was battered deep-fried balls of spiced potato stuffed with fetta and served with yoghurt dressing and chutney - one of the most memorable dishes of the summer. We were sent home with boxes of leftover curry, as well as a Christmas tradition from Emma's family that reveals her American origins: pecan cinnamon scrolls with maple flavoured syrup. Although they make a habit of eating them for breakfast on Christmas day, Michael and I have been rationing them out for afternoon tea. Our small contribution to the evening was a dessert of homemade vanilla icecream served with mixed berries and pomegranate syrup.
Christmas Eve was spent with my dad, his wife Anne, and Anne's family. In the home of Anne's sister Sue, we exchanged gifts and shared an enormous meal. I baked another round of Haalo's chocolate orange butter biscuits and gift boxed them for Sue. If Anne and Sue's dad is anything like my own grandparents, I thought, the cocoa nibs would be difficult for his teeth; so for Max I made the same basic biscuit dough and sandwiched the baked biscuits with lemon curd.
Michael and I were spoiled with multiple edible gifts: chocolates from Haigh's and Lindt, as well as fruit trees and farm packs destined for East Timor and Sri Lanka via Oxfam unwrapped. We were well catered for at dinner time, too: there were a wealth of salads as well as sweet potato slice and vegetarian lasagne purchased especially for us. Between us Michael and I prepared a large tray of our long-time favourite non-sausage rolls with Chinese style barbeque sauce on the side. I was proud to win a few more fans from unexpected corners of the table.
It was a night of blended families and mixed traditions; not seamless, but with a sense of sharing and humour we should have many more pleasant Christmas meals to look forward to.