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Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy Hoppy Christmas

 Like many Foodie-Crafty-Industrious type people, I love Christmas. Not only is it a fun family time with lots of food (and presents!!) but it gives us like-minded people a chance to shine and flex our collective creative muscles. From hand making presents, to new riffs on classic dishes, to clever effective decorations, there are so many way to get into the Spirit of the Season.


My December related shenanigans took a different turn this year, when, while trampolining wth Son 2 in November, I landed awkwardly and broke two bones in my left foot and well as "destroying" (the surgeon's words, not mine) the ligaments that run across the top of my foot. Which meant surgery to put it all back together again. Then a cast for two weeks. Then 4 weeks on crutches. Which did put a serious dent in what I was able to achieve for and in the run up to Christmas Day.

 But being the determined (or "stubborn and pig-headed" as Hubby would say) person that I am, I  knew that I would find a way to do at least SOMETHING festive around the home. As the pain in my foot (and my reliance on medication) decreased, I was able to get up and move about more. We also purchased a little stool on wheels which meant I could move around the kitchen fairly well. But, I was still trying to be aware of my limitations and not create too long a list of things to do. One thing I did have plenty of time for, was sitting on the couch and browsing the internet for ideas. Thank goodness for sites like Pintrest, where I could search things like "Christmas cookies" and "Christmas table" and find all sorts of ideas that I could adapt. It also (thankfully) helped stave off the boredom

 First up was the work Christmas present. Last Christmas was the Year of the New Icing Techniques and they got a batch of festively decorated cupcakes. Scaling it back for this year, I thought I could come at gingerbread: simple to make but very yummy. Add a batch of royal icing and I could still get creative with decorarting.

 So my lovely work colleagues, who had had to deal with me not being there for the month before Christmas, got a batch of "Kim-gerbread Men" - complete with cast.

 ... and their smiles were similar to the ones on their gingerbread men.

 I also found this cute idea for pancakes on Pintrest, which gave the Son 1 and 2 a nice pre-Christmas breakfast...
 ...  bacon for antlers, blueberries for eyes and a raspberry nose.

 Christmas Day posed its own list of challenges. In our family, we rotate who hosts lunch on Dec 25th and this was my year to host. There were quite a few discussions post foot-break as to whether that would still be a viable option. I knew I wouldn't have to slave away in the kitchen as everyone brings something along and really, the only specific job of the host is to provide the table/chairs/plates/glasses etc and the crackers (which I had already bought at last year's post-Christmas sales). So Hubby convinced me that we would be fine, and as he would be doing the majority of the "heavy-lifting" work wise, I took his word for it. And it probably made more sense as I was quite good at moving around our house  by this stage. But it did require a re-think of how to run tae day.
 First thing was to confirm the meal as Cold Meat and Salad. Much more sensible when Dec 25 can be a scorcher to have this rather than the full roast and trimmings. So we had ham, (cold) roast chicken and a roast pork, which was more because Hubby had become such a whizz with his pork and crackling that is seemed a shame not to share it with the family. I made a yummy (and healthy) quinoa salad that is made in layers and looked very festive with a  layer of baby spinach leaves and layer of chopped tomatoes. We did bow to tradition and have a Christmas pudding for dessert (as my aunt makes a fantastic one), but I also whipped up a Christmas ice cream (with nutmeg and brandy), and we had a fruit platter as well (not the Christmas tree ones I had seen online -maybe I'll do that next time...)

  Next up were the decorations. The last time I hosted, I had gotten very excited and done the full Christmas table set up, with decorations and bonbonierre for each guest.

 I think it took me about an hour to set that table, not including the baking and boxing up the cookies in the noodle boxes!
 This year I went for simplicity and a Serve Yourself mentality. Instead of the full table set-up, I had all the plates on a separate table, and I had bundled up a set of cutlery with a napkin and cracker and placed them on each table.: the theory being that each guest could grab their plate, fill it and sit anywhere at the table and go from there.

This year's more streamlined table
 But I still wanted something for my guests, as much to say "thankyou" for helping out and putting up with a more low-key Christmas. After the gingerbread was so well received at work, I though that could be the magical Simple-but-Effective again.  I was going to make individual gingerbread men for everyone, but realized that would mean about 2 batches to make and roll and cook and decorate. I did find a smaller gingerbread man cutter, but, as a few family members have 6 letters in their name, I knew it would be a tight squeeze. So I settled for my favorite shape (which is luckily still Christmas themed) - stars.

  This meant every guest that was coming to our house on Christmas Day had their own gingerbread star that they could eat whenever thy liked, or take home for a quiet Christmas night cuppa.

Christmas breakfast table
 So how did my one-legged Christmas Day go? Wonderfully well. Sons 1 and 2 were great little helpers, getting things out of cupboards and moving things into place. Hubby dutifully completed the list of tasks that seemed to keep extending as he neared the end. Family brought delicious food and helped out with serving and tidying up and it was a lovely relaxing fun day, just like I had hoped it would be.

 And it now gives me just under 1,100 days to plan and get creative for the next time I host Christmas!