Monday, December 10, 2012

Tastes of the season—by Kandy Shepherd

Let’s state right up front that I love the festive season. I’m not that “bah humbug” kind of person. I love the celebrations; the fun; the bling; carols and corny songs;  the giving of presents (and, let’s be honest, the receiving of them!); and the getting-together-with-loved-ones. And I like the food. Not just the actual eating, but even more so the sharing of food with family and friends.

I enjoy the traditional ham and turkey and roast beef type feast (which many people of European background insist on Down Under, even in the sweltering heat). I also appreciate the casual barbecue and seafood outdoor meals that make more sense in this climate.Celebrating with the extended family is is great, when each person brings their speciality—(heaven help us if we don’t show up with my husband’s marmalade-glazed ham!)

I enjoy setting our festive table with favorite table linen and accessories I've collected over the years

I also have a soft spot for the “waifs and strays” type Christmas dinners when we make sure no-one we know eats alone. And sometimes it’s fun to let someone else do the cooking. One Christmas, when I was living in London years ago, a group of us went out to a posh hotel for lunch. It was wonderful—and no dishes to wash—but my family thought it wasn’t quite the same. (And no leftovers to enjoy for days afterward!) We've never done it since.

My wonderful writer's group has a Christmas meeting, where each member brings a dish--these were some of the awesome desserts we shared this year 

For eight years I was editor-in-chief of a Christmas magazine put out by one of Australia’s major supermarkets and I have a collection of fabulous recipes that I love to cook at this time of year. Included on the list for this year: a fruit cake with pineapple; a choc-mint frozen ice-cream dessert; salted caramels for gifts.

Last year, my little niece and I made Christmas cupcakes--we're hoping to do the same this year

Note the absence of savoury dishes. Christmas dinner is my husband’s domain. I’m allowed to assist with puddings and desserts but basically it’s his show. He chooses the menu, he shops for it, he cooks it. You won’t hear complaints from me—he does an amazing job and I’m the first to shower him with compliments. I’m looking forward to it already!

What about you? Wherever and however you celebrate the festive season, do you have a favorite dish that you just have to have? Or a family custom? Who does the cooking in your house? I’d love to hear it!

I wish you all a happy, peaceful celebration with lots of time to read good books!

Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction. Her books The Castaway Bride, Something About Joe, Love is a Four-Legged Word and Home Is Where the Bark Is—don’t include a Christmas story among them—she intends to write one for next year!

Visit Kandy at her website


Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, what a gorgeous post. I haven't had breakfast yet and those pictures have me absolutely salivating. Oh, if only I had mince pies and fruit platters instead of boring old toast! Aren't you lucky with your husband doing the main course for the Christmas dinner? Definitely a keeper! I've really enjoyed your posts here this year - looking forward to more next year. Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas! x

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Anna, so glad you enjoyed the posts. Isn't the fresh fruit wonderful at this time of year Down Under? One of the benefits of celebrating a summer Christmas!
Yes, I'm lucky my husband virtually takes over our festive lunch. He started doing it when we were first married and it has really become his thing.
I do enjoy a northern hemisphere Christmas, though. Sometimes I think we're just playing at it here, when the real deal is cold and frosty, even better snowing. That's one of the reasons I enjoyed your new Christmas novella THE WINTER WIFE, the romantic setting on a snowy Christmas Eve. It's a lovely story!
My very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year! xx

Pat Cochran said...

Your gathering sounds a great deal like our
family get-together. Two or three of us do
the meats, everyone else provides their fa-
vorite sides and/or desserts. Altogether
a most comfortable gathering!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Kandy, thanks for saying you enjoyed the Winter Wife. I have to say it's been a buzz having a Christmas story out. I haven't done one before. Seriously thinking of doing a novella every year. You're so right about the cold and frosty weather being the biz at this time of year - it's sweltering here in Qld!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Your Christmas gathering sounds wonderful, Pat. So much less work than one person having to do it all! The thing I like best is that you get to taste other peoples' festive favorites too, and maybe pick up a recipe or two.
I hope your celebrations this year are the best yet!

Sharon Archer said...

Kandy, your blog pics look good enough to eat!

I agree with you 100% about having leftovers after Christmas! One of my favourite food groups, leftovers! LOL We've got the family gathering and a friend who regularly joins us.

I think our chief cook this year wants to try roast duck instead of the usual Xmas poultry so that will be a little different! But we're all very happy to be guinea pigs!

Merry Christmas!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Kandy!

Christmas at your place looks divine! My husband and I don't have family nearby, so we usually invite friends over for an 'orphan's hot lunch or dinner. I *really* love the idea of a posh lunch out a la your London days. That could be an option for us this year. It's hard to believe Christmas is again looming. I'll have to start looking around for some recipes, not to mention presents!

Merry Christmas! x

Mary Preston said...

I have to have my Mother's Port Wine Trifle & black cherries & watermelon & mangoes & .... basically all the 'Christmas' fruit available here in Australia.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Roast duck, Sharon! I would love that. I'm sure it will be scrumptious. I bet there won't be too many leftovers!

Every Christmas issue of every magazine I've ever worked on, we've always put in a "creative use of leftovers" recipe feature. I think my favorite one was ham frittata made in muffin tins all ready to take to a picnic. Must try it this year!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Oh my gosh, Mary, that trifle sounds divine! Christmas in Australia falls at the right time for all the wonderful summer fruit, doesn't it? Sometimes my husband gives me a box of cherries for a present instead of chocolate and I love it!

Happy Christmas!

Kandy Shepherd said...

I love an orphan's dinner, Vanessa. I have been both host and guest for such a meal. It's awful to feel left out at this time of year if family is not close by. I hope yours goes really well.
Can I confess that I have not done one thing for Christmas yet? I was so determined not to have a last-minute panic this year, but looks like it's heading that way (again!)

Happy Christmas! xx

Annie West said...

Kandy, thanks for sharing that lovely post! The pictures are scrumptious and the idea of your husband doing the main course is so very appealing.

We tend to have a traditional Christmas meal - ham and turkey and then plum pudding. I have to say I look forward to eating it if not cooking it, but like you and Sharon, I adore the leftovers and not needing to cook for days afterwards. My have Christmas tradition? Christmas pudding and cake that all the family have helped prepare. I'm sure that makes it taste extra special!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Annie. So your family, like mine, enjoys a traditional meal on the big day. Despite the heat, it's nice, isn't it? My husband is English and he wouldn't have it any other way!

And yes, I agree, dishes that the family have helped make, have a certain added touch.

I hope you and your family the festive season--and that special meal together!

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