Sunday, 23 December 2012

Food during the festive season

Food plays a big part of most people's Christmas celebrations. Food brings people together as they gather around the table to share a meal. Today I'm sharing not only the food I'm preparing for Christmas Day, but also giving you some easy to prepare food ideas for the time around Christmas, where you may feel that time is short and there are too many things to be done. 

Let's start with Christmas Day! Our menu goes a bit like this :

- Turkey. I love turkey, it has to be my favourite meat at Christmas. I also love stuffing, but have skipped that part for a while now because I'm gluten free. I like to make things easy for myself and so usually order a rolled turkey from Lenards. So imagine how thrilled I was this year when I went to my local store to order a rolled turkey and was told they now do a gluten free rice based stuffing! So needless to say one was promptly ordered and I'm looking forward to a turkey with actual stuffing this year!

- Roast pork and roast chicken. Yep, we're doing both. Maybe it seems like overkill a bit, after all, we're not having a Christmas with our extended family. But we'll use the leftovers in the weeks after Christmas. Of course we're doing the obligatory roast vegetables and gravy with it too. 

- Prawns! What would an Australian Christmas be without prawns! I'm picking them up on Christmas Eve so they're as fresh as possible and we're just eating them cold with a dipping sauce (cooked first of course!! Lol!).

- Trifle. This is the only time of year I make trifle, and we all love it with it's layers of sponge cake, custard, jelly and cream. 

- Christmas cake. Gluten free, of course! With custard, or cream, or ice cream (or all three). 

And that just about wraps up our Christmas menu for this year. We always have heaps of fresh fruit in the fridge, which is nice to snack on in the afternoon when you feel like something light after the big meal in the middle of the day. Nectarines, peaches, cherries and mangoes will go down well with our family. 

Now, this blog post was supposed to be finished a few days ago, but time just got away from me with all the lead up to Christmas craziness. So I was going to give you some meal ideas for the week leading up to the big day so that it is as stress free as possible. I'll throw in a few quick tips though for anyone flicking through my blog next year. 

- Plan ahead. Now I know it feels like all you do is plan ahead for Christmas, but I think there's great value to be found in doubling the quantity of a meal every now and again and freezing it. I know with our family we will go out to catch up with friends before Christmas and the kids are having a great time and so are we, so we end up coming home later than planned. Or maybe we'll take a detour on the way home to look at Christmas lights...that sort of thing. It's a great thing to be able to grab a stew or casserole out of the fridge or freezer and heat it in the microwave for dinner when you get home. Because the last thing you feel like doing on those nights is cooking, right?

- There is nothing wrong with eggs, baked beans or toasted sandwiches for dinner. Eggs and baked beans are nutritious and full of protein. This week we've been having lots of easy dinners like this, with the occasional outdoor BBQ meal thrown in. Keep it simple, there's plenty of time for more well rounded complex meals when you're less rushed after Christmas. 

There is a reason I overdid it in the meat department for Christmas Day. The leftovers from that will feed our family for the next week or so. Leftover chicken will become lunch meat and had with salad on an especially warm evening. Roast pork can be chopped up and added to stews with vegies and slow cooked in the oven. The same for turkey. Ham can become ham steaks with pineapple for the kids. The only thing I'll need to buy after Christmas is fresh fruit and vegetables. 
My kids enjoy salad that's chopped up individually on their plates, rather than a big salad mixed in a bowl. And that actually works out more economically as well, because I can just cut up what I need, rather than doing a whole bowl of salad and have half of it wasted. 

I know there will be some of you having a big family Christmas though and there won't be heaps and heaps of leftovers to use in the week after. I will put up some recipes and meal ideas in the coming days but for now I'll say this:

- Keep on keeping it simple. The days are hot so go with things like salad and cold meats or throw some meat on the BBQ and take the heat out of the kitchen.

- Make up a potato or pasta salad that you can just grab out of the fridge at the end of a hot day. It's filling and you can really bulk it up with vegies to make it a meal in itself.

- Cook ahead. Make dinner in the morning and make it something that's easy to reheat. Soups, stews, casseroles and curries. Better yet, make double so you're cutting down on cooking time and freeze a batch. I know a Moroccan flavoured tagine will be on the cards in my house - perfect for leftover roast meats!

- Fruit for dinner is great! My kids love this. I do up mini platters of fresh fruit, raw veg and cold meat. 

 I guess the best advice I can give is go all out for Christmas day and just keep it super simple in the week before and after. It's the holiday season after all, and you want it to feel like a holiday, rather than just another working week.

 Wishing you all a very stress free Christmas,

Nadia xxx                 

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Joys of Christmas

I love Christmas. It would have to be my absolute favourite time of year. The excitement in the air is tangible. I love that it's a time of year that needs to be prepared for. The ritual of shopping for presents, planning the Christmas menu, baking sweet spiced treats, putting up lights in the yard, playing Christmas carols and of course decorating the Christmas tree. 

This year, I'm finding so much joy in watching my 3 year old son. It's his first year of being really truly aware that something special is coming, and he's realising what Christmas is. His face positively lights up with delight when we go to the shopping centre and he sees the decorations up everywhere. We could go every day and his excitement wouldn't be less. It's beautiful to see. 

I'm actually organised for Christmas this year. Usually it's a mad rush around in the week before Christmas trying to get it all done and I end up feeling exhausted and stressed. Not much fun at all. So this year I was determined to be ready for it so it was the enjoyable experience I wanted it to be. I put the kids Christmas presents on layby in July and paid it off over the last five months and in that time also collected small presents for their stockings. I have my turkey ordered and a deposit paid on it and I have a few food items put away already. I know there is still a lot to get done, but it's mostly in the preparation area in the kitchen. And I just love spending time in the kitchen so it's definitely not a chore. 

Our tree isn't up yet......
I wanted to save it for when all the kids were together and my stepson arrives soon for the holidays so we decided to wait and make it a true family event. It's something wonderful to look forward to anyway. 
We have Christmas lights in the yard for the first time ever! I am so excited about this. Because our 3 year old is so in love with the Christmas lights up the street (a gorgeous display) my husband decided to put up some coloured fairy lights along the fence in the back yard and we have some solar candy cane and Santa lights in the front yard. It's not huge, but we go out each evening as a family to look at the lights now. I love it.

I'd love to hear what's on your Christmas menu this year! I've decided not to include it in this post but save it for one later this week. I love menu planning and this year I've decided to keep it simple but it will all be gluten free and I can't wait to share it with you.
 I will leave it there for today but I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas with the people you love and that the warmth and joy of the new year fills your lives and hearts.

Merry Christmas!