$5 Friday: Candied orange peel

Hmmm, the scent of orange peel and its connection with Christmas.  Orange peel is an essential ingredient in many Christmasy things including fruit cake.  And beautiful just by itself. My Nana used to make the best candied orange peel.  I have tried to replicate, and while hers are hard to beat, I think I have done a pretty special job as well.

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$5 Friday: Glühwein

Canberra. June long weekend.  Cold.  Traditionally it was a weekend of firecrackers. Now these are legal no more, but it is also the time when days are almost at their shortest, there is excitement about possible snow on the slopes, and enthusiasm for toasting marshmallows over an open flame.  A cool Canberra party is one involving a bonfire (or its more trendier version, a fire pit).  Even cooler is to go away in search of winter wonderland.

A cup of warm gluhwein

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$5 Friday: Custard

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you have having a wonderful day with family and friends, and reflecting on hope, love and joy at Christmas.  I am celebrating this year with family, eating traditional foods (yes, even plum pudding) and of course, custard. What would Christmas be without custard?  And today I share a simple recipe for homemade custard.

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Plum pudding with homemade custard

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$5 Friday: plum puddings

“Excuse me, do you stock sago?”

The Woollies staffer looked really confused.

“You know, tapioca?”  I tried again.  He looked at me blankly.

“Well, where are puddings then?”  Third time lucky. Down on the bottom shelf, hidden away among jellies and instant puddings, was one solitary brand of sago.

Sago pudding served with plum jam and fresh plums

Sago plum pudding

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$5 Friday: Taiwanese nougat

It’s the time of year for Christmas gifts: Kris Kringles, teacher thank yous, something for the host of a Christmas lunch, random presents.  So I am sharing a recipe for an easy nougat recipe that is the chewiest, most addictive sweet treat you will ever eat.  Really.  And best of all, it doesn’t require a sugar thermometer or indeed anything difficult. No special ingredients and everything can be purchased cheaply in a supermarket.

Taiwanese almond nougat

Taiwanese almond nougat

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Twelve Things that Bring Christmas Cheer

Ah, and so this is Christmas.  So much in-your-face commercial crap, and a lot of pressure to have a perfect event.  Like every year, I have kept my commitment to avoid shopping malls, over indulgence and unnecessary expense.  And yet, in my struggle to identify meaning, I always find there is something unexpected there and take joy in passing on traditions to my sons.

Last year we enjoyed Christmas in Taipei.  A cold Christmas, conducive to baking and lighting candles.  But this year we have returned to Australia, so I am able to share with Big A and Little A the sorts of traditions that I grew up with.  These are some of the things that I love about an Aussie Christmas: Continue reading

Christmas baking: Butter spritz cookies

What is Christmas without cookies?  This year I rediscovered a church-fete bargain bought cookie press that had been in storage for three and a half years, and used it to make Swedish butter spritz cookies.  My kids had lots of fun choosing the different cookie shapes to press out.  And although they are still a bit little and not yet strong enough to pipe themselves, they spent an engaged afternoon helping.

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