This week I have been feeling a little fatigued. Coming out of the Covid slump has brought with it many expectations to catch up with the things we weren’t able to do during lockdown. Throw Christmas into the mix and it feels like we have reached a bottleneck of things to do in a very small window of time, and the prospect of meeting all of these expectations can seem quite daunting. Is it any wonder I don’t feel like I have much festive spirit? I feel overwhelmed and anxious and a huge responsibility to please.
The deafening shriek of the cicadas as the men try and attract the attention of the girls heralds the start of summer. December has arrived along with some warm humid days. The Cape Chestnuts are dense with lilac flowers and the sweet scent of gardenia perfumes the air. It is a reminder that Christmas is imminent which means planning and shopping. Does anyone else loath shopping the way I do? Don’t get me wrong, I find giving presents far more satisfying than receiving them, however it’s that mindless walk through the shops searching for that special something that drives me to despair. What on earth will I choose for each one of my loved ones? I want it to be special and joyful. I procrastinate until I can’t delay it any longer because first and foremost there are presents to get in the mail for my niece and nephew, and the cut off date to post them for pre-Christmas delivery is looming. Once again I start to panic. Encouraged by the prospect of saving money in the Black Friday sales which seems to extend out for four days until Monday, I start to draw up a shortlist. There are far too many possibilities and I cull the list until it’s down to an acceptable number of options. I choose four small things for each of them as I know the children get so excited about opening presents. Hopefully somewhere in there there will be something they love and will have fun playing with. After all, Christmas for me is all about the squeals of joy from the little ones, followed closely by the food, however the food can wait for the moment as first there are presents to attend to.
Cape Chestnuts, Killara
As I tread the footpaths in my neighbourhood decorations start to appear on some of the houses, many with large and colourful wreaths on the doors and glittering reindeers near the porticos. I start to think about what I can do to make our humble little abode feel Christmassy and come up with a few ideas. This year we will spend Christmas in our little rented apartment with our adult children….I should at least do something to make it look festive? In previous years we would decorate our tall Christmas tree with little collectibles and pretty lights, however this tree is far too big for the space we now occupy. This will only be the second year since our children were born that we haven’t put the tree up. I decided to settle on some outdoor decorations instead, some giant silver satin bows on the terrace fence and some poinsettias in the garden, something we can look out to from the living room that won’t occupy too much space. Closer to the day, I’ll pop some Christmas Bush into some vases and place them around the room. Hopefully someone will appreciate my meagre efforts!
In an effort to speed up my recovery and reduce the inflammation in my body I am now two weeks into an anti-inflammatory eating plan. I strongly believe that food is an essential part of our well-being and the fuel that keeps us going. Hippocrates wasn’t wrong when he so wisely said, let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Essentially the plan involves cutting out red meat, processed foods, gluten, dairy products and reducing carbohydrates, especially those containing sugar. Instead the focus is on eating white meats, chicken and turkey, fish, lots of leafy green vegetables to cleanse the liver, including detoxifying herbs of parsley, coriander and celery and iron rich beets. I can report that since starting the eating plan my aches and pains are definitely reducing and I have been enjoying the variety of food. Today I had this ridiculously delicious tempeh salad. It was the first time I had ever eaten tempeh which is made from lupin beans and I can report back that it was delicious.
Anti-inflammatory tempeh salad with bean sprouts, snow peas,
asparagus, coriander, parsley dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic
This week I listened to an interview with Cressida Cains on the much loved Graziher podcast Life on the Land. (29/11) Cressida and her husband Michael gave up corporate careers and started Pecora Dairy, one of the only sheep dairies in Australia where they craft award winning and sumptuous ewes milk cheeses. This has become Cressida’s life work. I am in total admiration of this humble yet hard working woman and I think you will be too after listening to this conversation.
On the box we have been watching the outrageously funny romantic comedy Catastrophe starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. When Rob goes to London on a business trip he has a supposedly meaningless one night stand with Sharon, however things turn awry when he returns to America and receives a phone call to announce that she is pregnant. They decide to try and make a go of the relationship and along the way encounter one mishap after another.
I’ve never made relish before, and with another fresh bunch of rhubarb on hand from Moonacres Farm I decided to get a little spicy in the kitchen this afternoon and try my hand at making a Spicy Rhubarb Chutney. The aromatic smell of French Eschalots softening in the pan filled the apartment and when combined with the spices of star anise, cloves, orange peel and black pepper I’m sure the neighbours were drooling. I popped the finished relish into a jar to enjoy with soft cheeses during the festive season. I might’ve had a little taste test from the pan and I found myself licking the back of the spoon. The relish would also be great with some crusty bread or served alongside roast pork or turkey breast.
Spicy Rhubarb Relish, recipe from Taste.com
Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.