A Christmas Day Lunch

Very sadly, the year didn’t end so well for a couple of well-loved families.  On Christmas Eve a long-standing friend Drew and I had known since our teenage years was tragically killed in an accident leaving behind a wife and three beautiful daughters.  Two days after Christmas, Em’s father-in-law passed away after a short bout with cancer.  Christmas for those families was abhorrent as they struggled with their lose, shock and grief.

A full moon on Christmas Day

A full moon rising through the melaleuca forest

Last week Drew and I attended two funerals and while the services truly honoured the men who had passed, it was not how anyone imagined the year ending and the new year beginning.  We have been deeply saddened for the families affected and as a consequence we are all out of sorts.

Enjoying a new book. If he's wearing thongs, he lost them 24-hours later (another Christmas present!)

Enjoying a new book.

My blogging and visiting my blogging friends has been all over the place however, I am now trying to get things a little more on track.  While it was now some time ago, I did want to share with you how we spent Christmas in The Dunes holiday house at Mount Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.

Setting the table

Setting the table

We woke up on Christmas morning with 12 people in the house including the five of us, Drew’s parents and his brother’s family of 5.  After opening presents that were piled high around the tiny little Christmas tree, it was on with the Aussie tradition of a refreshing swim at the beach.  Alfie had been given a surfboard for Christmas so it was down to the beach to give it a test-drive.  He shared his board with his Queensland cousin.

A Christmas day surf

A Christmas day surf

While my sister-in-law and I were busy in the kitchen, everyone else relaxed either in the pool or beside the pool.  Alfie was very keen to begin reading the book he found in his Christmas stocking.

Loving his new book

Loving his new book – he lost the new sunglasses the next day!

The indoor table was set for 12.  I had remembered to pack my white tablecloth into my suitcase which by a stroke of good fortune was the perfect size for the holiday home’s dining room table.  I’d used the table cloth the night before for our Christmas Eve dinner and before going to bed had scooped it up and put it in the wash.  With the heat of the day it took only an hour to line-dry and then it was back on the table, un-ironed!

A white and gold theme

A white and gold theme

I did want some flowers for the table, like a vase of holly or Christmas bush, however, I’d been unable to source either in my mad dash around the unfamiliar shops on Christmas Eve.  I did think the table looked a bit bare, but in a holiday house it’s often a case of just making do.  I did pack my candles and I found a platter to put them on.

Sadly, no flowers for the table

Sadly, no flowers for the table

We started the celebration with a drink.  I pre-ordered the booze from a website in Sydney that delivered the wine the day before we left.  We packed it all into our car and when we arrived, I found the house had this beautiful silver urn for presenting the drinks on ice – handy!  We started with a pink-hued glass of champagne – my favourite drink for a celebration.

Celebratory drinks and my favourite, pink bubbles

Celebratory drinks and my favourite, pink bubbles

There were canapes that I chose in colours of red and green to match the Christmas colours; things like dolmades and fetta-stuffed bell peppers.  But somehow the canapes weren’t photographed – but I promise they were there!

He's wearing sunglasses he was given for Christmas. 24-hours later they were never to be seen again.

Peas in a pod.

I pre-ordered a free-range organic turkey from Green Ag Farms on the Sunshine Coast.  It was delivered to the front door on Christmas Eve.  The turkey weighed just under 7kgs (15.5lbs).  Not breaking from tradition, I rubbed a hazelnut, garlic and parsley butter under the skin of the breast and thighs, then stuffed the cavity with a celery leaf, shallot, walnut and sage stuffing, and filled the neck cavity with a forcemeat stuffing with sausage meat, apples, dried apricots and thyme.

Resting the turkey and yes, I forgot to pack the kitchen string

Resting the turkey and yes, I forgot to pack the kitchen string so the legs have been tied with a frond from the palm tree!

While the holiday home’s kitchen was enormous, the oven was tiny.  We decided to put the turkey in the bar-be-cue with Drew keeping a very watchful eye on it.  It was a bit of a ‘fingers-crossed’ approach.

Doing an excellent job

Doing an excellent job

At about 2pm the lunch was ready.  It was with great relief to discover the turkey was perfect – not even a teeny bit dry or undercooked.  Drew carved the bird while I searched around for suitable platters to serve the lunch that would be buffet style.

Sue making the salads

Sue making the salads

We served the turkey with homemade cranberry sauce and a gravy I made with pan juices, and a bottle of verjuice and a little cornflour I’d packed into my suitcase.  Yes, I had to serve the gravy in a measuring jug – it’s all part of the holiday experience!

Stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce

Stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce

I made duck-fat potatoes with rosemary and these were cooked in the oven while the turkey was inside the bar-be-cue.

A platter of potatoes on the buffet

A platter of potatoes on the buffet

My sister-in-law, Sue, made two beautiful salads.  One was with baby rocket, pumpkin and caperberries and the other a mixed green salad with yellow tear-drop tomatoes.

Two stuffings and the cranberry sauce

Two stuffings and the cranberry sauce

I managed to find two matching platters to serve them on.

Two salads

Two salads

Lunch was an enormous feast and there were plenty of leftovers.

Carved turkey and a measuring jug of verjuice gravy

Carved turkey and a measuring jug of verjuice gravy

After lunch dessert was served.  I’d packed in my suitcase, the ingredients to make a White Chocolate Christmas Bombe.  I was so worried that the kitchen wouldn’t have suitable equipment for me to make this dessert I’ve been eating on Christmas Day since I was knee-high.  But with a blender and a mortar and pestle and going back to the 1950’s where you did most things by hand as appliances hadn’t yet been invented, it was made.

White chocolate frozen Christmas Bombe

White chocolate frozen Christmas Bombe

White Chocolate Bombe with berries and chocolates

White Chocolate Bombe with berries and chocolates

In order to ease the bombe from the tin, I lined the tin with cling-film.  That put an end to the stress of trying to un-mould a dessert that’s glued to the container while all eyes are transfixed on the challenge of the moment.  I found a platter to serve the bombe and then decorated it with fresh berries.  It would have been nice (and a lot more decorative), to have served the bombe drizzled with raspberry coulis however, the kitchen didn’t have a fine sieve so we went with whole berries piled high.

I need a prettier mould

I need a prettier mould

Then there were chocolates for those still with a gap, the compulsory reading of the ‘jokes’ from the bonbons, the swapping of ‘treasures’ from the bonbons, a walk on the beach and a swim in the pool.

No flowers, but a little santa to decorate the table

No flowers, but a little santa to decorate the table

It was a really wonderful Aussie Christmas.

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Comments

  1. It looks like you all had a wonderful day together, Charlie. It’s unfortunate that the year ended so sadly for your friends. I hope the new year is much brighter.

  2. Do you shop at the same luggage store that Mary Poppins frequents? You have the best suitcase ever! Sounds like a wonderful Christmas. x

    • That’s so funny, Lisa! I wish I was Mary Poppins – being able to escape with that umbrella would be very handy. I did have quite a bit in my suitcase – before we left I had three pages of things I knew I needed to pack; going away for Christmas and planning to entertain the relatives on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in a holiday house where you don’t know what will be in the cupboards is quite a feat!

  3. Hi Charlie, it looks like you have so many great traditions and had a wonderful holiday!

  4. I’m sorry to hear of the losses among your close friends. A lovely Christmas gathering and meal with family.

  5. I’m still in awe that you managed to pull all this off in a holiday rental – it looks like a fabulous way to spend the day with family. So sorry though that you’ve lost your friends in such sad circumstances – it always seems so much more poignant at this time of year.

  6. Mary Galea says:

    Starting the year with bittersweet times, but Charlie, your blog is one of the highlights of the internet. A bit of a strange Christmas this year for us with two of our kids not talking to each other after one of their marriages ended, but the grandies made it all worthwhile as we flirted from house to house. I love reading your heartwarming family stories. Cheers from SA, and if you’re in Adelaide this year, would love to catch up.

    • Hi Mary, thank you so much for your very kind words. Lovely to hear from you. I’m so sorry your Christmas celebrations were marred by two of your children not speaking with one another. Coincidentally I have a very dear friend who was in the same situation; her two daughters flew in from different corners of the globe and on the day they arrived there were differences and they ended up not speaking. They caused so much stress and unhappiness for everyone else. Such a shame. I’d love to catch up if I find myself in Adelaide xx

  7. Charlie, sorry to hear about the loss of your friends… such sadness at Christmas always seem to hurt more, doesn’t it. I envy your seaside getaway… happy new year to you. xx

  8. sounds like you had a fab xmas day and holiday. what a terrible shame about your friend. always extra sad when these things happen around christmas time. here’s to the best for 2016 for us all.

  9. oh and did I mention how much i love gravy? i love buckets of it with my xmas dinner.:))

  10. Charlie.. I am in love with photos… I started feeling like “I missed something” …. Happy new year dear…

  11. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friends. XO What a gutting way to mark your holidays. But what a beautiful and delicious time you created with your family. XO

  12. So sorry to hear of the two deaths that made this christmas a sad one but am glad you still managed to celebrate in style. Your table looks very elegant. My mum has been decorating her table with christmas baubles in a glass bowl the last few years which look great and also sticking some christmas ribbon around her large candles. But I love your little santas and when food looks as good as yours you don’t need too much decoration. I would love to try that bombe one day but it does need a large group ready to tuck in which limits opportunities.

  13. How lovely Christmas lunch, Charlie! I’m very sorry for your friends and their loss. Take care and enjoy your beautiful family.
    G

  14. The circle of life is always a poignant reminder to never take the joyous moments in life for granted. Am thinking of you at this time of loss.

  15. Many hugs to you, Charlie, as you grieve the loss of your friend, and also to Em and her family.

    Your Christmas celebration sounded wonderful down to the last detail of that 1950s cake.

  16. So sorry to hear about the losses of your friends. Your Christmas celebration sounds wonderful, you put together an amazing holiday table! Your attention to detail is admirable!

  17. Ugh. My father in law died on Christmas Eve and I’ll never forgive him. Although much time has passed now. My friend lost her only son last month – he was riding a motorcycle – and I can’t imagine that the timing won’t always have an effect on Christmas. But a friend who lost her adult daughter says that it doesn’t matter, because there will always be triggers. An apple, a song, a coffee cup, whatever. I’m sorry for your losses. But Christmas lunch looked wonderful!

    • I’m so sorry to hear you lost your father on Christmas Eve, Mimi. Absolutely horrific timing. And how tragic that your friend lost her only son in a motorcycle accident; his family must have insurmountable grief.

  18. Oh Charlie, I am so so sorry for the loss of y’alls friends. I pray for strength for the families and friends left behind.
    BTW – y’all did a wonderful job on the table and food – that bombe looks simply divine!

  19. Charlie is an amazingly organised woman who takes care of putting together fantastic holidays and amazing food always. I got lucky. Love you darling! XX

  20. The passing of near-and-dear is always painful – but especially so at a time one is meant to be celebrating. My very beloved father died ten days before Christmas . . . being in charge of a number of big business Christmas ‘do’s involving many overseas and interstate guests I could not even grieve properly until the Season finished but knew he would have wanted me to fulfil my obligations. But I still remember . . .

    • I’m so sorry to hear you lost your father so close to Christmas and that you had to continue with your obligations. That must have been such a stressful time for you. And yes, memories of that time must be difficult to forget.

  21. Sorry for your loss
    It sounds like you all had quite a feast on Christmas, and I love how prepared you were with endless supplies from your suitcase!

  22. Oh, I hate to hear of such sadness around the holidays.

    You sure did a marvelous job cooking for a crowd in a rental! The table looks lovely even without greenery and all the food looks incredible! I miss celebrating with loads of family.

  23. I am so sorry that you lost two loved ones. How heart-breaking. Your holiday house Christmas meal looks amazing. I can’t believe you packed a tablecloth – you are super organised! All the food is picture perfect.

  24. What an awful way to end and begin a year, sorry for your loss Charlie. That’s sad!
    Absolutely loving your Christmas spread, it’s awesome, and being able to take a dip in the ocean after opening all your presents, totes Aussie! 🙂 Day 2 back at work for me, and Im already longing for some beach time. Haha! Happy 2016 to you, I do hope the rest of it is filled with much love, fun and more of this deliciousness. xo

  25. I am so sorry for your losses, it’s particularly difficult this time of year. A dear friend’s neighbour lost their just graduated son in a horrible traffic accident days before Christmas, I just couldn’t imagine their grief.
    Your Christmas looks beautiful. Although we did not have cold, nor snow, it surely wasn’t warm enough to go for a dip in the pool, lucky you!

  26. A very sad end to the year. It must have been very hard when everyone else is in such a jolly, relaxed mood. The dishes look great and yes serving dishes and equipment aren’t always available at holiday rentals 🙂

  27. Sounds like the perfect Christmas, sorry to hear about loss of your friends a very sad time for all. Take care and hope that 2016 is good to you 🙂

  28. I’m so sorry to hear about your losses and the impact of those lost on their immediate families. It would be hard at any time of year, but somehow especially tough when there is such a focus on celebrations and new beginnings. On a more positive note, I am glad your own Christmas went well and wanted to thank you for your point about vaccination effects on my recent post – you are of course right that when adverse effects do hit, they are devastating. And I smiled at your breakfast nearly matching my recent lunches!

  29. I love the look of your salads and your table dressings.

  30. I totally enjoyed reading your post. And congratulations to all your recipes. Making your own cranberry sauce is awesome. Wow, I’m impressed. Thanks for sharing.

  31. So sorry for your loss.
    What a fantastic holiday meal. Totally agree with Drew, you are an amazingly organized woman.

  32. Tonette Joyce says:

    I feel for your friends, but dinner looked beautiful…and I can’t believe how big Alfie has gotten!

  33. So sorry to hear of your losses! My condolences. Worst time of the year for those things to happen. Anyway, sounds like your Christmas lunch was a great success. Great idea packing the table cloth — I would never have thought of that!

  34. I can’t emphasize enough how sorry I am to hear of both losses. One would be too great, and two would definitely put you spinning. I am glad to see and hear such wonderful evidence of a beautiful Christmas Day. You created delightful memories within your family, and those will remain very precious. Everything about that meal was appealing. 🙂

  35. So very sorry you all endured so much sadness Charlie.
    Your Christmas lunch was absolutely fabulous!
    Have a super weekend ahead.
    🙂 xo

  36. Well done, what a lovely Christmas dinner and dessert, that’s what holiday times are about.

  37. What a terrible time! My heart goes out to those families and your own.
    It does look like you had a beautiful Christmas though! Gorgeous table setting and such lovely food.
    Love to you and the family.
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

  38. What a lovely Christmas feast, feasting in the warm sun! We can only dream of that & filled with family & friends & some really decent excellent foods! Ooh yes! 🙂
    MMMMMMMM! Lovely photos too! x

  39. How terrible! I am so sorry to hear about your friends 🙁 It seems that maybe tragic events occur around the holidays…isn’t that strange? 🙁

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