A Christmas Down-Under

I thought I would show you how we celebrated Christmas Day.

The tree.  We did ask my father what happened to the top of it but no, that's how it was sold to him!

The tree. We did ask my father what happened to the top of it but that’s how it was sold to him!

It was held in my parents’ home.  The idea was for casual outdoor seating under the shade of the pergola and while the adults sat around talking, the younger generation could be burning off their sugar-high in the swimming pool.  But alas, for the third year in a row we had dud weather.

The dining room

The dining room

Every day leading up to Christmas and every day hence has been lovely, if not stunning yet Christmas Day was cool with rain.  Non-stop rain.

Summery flowers

Summery flowers

It just doesn’t seem like Christmas unless it’s so hot you have sweat running down your back and you’re puce in the face from leaning over a hot stove while stirring the gravy.

'The stocking's were hung by the chimney with care...'

‘The stocking’s were hung by the chimney with care…’

I had a dress picked out for the day but it was too cold to wear it so I went in something a lot less stunning so I could be warmer.

Flowers from my cousin's garden

Flowers from my cousin’s garden

Instead of having lunch outside we ate in the formal dining room which is not ideal for children but anyway.  Lunch was served buffet style because unlike on Downton Abbey, there was no butler to bring it to us.

Christmas Bush

Christmas Bush

This was an ‘off-year’ for my family which is where instead of spending Christmas with our family, we go to the husband’s side.  But Carl’s family is spread out up and down the eastern side of Australia and while that isn’t an insurmountable hurdle, his family can just never quite get it together to come together on December 25.

I rubbed a hazelnut and parsley butter under the skin hence the green tinge!

I rubbed a hazelnut and parsley butter under the skin hence the green tinge!

So we stayed in Sydney.  And I helped my mother with the menu.  I prepared a turkey and took it around to mum’s oven where it was ever so slightly over-cooked but not to the point of no one wanting any.  It was an organic bird that had lived a totally happy free-range life.  When I picked it up from the supplier it was fresh and and was of a size I could fit into the oven at 6.6kgs (14.55 lbs).

White and grey meat separated by bread stuffing

White and dark meat separated by bread stuffing

While I was very excited to have been able to buy a good-quality bird, I was disappointed that when I went to prepare it, a lot of the bits and pieces had been cut away.  Like the skin around the cavity so you can secure the stuffing and the neck skin had also been chopped off and I usually use that for the forcemeat stuffing.

Crispy smashed potatoes

Crispy smashed potatoes

Never mind, on Christmas morning it’s on with the show and you make do.  I used my poultry pins to secure the cavity and I wrapped my forcemeat stuffing in baking paper, placed it in a roasting dish, covered it with foil and put it in the oven for the last hour of the cooking process.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I also made some smashed baby potatoes cooked in duck fat and they were lovely and crispy.

Forcemeat stuffing and verjuice gravy

Forcemeat stuffing and verjuice gravy

Cousin Pip (you all remember her), made a green salad that was served on a very pretty oval plater with a pewter edge (wedding present) and my older sister made a mango, avocado, bacon and walnut salad.  I made a verjuice gravy and we served the turkey with the spiced cranberry sauce I made a few weeks ago.

Buffet action

Buffet action

For dessert, cousin Pip was in charge.  She made a cherry and turkish delight semifreddo shaped in a bombe and meringues with marinated berries and cream for the children.

Pip's green salad with Persian feta - very fresh and vibrant

Pip’s green salad with Persian feta – very fresh and vibrant

After all the presents and all the food, the children, full of bravery, ventured into the rain for a time in the pool but they weren’t in it for long.  They then ran to the outdoor shower where they hovered until they’d thawed.

Mango, avocado and bacon salad

Mango, avocado and bacon salad

Archie arrived at 6.30pm and by that time most of the guests had left.  He’d just finished an eight-hour shift where he wasn’t waitering but instead had to be in the servery.  All day.  He spent Christmas Day polishing cutlery and folding napkins.

Cherry and Turkish Delight Semifreddo

Cherry and Turkish Delight Semifreddo

 A slice of semifreddo

A slice of semifreddo

And that’s how we celebrated for 2013.

Of course, there's always room for chocolates...

Of course, there’s always room for chocolates…

...and truffles!

…and truffles!

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  1. Beautiful photograph… Thank you dear Charlie, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

  2. Poor topless Christmas tree. Otherwise, the decorations were suitably Christmassy regardless of the weather outside and all the food looked delicious. I liked the smashed potatoes. They must be an Australian(?) way of preparation as I’ve not seen it before. I’m curious what forcemeat is as well.

  3. Hehe aren’t our Australian Christmasses funny compared to Northern Hemisphere ones? I decided to embrace our hot weather this year after lots of Canadians asked me about our Xmas traditions. Mind you the weather didn’t quite co-operate and give us the desired heat!

  4. Shame about the weather but it can’t spoil a good meal and good fun (though 8 hours in the servery can – poor archie). We had such lovely weather in Melbourne that we were covering ourselves in suncream at the beach (and I usually feel shamefaced about this sort of comment on a northern hemisphere blog not a sydney one) – but I much prefer a nice mild christmas day where it doesn’t feel like the horrors to turn on the oven. And love the tree at the top – the great thing about live christmas trees is that they look different each year

  5. Shame about the weather not playing ball, but what a delicious Christmas lunch, just what I would love to have for a Sydney Christmas. Beautiful flower displays too!

  6. The weather in Australia is always potluck. Living in Jindabyne for 10 years had us either sweltering or for one memorable Christmas brushing snow off the brand new trampoline for Master C. It was my Mum’s first ever white Christmas so she was very happy.

  7. I love your sentence: it just doesn’t feel like Xmas unless you have sweat running down your back… it is so opposite from the cold, white christmasses (is that how it is spelled?) on this side of the planet! both Xmas Eve and Day meals look delicious

  8. Thank you!

  9. Despite the rain, it appears a wonderful Christmas with family and lots of delicious food.

  10. Beautiful food and a beautiful gathering despite the poor weather! It’s all about sharing food with family anyway and it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside. Looks like you had a great time anyway.

    Happy New Year Charlie!


  11. The feast looks amazing but I especially loved the fresh flowers.

  12. I’d take rain over the weather I’ve got right now. 😉 Love the idea of a Turkish Delight ice cream dessert.

  13. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for sharing!

  14. We had perfect Christmas weather up here – hot and sunny – and humid. I loved Christmas at your parent’s. What fun to have a large family group at Christmas. Haven’t done that for more than 20 years.

    Everything on the buffet looks so good and that turkey doesn’t look overcooked to me. 🙂

  15. It looks like you had a fabulous day, regardless of the weather. I love the look of the mango and avocado salad – what a great side dish.

  16. What a wonderfully delicious Christmas meal and memorable family gathering.
    I thought the smashed potatoes were chestnuts.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

  17. now this looks like one christmas dinner i wish i was invited to. happy new year charlie x

  18. The Turkey looked so pretty it was a shame to chop it up Charlie! Brown meat is my favourite, and with a couple of your potatoes,a big pile of that salad, and a spoon or two of verjuice gravy would indeed have been a feast. Shame about the weather, we had a lovely gray day that was just comfortable. Poor Archie, but just think of all that character he’s building, and his holiday fund must be nice and plump by now 🙂
    I’m glad you had a lovely day surrounded by family, fun and feasting sweetie- Happy New Year for tomorrow! Xox

  19. G’day! With a topless tree (I think it’s unique) and your dried turkey (doesn’t look dry to me), you were able to spend Christmas day with something priceless Charlie…family! 🙂
    Cheers! Joanne
    Hope the New Year is a good one for all!

  20. Dear Charlie, thank you so much for sharing your lovely family celebration with us. Your food looks incredible and delicious. I have no idea if the turkey my SIL bought had nearly as good a life as I now wish it had (considering it wasn’t all that tasty, poor thing); we prepared everything but.
    I wish you ALL THE BEST FOR 2014. I hope that this is the year that our paths will cross! XOXO

  21. I’m sorry about the rain 🙁 That does seem particularly unfair after a fairly warm / sunny December – but at least you had the space to set up beautifully inside, and a gorgeous selection of food to make up for it!

  22. It all looked simply mouthwatering and festive. It also rained in Johannesburg on Christmas day, blesssed relief from the usual sweaty days.

  23. On the very rare occasion that it has rained here, it is considered a “Christmas Miracle” kind of thing. I never really considered what a drag it must be for you Down Under. You all certainly made do. The table and place settings looked wonderful and the food fantastic! I daresay no one left that table the least bit hungry — just like it should be after a Christmas Dinner. 🙂
    I wish nothing but the Best for you and your family, Charlie, in the New Year.

  24. Happy 2014 Charlie and all the family, looking forward to another year of reading your blog 🙂

  25. Minus the bad weather, your Christmas sounds lovely!!

  26. Charlie, your post made me feel like I’d experienced Christmas dinner with you — what a delight! I would’ve pinch hit as your “butler”, too. 😉 No problem talking up the hot weather (or hoped for hot weather) — we were wishing for the same, but our guests from Minnesota had to put up with cold and rain here, too, exclaiming, “We thought it was supposed to be WARM!” (It usually is.) Here’s to next year… and Happy New Year!

  27. Everything looks so beautiful and can we talk about how delicious the food looks too? Super yum! Hope you had a great holiday!

  28. It looks fabulous. We, for once had lovely weather, and ate dinner outside on the deck. We also had the same bacon/mango salad, it was delicious!

  29. It all looks so delicious, Charlie. I really like the mango, avocado and bacon salad. That would fit in well with our lifestyle and many of our menus! I understand the frustration of the rain. We need rain badly, but I can relate to how odd it is when it almost NEVER rains and then a plan is in place for an outdoor event and that’s the very day the weather shifts. It always feels like a cosmic test of my resilience. LOL! Looks like you made the very best of the day. Yum!

  30. What a fun time you had! Sorry about the dud weather, but great company trumps that. I usually cook turkey perfectly, and my Christmas one was great. But I kinda overcooked my Thanksgiving one, alas. But it was still good. 😉

  31. We stole your sunshine for the day and then gave it back, promise not to do it again!! I think your feast looks completely splendid and you did a splendid job all of you. Speaking of bits cut off…. I once ordered two extremely happy free range geese from a Somerset farm and Bri drove out to get them and when i undid the package their wings had been cut off! Aargh….. Anyway from the soggy northern hemisphere, to you much love from me xxx

  32. Glad you had a good day… good food and good company – that’s what Christmas is all about! Fantastic looking dishes there!

  33. Your tree looks amazing!! Oh my goodness! Your table and all that food!! Gorgeous, and I am sure it was all delicious as well!! xo

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