Christmas 2012

I’ve been wondering how you all celebrated Christmas and hope you had the best of days and thought I would give you a glimpse into how my family and I spent Christmas.  After much debate and at least 60 emails it was decided Christmas would, as usual, be at my parents’ house which is actually within walking distance from where I live (if you’re fit, are able-bodied and have plenty of spare time!)  We all had tasks assigned and I was given the job of bringing the turkey.


The outdoor setting is moved inside

We planned an outdoor event (as usual) on the terrace under the pergola covered in wisteria however, after a week of the most fabulous weather that I was too busy to notice, we woke on Christmas Day to stormy dark skies and rain, rain and more rain.  It just didn’t stop.  And interrupting my seasonal carols playing on the amplifier was the constant and loud clapping of thunder – very unusual weather for Christmas.

'The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there'

‘The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there’

Our plans for our outdoor event had to be aborted and there was a flurry of activity as outdoor tables were collapsed and seating plans rearranged and sofas moved to make room for extra tables and new seating plans organised.  But the event went very well and as grey and cold as the day was, we all agreed that it was actually quite nice to be dining indoors at Christmas for once.

A few bubbles to start with

A few bubbles to start with

There were 18 of us ranging in ages from two to too-old-to-mention but one menu for all ages.  We started with champagne (but not for the two-year olds) and a range of hors d’oeuvres that included smoked salmon and asparagus and a Jamie Oliver horseradish dip that somehow I didn’t photograph but here is the rest of our Christmas lunch.

The turkey all prepared for the oven

The turkey all prepared and ready for the oven

My sister, Em, did the table setting and we had a new colour scheme this year set by the bon bons she’d purchased with blue hydrangeas and green of holly being adding to the scheme.

Rested Roast Turkey

Rested Roast Turkey

I had ordered a fresh 6.1kg (13.5lbs) free-range turkey that I was lucky to get given I turned up at the butcher’s just as they were slamming the doors.  I had assumed they would be open for a full day but they had actually decided to close at 3pm.  I rubbed a flavoured butter of ground roasted hazelnuts, garlic and parsley under the skin to flavour the meat and keep it moist during the cooking.

Two professional carvers and that's me looking savage in the background.

Two professional carvers and that’s me looking savage in the background.

I made two seasonings that included a shallot, celery leaf, walnut and quinoa stuffing for the cavity and a forcemeat stuffing (sausage mince based) for the neck.  I placed the bird on a wire rack, dressed it in oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper, then added some water to the base and covered the dish in foil.  It was cooked in a moderate oven for three hours.

Turkey with seasonings

Turkey with seasonings

My other sister brought a free-range ham that was glazed and heated on the BBQ while her husband took care of it while standing under a golf umbrella.

Roasted baby new potatoes

Roasted baby new potatoes

Carbs go well with turkey and so we had some baby new potatoes that had been par-boiled then roasted on a high heat – a very high heat because they could only enter the oven once the turkey came out to rest.

Salad of baby spinach, Spanish onion, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds

Salad of baby spinach, Spanish onion, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds

We had a couple of salads including some steamed greens and a salad of spinach, finely sliced Spanish onion, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Steamed Greens

Steamed Greens

I would have liked to have made my own cranberry sauce but my recipe requires frozen cranberries and these were just impossible to source.  On Christmas Day I saw a recipe on Lorraine’s, Not Quite Nigella for a cranberry sauce made from dried cranberries and I have bookmarked that for next year as dried are so much easier to source (Downunder) than frozen.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

I made a gravy from the pan juices, chicken stock and Maggie Beer Verjuice but there’s no photo!

After lunch we had a honey and nougat semifreddo made by my older sister and a steamed plum pudding which normally would be hard to swallow in a Sydney summer but given our cooler than average temperatures, it was no trouble at all.  I think by this stage I’d bundied off and forgot to photograph the rest of the day.

A Christmas Cake decorated by a six-year old complete with Santa's footsteps

A Christmas Cake decorated by a six-year old complete with Santa’s footsteps

As we limped from the table to the sofas there was just one more thing to enjoy and that was a slice of Christmas cake.  I had made my parents a gluten-free Christmas cake that was covered in marzipan then royal icing.  I left the iced cake plain as some of my mother’s grandchildren like to decorate the cake with her prized (worthless) figurines.  One of the six-year olds was responsible for this arrangement that included Santa making footsteps in the snow towards the house that is miniscule in comparison with Santa-the-giant.

I think we arrived home well after dark.

I hope you had a very enjoyable Christmas and I look forward to hearing/reading all about it.




  1. Your Christmas pics look lovely Charlie. We also were surprised by the weather. We had decided to have a brunch of leg ham and eggs benedict, followed by a late cold seafood & salad lunch . By 2pm we were rugged up in hoodies and envying our neighbours who had decided upon traditional roast meats and gravy fare. Not to worry – our chilled champers and robust reds quickly warmed our cockles, and a fine time was had by all. PS: My new Thomas Sabo bracelet continues to rock!

  2. What a spread! Everything looks super delicious 🙂 Your turkey looks fantastic!

  3. Looks like a gorgeous feast … makes me hungry just looking at it. And the 6 yr old did a great job decorating the cake. Kudos. You did a wonderful job moving the feast indoors if that’s what you come up with on short notice. We got 6 inches of snow overnight, which is not considered a lot in some parts but more than we’re used to, so I’m reading this while wishing I was there even with the rainstorms.

    Happy Xmas and a Happy New Year.

  4. A bountiful feast indeed … and when we become neighbors, make sure I get an invite. 😉

    We had a simple day, hosting just my in-laws. Let’s see … roasted pork loin with orange marmalade and rosemary … sweet potatoes with oranges and brandy, …. green beans sauteed in butter …. a cranberry-walnut bread that we won’t have again …. and panatone bread with an Amaretto cream sauce. Thought you would appreciate knowing.

  5. What a fantastic christmas cake, i love the little footsteps.. christmas with family is something I missed out on this year so it was lovely to be able to pop into yours! c

  6. Wow look at all those stockings! Sounds like a wonderful holiday with family 🙂

  7. What a day! Isn’t it lovely living where Holidays can be celebrated outdoors? I love the Santa footsteps! Those greens look so fresh and vivid. There must be a trick to that. I had a simple dinner after having cooked for family (staying in the house ugh) for almost a week before Christmas itself. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  8. Sounds, and looks, like a delicious meal. The Santa footprints on the cake are just so creative. I would never have thought of that.

  9. Looks like you had great food and great company; the best kind of holiday.


  10. I love the pomegranate seeds in the salad!

  11. Looks like a wonderful feast!

  12. What a lovely Christmas dinner meal!! oh my gosh! love those Christmas stockings! So cute!!! also loving how that turkey is looking! This is my first time in 7 years spending Christmas in Asia! And it definitely seems very different! Not much of the x’mas atmosphere but I’m glad I finally got to spend it with family. haha.. So yes, like you, I’m having summer during x’mas! Sure seems quite different!

  13. I so enjoy seeing how others spend their Christmas. Yours looked perfect. And I particularly love the footprints on the cake 😉

  14. What a lovely Christmas! The weather has nothing to do with family being together, sharing food, laughs and good times. How nice of you to share with us! Happy holidays Charlie!

  15. Love the steamed greens, the golden turkey and Santa’s footsteps – and of course the artistic table setting. Your family sure knows how to celebrate with food. It’s been raining here since Christmas eve. I had an unconventional Christmas lunch, but can’t yet post because my computer died and it’s taken a night and several hours so far to transfer some of the data. Meanwhile I’m not allowed to use anything except the internet.

    Happy Christmas Charlie.

  16. Sounds like it all went fabulously well despite the weather. We always have to have a back up plan here and had to use it this year as well. I forgot to take any photos of the carving ceremony. All that food looks great and I especially love the decoration of the cake.

  17. Sounds like you had a terrific Christmas! I can identify with the 60 emails thing – we do the same, and always end up doing things just as we always have! Great looking food – thanks for sharing your holiday with us.

  18. What a wonderful Christmas Charlie! That’s quite a turkey. Love the cake decoration. Very cute! See you soon x

  19. Wow, that’s a gorgeous meal, plus a lovely table. I am totally curious about that semifreddo recipe. Happy holidays!

  20. It all sounds and looks wonderful Charlie, and I think you all did very well with the last minute change in seating arrangements! I would have loved a storm on Christmas day but will concede it isn’t very Australian 😉

  21. Merry Christmas dear friend! Your food looks so similar to what our family usually has for Christmas that it gives me heartpangs. xo

  22. Oh that all looks so delicious!!!
    Your turkey was absolutely huge!!! We had a quiet Christmas this year, all prepared ahead of time… Plus 2 bottles if Moët 😉 delicious!

  23. Looks like you had a fabulous and delicious holiday Charlie! Merry Christmas. Looking forward to more of your adventures and stories in the New Year. 🙂

  24. What a wonderful Christmas you enjoyed, Charlie, despite the weather. The dinner sounds delicious and it’s great that everyone chipped in. Love the footsteps on the cake. Too cute!

  25. Surely not 60 emails!! Looks lovely Charlie – well done to you all x

  26. Everything looks delicious and well done to you for dealing with such a beast of a bird! It sounds very heavy indeed! Ours was about half that size and I had trouble lifting it 😛 And I know what you mean about cranberries being hard to get. I do know of a sometime stockist so let me know if you want their details. But thank you to the lovely shoutout for my recipe (I never have frozen, always dried on hand 🙂 ). Merry Christmas!!

  27. Your photos are fabulous! Looks like you had a wonderful day! Ours was long, full of cheer, food and bubbles (both from a glass and floating in the air).

  28. SO much family! SO much food! SO much fun!

    ANd that cake…is stunning!

  29. glad to see that you have an awesome party there! 🙂 have a great time during New Year celebration too!

    Latest: Thanks for being here in 2012!

  30. What a lovely Christmas you had, and I’m so impressed that you got all these photos. I didn’t get a one! Looks like a grand time and feast in spite of the weather…ours was similar in temp and storms. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  31. Looks like a truly lovely holiday feast. I love using pomegranate to brighten up salads and other side dishes around the holidays. Happy Holidays!

  32. I think your Christmas Day sounds very much like our Christmas Day, Charlie. Full of family, good food, and time spent doing ordinary things, but enjoying each moment. I loved the artistic touches on the Christmas cake. I think to let the children “do their thing” is more important than perfection. My parents, brother and family, and adult nieces and nephew all live locally, so we see one another regularly, but it is still special to have Christmas time together. I’m so glad you enjoyed your day and that the unusual weather didn’t spoil a thing! I relate very well to the unexpected storm. We have very little rain throughout the year, but I have had experience of planning an outdoor party and then the weather shifts! I always have Plan B in my hip pocket! oxo

  33. Loved all of your facebook updates! Sounds like you had a very successful Chrissy. Shame about the weather though. My fav is the fruit cake with Santas foot prints 😛

  34. Very interesting peeking into someone’s Christmas. I almost feel like I shouldn’t stare. Happy holidays Charlie

  35. Hi Charlie, too bad about your weather; your story reminded me of the first Christmas we had with a real wood fireplace when I was around 17. We were so excited to use it but sadly that Christmas it was about 22°C and way too hot to have a roaring fire, but we did anyway. We had to open all the windows to make it bearable in the house!
    Your dinner looks fantastic, I’d love to have had some of that turkey as our Christmas Eve dinner was cancelled due to my bother’s two kids came down with the stomach flu. I’ll be doing Christmas in January for them!

  36. What a lovely bird and I can’t believe a 6 year old accomplished such a task…that’s awesome!!

  37. Veuve Clicquot and blue hydrangea! Swoon!

  38. This sounds like the perfect Christmas! I love your stockings hung up in a row, they’re about the size of my own Xmas stocking when I was little. How kids these days end up with such gigantic stockings I’ll never know, lol, it takes even more presents to fill them up! Some of your dishes are similar to those I make every year at Christmas. But your stuffings sound very intriguing. I shall have to make a “mid-year” turkey just to try them out. My favorite part of your meal.. is still that pretty cake! Glad your day was so lovely!! xx Smidge

  39. So glad you had the wonderful Christmas you deserve hun. That Turkey looks divine, as does all the food and it would have been the most divine distraction from all the rain. Happy New Year lovely – I look forward to catching up with you again soon xx

  40. Gorgeous turkey, table, steamed greens – and WHAT a LOT of stockings! Christmas is definitely for the kiddies. Professional carvers? I want to be in YOUR family! We made the SAME spinach salad – well, mine had toasted pinenuts, boiled eggs bacon and a creamy dressing – but the spinach, pom seeds and onions were the same! Looks like your family definitely knows how to tie one on!
    MERRY MERRY and Happy 2013!

  41. Merry Christmas Charlie!
    I’m so happy that you spent Christmas so nice, I love the pictures, I love the salad and your greens! boy that turkey looks humongous!
    Hugs and Kisses!

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