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In My Kitchen, December 2014

In my kitchen there is a lot going on.  It’s all because of Christmas and with that comes gifts to be made and copious entertaining and all the invites to bring-a-plate events.  Excellent!  And it’s hot.  We’re fortunate in that even though we don’t have air-conditioning, our house stays relatively cool.  But it’s still 26C (78.8F) in my kitchen and climbing.

Getting warm

Getting warm

In my kitchen I have festive fruit and nut cakes that I made as gifts for Tania and Celia.  After last year’s kerfuffle, this year I’m making all my cakes gluten-free.  But whether you’re using flour or GF flour, these cakes only require a quarter of a cup and the rest is glace fruits, dried fruits and nuts.  Then when the cakes are baked they’re drizzled with a toffee to make them pretty and glossy.  I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.

Festive fruit and nut cakes

Festive fruit and nut cakes

In my kitchen I have four cakes in the oven.  This is the last of the traditional cakes I’m making this season.  Including these I have made 10 traditional cakes and all (except the one for my family) are being given to those who have contributed to our lives this year like teachers, coaches, pastors and personal assistants.

Four Christmas cakes entering the oven

Four Christmas cakes entering the oven

In my kitchen I have a Christmas cake I’ve just decorated as a gift for my parents.  I’ve left it very plain because my mother has little decorations that will be stuck onto the cake by my six-year-old niece.

My first finished Christmas Cake for this season

My first finished Christmas Cake for this season

In my kitchen I have a near-empty bottle of brandy.  It’s not me who’s been thirsty – it’s the Christmas cakes.  I bought this bottle to soak the fruit and nuts and somehow I’ve managed to get through almost an entire bottle.  It will be a boozy Christmas.

A near-empty bottle of brandy

A near-empty bottle of brandy

Speaking of boozy, in my kitchen I have a bottle of Irish Cream given to me by Celia.  Celia made this herself and if you’d like to make some to give away as gifts (or even to swig on yourself), you can find the recipe here on Celia’s blog.  We enjoyed our little medicinal bottle on a recent very hot night.  We sat outside on the verandah and poured this into glasses filled with crushed ice.  It was very refreshing and a lovely way to end a hot and busy day.

Celia's homemade Baileys

Celia’s homemade Baileys

In my kitchen I have a loaf of three-nut sourdough given to me by Celia.  I recently met with Celia and Tania for lunch in a restaurant and despite the heat, (a 40C/105F day), Celia had been up early baking bread for me and Tania.  After eating a large and long Italian lunch I came home and had nothing more for dinner other than slices of this bread with cheese.  So good!

Celia's three-nut sour dough loaf

Celia’s three-nut sour dough loaf

In my kitchen I have Celia’s handmade marinated feta cheese.  The cheese has been marinated in chillies, rosemary and garlic.  One night when it was really hot (yes, there’s been a few scorchers), I made a roasted beetroot salad for dinner with baby spinach, mint and toasted walnuts with the feta crumbled over the top.  I’d show you the photo however it’s a dud.

Celia's Marinated fetta

Celia’s Marinated fetta

In my kitchen I have a beautiful disc of chocolate made for me by Celia.  It’s a very rich and dark chocolate that looks so pretty that it almost seems a shame to break it up.  We haven’t eaten it yet as I’m saving it for a special occasion.

Chocolate heaven

Chocolate heaven

In my kitchen I have a gift from Tania.  I happened to mention, (I wasn’t hinting, pinky-swear) that I had run out of quality balsamic vinegar.  Quick as a flash, Tania presented me with a bottle of beautiful Italian balsamic that I used when I made the salad with Celia’s marinated feta.  Using a quality vinegar really makes a difference to a salad.

Oil and vinegar

Oil and vinegar

In my kitchen I have a bottle of Italian olive oil given to me by Tania.  I don’t often buy myself expensive oils so when I received this bottle of quality virgin oil I was beyond pleased.  I’m keeping it at the back of my pantry away from young adults who might use it for some random and inappropriate purpose like, ‘I heard it’s good to condition your hair in olive oil’ as it disappears down the drain.

Italian olive oil

Italian olive oil

In my kitchen I have a shortbread mould given to me by Joanne.  So thoughtful!  I make shortbread every Christmas as it’s such a lovely buttery treat for when friends drop in or very useful as a hostess gift.  I’ve never made shortbread using a mould so that is my challenge for this Christmas season.

Christmas shortbread mould

Christmas shortbread mould

In my kitchen I have a bowl of Christmas potpourri.  It’s filling the house with the scent of pine and spices and all things Christmasy.

Christmas potpourri

Christmas potpourri

In my kitchen I have a little nativity scene.  On the weekend Alfie and I set up our house for Christmas.  We’re good to go all except for the tree.  We buy a real tree so we have to wait until the middle of December before we set it up or it will be dead before the big day.

A nativity

The first Christmas

And that’s what’s going on in my kitchen this month.  If you’d like to join in on posting an ‘In My Kitchen’ post, please link up with Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial before December 10.

Happy cooking!



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  1. Seasons eatings to you and yours Charlie… it’s going to be a delicious and festive month for you I can see… love all the goodies… xoxox

  2. Such great gifts from you Sydney friends. I must say, that chocolate disc from Celia looks too good to eat. But all the gifts look fab and useful- good olive oil and balsamic- way to go.

  3. Tania and Celia are two of the kindest blogging friends I have. They’re both always there to lend a supporting word on days I’m down or send chocolate or bring goodies. When I grow up I want to be just like them. 🙂

    You’ve got great things in your kitchen. I have one of Joanne’s shortbread moulds too and I’ll be making some soon.

  4. What a wonderfully stocked IMK post Charlie. Fabulously flavourful.
    Have a wonderful Monday Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  5. What beautiful gifts you’ve received! And how good of you to give away all of those cakes!

  6. I am loving the sound of those boozy cakes, they are an amazing present and whoever is on their receiving end will be so happy! You have some wonderful friends – but guess that’s a reflection of how you are 🙂
    I adored this glimpse into your kitchen, Charlie!

  7. what a christmassy kitchen you have – lots of generosity and good cheer – christmas baking and gifts are barely started here. that bread looks amazing – cheese and bread sounds like a lovely dinner

  8. Those Christmas cakes look lovely Charlie. Looks like you have a very festive kitchen this month-very apt!

  9. Wow, you are busy. I have not yet baked a single holiday treat. But then I don’t make all that much as we don’t need it, especially with no “kids” around to consume the goodies.

    I wish I could ship you some of our cold. It’s in the single digits (F) below zero here in Minnesota this morning.

  10. Isn’t it lovely to have so many nice things in my kitchen that have been given to you! You are very fortunate to have such wonderfully generous friends! I can’t believe you have finished all your cake baking… I am just about to start! However, I give boiled fruit cakes, so the fruit doesn’t need soaking, which is nice 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Liz xx

  11. Reading this makes me feel horribly unprepared for the holidays and the brandy-soaked Christmas cakes make me miss my mother’s nut-laden, bourbon/rum-soaked fruit cakes. Also, I like the term “bring-a-plate” so much better than the American “pot-luck,” which sounds a bit dodgy at best. Happy Holidays!

  12. Now I feel guilty – your kitchen looks so festive Charlie – while mine 🙁

  13. All I can say is that I need to be living close to Celia and Tania!

  14. What a wonderfully festive kitchen and so many generous friends contributing all kinds of goodies to use and enjoy in the coming month/s. The shortbread mold would be my guilty pleasure treat for Xmas as I don’t actually NEED anything. 🙂

    Using mum’s quality extra virgin olive oil to moisturize your hair is grounds for being disowned in some necks of the wood. 🙂

  15. What awesome goodies- and friends- you have indeed Charlie! 🙂 Your cakes will be so delicious with all that Brandy soaked in, I definitely think a slice would put you over the limit. I’d love to see the rest of your festive recipes, there’s such exciting cooking this time of year. Doesn’t a real tree smell lovely? With your baking, potpurri and tree, your house must smell very Christmassy indeed sweetie! Xox

  16. Well…I think I need to be in YOUR kitchen! It sounds and looks amazing. Your fruit cakes look delicious! 🙂

  17. How generous you are with your time nd your cakes, you have very lucky friends. The mostly fruit and nut cakes look wonderful, I’m looking forward to you posting that recipe. Thank goodness boys don’t go in for olive oil hair treatments or I might have to take regrettable action! Thank you for the link to Celia’s Irish cream, I think there might be a bit of that under the tree this year. GG

  18. Hi Charlie, I would love to spend time in your kitchen, you have so many wonderful things to nibble on. Your cakes look delicious!

  19. Don’t you just love foodie friends!? And yours are definitely generous…love all your gifts. Our house is just recovering from Thanksgiving, but Bill is ready for the tree…I’m sure it will go up this weekend while I’m out of town…along with an explosion of X-mas decor 🙂

  20. I’m so impressed with all the baking in the heat. I think I would only want to sit in the shade with a lemonade. Your cakes look gorgeous, positively professional!

  21. G’day Wha a great post Charlie and love your fruit cakes and thanks for including the shortbread mould; glad you enjoy it too!
    Love the chocolate disk and your Christmas Cake!
    I am appreciate of all you do throughout the entire year too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  22. You sure have a lot of interest things in your kitchen. Celia does seem the accomplished cook, gorgeous bread and home made feta? That’s over the top, lucky you.

  23. What gorgeous gifts from lovely friends – Celia’s chocolate making really is amazing! I am always impressed with your cake efforts too. And it looks like you could be in for a hot summer!

  24. You choose your friends well Charlie! Bread, cheese, olive oil & chocolate – you have all the food groups covered this month. Oh and not forgetting all the alcohol too.

  25. I am so jealous of all your gifted treats. How lucky you are but you are quite the baker whipping up all those cakes. Very impressive!

  26. I would say that Celia and Tania have been very good to you this year!! Wow, all the nice little gifts! You are so very talented in your cake baking!! I love gifting food; mostly cookies but would love to truly learn the art of beautiful cakes.

  27. You are so far ahead of me in the Christmas category. I’m in denial about it. And my poor kitchen isn’t getting used much at the moment. What lovely, lovely gifts from Celia and Tania. And oh the things you will make with them! 🙂

  28. Looks like a delicious holiday is underway! It is so sweet that you make all of those cakes for friends that have helped through the year. I love it!

  29. I’m all for a boozy Christmas. Lucky you to get your hands on some of Celia awesome bread.

  30. Another great IMK post, Charlie. You must have been a very good girl this year, at least as far as Celia and Tania are concerned. How nice that the 3 of you are able to get together. I agree with you about quality balsamic and olive oil. I rarely buy it for myself but, when I do, I use both very sparingly. There is absolutely nothing in my kitchens that has anything to do with Christmas. My dining room, on the other hand is filled with things destined for gift bags. I really should filling those bags so that I can free up some space on my dining table. With all of my pickling and canning now finished, at least I know there will not be anything else added to it. 🙂

  31. What lovely gifts and how amazing are you to be making all those cakes. I need to get a bit more organised with my Christmas baking but you have inspired me.

  32. A fabulous start to Christmas Charlie with those lovely gifts and all that baking! I know what you mean about boozy Christmases – I’ve gone through a bottle of brandy too, and I’m just about to get stuck into the rum and bourbon 😉

  33. You do have a lot going on! Love Celia’s stuff!

  34. It was the most fun Christmas get-together I’ve ever had in November, Charlie! So glad we were able to catch up and I’m delighted you enjoyed the Irish Cream! We adored your cake – it was demolished at the family do last weekend and saved me cooking dessert, so I was doubly grateful to you! Hope to catch up again in the new year! xxx

  35. I’d love to be in your kitchen right now! Lots of DElicious stuff and those fruit cakes…can you ship me a couple of them? 🙂

  36. Well, I’d say your friends give some really wonderful gifts. You’re pretty amazing, too, Charlie! I don’t know how you manage to get so much baking done and with the rising heat, it can’t be easy. Your Christmas cakes really impress me. Judging by the items in your kitchen I’d say you are well on you are already celebrating the holidays. Great fun to be at your house, I’d think. 🙂

  37. ***In my kitchen I have four cakes in the oven***

    MY favorite. What a great, sincere way to tell somebody “I appreciate you!”


  38. What a fabulous Chrismas season post! I look forward to your posting the recipe for your Festive Fruit and Nut cakes – they look divine! As for that bread and the fetta cheese! Yum!

  39. how wonderful it all looks in your kitchen charlie! that chocolate disc is just so beautiful. and the olive oil looks fab. oh that shortbread mould also looks so pretty and useful. all wonderful!

  40. What wonderful gifts you have already received. The chocolate disc is gorgeous. Your cakes look wonderful too, I’m sure they will make your friends and family very happy. Happy holidays!

  41. WOW! So much happening in your kitchen this month Charlie! Loving everything especially your self-decorated Christmas cakes – fantastic job! How lovely of Celia & Tania to share their beautiful creations with you – how nice are they? Have a lovey Chrissy & New Year – see you next IMK x

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