pizza but as we had already had pizza the previous two days, I took advantage of gnocchi and asparagus from the farmers market and herbs from the garden to create a simple green dinner.
Take Me Home Italian food company at the farmers market has a great sales patter. He tells customers that his gnocchi must be either dropped into the sauce or fried but never boiled. Anyone who boils his gnocchi will not be his friend. This made Sylvia very cross. She loves boiling gnocchi.
panforte and watching Carols by Candlelight. And it was delicious. It is the sort of food I would be quite happy to have in the new year if only the asparagus people at the farmers market had not finished up for the season.
This will be my last post of the year, I will be back early in the new year with my reflections on 2019. Meanwhile have a fun and relaxing new year's eve.
Gnocchi with pesto and asparagus
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
2-4 tsp olive oil
1 packet gnocchi (I think this is 500g)
about 3 big dessertspoons pesto
handful of spinach
Fry gnocchi in olive oil over medium high heat until brown and crispy. While it is cooking (mine took a while as the gnocchi was cold from the fridge) cut asparagus into small pieces, as small as desired, and lightly steam until just tender (I did this in the microwave). Stir in pesto, then cooked asparagus and spinach. Serve warm.
NOTES: My meal was not vegan but you can check that your gnocchi and pesto is vegan if you want your meal vegan. You could serve with some parmesan cheese, basil leaves and/or cashew cream. I was going to stir in a spoonful of cashew cream but mine had been in the fridge too long! This would be great with green gnocchi. I took some liberties with the pesto recipe and used cashews instead of pinenuts and parsley as well as basil in the spirit of using what we had.
On the Stereo:
Broadchurch soundtrack: original music composed by Olafur Arnalos
- About Me
- About this Blog
- Recipe Index
- Reflections and Reviews
- Kitchen Notes
Sunday 30 December 2018
Friday 28 December 2018
gingerbread men for Sylvia's class Christmas party. We kept a few of the good ones aside which Sylvia decorated with icing and M&Ms. She then arranged them on a silver plate, wrapped in cellophane, tipped more M&Ms in and tied up with silver ribbon. We decided it looked quite professional! I am not sure what her teacher thought. My sister who is a teacher says she gets so many chocolates it isn't funny! Teacher presents are hard but I think homemade at least has a bit of heart in it.
vegan fluffy pancakes, layered with nutella and topped with raspberries and Smalt cold smoked maple syrup. Sylvia was wary of the smoked maple syrup but we were both really impressed with how good it was with the pancakes. They were so filling that I was glad she helped me with the stack.
NanoRoom Cat Room Set, ice cream scoop, lunchboxes, Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls, tree decorations, a diary, a garden kit, magnetic cat hooks, a new cat drink bottle etc,
cranberry nut rolls to eat withe jarlsberg cheese for Christmas Day brunch. I didn't remember to get cranberry sauce or oranges for juice. Luckily I had a couple of oranges that we had used for pith. We combined the juice with some passionfruit drink and soda water.
We still have nut roast and lots of sweet food. Below is a sample of sweet food. Included are the chocolate mince tarts and the panforte that I made on Christmas eve. Not included are my mum's caramel tart and Christmas cake, and my aunts toffee date pudding.
- I was happy to hear a nut roast was part of Christmas dinner in the Miffy rabbit cartoon Christmas special.
- I loved the UK Christmas No 1. We Built this City on Sausage Rolls is just brilliant and lots of fun to watch. Good one LadBaby. And the profits go to charity.
- One bizarre part of the holidays was catching up with family and friends whom I had not seen for ages and hearing too many holiday accident stories. A broken foot from scrambling over rocks at Kakadu. A broken nose and split lip from a fall in Dubai airport en route to UK and a badly dislocated shoulder and lots of bruises slipping on rocks on the way back from a waterfall in Hawaii. Ouch!
- As usual we enjoyed watching some British Christmas adverts. The John Lewis advert with Elton John receiving his piano is just beautiful and the Irn Bru Snowman advert is disturbing. I keep having the line "he nicked my Irn Bru, he's let go of my hand" in my head as the boy falls from the sky.
- Sylvia borrowed a graphic novel from the library that she told me was about a detective called Eggnog Holmes. It turned out to be Enola Holmes but I wish it was Eggnog Holmes, which is so much more amusing.
- I was pleased to stumble upon the gorgeous story of the Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell. I sometimes would listen to it with my parents on the radio but have not heard it for years.
- There seemed to be lots of articles about being thoughtful about the way we celebrate Christmas - or perhaps I was more in tune to them. One that I really liked was Dreaming of a Green Christmas: here are 5 ways to make it more sustainable in the Conversation.
How to make a Christmas Cheese Tree
You will need:
One large chopping board or flat platter
About 50-100g of cheeses - these should be different colours and textures. I recommend a red leicester, a camambert or blue cheese, some good cheddar (we like a smoked one), swiss cheese, a cheese or two with add ins like herbs or dried fruit.
Assorted vegetables (I used cherry tomatoes and raw asparagus) and pretzels (unless you want gluten free). You could also use pickled vegetables, olives, sundried tomatoes, dried fruit or fresh fruit such as grapes or chopped apricots.
A few fresh herbs - I used basil, parsley, thyme and chives from the garden
Small star cookie cutter, if you have one
Crackers, to serve.
How to assemble:
Chop the cheese into dice, going for smaller ones for the top layers. Chop vegetables or other add ins into dice.
Arrange cheese, vegetables, pretzels etc on platter or chopping board in contrasting lines of descending width so it resembles a tree. Check that it is shaped nicely along the sides.
Place some pretzel sticks (or vegetable or pickle sticks) for the trunk.
Use star cookie cutter to cut a star for the top - we laid a few stars on top of each other to give the star lots of points. We used sliced swiss cheese as it was easy to cut into a star without crumblng.
Finely chop herbs and sprinkle over the tree and around.
Put any extra cheese cubes in a tub in the fridge or serve alongside in a bowl. Serve with crackers.
On the Stereo:
White Christmas, Bing Crosby
Monday 24 December 2018
Now I am off to put the finishing touches on the house. I hope you have a very happy Christmas, Festivus, holiday etc. I will be back in a few days with a few more Christmas posts.
Sunday 23 December 2018
1. The Jolly Postman Christmas Book by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
If you peruse lists of best Christmas books online, this book is always included. The Ahlbergs have to be one of my favourite authors for toddlers. Their illustrations are so detailed and full of interest, and their writing seems so natural and yet so much fun to read. The Jolly Postman Christmas Book (based on the Jolly Postman book) has a brilliant premise of having envelopes on the pages that kids can dip into to find invitations, letters and presents. And the story is magical.
2. The Naughtiest Reindeer by Nicki Greenberg
This one is lots of fun to read aloud as well as the hilarious illustrations. This book always has us laughing at what this naughty reindeer gets up to. And I love how Mrs Claus is your typical Jewish Grandmother. Nicki is a local author and we are big fans of all her books. If you like this one, there are 3 more about the naughty Rudy.
3. Room for a little one by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockroft
This is one of the best books I have seen around the Christmas story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. The compassion in the story is heartwarming. The sort of sentiment that we need to remind us of the spirit of Christmas that seems so lacking in our world today.
4. The Christmas Pantomime Story by Rebecca Patterson
Another book I love reading. The story is set in a school doing a nativity show and the personalities of the kids are spot on. The main little boy is a tad clueless and very amusing. We also love the important angel and the little girl with a stomach ache. It is told by the main character in exactly the way that kids tell stories and manages to avoid the mawkishness that is so common in kid's Christmas books. The little details around the school and the expressions on the faces is priceless.
5. Belle and Boo and the Very Merry Christmas by Mandy Sutcliffe
This is a very sweet book with lovely vintage illustrations and a simple message that Christmas is a time for sharing and giving. The little bunny called Boo is so cute as he learns about Christmas from Belle's delightful guidance.
6. Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
This is a really fun book with lots of amusing aliens doing silly things with underpants. Our favourite page is the tree decorated with underpants. In fact there was a tree not so many years ago that had a few pairs of underpants thrown on it in homage to this book. Fortunately the slew of scatalogical Christmas books has happened a bit late for Sylvia so most have passed us by and we have just had lots of underpants laughs.
7. Christmas in Exeter Street by Diana Hendry and John Lawrence
This gorgeous old fashioned book, illustrates the meaning of generosity and community so much more beautifully and meaningfully than most Christmas books. It is about what we have to give and share when others are in need. Many people come to the house on Exeter Street and are given shelter whether it be on a mantelpiece, in a dresser shelf or in a kitchen sink. We love the large picture of all the rooms in the house towards the end and counting all the people within it.
8. How many sleep til Christmas? by Mark Sperring and Sebastien Braun
This book about Daddy Grizzle and Little Pip is beautifully illustrated. It takes the bears through all the fun preparations for Christmas, reminding us that the festive period is a journey not just a destination. It is written to appeal to both excited kids and tired parents but I like that it acknowledges tired parents can get excited too.
9. Grumpy Cat's First Worst Christmas by Stephanie Laberis
This book is Sylvia's choice. She tells me she loves it because it is so funny and Pokey is so cute, especially covered in sprinkles. Grumpy Cat is unrepentently anti-Christmas. Sylvia's favourite Grumpy Cat moment is when he knocks the E and L off the NOEL on the mantlepiece, not just because it is funny he wants NO to replace NOEL but also because there is something very amusing about cats batting things off a table or shelf.
10. A Little Cowboy's Christmas by Marcia Martin and Eleanor Dart
This was a favourite book of ours as kids. In a family of 7 kids we usually shared everything rather than owned individually. So I was surprised to find I had written my name 4 times on this book when at home recently. My mum said it belonged to all of us! It is about a little boy who asks Santa for a horse for Christmas and how he gets his wish but not in the way he expected. Understanding that we can be happy with presents even if they aren't exactly what we expected (or don't own books even if we write our name in them 4 times) is a an important life lesson. Another life lesson for me is that a book can still read well even if one page is missing! We loved our Christmas books and they got a lot of wear and tear.
11. Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey
This book is worth reading just for Pig's Christmas list at the back of the book. We have spent many happy evening laughing over these. Some of my favourite are "a unicorn (real not fake)", "false teeth" and "a pet (giraffe would be good)". But the whole story is a great laugh. Pig is such a greedy selfish pug but you still have to giggle at someone who dares to call Santa "you old yuletide galoot". And he gets his comeuppance at the end in such a wonderfully festive way.
12. Stickman by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer
This is the only book in the list that I have not actually read in full. We love the Julia Donaldson telemovies of her book and this one is a favourite. From what I have seen the book is filled with the same delightful prose and illustrations as the movie. I really love the yearning to be with loved ones that can be part of the Christmas delights and sadness.
What do you wish for? by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
This is one of the most charming and magical Australian Christmas books. There are lots of great Aussie Christmas books but it is very hard to strike a balance because the long warm days in the sea and sun in Australia with the cosiness of watching sparkling festive lights in the cold and dark that are the traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas. What do you wish for is the story of a group of kids writing down their wishes before holding a play in a park. It finds that moment in Australian Christmas nights where the dark descends late on a balmy evening and the twinkling fairy lights bring a little Northern Hemisphere magic. We love reading all the wishes and picking our favourite kids.
And what do I wish for? I am now on leave for a month but I wish for more time to tidy and bake before Christmas, I wish for more time with family and friends, I wish for quiet time curled up with a book, I wish for time for another blog post before Christmas and I wish you a happy time in the crazy period leading up to Christmas.
There are lots more lists of favourite Christmas books online. Here are a few I really like which remind me there are many more beautiful and entertaining Christmas books to read:
Red Ted's Art's Reader's Favourites 2013
Guardian Reader's Favourites 2010
Children's Books Daily 2018
Let me know if you have a favourite Christmas book.