Tag Archives: fruit mince pies

Christmas 2013: the season that was

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Luke and I kicked off the season with my ‘work’ Christmas party. Given that I have no workplace as such, this ‘work’ Christmas party consisted of just the two of us. It was excellent. No boring boss or creepy guy from accounts.

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We took ourselves off on a bike tour to Abbotsford, where we partook in a cleansing ale at the charming Retreat Hotel. One turned to two or three, and we were hungry. So off to Thy Thy for a feast.

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No party is complete without the ‘superior’ Michinbury. Hey big spender.

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We may or may not (may), have then ridden home, dragged the mattress into the lounge room and slept under the Christmas lights. Childhood dream realised. Best ‘work’ Christmas party ever.

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Next up is the Christmas baking. As per every year, my sister Laura and I split our baking and make hundreds of treats for packaging up and sharing with friends and family.

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This year I made lebkuchen for a picnic, gluten-free mince pies for Luke, along with a range of truffles – peanut-butter balls, date and ginger logs and whiskey balls. Laura made the amazingly cute shortbread, chocolate orange balls, mint log and fruit mince pies. We are the best Christmas bakers going around. Just quietly.

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By the time the end of December rolled around, Luke and I were well ready for a holiday before family Christmas time. So we took ourselves up north to Mooloolaba for a few days. Bliss.

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First we visited ‘Crikey Park’, aka Australia Zoo. Crikey expensive, but a good day out. We saw bucket loads of lizards, crocodiles, birds, koalas, giraffes and kangaroos. It was fun to be tourists and ooh and aah at the wildlife.

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Beaching was up next. I didn’t grow up near the beach, I’m more of a river gal, but whenever I visit the beaches on the Sunshine Coast and Northern NSW, I can see what all the fuss is about. We enjoyed naps, fish and chips, watching the sun set over the marina, reading books, Luke enjoyed swimming at the beach (I got dumped by a wave and cried), I enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool, etc etc. Bliss.

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Good old Lismore and the family were up next. We introduced the Ramsay team to the iconic Milk Based Cocktail #MBC and got everyone on board (see last years Christmas post for the story!). We go with a White Russian, but there is definitely room for another in the repertoire, any suggestions?

Then we ate.

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But don’t worry, we survived all the food, and loved seeing the family. Another Christmas win!

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I hope that you all had a great Christmas and sent 2013 off feeling full of food, booze and family!

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Holly loves Christmas

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A little vintage fellow on my vintage silver aluminum tree. The tree belonged to Luke’s grandparents and is treasured.

With a name like Holly, it would be most disappointing if I was one to spurn Christmas. Luckily I love Christmas! What’s not to love? Food, friends, family, holidays, summer (for us anyway!), songs about oneself decking halls, drinking wine and eating shortbread at 11am …

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Gluten-free fruit mince pies – pastry by moi, fruit mince by Mum and Laura.

Luke and I alternate Christmases between my home of Launceston, Tasmania and his home of Lismore, New South Wales. This year was a year to head south and hang with the Brackens. We took some leave from work and headed down to Tassie for 10 days. Bliss!

First off we headed to the north-west coast to visit family, and stock up on Christmas supplies. We did the obligatory pop into Ashgrove Cheese and ate all of the tasting options, twice, but gave the Raspberry Farm and Anvers Chocolates a miss this time. Most restrained of us. Mainly because we already had a house full of raspberries and chocolate treats!

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No one made Luke choose the horse’s arse over a strawberry. No one.

We also stopped at the Berry Patch and the Cherry Shed, both of which provided much amusement. And delicious berries of course.

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The giant cherries were just asking for a pin up pose!

We spent the days before Christmas, cooking, eating, napping, reading, hanging out. Perfection. Then the day was upon us!

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I bought this vintage ‘resort wear’ in Lismore last year with my Christmas money, it was begging to be worn on Christmas Day. It has pockets!  I did change out of it later in the day though in order to fit in more food …

We had a lovely relaxed approach to Christmas lunch. No turkey or overcooked carrots for us! We started with oysters, 12 natural and 12 kilpatrick, then had prawn cocktails, then amazing Tasmanian crayfish in a white wine sauce, then the spread you see below, then pavlova, then plum pudding, then we all exploded.

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Cray legs, boiled new potatoes, broccoli salad, roast chicken, broad beans, caprese salad.

Through out which, we consumed copious cocktails. We began with Santa’s Slays (rum, cranberry juice and sparkling wine), then moved onto a variety of warm weather appropriate cocktails, such as the one below.

Last time we were in Tasmania we attempted a Christmas cocktail hour but were thwarted by a lack of mixers. We only had milk, and to her credit, Laura made a good go of it, offering us a variety of milk based cocktails. However, they didn’t go down very well on a full stomach while sitting in the sun. This has now gone down in Bracken family folklore, meaning “Make me another milk based cocktail!” was an oft heard phrase.

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Laura’s fabulous invention of gin, raspberries, lime and sparkling wine. And not a drop of milk to be seen.

On Boxing Day, we packed up two cars, six people, the dog, a dozen bottles of wine, left over treats and some board games and headed to Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast. This is a glorious part of the world, well worth a visit. Mum hired a fantastic beach house and we proceeded to rest up.

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The view from the balcony. Bliss.

At night we played cribbage, card games and Monopoly. One epic six person game went on for around 4 hours! Some of us enjoyed Monopoly more than others. It’s always more fun when you win, so Laura must of had the best time of all!

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After four days beach-side it was sadly time to head back to Melbourne to commence real life again. Luckily I had one more holiday up my sleeve before work began again, a trip with Luke’s parents down the Great Ocean Road! Which I am sure you shall hear about shortly …

I hope you all had a great Christmas, New Years Eve or just a break if neither of those float your boat. Bring on more family, good food and travels in 2013!

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