On the threshold of Christmas

by Christine Sine

Lighting the Christmas Carousel

Christmas is definitely in the air.  Last night we attended a performance of the Messiah – part of our yearly pre-Christmas tradition and this morning I have been baking furiously getting ready for our Open House this evening at which event I will ignore Advent tradition and light all the Christmas candles including my Christmas carousel.

But the preparations have not been without mishap.

I managed to put twice the amount of butter as I should have in my base for pecan slice (squares) – which just meant that I now have a whole plate of coconut currant slice as well as I obviously had to double the flour too.  Hope all the people who said they are coming actually turn up tonight.  Fortunately I have already made shortbread, fruitcake – the real English kind and dips galore.

Ricci is making lemon squares, and cookies, Tom is doing a fruit plate and we will have loads of wonderful punch. Here is my favourite recipe

64oz bottle cranberry/ raspberry juice (make sure it is 100% juice)

960z bottle apple juice

12 whole cloves

6 cinnamon sticks

4 – 2 inch lime or lemon rind curls

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

And for a special treat 1 – 2 cups brandy.

Combine all ingredients except brandy in a large saucepan, bring to boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add brandy as desired and serve.  I love this punch because it is not real sweet, it adds a wonderful fragrance to the house (no need to invest in any of those artificial chemical air fresheners and it improves with keeping.  It is great hot or cold and loaded with vitamin C so obviously good for those colds and flu that seem to be plaguing all of us at the moment.

For our open house tonight I will probably treble this recipe – fortunately we have a really large saucepan I can make it in.

Here is my shortbread recipe. It is passed down from my Scottish grandmother though you can find a similar recipe on many food blogs and sites. After all there is not much you can do to lay claim to a simple recipe like this. The real secrets are using real butter and rice flour.

Traditional shortbread

  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup(75g) fine grained white sugar (caster sugar in Australia)
  • 3 cups(380g) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup(100g) rice flour
  • 2 tbsp white sugar

Traditional shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C convection). Grease two oven trays.
  2. Beat butter and caster sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. In two batches, stir in sifted flours. Turn onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth.
  3. Divide dough in two portions. Shape each portion, on separate trays, into 20cm rounds. Mark each round into 12 wedges; prick with fork. Pinch edges of rounds with fingers and sprinkle with white sugar.
  4. Bake shortbread 30 – 40 minutes. Stand on trays for 5 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut into wedges along marked lines. Cool on trays.

Anyhow just in case you think that I am getting a little too carried away with the frivolity of the season let me also point you towards a great Christmas reflection that I was directed to this morning.  it reminded me once more of the true message of Christmas and of the gift of a Saviour who comes to us not in the rich and the powerful but in the poor and the vulnerable.

On the Threshold of Christmas by Dave Perry

So Jesus is born in poverty to change the world. He is the peaceful revolutionary who speaks the inclusive kingdom of God language of love which confounds the power-hungry and domineering elites of our time just as much as it did those of his own era. Christmas is God’s ominously uncomfortable challenge to the comfortable world from the comfortless poor. No space, no room, no joke.  read the entire article

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