Benny: “And The Owner Of That Lot Next Door Has A Right To Do With It As He Pleases” Collins: “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”

As the above quote shows, Rent, though written in the nineties and set in the eighties, can still be relevant to people today. Well, me, at least. My parents’ house – the place I grew up in – is mere pit-spitting distance from what used to be the local tavern, back when tiny country villages patronised such premises. It has long been closed down, but now a company wants to turn it into an enormous, chugging oil-rerefinery, which will mean that as we look out our windows the spectre of sky-high silos will greet us. So, the small community is doing its Erin Brockovich Darn’dest to oppose this, but unfortunately, like Maureen’s laboured protest in Rent, we don’t have all that much to fight with.

Meanwhile, camping is blissful, and I am spending a brief hiatus at home in order to pick up Tim, who is travelling up to join us today. I realise Christmas is old news now, but because I have been a trifle busy/lazy, I haven’t got around to posting the pictures till now. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were both a complete flurry of mad cooking in the midday sun.

Above: Nigella’s Frangipane Christmas Mince Tarts. Any smugness I felt at actually making my own fruit mince to put in the pastry cases was swiftly obliterated as I grappled with the nightmare that was the pastry. My parents don’t own a food processor (they do have a blender, so they aren’t complete heathens) so I had to make it by hand, which in the oppressive heat doesn’t make for cooperative pastry. I ended up patching bits onto each other, praying that it wouldn’t stick to the tins, and couldn’t roll it out for love nor money so I only got to make a half batch.

Above: Luckily the sodding things were delicious…all smugness returned.

Above: I made two of the Marzipan Fruit Cakes from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, to give away as presents. They are very easy to make, and the mixture is delicious, all orange scented and rummy. The only difficult thing was lining the sides of the tins with baking paper. Nearly ended up throwing the whole thing out the window.

Above: The baked cake, paper lining and all. Chunks of real marzipan and dried pears make this rather different and luxe, but also make it a mission to stir without flinging chunks of batter into one’s hair.

I don’t seem to have any photos of the Christmas lunch itself, which must have been on a different camera. It was a very relaxed, joyfully low-key affair, and we feasted upon roasted lamb with Za’tar (Christmas present!!), roast chicken, new potatoes, and roasted capsicum, beetroot, and zucchini .

Above: Nigella’s Pomegranate Jewel Cake, from Feast. The perfect cake for (a) a family with members dabbling in Gluten-free, and (b) a family whose members uncharacteristically do not want anything tooo rich for pudding. It is also perfect for Rosh Hashana, for that is the chapter in Feast it came from. It is not, however, a cake to make when you are stressed and have fifty thousand other things that need baking too and you suspect your oven is on the blink. Miraculously everything got cooked in the end, and I even managed to turn this slightly fragile cake out onto its own plate (not having the right-sized springform tin.) Pomegranates are expensive in Waiuku so I only used one, not the two that the recipe stipulated, but I think this still looks gorgeously rubied and very, (although not obviously intentionally), Christmassy.

So that was Christmas Day, and we did the whole shebang again on Christmas Night with a family who have been our neighbours, one way or another, for many many generations, and who are exactly the sort of people you would want to have second pudding of the day with. Now that we are out camping we are still eating very well; I would be able to show you photos as evidence but Blogger won’t upload for some reason. We have been camping there for 21 years now, and each year it gets better and better, but also more crowded unfortunately. I have already read four-and-a-half books – what more could one want for their summer?

2 thoughts on “Benny: “And The Owner Of That Lot Next Door Has A Right To Do With It As He Pleases” Collins: “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”

  1. Mum says:

    At last, at last, I have found my sign in password, so hope I can comment occasionally.Your marzipan cake was divine, as I/we were recipients can attest.The pomegranite was supurb, my first sampling of such an item. Amazingly I had seen Nigella on a food programme on TV where she made meringues ( crumbled, with whipped cream, and pomegranates drizzled on top, and I had thought…. I wonder if i would ever see them here. And then the very next thing I was tasting the same wondrous item.Keep up your blog, it is a must to read.Love and hugs, Nana.


  2. JillyB says:

    Those mince pies look wonderful and I’m so glad that they tasted fine too. I hope it made up for the hassle factor in making them!


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