Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gift giving dilemma? The answer is BAKING!

I recently joined a good friend in celebrating his birthday. It was not a 'significant' birthday, and just a lovely casual Sunday brunch at a cafe. In the days leading up to the birthday get-together, I pondered the question of what to give? I didn't want to turn up empty handed, of course. The intention is to show the person that you are happy for them, that you think they are special and the friendship you share is important to you, right? How can you communicate that in a gift?

Usually we try to buy something that the person will enjoy or find useful, but very often we end up getting whatever is easiest and honestly, not that much thought is involved.

I personally find men particularly difficult to buy gifts for. But in this instance, it occured to me in a moment of pure inspiration; this guy always loves my cakes. So why not just make him a cake?

And that is exactly what I did. Cooking something can really be the perfect gift. It not only conveys to the person how you feel about them, it shows that you think enough of them to do more than walk into a store and use your credit card. It is something that can be enjoyed and shared.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Cool Yule

Readers from the northern hemisphere of this planet might be slightly confused about the subject of this blog post. Let me explain...

Christmas here in Australia is a summer affair. It comes right in the middle of out summer holidays and the temperature can be between 30 - 40 degrees C depending on which part of the country you're in. So we modify the traditional Christmas fare to be more suitable to the climate. Luscious seafood, and sumptuous salads rule the day. The traditional meats of turkey, pork and ham make appearances but are usually served as cold cuts and barbecuing might be considered a suitable method of cooking, to keep the cooking heat outside the house.

I spent several years living in England and really enjoyed the winter Christmas times. Eating all that winter weather food made specially for a big celebration has an appeal all of it's own, and it's a bright spot to look forward to in the middle of the bleak grey winter. It's also something that we miss out on here in the southern hemisphere.

Celebrating a second Christmas in July is something that has become quite popular in foodie circles. I usually hold mine on the last weekend in July but I spend a good proportion of the prededing year thinking about and testing the recipes intended for my very special menu. It's an opportunity to stretch my culinary muscles, and push my creativity. It's also a chance to just focus on the food rather than all the other stressful things that go with December Christmases like relatives and gift shopping!