Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Posting a couple of Christmas pictures for Deborah.

I didn't decorate much this year. But here are a few photos!


TobyBo said...

it all looks very pretty.

Briony C said...

Dear Debbie,

I have already left a comment saying your story really stuck in my memory after seeing the Unsolved Mysteries segment.

But in this message I decided to tell you some things about how Christmas is celebrated in New Zealand.

There are two, arguably three, major influences over our Christmas:

1. We are strongly influenced by the British traditions.
2. We celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere i.e. in the height of summer and summer holidays.
3. The American influence is filtering through.

The British influence is still strong so we have a lot of British Christmas fare: steamed puddings, Christmas mince pies, Christmas fruitcake layered with marzipan, roast turkey and ham. But since such food is too heavy in the height of summer we have developed our own summer Christmas fare as an alternative. You might see barbecues (as they do in Australia), salads, pavlova (meringue cake named after Anna Pavlova and a staunch New Zealand tradition) and another New Zealand tradition – roast lamb. For the same reason Winter Solstice is becoming popular. Traditionally Christmas is also Winter Solstice in Britain. But since our winter starts around May and ends in September-October, strictly speaking our Winter Solstice is 25 June. So around 25 June we would bring out traditional Christmas fare. In effect, we are celebrating Christmas twice a year.

Since Christmas comes in summer, people can go out for walks, swims, barbecues and picnics (weather permitting). We are planning to go on a picnic at a beautiful lagoon if the weather is kind to us. After Christmas there are the summer holidays so we can have a good long break.

It was quite a surprise to learn that Americans are straight back to work after Christmas Day. In New Zealand we have the British tradition of Boxing Day. On 26th December servants were given a box of leftovers from Christmas Day and the day off to celebrate their own Christmas. So 25th and 26th December are statutory holidays, which I think works better. I wouldn’t like to go straight back to work the day after Christmas celebrations. Boxing Day would give you a chance to recover.

Decorating houses with Christmas lights is becoming popular in New Zealand. It is nowhere near as popular as it is in America. We have the handicap in doing it in summer, when darkness would come much later than in the winter days in America. Nonetheless, it is catching on and some houses are becoming tourist attractions. Every year we have the Christmas Lights Spectacular, in which houses are listed as places to visit if you want to see Christmas lights. You do not have to enter your house, and I have seen some beautifully lit houses which are not entered. I have some lights but I prefer to have them indoors. I hope you get around to putting up a photograph of the lights you have put on your house!

All the best for the 25th and may 2008 be good to you.
Briony Coote

Debbie B said...


Thanks for sharing how Christmas is celebrated in New Zealand. When, we lived in Florida, there were a couple of Christmases that I was wearing shorts. I would love some of your favorite holiday recipes.

I will try and post more photos.


Briony C said...

Dear Debbie,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, I would love to share some recipes. The problem is, New Zealand recipes have converted to metrics and we do not use American cups. I will have to think about this.

Anyway, Merry Christmas!

Briony C said...

Dear Debbie,

I had a think about the recipe problem and remembered a recipe for Christmas cake that I used to make. This one has Imperial and metric measurements so I can pass it on to you. This recipe is for a light Christmas cake i.e. not as heavy as a rich traditional Christmas cake. Very useful if you want a Christmas cake but not a heavy rich one! You may have different terms for some of the ingredients. Let me know if any of these terms are unfamiliar to you.

The cake is best made a month in advance. It would not keep as long as a traditional Christmas cake, which can last for six months or so.


6 oz dried apricots
1 rounded tablespoon of thick, or 2 tablespoons of clear (runny) honey
5 tablespoons brandy or sherry
8 oz glace cherries
2 oz angelica
4 oz crystalised ginger
4 oz crystalised pineapple
8 oz butter, plus extra for greasing
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
8 oz caster (white) sugar
4 oz ground almonds
4 eggs
4 oz plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 oz chopped walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 350F.

2. Cut up the dried apricots roughly and put in bowl. Dissolve the honey in the brandy or sherry over a low heat and pour over the apricots. Leave to soak for several hours.

3. Butter an 8 inch cake tin. Line the base with two discs of buttered greaseproof paper. Press a piece of double foil around the base of the tin, to come up 1-2 inches above the rim for protection.

4. Roughly chop up the glace cherries, angelica, ginger and pineapple. It is a good idea to coat the fruit with some of the flour to prevent the fruit sinking during the cooking.

5. Whisk the butter with the grated lemon rind until it is soft, and whisk in the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds.

6. In another bowl beat the eggs until they have increased in volume and pale and thickened. Add the beaten eggs to the cake mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

7. Sift in the flour, stir in the lemon juice and finally the soaked apricots and their juices. The cake mixture should drop from the spoon with a good shake. If it doesn’t, add a little more brandy.

8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and make an even depression in the centre.

9. Bake for 1½ hours, and then turn down the heat to 275F, and after 20-30 minutes place a piece of foil on top of the cake so it does not go any browner. Continue cooking for another 2 hours.

10. Let the cake cool in the tin, then loosen the sides with a knife and turn out. Wrap in greaseproof paper and then foil, and store it in a cool place.

11. The cake may be iced with the traditional marzipan and royal icing, or American frosting.

Noel said...

Hi Mrs. Debbie,

I love your Christmas pics :)
Your house looks so beautiful!

Hope that you are having a great time at Ms. Lorie's house.
You really deserve some time off:)
I heard how hard you have been working in your college classes, that is sooo amazing. I am so happy for you. You are going to be such a great teacher.

I hope that you have a wonderful rest of the year, and a great new year. :0)

Love you,

Briony C said...

Dear Debbie,

This is an old family favourite which we used to have at breakfast time. Since it requires rolling out, which takes time, we did not make it very often. Nowadays we bring it out on family occasions (we brought it out on Christmas Eve). It is best to prepare it in advance, such as the night before.

Scottish Slim Cakes

2 Imperial cups flour (approx 2 ½ American cups). We use a mix of 1 ½ cups plain flour and ½ cup wholemeal flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2 oz butter
1 beaten egg
6 tablespoons hot milk

1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter.
2. Add the beaten egg and as much of the hot milk as will make a stiff dough.
3. Roll out the dough very thinly and cut out rounds with a saucer.
4. Fry in a hot frypan until it bubbles on one side, and then turn over for the other side.
5. Place in a stack to keep hot.
6. They must be eaten fresh because they will toughen on keeping.
7. We like to butter our slim cakes, but other toppings can be used, such as jam, honey, peanut butter, ham and cheese, or syrup.

Jenny said...

Hey Debbie,
This is Jenny, Deborah's sister. Seems like forever since we have seen each other. I enjoyed catching up with you and yours. In my mind Paul was still a little boy! My youngest is 16 and in 10th grade...and driving! My oldest is a Marine reservist and engaged, and has one more year till he graduates from college. My daughter is 20 and is still trying to choose a nest is getting empty too! And I cry all the time! Check out my spot at Hope you have a blessed New Year.

Debbie B said...


I can't get your Blog link to work! Would you please check it?

It was so good hearing from you. I knew your son was a Marine but I didn't know he was engaged!!!!


Debbie B said...


I will have to try you Slim cakes, The golden Christmas cake looks good, too. I will have to try and remember it for next Christmas.

Thanks for posting the recipes.


Deborah said...

Thank you!! I love your house at Christmas. Well, I love your house all the time, but Christmas is so special. I didn't remember that you had stairs! They are beautiful. I really liked your living room rug and pretty! I know - I NEED to come SEE your house...

I love you so much! and miss you!