Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Cooking

For the third year in a row I've made the same thing to give to people at Christmas. Spicy Tomato Chutney, Apple Jelly and Lemon Butter. I need to do another intensive cook-off before Christmas for the family gifts.

These preserves are all really easy to make and always popular so it's not a disaster that I keep doing the same thing, but I think I need to try something different. I should pull out my old sweets thermometer and make something like coconut ice. That was always my dad's favourite - until my sister decided pale pink was boring and made a bright green batch.

The only problem with cooking at this time of year is the weather. We're regularly over 30oC every day with the nights rarely going below 25oC so it gets very hot in the kitchen. I've done most of my preserving in the middle of the night as it's simply too hot to do anything during the day.

I'm thinking about getting a Lilly Pilly tree for the back yard. That way when it fruits I can make Lilly Pilly Jelly. You never see it around anymore. It's one of those things that reached its peak during the 1930s depression and has gradually slid into obscurity. It's a pity because Lilly Pillies make a fantastic jelly, deep pinkish red with a slight tartness underneath the sweetness.

I've thought about other fruiting trees but I'm not really much of a gardner. Anything that can't survive my neglect won't do well in my garden. I have enough trouble remembering to water the chilli bushes, let along remembering when to spray for bugs - and where to find a natural spray because I don't like to use chemicals if I can avoid them. I keep bugs and grubs out of my garden by companion planting. Everything is mixed together: vegetables, herbs and some flowers. All of them are planted next to things that will either help them grow better or keep bugs at bay. I'm happy with the yield I get, especially since more often than not I forget to water.

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