I believe most of you are aware that the Younger Son has the misfortune to have a birthday on Christmas Eve. He turned eight today. I think he had a pretty good day.
We had some guests in for the dinner. The picture shows the Younger Son blowing out eight candles on his Chocolate Mousse Cake -- a treat I devised early this year for Natalie's birthday. (Basically, it's a rich chocolate mousse with dark chocolate cake crumbs worked through it. The texture is alluring as hell, and it tastes fantastic.)
You can't see it through Jake's head, but there's another cake at the end of the table. Owen (neighbour's son; he's the dark-haired chap opposite end to Younger Son) brought a young lass with him from Queensland, and unfortunately, she's not so good with wheat or dairy products. But I figured: it's pretty miserable going to a birthday party and watching everyone ELSE get cake. Plus I had some gluten-free self-raising flour in the pantry owing to a rash of gluten-intolerant visitors. And of course, someone just gave us three dozen duck eggs, which are absolutely The Bomb when it comes to making pastries... so yeah, I made a dairy- and wheat-free chocolate cake in two layers, with a blueberry/bourbon spread in the middle, and a shell of dark chocolate drizzled over it all.
Yes, I tried a piece. And frankly, if I hadn't known it was gluten/dairy free, I wouldn't have guessed. Chalk one up for the Groovy Oven...
The rest of the meal worked pretty well too. Twice-cooked new potatoes, green salad -- and char-grilled salmon marinated in sweet soy, sesame oil, tamarind pulp, and black pepper. Yes, it was some of the leftover salmon from the Epic Barnes Fish day. There's only one big fish left in my freezer now. Hooray!
I should probably mention that Younger Son has some cool grandparents. The shirt he's wearing depicts Yoda, holding out a wizened hand, index finger extended. The caption declares, "My finger you pull!". That comes from Natalie's step-mum, and it's already a favourite.
However, the thing on his shoulder is the prize of the day. That's a genuine, actual-factual Far North Queensland saltwater crocodile skull. (And I'm going to have to make a nice display shelf above Younger Son's bed pretty damned soon.) That one comes courtesy of my stepmum and my dad. I'm assured it's all legally sourced and everything. It's in great condition -- and yeah, Younger Son thinks it's just about the best thing that has ever happened. And why not?
Of course, the ACTUAL best thing going on at the moment is the raspberry patch. It's finally kicked into full production. That's... ummm... the fourth two- or three- litre bowl I've extracted over the last few days. I didn't get time to pick again today, so I expect tomorrow I'll fill another bowl that size. The sun has come out at last, so the raspberries have finally become sweet and tasty. And the berry-patch is now so big and daunting that I've started chucking big flat stones into it to become stepping-stones for future use.
Yeah, I know. I should probably run posts and strings and stuff. But you know what? Fuck it. I've got a big, chaotic patch of raspberry plants that are almost as tall as I am, and I'm damned if I'm going to try to get all anal-retentive about it. I'm going to set up stone pathways through the patch, and in winter, I'll go in and clear out all the old, dead growth. Then I'll throw a bunch of blood-and-bone and well-rotted manure all over the place, and next summer I'll have EVEN MORE goddam raspberries.
By the way: I just discovered that if you throw a handful of ripe raspberries into a couple shots of gin, wait ten minutes, then add tonic water, you get the BEST goddam Gin and Tonic of all time. The colour and the tangy fruit flavour of the berries perfuses the gin completely, turning it a lovely shade of reddish pink, and complimenting the sharp herbal flavour of the gin and the bitterness of the tonic. It's pure black magic, and as soon as I'm done posting this, I'm off to have another.
Oh. That would be right now. Cool!
Have a good Christmas or whatever, eh? G'night.