Saturday, December 25, 2010

Not Quite Christmas Yet...

Natalie is still on call, you see. So it isn't Christmas. Not until tomorrow, when she comes off duty.

It's not so bad. We pay attention to Younger Son's birthday, but we're not really that concerned with the date of Christmas. After all, even if we were seriously Christian, it would seem a bit... pointless getting into an uproar over a date which almost certainly does not mark the actual birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

You can find details of this argument elsewhere if you want. I'm not interested in rehashing it, because it's not my religion anyhow. But the gist: there are records of the census which Mr and Mrs Christ were supposed to attend, and it wasn't in midwinter. The Romans weren't dumb. They held censuses at times when people could actually get to the places they were supposed to be. Also, various accounts of the birth agree as to shepherds out in the fields with their flocks - which is, again, not a midwinter thing at all. And of course, when Constantine accepted Christianity as the state religion of Rome, he worked hard not to make the change too demanding on the Roman army in particular... largely worshippers of Mithras, a sun-hero type god who happened to be born in midwinter. (Of a virgin, IIRC.)

You get the point. For us, Christmas is a family-and-friends thing, and if Natalie's not available on the 25th of December -- why, then, Christmas waits.

But the kids did get stockings. (Well - pillowcases.) And in Younger Son's stocking was a cookbook on desserts and puddings. It's part of a series. Two others are wrapped and under the tree for him - a beginner's cookbook, and a pasta cookbook. The main premise of the present is that I am promising to cook with him, and help him learn, but of course, it's also about trying out dishes he thinks he might like.

Enter the 'Raspberry Mille Feuilles'. Seeing as how we're currently swimming in raspberries, Younger Son took a shine to the picture in his new book, and we agreed to have a go at it. You can see how it went from the photos below. This one shows the proud dessert cook (well... he helped, anyhow!) plus the product, and the photo from the recipe.

It's a groovy little book, with a ring-bound spine, and a back cover that folds out to become a robust and steady stand so the recipe can sit up and be easily read. It wasn't a bad recipe, either. Not a beginner's work, though -- it left out a few shortcuts and hints that really should have been there. If I'd been trying to do this without much experience, I'd have been really pissed off by the shortcrust bit... no water involved at all, nor eggs. And no warning as to just how hard it is to handle that kind of pastry!

Nevertheless, we pretty much nailed it, as you can see from this photo.

Nice when your final result resembles their carefully arranged photo to that degree, innit? 'Course, I didn't have a fluted cutter, so our shortbread circles are plain, not fancy. And I spooned the cream onto the pastry, rather than piping it, so we didn't get those nifty little swirly patterns.

I also cheated: sweetened the cream just a touch, and added a dash of vanilla. The recipe called for plain whipped cream... hell with that. Oh, and I added some extra raspberries and an extra dollop of the cream. The final result was plated as below... nifty little mint-leaf decorations and all.

In other news? We went to the beach today, did the kids and I. Sunny and gorgeous and magically clear, with a top temperature around 25C to make up for our prolongedly cold and wet spring. Beeso and I swapped a few phone photos. He's due to arrive here at Chez Flinthart late tomorrow night, and from what I saw via his phone, he's kind of desperate for a change of weather.

He may just get lucky. According to the weather bureau, we're due to keep this kind of perfect Tasmanian summer weather for a week or so, at least. (More, I would guess. In fact, it'll probably get kind of hot once the wind blows through from Western Australia.) I think he's even going to be in time for the end of the raspberry glut, as well. (Yeah, I picked another three or four litres today.)

I only hope it doesn't get too hot around New Year's Eve. We're doing the yearly barbecue and movie night thing again...