In my latest E-NEWSLETTER sent out last week I celebrated the people and places I visited on my UK Research Trip. Quite an exhausting process it was recalling details and documenting it all, checking facts and links, so much so that once it went out I more or less came to a stand still. On the computer that is.
|Click here to read!|
I relished cooking for a sunday afternoon tea, reading a highly thought-provoking novel set in London, Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig, going to my local library and coming home laden with cook books, fresh magazines and a talking book.
I owe emails and Xmas notes still! I wrote a blog post on Saturday morning and deleted it just as I was about to Publish. So on Monday... after the most charming gathering the previous afternoon... I did nothing... all day. NOTHING! Well, I finished that gripping novel and watched a few films.
Now I feel ready ... my studio table has been cleared the inks are out and soon I will be off and painting! I've got a few things form tumblr to add here... this one below made me long to get out my ancient sewing machine and try some stitching again. I know many of you are extremely proficient with needles and textiles.
Two programs by English chefs celebrating Xmas viewed on ABC Catch-up TV got me thinking... re-runs from previous years I'd not seen them before. The first was Rick Stein celebrating Xmas in Cornwall. Having spent a wonderful week in Cornwall in October I made a point of watching this.
If you are in Australia you can watch it here. It featured so many traditions like the annual Wassailing ceremony from Saxon times celebrating the earth's cycles, renewal of life and hopes for the next harvest... the green man presided over the ceremony transporting us back through the centuries.
It was actually quite a comprehensive history, reminding us of the daily struggle for food in the lives of so many who lived on potatoes and pilchards for much of the year in this region. The singing fisherman were a treat explaining how their songs developed to keep their rhythm for the arduous daily work tasks.
One Cornish dish featured was the Stargazy pie ... this is a pie I vaguely recall from children's books ...it always seemed so far-fetched... so to learn the background is quite something!
Star Gazy Pie History and Folklore-Cornwall
Star Gazy Pie is a dish unique to Mousehole (a fishing village in West Cornwall with a most beautiful harbour). Prepared in the Ship Inn, ate on 23rd December- Tom Bawcock's Eve. Long ago Winter storms had prevented the fishing boats putting to sea. In a lull in the bad weather one of their number Tom Bawcock managed to catch enough fish to prevent the village from starving. A pie of many fishes was made from the catch -Star Gazy Pie.
|A cornish speciality|
Whilst at the Eden Project I posted twice here and here.
The other one I watched was Heston Blumenthal's Perfect Xmas.
Despite all the science and the exquisiteness of it all I must say the Cornwall xmas was, to me, more endearing by far.
I liked hearing Tim Smit refer to Xmas as a time for community... with the note he had learned that:
The word "community" is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, "with/together" + munus, "gift"), a broad term for fellowship or organized society. (wiki)
|A community garden in Melbourne - I added this photo as I thought it i such an apt contemporary symbol for community... gardens shared by people of all backgrounds coming together for a common purpose.|
I've been keeping in touch with friends at the Millennium Seed Bank and hearing how they are faring in the cold. No snow as yet.
I know many of you who pop by here are experiencing the depths of winter at the moment.
We are having a much cooler time than is common as this time of year here in the sub-tropics. Xmas is rather a strange experience at best in the midst of summer... the traditions of the north translate less convincingly.
|good idea for the heat... Frozen Xmas pudding!|
Sometimes I think that means here in Australia we end up with the commerce, a holiday and little sense of tradition apart from some food items and gifts.
Still ... many make something special of it that transcends mere commerce. At best we get to slow down and notice things... remember others and make space for sharing and exchange.
|image from Gourmet Traveller Magazine|
So I rather like that idea of community ... together ... with gifts! And the idea of gifts being much more than what comes with a price tag from the big stores.
Seeing people making gifts in their kitchens, with their hands, or in their workspaces... stopping to think about what they can offer and exchange... who they can invite to share their table or a note or card that is sent off containing more than a few rushed words - to and from - this makes for something more soulful. Extending the notion of family to include many more than one's literal family seems appropriate at this time.
I know many of you will be giving things you've created. That's my next task really!
As to the xmas menu here ... this is a popular Xmas dish here in Queensland...
well my friends... your'e all invited over for a bite....
|crab and cucumber sandwiches|
I am making my own version of rocky road with cranberries and nuts and toasted coconut flakes... so I'll let you know how that turns out if you don't pop in! Not sure that I'll get to make those sandwiches... something more rustic is on the cards!
Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whatever your beliefs and traditions... I hope that you have a peaceful time this year as 2011 draws to a close.
Love and warmest wishes to all!
|Paul Klee : Forgetful angel|
Found over at Seed Capsules tumbler!