Season’s greetings to one and all. Starting the day by opening a present from a dear friend in Germany – a heartfelt gift, thanks so much Chris.
Two Weeks ‘til Christmas
Penguin Random House
Claire Thorne never expected to be heading home for Christmas in Bindallarah – the small country town she left behind thirteen years ago and spends every day trying to forget. But then again she never expected fate to bring Scotty, her oldest friend and first love back into her life. Or for Scotty to tell her that he’s about to get married – to a girl he barely knows.
With only two weeks until Scotty’s big day on Christmas Eve, Claire’s determined to make up for lost time and help plan his wedding. And while she’s at it, she can make sure he’s not making a life-changing mistake. After all, it’s what any good friend would do.
But is two weeks enough time for Claire to find the answers she needs? And will she be brave enough to question her own heart and the choices she’s made along the way?
The perfect read for the fan of Aussie chick lit.
A fast moving, light, quick read with a wonderful Australian landscape – city and small town, rural. Perhaps this could also be classified as an “Australian coming of age narrative”, as the protagonist addresses many issues from her past that have influenced her expectations of life. A happy ever after that will leave a smile on your face.
As a bonus- if you love horses – this is a book you are bound to enjoy!
Turkey, Feta, Stuffing And Cranberry Salad
“What to do with all the winter-holiday, family-gathering leftovers? After a day or two of feasting on family favourites, this is an easy, fun and healthy way to make a little space in the fridge. Instead of making them from scratch (though they are very easy), you could add a hydrated stock cube and a little oil to a cup of leftover stuffing to make the thin croutons that top this light salad, which is ﬁnished with spoonfuls of Cranberry Compote and drizzled with a cranberry and coriander seed and (cilantro) leaf vinaigrette.” p.108
300g (10½oz.) rocket or cress and butter lettuce, torn
500g (1lb. 2oz.) cooked turkey, torn into shreds
100g (3½oz.) feta, cut into small cubes
200g (7oz.) Cranberry Compote (see below)
For the stuffing croutons:
40g (1½oz./2/3 cup) breadcrumbs
I tsp poultry seasoning
½ tsp each of garlic and onion powder
pinch each salt, sugar and cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
3 egg whites
½ chicken or vegetable stock cube, dissolved in ½ tsp hot water
4 tsp vegetable oil
For the vinaigrette (makes 300ml/1¼ cups):
120ml (½ cup) red wine vinegar
3 tbsp cranberry juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ tsp lemon juice
1½ tsp toasted ground coriander
1 tbsp minced coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra whole leaves to serve
1 tsp roughly chopped tarragon
1 tsp roughly chopped parsley
30g (1oz./¼ cup) dried cranberries
120ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
To make the stufﬁng croutons, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Mix the breadcrumbs and seasonings together in a small bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites and dissolved stock cube. Whisk in the oil then gently mix the breadcrumbs into the egg whites. Adjust seasonings. Using a small metal spatula, spread the stufﬁng batter into little circles or square shapes directly onto a silicone- or parchment-lined baking tray. Sprinkle with ﬂake salt and bake for 10–12 minutes until crisp.
To make the vinaigrette, put all the ingredients except oil into a blender with a tight-ﬁtting lid and blend well. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil so it will emulsify together. Season with salt to taste. To assemble, scatter the salad leaves on the plates and top with turkey, feta and teaspoonfuls of Cranberry Compote. Top with croutons. Drizzle the dressing over the top and scatter on a few coriander (cilantro) leaves to ﬁnish.
MAKES 2¼ CUPS
350g (12oz./3½ cups) cranberries
1 cinnamon stick, charred
200g (7oz./1 cup) granulated sugar
2 allspice berries
1 tangerine, sliced into 4 horizontally
¼ tsp white pepper
large pinch salt
Put all the ingredients into a pan with 240ml (1 cup) of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes then remove from the heat. Strain out the fruit and spices and set aside. Simmer the liquid until reduced by half. Return the fruit and spices to the pan and stir to combine. Cool, then cover and chill until needed.
Images and recipes from Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan (Murdoch Books) $39.99
Snowmen Snow Globes
Makes 12 ‘snowmen’
100 g white compound chocolate
12 (1 pint capacity) mason jars with lids
24 Raffaello (coconut truffles with almond centres) (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
12 Lindt Lindor White Chocolate Truffles (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
55 g black candy melts
12 orange candy-coated sunflower seeds
6 Mini Oreo Cookies
6 mini peanut butter cups or Rolo Chewy Caramels (little cups)
Red candy straps
65 g shredded coconut
1 Melt the white chocolate (see page 220) and place a tablespoon of it onto the inside of each of the mason jar lids. Place one Raffaello into the white melted chocolate on each lid, and refrigerate to set.
2 Once set, place ¼ teaspoon of the white melted chocolate onto the Raffaello and glue a second Raffaello on top (for the snowman’s body). Allow to set. Use more melted chocolate to glue on one of the Lindor truffles (the snowman’s head) and allow to set.
3 Melt the black candy melts and use the flat end of a toothpick to fashion two black eyes and a line of black dots for a mouth. Place three black dots (buttons) down the front of the two bottom truffles.
4 Place a small dab of white melted chocolate on
the fat side of a sunflower seed and attach it to the top truffle; this is the snowman’s nose.
5 Split the Mini Oreo Cookies in half and scrape the cream filling off of the cookies.
6 Use a small amount of black melted candy to glue a mini peanut butter cup (or a Rolo) to one of the scraped cookies to make a hat. Use white melted chocolate to attach the hat to the snowman’s head.
7 Make the snowmen’s scarves: Cut a candy strap into a piece 13 cm long and 5 mm wide and use scissors to cut tassels on the ends. Wrap the scarf around each snowman’s neck. Secure with a little white melted chocolate.
8 Sprinkle the base of the lid with a little coconut “snow” and carefully invert the jar over the snowman, screwing it into the lid to create an edible snow globe.
Book a physio before you start reading – the tension in this book lodged in my shoulders…what a read!
Dying For Christmas
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …
But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?
About The Author:
Tammy Cohen (who was previously published under her formal name Tamar Cohen) is a freelance journalist. A late starter to fiction – and to other things besides – she has now written four novels: The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding, and The Broken. Now embarking on psychological suspense, Dying for Christmas is her first Yuletide chiller to be published October 2014. She is a Writer in Residence at Kingston University and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog. Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen
Tammy (Tamar) Cohen creates an atmosphere and tension that is palpable. She foretells the potential crime in those beginning lines “Chances are, by the time you finish reading this, I’ll be dead.” And the tension just ratchets from there on. The first half of the narrative kept me reading and reading into the night. Just before midnight I went to bed only to get up a few hours later (I couldn’t sleep with this unfinished). Three in the morning I stumbled back to bed…very satisfied with this read.
The cover image belies the secrets and lies within the covers; this is not some cutesy Christmas read with all things happy and bright. In fact is it dark, it is twisted and there are so many truths later revealed as fiction that you will not believe where this leads to. Admittedly about midway I had to park my disbelief at the door, such were the number of twists and turns and misdirection’s this narrative took me on but it was worth the parking ticket. Tension, tension and tension abide in this remarkable read. Merry Christmas.
Christmas 2013 at our Place – decorations by Angela 🙂