Just wanted to post a quickie to let you know that we had a truly wonderful Christmas - As good as it could have been considering how far we were from home and the people we love.
Christmas lights...from the car!
My sister Teresa and her partner Steve arrived on Christmas eve, and they arrived in style! They were due to hit San Antonio at 4pm but not only did a delayed flight into Phoenix mean they missed their connection and ended up on standby (along with half of the US) but the ALSO had food poisoning! The poor things spent most of the time waiting either getting up close and personal with the loo or passed out on the floor. They finally arrive a little after 11, looking somewhat the worse for wear. Luckily they were over the worse of it and a hot shower and a good sleep were enough to regain semi-normality. They're off to Canada on working visas for a year, and were lovely enough to make the not-insignificant detour to San Antonio to spend Christmas with us. Check out their blog for updates, and perhaps another side to the Christmas story...
The plan for Christmas day was a huge lunch/dinner with work people and friends - mostly Australians and other orphans. It was our job to cook the turkey, stuffing and gravy. On Christmas morning we let Teresa and Steve sleep as long as possible, so Jo and I got up at sparrowfart (about 6.30) to put the oven on and wash out the bird etc. It sure was a beast! A little over 20 pound, hormone free and happy - till that point perhaps. We made a pork, sage, apple and celery stuffing but decided to cook it separately in a dish to give the bird the best chance to cook right through. Luckily the oven in our apartment is humungo and it fit the beast with room to spare. Later that morning we had quiet present opening at home, and it was lovely to do that with some of our family! Then I made the traditional Christmas milk (Dad's recipe, mostly whiskey and condensed milk but soooo good) and we finished off cooking the bird. The timing was perfect, the skin was golden brown and the juices were clear (which is lucky because I forgot to buy one of those pop up turkey timer gizmos).
Christmas day was great, there were 14 adults and 4 kids, mostly Aussies, a few Texans and a Thai family. It was a great mix of people who were all please to be there - chaotic at times, but lots of fun! Teresa and Steve fit in well. The food was just incredible. I'm not sure why my blog always ends up being about food but, but I guess it's how we celebrate here, and how we tell people we like them. Americans are very good about celebrating around a feast and I think most of us Aussies here have taken that on.
We began with Thai rice paper rolls and a stunning satay sauce, which were had with champagne while we exchanged pressies. The kids were having a ball and I think the rest of us were too. After the chaos of the exchange faded somewhat we moved into our lunch/dinner...what is the word for a lunch in the afternoon?? Aside from the turkey, we had multiple hams (honey and smoked), greens, potatoes, cranberry relish and stuffing. For dessert there was rum cake (no plum puddings to be seen here) and pavlova (of course made from scratch by an aussie) followed by amazing cheese platters and sticky wine. Yummo! Our weary travellers and their tortured tums actually held out surprisingly well, and we stuck around just chatting and hanging out for quite a while. All in all this Christmas was one to remember fondly. And it was made even more special (and seemingly less distant) by cards, parcels and good wishes from dear ones at home. Thank you all, we truly miss you.