Friday, December 21


I couldn't believe my eyes the other morning walking past one of the trees in our complex - hanging from it was mistletoe! Real mistletoe! I've never seen it before and it was like the spirit of Christmas incarnate and parasitic, sucking the life out of a little pecan tree (well maybe not quite that dramatic!) However, it is a gorgeous specimen, perfectly round, about the size of a basketball, and fruiting! I doubt there's anyone else on this earth quite as excited about this as me but that's ok!

In other news I did a test run on the roast pork that we're coking for Christmas tonight...The crackle was perfectly crispy and the meat was good, basted overnight in garlic and thyme. I cooked it on a bed of red onion and pear...tasty! But enough food talk because I'm full! Happy Christmas lead up and such!

Wednesday, December 19

Wandering Kates

Random update: Kate missed her flight into San Antonio so the poor thing in stuck in stinky Houston for another few hours. Like mother like daughter I guess!

Does give us another hour or so to attempt to tidy the Christmas explosion that is our apartment at the moment!

Tuesday, December 18

Christmas milk

Oops...also forgot to mention that I've already made my first batch of Christmas milk! For those of you who haven't had the experience, Christmas milk is my families secret recipe - a whiskey based starter to Christmas morning that keeps us going all day (mostly because we don't stop drinking it...) I can't post the recipe because it is top secret ;) but I can say that it's a combination of whiskey, coffee, condensed milk and vanilla and it is truly wonderful! Sadly, it doesn't last very long, it's far too drinkable! So I'll most likely need to make another batch before next Tuesday ;)

Nearly finished wrapping presents, yay! Must be time for one of those aforementioned beverages :D


Monday, December 17

Christmas is coming!

I'm sitting here surrounded by presents in various states of unwrappedness, cards, candles (and at the moment, washing). Christmas is coming!! We've been flat out partying hard with various work functions. I womaned the BBQ for the lab party today, even though it was about 4 degrees outside! Winter hit us all of a sudden (and I'm sure it'll be gone just as fast). One day hits 28 and the next drops to 4! There was even ice on the car when we headed home tonight. Ok, so it was barely an ice membrane but still! Brrrr. However, while it is cold it is also stunningly sunny so in that respect it feels a little like Tassie.

Anyhow, I am writing this nonfocussed rant for the simple purpose of posting pics of our typically unorthodox Christmas tree, complete with dragons, chilies and a Croatian bread heart. This year we also have a real Christmas wreath which smells divine! We couldn't bear to put it on the outside of the door (ok, so the door turned out to be so thick that we physically couldn't fit the hook over it...) but it makes the house smell all foresty and sweet when you first walk in so our miscalculation turned into a bonus :D

We've had quite a few Christmas parties lately, mostly work related but we did have a couple of the girls over for an early vegetarian Christmas dinner because our vego friend was heading home for the holidays. Pretty tough to cook something suitable and tasty when one guest is vego and another doesn't eat mushrooms! But we came up with a pretty tasty layered vegi bake that was a cross between moussaka and lasagna, with plenty of eggplant, zucchini, fennel and heaps of other yummies. We've also had a few interesting "present exchanges" lately that have been a bit of an eye opener for us Aussies! The first was at an all girls party where we all brought gifts for the exchange then spent quite a lot of time working out the best way to randomly distribute them...from complex algorithms to a 'pin the tail on the donkey' style blindfolded snatch and grab (and probably crash and fall). Eventually we settled on drawing a number out of a hat (to determine your turn order) then setting up the presents in a circle and playing 'spin the bottle' to pick one! As untoppable as I thought that one was, the exchange at the lab BBQ yesterday was something else entirely! No idea what they call it but it seems to be some kind of American tradition for these exchanges, where you either select a present from under the tree (if you touch it you have to take it), then open it in front of the entire group. Then the next person who goes has the choice of either picking one from the tree or stealing yours! Chaos! We managed to score a beautiful (real) tree...about a meter tall, only to have it stolen and replace by a jar of blue cheese in oil >_< Luckily the person who stole it from us lost it again to the 10 year old with no tree at his house. Fun times :)

More updates soon. Our friend Kate arrives tomorrow! We're looking forward to having a house guess to share the 'holiday season' with.

Saturday, December 8

The Salt BBQ ever!

Lucky for us we've made friends with a couple here who are originally from Louisiana and who know where to find good food here in San Antonio. They already introduced us to two course peking duck lunch (duck with the fluffy rolls, spring onion and sweet soy AND the bones made into duck and cabbage/watercress soup - for under $20 total, not per head!) as well as Mama Lee's Soul Food (excellent gumbo, fried okra, fried chicken...apparently souls like fried stuff!). Well this time they took us on an out of town roadtrip to a place called Driftwood, TX...which is actually quite a long way for wood to drift. It was only about a 40 minute drive through very pretty ranch country, once we got off the mega highway that is, although I missed a lot of the view in my quest not to get carsick.

So our final destination was a place called The Salt Lick, which turned out to be a ranch sized BBQ place. It was a drizzly cold early winter day, probably 10 degrees but misty and wet with a nasty pervasive wind the got under every layer of clothing, so walking in the door of the Salt Lick was like walking into heaven! The BBQ pit was inside this HUGE shed, like a shearing shed, but filled with tables and noise and heat and people. The BBQ smelt incredible and I was basically drooling before we even sat down! While we were waiting for our table we got to watch them at the BBQ chopping up the ribs and smoking the sausages...mmm

Once seated at a rough wooden table in the veranda section of the shed (covered in but we got to watch the rain) we quickly ran through the menu, but opted for 'family style' which turned out to be all you can eat bits of just about everything! Our waiter turned up with plates of brisket, sausage and the best BEST sticky pork ribs I have EVER tasted in my entire life...they were fall of the bone soft and tough and crunch all at once, with this amazing dark sticky sauce - they put any other rib I've had here to absolute shame. We also had potato salad (not a creamy one...hard to describe but gooood), beans, pickles, coleslaw that wasn't creamy but had a lemony sesame dressing and fluffy white bread. It also came with their signature BBQ sauce and a habenero (spicy) version that cut through the smokyness of the brisket and sausages just so perfectly. The Salt Lick was BYO in the true sense, so we had our esky at one end of the table and thems who like beer drank beer and we cracked open an old vine Californian zin that seemed to be made for the day (Gnarly Head) - sweet and spicy with a good solid kick.

And once again nothing but a food post! But with food this good, how can I not!