This is the season when memories are made and family is celebrated in unique, joyous ways. Whether your traditions are Christmas based or not, it's still a time to came together and share special moments together. What traditions make your holiday?
Perhaps it's hanging that special ornament made by your child years ago and brought out every year. to be hung in pride of place,
Do you whip up a special recipe that Grandma taught you long ago?
While you ponder some of your fond memories please join me and my #Gr8Blog colleagues as we share a few of our Holiday Traditions That Ring In Our Season.
A Past Family Tradition.
When I was little we had a huge Pine Tree at the bottom of our backyard. Well, it seemed huge to me at the time. I always knew Christmas was almost here when Dad went down to select a branch to be cut and made into our Christmas tree.
He would plant the branch in a bucket of sand. (We collected the sand from the sandhills at Cronulla each year). That in itself was a fun day out as Summer was upon us and we could slide and roll down the sandhills for hours. Mum would then wrap the bucket in Christmas paper and the tree would stand tall in the corner of our lounge room where we would decorate it with shiny ornaments and tinsel. The angel was always last to be added, her special place was on the top of the tree, she was the finishing touch.
The scent of the pine needles permeating the house combined with the build up of Summer heat made it feel like Christmas was here.
Past Treasured Recipes.
When I was young, Christmas dinner was not complete without a traditional Christmas pudding. My Aunt continued the old tradition of hiding a handful of threepence in the steaming hot fruit pudding and covered it with a delicious port wine sauce. Once decimal currency arrived, she converted the coins to 5 cent pieces. My fondest memories are sitting around my Aunt's dining table being surprised by my father and grandfather as they each in turn pulled out larger coins from their serving of pudding. My sister and I would increase in jealousy and eat more of our pudding in hope of more money. Alas we were to only ever find 5 cent pieces in our serving. It wasn't until the stakes rose so high that Dad and my granddad began to raise one and two dollar notes above the table that we realised they were joking.
As I grew older, it wasn't the gathering of coins that made me eat Christmas pudding, but my Aunt's famous port wine sauce. We couldn't get enough of it. She always promised to write the recipe down "one day." Unfortunately "one day" never came, and try as she might, my mum never did quite manage to replicate it.
Today's Family Traditions.
While we are surrounded by trees since we live on a property instead of suburbia, we haven't planted any pine trees because they are not native to Australia and the native wildlife won't nest in them. As a result, I don't have access to our old tradition. I could use a branch from a gum tree and have the scent of Eucalypt through the house, but I prefer my imitation tree that I can use time and time again without cutting anything down. It goes up on the 1st of December each year and sits in my bay window for all to see. Naturally, my angel sits atop my tree just like my childhood memory. Ornamental reindeer adorn every nook and cranny possible around my house, it's a bit of a joke between hubby and myself, they serve as a reminder to him to look before you throw things away. I guess you could say he learnt the hard way. Accidentally throw out one favourite reindeer, find a dozen more every year since. They just keep multiplying!
Today's Treasured Recipes.
When my eldest son was old enough to start cooking, he began making a Gingerbread House for Christmas. Later, my nephew took over the task, then it was his brother's turn. Each year we look forward to seeing the latest creation and delight in cutting into the house and tasting the delicious treat. Of course Gingerbread Men are traditional favourites this time of year too. When our boys were younger they enjoyed a gingerbread man or two. This lead to my idea for my early reader series starring Gingerbread Aliens, after all, most boys like gingerbread and aliens, put them together and you have a recipe for a great story. Over the years I have made many batches of Gingerbread Aliens to the delight of lots of children. In the story the kids use sultanas and honey spread across the top of the head to represent brains, they cut up green jubes for eyes and roll up orange jelly snakes and stick them on the middle for the gingerbread aliens insides. Kids love it when the intestines melt and go all gooey! Disgusting! Sometimes I make life easier for myself and decorate the gingerbread aliens with green icing. Either way they look cool, are lots of fun and taste yum!
Here's the recipe if you would like to give them a try this Christmas,
Gingerbread Alien Recipe
125g softened butter or margarine
½ cup (100g) brown sugar
½ cup (125ml) golden syrup
3 cups SR flour *
1tbs ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large bowl until creamy.
- Add the egg and beat until combined.
- Add the flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Use your hand to knead until smooth.
- Cover and rest in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 2 portions.
- Roll one portion out on a lightly floured surface to about a 4-5 mm thickness.
- Use a 12cm gingerbread man pastry cutter to cut out shapes.
- Reshape head by pushing in the sides to elongate and make more triangular.
- Alternatively for those more creative, do not use cutter, use a blunt knife to shape by cutting freehand.
- Use a skewer to poke two holes for nostrils and draw a thin line for a mouth,
- Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.
- As soon as gingerbread aliens come out of oven, decorate with sultanas and honey mixed together, snakes and lollies for eyes. Aliens need to be hot for lollies to stick while cooling.
- Repeat with remaining dough, rolling and re-rolling gingerbread.
*I used Gluten Free flour and it worked just as well as ordinary flour.
Snakes were also gluten free. You can also buy fruit salad gluten free lollies to use for the eyes.
If you've not read the story or shared it with a loved 4-10 year old child yet, I guarantee they will laugh from the beginning to the end. It is a great Christmas gift.
Why not read the story and and make a batch of gingerbread aliens today! Find out exactly what becomes of the disaster in the kitchen when the boys mix up the recipe?
What sort of Gingerbread man could you create? Let your imagination play. Make one and send me a photo. I'll add it to my list.