Today is the shortest day of the year. To celebrate the lack of sunlight (and because Christmas is still months and months away) I am going to a Yule dinner party, hosted by Sian and Murray who live next door. The fact that I’m now the kind of person who goes to “dinner parties” with the “neighbours” is, frankly, one of the best parts about this whole Melbourne lark.

Obviously I went slightly nuts (pun intended) and have made several things to bring. There’s a chance it will take more than one trip to carry the food next door.  I’ve texted my mother several times with questions like “Can I use butter instead of suet because I probably can’t feed suet to vegetarians?” and “Hypothetically, if I used tequila instead of vodka to light a pudding on fire, would that be a terrible idea?” 
The only reason that I made gingerbread was because I needed something to do while a nice man fixed my computer yesterday. He was one of those computer fixers who comes to your house and, in a one bedroom flat, there’s only so many things you can do to look busy when both the computer and the dining table are out of action. Turns out my computer just hates the cold and there wasn’t much he could do but at least I got gingerbread squirrels out of the whole exchange. 
Then today, in a moment of weakness, I bought some “white icing” and stained it orange and iced the squirrels. Let’s be honest – possibly excessive but an excellent decision regardless. I’ve never iced something with flat, white icing before because it seems like the domain of proper bakers and I’m not even particularly adept at being an amateur baker. But I did it! And it was fine!

Nigella has a lot of recipes which say you should use “vacuum packed chestnuts”. I still live in constant awe that I’m able to buy regular chestnuts (oh the benefits of city living) so buying these exotic nuts vacuum packed seems rather too glamorous. Instead I bought regular chestnuts and decided I would just do whatever I had to do to get them to the “vacuum packed” stage. Turns out this involves peeling off all the shells, boiling them and then peeling the inner skin off, all of which is rather difficult and caused me to stab myself with a knife and burn my fingers. But when I boiled the nuts, they turned the water a colour which I guess you could describe as “chestnut” and that was pretty nice.
A bowl of sultanas and dates has been sitting on top of my fridge for three days now, soaking in this amazing type of sherry that tastes like raisins. It’s called “pedro ximenez” which makes it even better because anything with an x and a z in its name has to be excellent.
I’ve never made Christmas pudding before, despite liking Christmas pudding a lot. Another thing I like a lot is my pudding basin but I don’t use that often enough either. The sound of a metal pudding basin gently tinkering away in a saucepan of bubbling water is incredibly comforting.
Later, after I’ve cooked the pudding for no less than six hours, I’m going to attempt to set it on fire. The recipe stipulates vodka but I’m going to use tequila. I figure as long as the pudding is on fire, no one will really care how it got that way.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year