Saturday, December 26, 2009
Christmas 2009

Thank you for all your kind comments and messages regarding my recent surgery. I am recovering very well, and will soon be back to "normal".

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope all of you had at least as good a Christmas as I did.

On Christmas eve we had dinner with my in-laws. This is the first time my parents are in Sydney for Christmas and so they were invited too. As usual, I made roast pork with crackling.

The recipe is actually very simple. This year I ordered 2kg of boneless pork belly with the skin left on. I left it out in the open to "dry" from about 9 in the morning. Every couple of hours or so, I sprinkled some salt on the skin and wiped off the moisture with a clean paper towel. At about midday, I used a knife to puncture the meat side of the pork belly and rubbed liberally with light soy sauce and Chinese 5-spice powder, and left it to dry further with the skin side up. By about 2 in the afternoon, the skin looked nice and dry. I baked it in the oven for about 2 hours, with the skin side up on a rack in a tray with about 1cm of water. Oh, and the oven (fan-forced) was set to about 180 degrees. I checked on it about 1 hour and 30 minutes into the baking time to see what parts had crackled and what had not. teh parts that did not crackle were gently dried with a clean paper towel and brushed lightly with some lemon juice (you can also use vinegar). The pork was then popped back into the oven for further baking and pulled out just before two hours. if you are not sure whether it is cooked, use a meat thermometer to check. Cutting it to check for pinkness and then re-baking will cause it to dry out. There you have it.. my very simple roast pork with crackling.

I also made potato bake, but this year it was a failure. As I am still recovering and did not want to have to do everything in one stretch, I peeled the potatoes early and soaked them in water, ready to be assembled into a tray in the afternoon. Unfortunately they must have absorbed water and released said water during the cooking. My potato bake turned out more watery than usual and definitely not as rich and delicious as it normally is. Very unfortunate!

Chris's mother made her very popular coconut prawns dish. Don't ask me for the recipe as I have never made it. I know it has prawns, pumpkin, chokoes, ginger and coconut milk in it and it is very delicious. Unfortunately, I was unable to indulge as prawns in large quantities make me itch. I did eat a little, and it was definitely delicious and rich.

During dinner, Chris's parents pulled out a headband with antlers for Alex. I made the bad bad mistake of calling them ears. Oops. Now he calls them "Rudolph's ears".

As usual, Alex scored the largest number of presents, including a new bike. It came with a helmet and although the bicycle is not yet assembled, Alex has been wearing the helmet daily. He just won't leave it alone! He wears it in the car, falls asleep and then my dad who sits next to him in the car has to try to take it off without waking him!

The other big present he received was from my parents - a bed! Alex now sleeps in a toddler bed. I am very surprised how good he has been. i was expecting to be woken at all hours of the night by a little boy wanting to climb into our bed, but he only comes round in the morning, usually at about six, but soemtiems at seven. When he does come in he is very good and climbs into our bed and snuggles. Sometimes he even goes back to sleep!

I think I did better than Alex this year, though. Amongst my many presents, i got a Food safari cookbook and a handmade shawl! I participated in the Christmas exchange on Ravelry and Helen, the person who sent to me, made me a shawl. It is a pattern that she saw was both on her queue and mine. How lovely is that?!

You have probably noticed how shaggy Alex was looking in those Christmas photos. He was long overdue for a haircut. I had grown used to seeing him shaggy and quite liked the look. Today we decided to give him a haircut.

Haircuts are a family affair here.. Alex to sit still, me to hold the scissors and cut, and Chris to take photos!

I much prefer him with long hair. Luckily, it will grow long again before too long.

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everything looked so yummy! thanks for sharing the 'how to' for the roast pork crackling, chinese style. I can't wait to try it!
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