Welcome to the rewind of the series from 2018 which features not only the food and traditions of Christmas but also some special guests who it would be lovely to share Christmas dinner with in person. In the series my guests shared their best Christmas gift ever…and there will be food including from our resident foodie Carol Taylor, my favourite drinks for the holidays, and of course music to get you into the spirit of the season..
My guests today are children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster, and poet and children’s author Miriam Hurdle…sharing their most favourite Christmas gift ever…
Before we find out more about the second day of Christmas and meet the guests I would like to get you in the mood with music, and one of my favourite groups has always been Status Quo -‘It’s Christmas Time’ was recorded in 2008. You can buy Status Quo Music Amazon – Youtube:OfficialStatusQuo
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how other countries celebrate their Christmas festivities. In China for example, only about 1% of the population is Christian and Christmas is really only celebrated in the big cities for its commercial value. But there are grottos set up in the shops and Santa Claus is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’. According to Why Christmas the younger generation give gifts to each other but more in line with St. Valentines’ Day.
Very few people have a tree and if so it is plastic and hung with paper ornaments. The irony is that the majority of Christmas tree ornaments we use are made in China!
The Second Day of Christmas is also called Boxing Day in the UK and St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was the first martyr who died for his faith.
Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church appointed by the apostles when they found that there was simply not enough of them to cope with many poor, widows and orphans that were so numerous in those times. They ordained seven assistants or deacons of which Stephen was one. He was very devout and well liked. He spoke eloquently and converted many to Christianity. Of course this did not sit very well with those outside the religion and they did their best to discredit him. He did not help his cause by giving his enemies some home truths about their behaviour I am afraid that they reacted by having him put to death. He is therefore the first martyr of the Christian faith and was awarded sainthood.
The carol most sung on St. Stephen’s Day is ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and here is an amazing version from Michala Petri, recorder and Danish National Vocal Ensemble conducted by Michael Bojesen from their own Recordings
Time to meet my first guest who is children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster.
Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dogs.
This is Darlene’s very best Christmas present ever….
My best Christmas gift, believe it or not, was a stamp album. I wanted one so badly and was disappointed that there wasn’t one under the tree. Dad looked under the couch and found a flat gift had slid under, addressed to me from my grandmother. To my delight, it was a stamp album and some stamps to get me started. I loved putting stamps from all over the world in that book, dreaming of eventually visiting those places. I recall the stamps for Espanola at the time, had General Franco on them.
I did not have to think too long for the perfect gift for Darlene and I have decided that perhaps a series of Flamenco Dance lessons might be just the ticket
A selection of other books by Darlene Foster
We have been so lucky for the last four years to have Carol Taylor writing the Food Column.. she will of course be a guest later in this party series.
You can find some great recipes for Christmas starters, mains and desserts with vegetarian options over at Carol’s Blog: Carol Cooks 2
Here is one of her recipes that will be a crowd pleaser. Although you would usually cook the Christmas pudding in advance, there is still time to make this home-made recipe and enjoy on the day.
• 300gm fresh white breadcrumbs (I use brown)
• 100gm self-raising flour
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ whole nutmeg, very finely grated
• 350gm raisins
• 100g mixed peel
• 50 gm flaked almonds
• 250 gm suet
• 225 gm Demerara sugar
• 225 gm sultanas
• 225 gm currants
• 2 carrots, peeled and very finely grated
• 2 cooking apples, peeled and very finely grated
• (shhhh)Wet ingredients
• Zest and juice of 1 orange
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 small wine glass of brandy shhhhh and a tad more..ha ha
• 2 tbsp black treacle
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Put the breadcrumbs in the biggest mixing bowl you can find.
- Sieve the flour into the bowl with the mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Then add the remaining dry ingredients, up to and including the grated apples.
- Combine all the wet ingredients in a jug.
- Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together, with a big wooden spoon.
- Take it in turns to give it a stir, closing your eyes and making a wish.
- Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight.
- Butter 2 x 1.2-litre pudding basins and spoon the mix into them. Place a disc of baking paper on top of the puddings, then seal with a big sheet of baking paper with a central pleat, to allow expansion. Cover with a cotton or muslin cloth and tie with string or foil.
- Steam for 6 hours in steamers, or in pans with simmering water that reaches two-thirds up the sides of the basins – be sure to keep the water topped up. Remove and allow to cool.
- When cool, re-cover the basins and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas day, or the day you’re going to eat the puddings, steam for another 1-2 hours. Turn the pudding onto a plate, then pour 75ml of brandy into a ladle and carefully warm over a low heat for 1 minute or so. Light the match and voila a flaming pudding.
Time now for my second guest today who is poet and children’s author Miriam Hurdle.
Miriam is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.
Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.
Miriam shares her most favourite Christmas gift ever.
The favorite Christmas gift I received ten years ago from my husband was a GPS. Using Google map in a cellphone was not my regular practice then.
I have no sense of direction in any given new location. When visiting a friend for the first time, I somehow turned to an opposite direction to go home. Before receiving the GPS, I got lost many times and found myself in a parking lot, calling my husband to direct me home. He gave me a GPS for a Christmas gift in 2009.
My daughter got married in May 2010 in Portland, Oregon. My brother-in-law did videotape using my camcorder. He recorded the wedding ceremony in the afternoon and the wedding reception in the evening. In the middle of the wedding reception, he told me the battery was running low. My panicky antenna went up. It would disappoint my daughter and the family not to record entirely such an important event in life.
I left the battery charger in my daughter’s house. My only option was to go get it and come back to charge the camcorder without missing too much of the memorable moments. The reception was in Columbia Edgewater Country Club. With no street lighting, I had no clue how to get out of the golf course to find my way to my daughter’s house. After I turned on the GPS, it kept saying in a robotic voice, “Calculating, calculating…” Finally, the little gadget figured out my position, directed my way to get the battery charger and come back to the reception. The GPS served me well for many years.
My virtual Christmas present for Miriam ….
Clearly Miriam already has a SatNav.. but I searched around and found this that she might find this next generation Car upgrade an interesting ride… the Tesla autopilot test drive..you can mute the Rolling Stones if you wish.. personally I quite like it…even more scary!!!
Books by Miriam Hurdle
And I cannot let you go without offering you a drink for the road (provided you are the passenger)..
Now whilst this is not a traditional Christmas drink… it is a cocktail that goes down well at any time of the year and I have a fail save recipe for you for the simple but highly effecting Margarita.
I suggest making in a large jug and I will give you the proportions per person and then I will give you the overall health benefits.
As many of you will know this is made with tequila and it is my advice that you use the top of the range Cuervo Gold as tastes much better, certainly for the first one and then you don’t really taste anything anyway. Tequila like most of my favourite food pharmacy subjects has been used for thousands of years by the Native American Indians for both medicinal and recreational purposes. It was used as a hallucinogenic and apparently improves all aspects of stamina and enabled the imbiber to achieve the Dream State. You can see this effect for your self after your guests have sampled two or three of your concoction.
Add 1oz per person.
You will also need some Cointreau or Cuarenta y tres or triple sec, which are all orange liqueurs. I have covered the benefits of oranges in several of my healthy eating posts, but obviously in alcoholic form its antioxidant properties are a little subdued. Of course there is still the antiseptic nature of alcohol to compensate.
You will need 1oz per person.
Finally you will need 1oz of fresh squeezed lime juice per person. Now as everyone knows limes are full of Vitamin C and limes in particular have some special properties. They prevent scurvy, if taken every day they can prevent cholera and the vitamin C in the fruit is anti-ageing as it forms collagen that fills in wrinkles and frown lines.
I have looked on a worldwide basis for the health benefits of margaritas and this is a summary of the best I could find.
- Apart from the obvious antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-ageing effects of the cocktail there are some other side effects that can be life changing.
- If you have feelings of inadequacy or suffer from shyness and lack of assertiveness then drinking just one margarita may be the answer.
- It makes you feel more confidant about yourself and your actions and encourages you to tell the world that you are willing and able to do just about anything. You will notice the effects of the margarita almost immediately. You will find that you are able to dance at a higher intensity (particularly on a table), you will be able to sing and give renditions of everyone’s favourite hits from the forties and fifties. You will also find that the dress code does not apply to you because you are not wearing one.
- Drinking margaritas may not be right for everyone as there are some side effects including dizziness, nausea, incarceration, lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing and money, delusions of grandeur, lap dancing, headache, dehydration and an increase in appetite for snakes and lizards.
My guests tomorrow are Jennie Fitzkee and Lisa Thomson and I hope you will join us.
Thank you very much for visiting today.. Please tell us about your most memorable Christmas gift in the comments section. I hope you have enjoyed yourself and please be careful if you have tried one of the above Margaritas… Thanks Sally.