6 September

Takes the biscuit

I love Christmas biscuits: most people like eating them, they can turn a normal snack into a festive occasion, they look great and they make excellent Small Presents.[1]

Christmas biscuits can be cookies that are traditionally eaten in Yuletide (shortbread and gingerbread are classics), have flavours that are traditionally eaten in Yuletide (spices, cranberries, fruit mince),[2] be decorated with a Christmas theme, including those cut with Christmas cutters (like stars, reindeer and Christmas trees) and those decorated with Christmas colours (you can sprinkle red and green sugar on anything).[3]

If your kitchen is low on culinary equipment, you can still bake a festive cookie that hits the Christmas biscuit trifecta if you whip up some gingerbread (which can be a one bowl, one spoon job), roll it out (with a bottle if needs be), cut it into rings (using a glass to make the outside circle and a bottle neck to make the inside circle), add white icing and scatter some chopped red and green glacé cherries onto one “corner” and voila! Christmas wreath biscuits.[4]

06 sep 2016.jpg
Put a ring on it.

Christmas Day 1970: As the oldest and most reliable child, Caroline was assigned the job of taking the stacks of good plates from the kitchen and piling them up on the dining room table, ready for the next meal. There was a moment of tension when she slipped in a splash of water (Uncle Jim had succeeded in making us work with energy but no one can make that many small children neat) but she regained her balance and saved the china. We all cheered.[5]

And we cheered again when the washing up was done and we were released from the steam heat of the kitchen into the dry heat of a summer’s day in the Mallee. For me, the smell of hot, baking earth is one of the smells of Christmas.

[1] Unless you sit on them. (I regret to say that I learned this through bitter experience.)

[2] Within sensible limits: my daughter Hannah’s experimental pumpkin and turkey crackers were not a success.

[3] Anything sweet, that is: coloured sugar wouldn’t work well on Hannah’s pumpkin and turkey crackers.

[4] I picked this up from my cousin Linda, who did a whole Christmas feast from a caravan when she was building her new house. She said she saved time on decorating (two lengths of tinsel and one tiny tree) and then spent it all on cooking things the hard way.

[5] And Dad rushed out for the mop. (He was pretty relaxed about kids falling over – “They’re used to it,” he’d say – but he didn’t want Nanna’s crockery on his conscience.)

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