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what did Santa bring you?

We travelled a squillion miles to be here with family these holidays. We got over the jet lag by just not sleeping and jumped straight into life in this beautiful burnt arid place.  

   
We love California from our time spent here some years ago. Landmarks make sense this time round. Street names greet us like old friends, the grocery store welcomes us with open arms-they know we have to feed 25 people three consecutive meals over the next 36 hours and that ain’t no mean feat sugar!
   
   
So while we’ve done this all before, something is different this time. It’s like coming home. It’s cooking shoulder to shoulder quietly, efficiently, tastily, in a kitchen designed for two. It’s warm long hugs – the sort that stick all your broken pieces together again. It’s twin husbands, sister wives and date nights and girls nights and s’mores toasted on open fires.  It’s grandparents and aunties and uncles and cuzzies and chaos. It’s children growing up and talking to you like you matter, it’s teenagers telling you their secrets.

   

 
 
This time around the edges are softer. Is it because we’re older? Because we certainly aren’t any wiser. Have we grown up a little? Do we know now that it’s all not black and white but beautifully gray in between?
Or is it the food that casts a spell on us? The stupendous fresh produce? Is it the love and care that goes in to planning every single meal, the madness that seems so worth it when every one sits down to share shanks and turkey and bean casserole and cornbread stuffing and pecan pie? Is it the table laid with care and candles and colour and gorgeousness? Is it the tree? It’s bursting at the seams with pressies and we are all bracing for a VERY. EARLY. MORNING.

  
    

I could think about this till the cows come home but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to thank Santa for bringing me a family I’m proud to be a part of by marrying into. Thank god my inlaws aren’t outlaws! I’m going to ask Santa that instead of leaving something for me under the tree, he takes away all that’s wrong in this world. I’m going to ask him to keep my babies safe and I’m going to ask him to protect those I love. 

  

I’m going to leave a cookie and some milk out for him tonight… and when all I find in the morning are crumbs in the plate, I’ll know you’re never too old to believe in the magic of Christmas. Dee x

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it’s a full moon ya filthy animal!

I’ve never actually followed a recipe before. I can’t cook from them. So when I was approached by ITC to share a recipe my immediate reaction was one of panic. (And glee. But panic was the overriding emotion). 

How do you share a recipe for something you’ve never cooked? With 6000 people? Why, you just open the fridge and pantry and pray like mad!

Today I’m sharing my version of smokey sticky slightly salty simply super pulled pork. And when I was marinating it all I wanted to do was put on my boots and cowboy hat and pull out my (imaginary) gun from its shiny leather holster. And twirl it around and in my best Southern Accent shout “Its a full moon tonight and you’re goin down ya filthy animal!”

This dish is not for the faint hearted. It’s pig, er I mean big. And bold and bloody and so damn beautiful it’s making me cry. (I think I’m crying because THERE IS NO VEGETARIAN SUBSTITUTE!!!) So without further ado let’s see how we go. A picture may be a good place to start.

  

Caramelise about half a cup of raw sugar till it starts to spit and smoke (it looked like the moon in my photo). Open one of those beautiful little cans of tomato purée and add it to the pot. Whack on a nice big blob of crushed garlic (fresh would be awesome but I’ve run out) and add salt to this concoction. I have to say I love my smoked garlic-herb salt only second to my husband and children. If you can get your hands on some, you too can pretend to be a good cook!

To this I add some cinnamon for family warmth, nutmeg for stability, paprika because I had an accent going on inside my head and lastly turmeric because you can take the girl out of India but you cannot take India out of the girl. If you’re cooking meat, always add turmeric. Just a pinch will do. It’s antiseptic and I’m claiming it makes all meat safer. 

Plonk the pork (I used a 2.5kg shoulder) on a big X that you’ve created with two lengths of foil. Stab it with the biggest knife you’ve got. Don’t worry about it looking nice. It won’t! Coat it with that sweet smokey marinade and let it be for a couple of hours.

Wrap up the foil parcel, place it on an oven tray and leave it in a preheated oven at about 160 for 2.5-3 hours. I learnt the foil trick from my friend Jamie. You know… the one who has a product range at Woollies! So atleast I know that part of the recipe has been tested and works. 

  
And that’s it. You could serve it warm with nachos, coleslaw, in wraps with some guacamole, as a burger… The possibilities are endless. In the words of Homer Simpson, “Ah the pig. Such a wonderful, marvelous animal.”

  
Enjoy. Share some photos of how your version turns out. (Cowboy dress-ups not mandatory). Dee x