Well, it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve just gotten home from spending the day with my mother-in-law and I brought her some shortbread I’d made in my new mold. Her ancestors are from Scotland and she loves shortbread.
I was the first visitor she’s had since she moved into care at a nursing home near us. The staff at the home said she needed to settle in before receiving visitors and it’s tough to leave someone you love to go it alone. I decided to go by myself because if she wasn’t in a good mood, better it be with the American daughter-in-law, right?
I was pleasantly surprised when she not only recognized me, she was over the moon that I was there. We had a lovely visit and I told her I’d go get the boys and take her shopping for new shoes. Her daughter had sent her a lovely blouse and she had no shoes to wear with it.
Christmas Eve shopping is a nightmare but doing it with two oldies 88 and 93 is quite a feat. John and I took turns looking after them, “You follow mum and I’ll wait for dad,” is how the afternoon went.
She found new shoes, we went out for coffee and sweets and then did a bit of grocery shopping before taking her home. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she went happily to her room. Everyone goes through this with an elderly parent at some point but it doesn’t make it easier at the time. Nobody wants to be the one to break a parent’s heart by telling them that they can’t go home.
Tomorrow we’ll pick her up and she’ll have Christmas dinner with us. We were going to have it with her at the home but when she was so pleasant, we decided to try bringing her to the house. Of course I hadn’t planned anything, had I? At 4:30 on Christmas Eve we were frantically buying a ham, turkey and big juicy prawns. We’re all set for a lovely Christmas lunch.
Christmas in Australia is always hot and this year will be no different. It will be cold ham, cole slaw, tossed salad, potato salad, cold turkey and prawns. For dessert we’re having a pavlova topped with whipped cream, passionfruit and mango. Oh, and we’ll have Christmas crackers – the kind you pull with hats inside.
Here’s my shortbread recipe. If you don’t have a mould, you can form a round on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and bake for 24-30 minutes or until golden but not brown. When you cut them into wedges they are known as petticoat tails.
- 12 ounces, 340 grams plain all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces, 113 grams caster/super fine sugar
- 8 ounces, 227 grams butter
- Preheat oven to 160C/325F
- Mix the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, and then rub in the butter - as if you were making shortcrust pastry. Use the tips of your fingers and ensure that all the butter has been rubbed in -- it should resemble sand.
- Then start to knead the paste, pushing it together to form a smooth dough - the heat of your hands whilst kneading helps it form.
- If using a ceramic mould, spray lightly with cooking oil and then wipe out excess.
- Press shortbread mixture into the mould evenly.
- Prick with a fork to keep shortbread from bubbling.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until pale and golden but not brown.
- After removing from the oven, run a sharp knife around the edges of the mould and invert onto a cooling rack. If you wish, you can sprinkle extra sugar on top while the shortbread is still hot.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges (petticoat tails) and leave for about 30 minutes to an hour before eating as they will be crumbly.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight tin or container and they will keep for 10-14 days. These also freeze very well.
To all my dear, dear blogging friends. Thank you for your friendship and I’m so grateful that you’ve come into my life and made it richer. May this Christmas bring you joy, peace and happiness.