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.
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day and what beautiful shortbread and glad you could brighten your mother in law’s day Maureen, true!
Yes, think anyone who has experienced and aging parent with health difficulties would today also be hugging you!
Merry Christmas! Hope your day goes smooth and hope all enjoy!
Food Stories says
Great recipe – I’ve been making a lot of shortbread, lately – Happy Holidays!!!
I made your shortbread two times now, and they are a hit. The second time I added pecans. Lovely.
The story of your mum-in-law made me cry. You are a good DIL, Bless you.
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says
Lovely shortbread, Maureen! It looks good enough to make Santa happy and yell Ho, Ho, Ho!!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Merry Christmas Maureen, sounds like it’s going to be a great day for everyone at your house.
Gorgeous shortbread – I’m totally addicted to the stuff – there must be Scottish blood somewhere in my ancestry 🙂
Wishing you a thousand good things for 2014.
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Sounds like a lovely day! And I hope tomorrow is even better for all of you. After seeing your shortbread mold, I got one for Mrs K R for her birthday — a cookie type. Those things are great! Good recipe, fun post. Thanks to you for being you, and Merry Christmas to you, John, and the oldsters.
How wonderful you spent some time with your MIL for Christmas. So often the old and frail are forgotten at Christmas.
I love shortbread. Never knew it was SO easy. I will have to try and make it some day soon.
Merry Christmas, Maureen.
Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice says
You are wonderful, and this shortbread looks almost as wonderful as you. Merry Christmas, friend!
LOL I’m not so wonderful. Read my reply to Charlie Louie above. 🙂
I’m so glad your visit with your MIL went well, Maureen. My mom spent a lot of time in a post-hospital recovery/waiting to go ‘home’ unit with the sort of activities and schedule found in a nursing home before she actually went into one. She had been living with me and needed to be hospitalized again … a cycle of hospitalization and home that became more and more frequent. My brother and I were in fear of tearful pleas to come home especially as, though she knew my dad had passed away, she insisted that he was still at their bungalow in the country. Sometimes she thought she was still living at one of our old homes and he had been in the room. Luckily those incidents were few and brief and she was always comfortable and happy in the home on my visits. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.
I’m so happy to see that you’ve got the hang of the shortbread mold. I’d love to have one with that thistle pattern.
Norma Chang says
So glad to learn that your MIL is adjusting well, I am sure it is very difficult for all. Have a wonderful family gathering tomorrow, sounds like you are going to have a delicious feast.
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
Love shortbread and this one looks both pretty and delicious!
Have a great holiday Maureen…Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Maureen! I’m so glad you’re bringing your MIL home, hope it all goes brilliantly for you! xxx
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Dearest Maureen, have a happy Christmas… best wishes for a peaceful day… hope you will get some rest at some stage, my friend xo
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
A beautiful shortbread Maureen! 😀 And isn’t that lovely that your MIL is coping well. That must be a huge relief for you and John 🙂 Merry Christmas my dear! xxx
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Merry Christmas, Maureen, and Happy New Year! We just ate ham and cold duck for our Aussie Xmas meal, but I just couldn’t do without the homemade pumpkin pie- made it myself and ate two pieces!
I ran around like crazy making sure I’d covered everyone’s favorites and then realized I’d left myself out. So tomorrow I’m making pie!
Choc Chip Uru says
I am super thrilled you had a good visit with the MIL 😀
And hope your family and you had the incredible Christmas you deserve!
I would love to experience Christmas in Australia once in my lifetime to see a “summer Christmas”. Hope you had a lovely day. 🙂
I’ll get shot for this probably but it’s overrated. 🙂
How I’d love a piece of that shortbread! It looks really good, Maureen.
I hope your Christmas went very well. I think it wonderful that you took advantage of your MIL’s good humor and created a Christmas celebration. May we all have such caring people in our lives when the time comes.
I hope the rest of your holiday season is filled with much joy and peace.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Merry Christmas, Maureen. I hope you and your family have a wonderful day.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂
David Crichton says
Looks perfect, can’t beat some homemade shortbread.
Hotly Spiced says
You’ve been so busy, Maureen; all of that going on and the lead-up to Christmas. I’m glad to hear your MIL has settled in well. That was so good of you to take them shopping – you have more patience than me! Merry Christmas to you and John and the in-laws xx
LOL Oh no I don’t. 🙂 I do it because it’s the right thing to do but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times I want to punch them in the face. 🙂
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
You sound so good managing the older parent challenges – it is a difficult scenario but there are ways to do it nicely and ways not to, and you clearly are doing all you can for the former!
Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2014.
Dedy@Dentist Chef says
I’m Happy for your mother in law my friend!
I guess it’s a christmas warmth all about…….
Merry christmas and happy holidays, God blessed you all the way!!!
Desiree Ricks says
Looking forward to reading through more. Excellent blog.Truly looking forward to find out more.
May this Christmas marks the beginning of a wonderful year for us. Have a joyous Christmas!
I’m so envious of these shortbread moulds that so many of you have been showcasing! So gorgeous.
Merry Christmas Maureen!
suzanne Perazzini says
What a fun shopping trip! LOL. I can just imagine the scene. Elderly parents are a worry. I am so grateful that my mother now lives in a lovely apartment in a retirement village overlooking the sea. She is super happy there and when she deteriorates, there is the rest home section and also a hospital so she will never have to leave what has become her home. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! It decided to rain here after weeks of sunshine but it couldn’t dampen our spirits.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Shortbread is such a treat and I’d love to have such a pretty mould!
Abbe@This is How I Cook says
Haven’t gotten to this point yet, but find myself comparing notes with friends that have. Very tough and I feel for you. But this shortbread would make any day go a bit sweeter! Hope you had a lovely christmas and that your MIL got to wear her new shoes!
Nuts about food says
I think your mother in law is very lucky to have a daughter in law like you! What a sweet thought. I love shortbread and yours looks delicious (and beautiful).
Mary Frances says
Maureen!! I LOVE shortbread – and yours looks amazing!! (and you and John are ready for sainthood!)
My Mother-in-law is also Scottish and after years she finally gave me the recipe for shortbread. Your sister was the shortbread queen and made the best! My Mother-in-law has given me the best compliment when she told me my shortbread was as good as Aunt Mary’s. I am truly honored! Could you please let me know where you can get those molds? Thank you! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!
hi Maureen ,would I be able to add macadamia (ground) to your shortbread receipe
and how much, please, thanks.
I honestly don’t know as I’ve never tried it but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work.