Christmas Traditions – A Mother’s Legacy

It is with sadness that I write this post, but I feel compelled to do so in the spirit of sharing and Christmas. My dear mum passed away last week after a lengthy illness and won’t be here to join us this year for our family get-togethers. However the traditions she started will be with us for many years to come. Mum loved Christmas and would prepare weeks ahead by cooking port wine jellies for gifts, soaking the fruit for the Christmas cakes, decorating the tree on the 1st December and making these little morsels of sheer deliciousness and richness…..Rum Balls!

 

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Mum has been making these rum balls at Christmas for approx 40 years and was very seceretive about the recipe and its origins. She has hand written the recipe in my childhood recipe book under threat if I was ever to reveal it to strangers! I will cherish it always but feel the need to share it with you all now, in mum’s honour. Besides, its a simple little recipe that we can all make very quickly and have any little helpers assist. The original recipe came from a lady named Judy Orr, who was the mother of my best friend at the time, Jenny. Judy happily parted with the recipe, not realising the tradition she would create. They have been called Judy Orr’s rum balls ever since!

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They are my preferred rum ball in that they are more truffle like and do not have the cakey consistency and texture of other rum balls. By sheer accident, they are therefore gluten free! The recipe is easily doubled, with the base recipe making approx 20 teaspoon size balls. My neice Phoebe ( a budding little chef herself) and I made a batch the day before Mum’s funeral and decided that the recipe is due for an overhaul and that we need to experiment with other flavours including a mint essence. The rum flavoured ones keep well though and make terrific gifts.

So Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you can all be with the ones you love and share some of your traditions this year. If not start your own and be prepared to hand them down to future generations. To my own Mum I say thank you for all the love you provided me and our family. For teaching me all about food and for sharing your kitchen with me as I grew. Standing side by side with you, I learnt how to prepare and cook food, discover flavours and tastes not known and to provide a meal to my own family. Christmas will always be a special time for me despite your passing, because you made it special with all your traditions.

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In terms of the Rum balls, I don’t think Judy would mind, but I’m renaming them Mum’s rum balls….

Peace and love to all this Christmas….TBH XX

 

 

Memories of Christmas’ gone by – Cous Cous Salad

I feel inspired to write and post the recipe for this salad for two reasons. Christmas is just around the corner and this salad has featured heavily on our Christmas lunch table since our early days in Newcastle. Secondly I have just been to visit my elderly mother who has been unwell for many years, and as she struggles with the grip of dementia taking hold of her remarkable mind, this salad brings fond memories of family get togethers and flavours long shared between us. This couscous salad has been a favourite of hers and one that I made for her each Christmas. Mum always loved the flavours of the Middle East, pungent with cumin and coriander seeds, ginger and garlic.  Although her mind may not remember now,  she still has a sense of taste and smell which brings her memories back to me. Mum was always at her best around Christmas time, feverishly slaving away in the kitchen making a wonderful spread of food for her family and friends. Over the coming weeks I will try and post a few more of her favourite recipes as an ode to her and her love of Christmas.

So to the recipe for CousCous Salad. This recipe was originally shared with me by a fellow health professional over 20 years ago. She made the salad for one of our themed dinners and I can only assume this one was a Moroccan theme. I believe the original recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and although I don’t have the original, I have copied this recipe for many friends and family to enjoy. It is a true crowd pleaser and feeds that said crowd with leftovers aplenty (perfect for Boxing Day!). It can also be made well ahead of time and just add the dressing at the last minute. I tend to make the dressing in a screw top jar, so it is ready for a shake and pour. The salad travels well for the family BBQ’s and develops flavours over a few days (if it lasts). In terms of Christmas, it looks the festive part if you choose to use the colourful capsicums and can be a wonderful accompaniment to most of the necessary baked meats and glazed hams.

 

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I do hope you enjoy this salad and can add it to your own repertoire and family traditions. It has served me and my family particularly well and will always provide a smile on my face when I think of mum consuming copious amounts of this salad with her ham on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Enjoy TBHxx