I hadn’t quite envisaged how busy life would be moving back to Australia as well as studying and Joel travelling each week for work but we are on our way to feeling settled. There is still clutter to be sorted, furniture to buy, garden to be tended to but I plan never to move again so there really is no rush. It is just so good to be back in Australia and even better to be here at this time of year with the neighbourhood full of Poincianas, Frangipanis and Christmas lights. I feel a little heavy hearted when I see the snow reports in Colorado and wish I could just duck back for a day of skiing but Christmas to me is the humidity of a Brisbane summer with kids swimming, eating endless mangos and Joel playing all his Christmas records. It is good to be back home.
Well this boy has taken up a great deal of my energy. This is our puppy called Sunday which we had promised the kids on our return back to Australia. Joel was really hoping we would call him Willy Nelson or Jimmy Little but Sunday won the day and I hope he grows up to be one of those lazy labradors who just sleeps all day on the front doorstep. He is a beautiful dog who has a thing for stealing whole loaves of bread from the kitchen bench – we are working on that so he can graduate from dog obedience school. Besides the bread stealing, we are all pretty much in love with this happy chappy.
We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to get up to Cairns to spend time with Joel’s parents over the September school holidays and also to go Hamilton Island earlier this term to tag along on Joel’s work offsite. Nothing quite like getting out on the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the Whitsundays and spending time on the Atherton Tablelands to make one appreciate this beautiful state we live in.
The kids particularly loved getting up to the Grandparents farm at Millaa Millaa and paddling down the river, swimming in the nearby lakes, spotting the resident platypus and learning to drive the quad bike and off roader.
Here is a photo of Levi having his first lesson in the off roader.
And here is Tilly herding cattle on the quad bike. She did brilliantly.
One of the best things for me moving back to Australia is the food. Shopping is easy and familiar and I have enjoyed getting back into the rhythm of the Australian seasonal fruit and veg and cooking family meals, treats for lunch boxes and preparing for the Christmas feasting. I have the fridge stocked with Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and jars of Pear and Ginger Fruit Mince. This White Chocolate, Pistachio and Cranberry Slice is quite festive with the cranberries and can easily be sliced and stored in the freezer to pull out if you have to take a plate to a shindig. Although once made it is really, really hard to resist – speaking from experience here.
This slice can easily be gluten free by using gluten free biscuits. I tend to either top the slice with some lemon icing or just drizzle over melted white chocolate but I always finish with a scattering of chopped pistachios as it looks quite pretty. Perfect little slice to take to a Christmas party.
white chocolate, pistachio and cranberry slice
200g milk arrowroot biscuits (any sweet biscuit will do and gluten free biscuits can be used for a gluten free version)
300g white chocolate, roughly chopped
60g unsalted butter
1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
1 3/4 cups of icing sugar
20 g unsalted butter, melted
extra pistachios, roughly chopped
Line a 20cm x 30cm slice tin with baking paper. Process half the biscuits in a food processor to make crumbs then tip into a large bowl. Process the other half of the biscuits in the food processor to make very rough crumbs and tip into the large bowl. This way you have a variation in the crumbs, alternatively you could place all the biscuits into a large ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin until you get a nice mix of fine crumbs and large crumbs. Add the chopped pistachios, cranberries and 100g of roughly chopped white chocolate and mix together.
In a saucepan, melt the butter with the condensed milk. Take the saucepan off the heat then add 200g chopped white chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Pour this into the biscuit mix and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking tin and press the mixture down firmly and evenly with a spatula. Put the tin into the fridge for a couple of hours or until the slice has set firm.
Finish with the lemon icing or drizzle with extra melted white chocolate and scatter over extra chopped pistachios. For the lemon icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the melted butter and enough lemon juice to make a spreadable consistency. Keep this slice stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.