The morning of the night before

‘Twas early on the morning of the night before Christmas…. and all through the house, lots was stirring.

It might have something to do with The Hungry One’s 3 am conference call (gee willy whizkins the time difference between Sydney and NYC is a joy). It may have something to do with jet lag from an 11 hour flight from Jo’burg to Sydney which took more than 15, including two and a half spent sitting on the tarmac in Melbourne (not a planned stop off).

– Nb it was all worth it for the time in South Africa- which included a little of this

Some of these…

And some exciting time with these dazzlers

More to come on all of that- I promise.

This early hour  may also have something to do with the excitement and anticipation of today. You see, the  Brady Bunch extended clan on my mother’s side celebrates the holidays on Christmas Eve. Since we first came together 15 years ago it’s grown from a boisterous group of  four step siblings, my mum, step dad, sister and myself to a feast for 21 people. Some of them are little,  and the rest of the family are all contributing- but there’s still prep to be done.

Which may explain why two weeks ago I sent a fairly anal shopping list* to my beautiful Mum, divided by where she would need to go in what section of the supermarket/ delis/ fruit shops.  This way we can get off to a running start. One thing I’ve learned. Markets on Christmas Eve in Sydney don’t bring out the best in people.  

I’m excited. About spending time with my Mum.  About having a cup of tea from one of her stout blue and white mugs. About seeing the clan. And about getting back into a kitchen.

I’m currently looking out the window from the gorgeous house we’ve borrowed from a fantastic old work colleague and the sun is shining. Me and my gang of five are soon about to jump in a car and head over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Suffice to say, there are lots of good reasons to be awake and cheerful. I’m hoping it’s the same where you are.

*What an anal shopping list/ email to your mum for Christmas might look like

‘Hi Mum,

The below are the ingredients to create the following for Christmas. Do you think you can get them by the morning of Christmas eve so we can get cracking? Can’t wait  to see you. Love you. xx tor’
Berry cocktails/mocktails
Grissini wrapped in prosciutto
pea, mint and feta dip
White bean and artichoke dip
Spiced mixed nuts
Whole bbq fish
Christmas ham
Spiced caponata
Mint yogurt sauce
Herb aiolli
Salad of asparagus, cherries, ricotta salata, pistachios
Christmas pudding ice cream terrine with chocolate sauce


Equipment/ basics

Greaseproof paper

2 cups of Sunflower oil (for making mayonnaise)
At least 2 cups of olive oil for cooking
1 bottle of better olive oil for dressings
Maldon sea salt
Red wine vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin of butter beans/cannellini beans
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts (for the artichoke and white bean dip)
Caster sugar or white sugar
2 tbsp Capers
2tbsp green olives
Grissini (Italian style breadstick crackers)
Bag of mixed nuts
Marmalade (for the ham)
English mustard (for the ham)
Cloves (for the ham)

Sweets/ nuts
50 grams pine nuts
2 tablespoons of currants
50 grams flaked or slivered almonds
2 tablespoons of pistachios
500 gram good quality Christmas pudding (can be larger if there are larger ones)
200  grams Lindt 70 per cent dark chocolate

Tub of Greek yogurt
2 cartons double cream
2 eggs
1 packet of unsalted butter
1 packet of Feta cheese

1 cup of ricotta salata (you should be able to get this from the deli, if not, fresh ricotta from a deli is fine)
200 grams of prosciutto

2 bottles of ginger ale- for the mint/berry cocktail/mocktails- we’ll blitz the strawberries with the mint, then muddle it through ginger ale and people can pimp with white rum or gin if they like.

1 large Christmas ham to be glazed

2 kg pink fish (ocean trout or salmon)
to be stuffed and cooked on bbq

Frozen section of supermarket
1 bag of frozen peas (for the pea, mint and feta dip with prosciutto grissini)
1 bag frozen mixed berries
2 litres of vanilla ice cream

Fruit and vegetables
3 fennel (2 for the fish, 1 for the caponata)
3 lemons
For the caponata- nb this feeds 8-10 as a side- we may want to double it so there’s some for the next day- what do you think?

2 red onions
2 red peppers
2 large aubergines
1 knob of ginger, size of a wine cork
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of basil
2 bunches of flat leaf parsley
2 bunches mint
1 punnet strawberries (for the cocktails)
3 bunches of asparagus
2 zucchini
1 cup of fresh cherries
2 oranges

Let us eat drink and be merry. Lots of love,


  1. That's quite a list, Tori! You must have one amazing Mum. Wishing you a very merry Christmas!

  2. That's a heck of an organised shopping list!

  3. Wow, Tori, the photos are incredible and your list for the dinner tonight sounds wonderful. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. BTW I have just received the Versatile Blogger Award again and I am nominating you as a recipient. Congratulations!

  4. Sounds like you had a VERY Merry Christmas. 🙂

  5. I am a pretty organized, meticulous person…but yep, would have to agree that is anal…but in a good way. Did your mom get it all right? She's a saint, as I am sure you know.

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