Posts Tagged ‘Chili’

A Happy Holiday (Christmas)

December 18, 2016

img_20161217_0001

With the issue of a school in Queensland not toeing the Christian line, I thought it best to use both forms; A Happy Holiday and a Happy Christmas.
http://theaimn.com/you-better-watch-out/

Christmas (without snow) is almost here. Yesterday we bought the pavlova and, as is now an Oosterman tradition, we will be roasting the Indian Raan dish. The lamb will be marinated for a couple of days in the yoghurt and lemon mixture with the usual spice of garam masala which includes cinnamon, cloves, chilies and whatever I feel like chucking in. I rarely measure quantities which gives an uncertain and exciting edge to the end dish. Sometimes it bombs but at other times it will surpass even our wildest culinary imaginings. A good Raan in the middle of a hot Australian Christmas is to be applauded and revered. It is really the true spirit of Christmas. It used to be possible to buy a large shoulder of hogget or an ageing sheep. Not anymore. It is all lamb now. A hogget is to be preferred for slow roasting.

But I am straying.

You know how it is! We used to walk with our dog Milo past a house which has a large window reaching to the floor. Very often it showed an old man reading and three small dogs all seated on a variety of cushions. The man and his book on a recliner chair. A charming and intimate picture. Milo would run up to the house and the man and his three small dogs, framed in this large window, would all be aroused by Milo’s short burst of furious barking. The three little dogs did likewise. It would just last a second or so and Milo would dart back to us. It was a little tradition without fail each time. The man would laugh and we would wave to him. It was a neighbourly bit of fun. Then, without warning, the dogs and this man were gone.

The grass at the front of the house is now overgrown and the man’s car hasn’t moved. The curtain, that was never used before is now drawn across the large window. We are not sure what has happened. Milo still expects a return of the fun, but it hasn’t. He looks disappointed each time we pass the house. It has been at least a month since the last barking and waving-back exchange. I hope things are alright and it will all come back, but that’s not a given! Sometimes things don’t return to what was. No matter how one wishes.

Another strange thing which doesn’t bode well is that the chickens on the other side of our fence have stopped cackling. Worse, the door of the pen is open. I suggested to Helvi that perhaps the owner has died. ‘It is more likely that the chickens have died’, Helvi said. I responded, ‘only three days ago they were full on after having laid eggs. The chickens were cackling like mad,’ I added. The owner of the chickens is also an old man. His name is Harley. He has a wooden sign ‘Harley Davidson’ screwed on the outside wall of his veranda. Perhaps he used to ride a Harley bike. I will ask him next time I see him.

Harley always dresses in neat long sleeved shirts and wears jeans. A reserved man with a good sense of humour. He loves his dogs. They are a very large Bernese, and a lively small Jack Russell. Harley also does the gardening, feeds his chickens and reap the eggs. All of these would be combined each afternoon with Harley sauntering around his garden while sipping a glass of white wine and puffing a cigarette, overlooking his domain. A picture of a contented man. No doubt his wife would not have him smoking inside. That’s how it has gone now. I hardly ever see the wife, but she is there. Harley and I sometimes talk a bit and each time he would shake my hand.

I do hope to see him soon and look forward to wish him a Merry Christmas.

I also wish all of you, dear followers and friends, a Happy Christmas AND a Happy Holiday.

The Party.

December 12, 2016

IMG_0755

For almost as long as I can remember we have been going to at least one party a year. There used to be many parties but a song comes to mind ‘there aren’t as many as there was a while ago.’

This is one of my favourite Yankee doodle songs that has stuck with me for at least as long as this annual Christmas party.

This party is now celebrating its thirtieth birthday. It is held by a good friend of whose friendship is even of greater vintage. By and large the same people turn up each year. It is amazing how it has endured, despite the many changes and moves that we all made during life’s journey. It seems trite to mention, but life does make for change. If not with partners it is by address. The one constant though is this annual party held by the same friends and at the same address.

As the years went by, our friendships endured even if most of us only just met at this single day. It’s as if a year lasts a single day. We greet, ‘oh how have you been?’ It gets the predictable, ‘ just been fine, thanks.’ ‘How have you been?’ We pour a drink and unload our offerings of home prepared dishes, all on a table specially prepared for our party. With the advancing years, an almost equal increase in hearing aids are now being carried. Some years, ago it was decided not to have any playing of music. The talk is what is really making the music. It is surprising how advancing years doesn’t make for declining talk. Au contraire, the talk increases, or so it seems to me. As we uncoil our yearly tales of woe and joy spring forth, the party gets going. Some years have been better than others, but overall we tend to laugh and banter about more than ever. Flirtatious behaviour, thankfully still lingers. Nothing too serious though. Just an acknowledgement that sex doesn’t relinquish itself with the growing years.

The food is consumed from paper plates as the crowd is still so large and mostly from uninhibited backgrounds that formality is kept at a minimum. Young at heart and still playful seems to be the general tone of this yearly event. With hearing devices there is also a couple of heart pace makers and one of the guests now carries white cane. She can generally get about alright inside, and away from the glaring sun. She plonked her white cane in the corner and always manages to get to the smoked turkey before anyone. Our contribution, also a yearly predictable offering, are the grilled chicken wings. I marinated them the previous night. A fair amount of chopped ginger, lots of chilies, garlic and Ketcap Manis. This year they were slightly overcooked but I noticed they went as quickly as ever. I always keep an eye out on how quick those chicken wings get taken by our friends. I suppose a bit of pride in making them doesn’t go astray.

And then as the afternoon knocks at around six o’clock, we take our leave. We have a long drive back. A goodbye ensues and the last bit of joviality now takes over. It has been a good party. It always is. We embrace and arm each other, share kisses. I scrounge a couple of fish-patties and gulp down a last New Zealand Pinot-Gris. Another Christmas party has gone.
Till next year.