‘Tis time. Second Christmas is upon us. We’ve been counting the days since first Christmas, all those long months ago back in December, and now it’s here.
It came about for the first time last year because of a friend’s new knee. She spent her Christmas tucked up in a bed in Waikato Hospital, full of morphine and jelly, and was deprived of her tinsel and peppermint sticks. So we decided to give her a Christmas when she got out, which we did. It was such a good idea we decided to make it an annual event.
It makes sense on so many levels. Christmas in December is just wrong, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. Putting up all the lights in early summer doesn’t quite work with the sun still shining; it’s much better to do this smack bang in the depths of winter. Now it’s dark at 5.30pm and they can be admired for the delights they are.
Second Christmas is far more fun than just celebrating the winter solstice. We’ve done this most years for about two decades now, and while it’s a fine idea, it’s only for one night. Second Christmas lasts for the entire month of June, fully decorated with sparkly lights and other essentials. On June 21 not only will we plant ample amounts of garlic, but we’ll also have a particularly splendid feast. But every other weekend we’re going to invite special friends over and share with them the joys of fine food, fire and sparkly stuff.
And of course, there will be a tree. It’s a former tagasaste, which died some time over summer and turned into stark branches, which was just what we were looking for. A quick cut at the base, a trim of one or two branches, and a considerable amount of time painting the thing sparkly silver, and we had our tree. It was well worth the effort and it now looks suitably stunning draped with decorations and tinsel.
In fact, in many ways, Second Christmas is preferable to the first. There’s no stress, no running around finding gifts or filling out cards for aunts one seldom sees. You only do the fun stuff.
Which brings me to eating, which is a very large part of this special event. No dish is too heavy or rich. We’re going to kick off with Lloyd’s roast pork, which he first cooked for us almost 10 years ago. It is delightful, when followed by sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce, with lashings of cream. Or custard, or both. And there will be roast potatoes and onions and slices of pumpkin with gravy and possibly Yorkshire pudding. Slow roasted shanks with rosemary and garlic and hearty Italian bolognese or even Boston baked beans, cooked all day in the wood burning stove. So many weekends, so much joy.
And there’s one more excellent thing. It’s only six months to First Christmas!
Lloyd’s Roast Pork with Red Wine and Bay
- 2 tsp olive oil
- pork roast
- 150ml red wine vinegar
- 150ml red wine
- 12 fresh bay leaves
- 1 dsp black peppercorns
Preheat oven to 240ºC. Heat oil in a baking dish and, on the stove top, brown pork all over. Remove from the dish and add the vinegar. Boil until it starts to reduce, two or three minutes.
Lower heat and add the remaining ingredients, then return the pork to the dish. Cover with tinfoil or place a lid over the contents and bake in oven until cooked. This will depend on the size of the joint, but allow a good two hours.
Ensure the pork is well covered with juices and use them to baste from time to time.
Christmas (second) brittle
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- 180g dark chocolate
- 1 tsp powdered edible gold (available from cake decorating shops)
- 1 tsp gin
- 225g brown sugar
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp vinegar
Melt butter in pan, add sugar and vinegar. Stir mixture and heat to 130ºC (use a candy thermometer). It should form a hard ball when dropped into cold water. This takes about 10 minutes. Then pour into a buttered cake tin and allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate (in microwave on low or use a double boiler) and spread over the toffee. While still moist, sprinkle on almonds.
Moisten gold with gin and simply paint over the top.
When set, chop up into small pieces and wrap in cellophane.
© Annette Taylor