Happy New Year!

Another ‘should be freezing’ occasion has come and gone in Australia!  Michael and I are not big New Year revellers.  I think the first year we were going out we went up to the Princes Street party but for the years after that we used to take a bottle of bubbly up Arthurs Seat and watch the fireworks, just the two of us.  The New Year after we moved to Penicuik there were three of us and while Boy Wonder would have probably been up at midnight, we were the exhausted parents of a seven month old screamer and I can’t even remember what we did!

So in Australia we continued our tradition of not doing much at all!  Michael and I sat up for the fireworks – just as well really as Larry freaked out, poor wee soul.  I picked him up and he calmed down quite a bit but it made me think that we are probably going to have to continue our NYE at home thing in the future too.

One thing we do on New Year is fill in our ‘End of Year’ book.  For the last three years we have made a list of all the good things that have happened in the year, all the not so good things (thankfully, always a MUCH shorter list) and the things that we are looking forward to or hoping to achieve in the coming year.  It is great to be able to go over the achievements and events of the year with the kids and to remember with them some of our highlights.  I am looking forward to looking back (if that makes sense!) in twenty years time!

Another thing I do on Hogmanay is make ‘Tablet’.  For anyone who is not from Scotland, this is a RIDICULOUSLY sweet treat that is one step away from a diabetic coma!  It is made from sugar and condensed milk with just a little milk and butter and is boiled and then whipped to make a kind of hard but not chewy fudge.  That’s not really a very good description but it’s the best I can do!  My friend Lynn’s mum is the Queen of Tablet and used to make it for special occasions and school bake sales when we were wee.  It was always perfect and glassy and I have never managed to get mine like that but I try every year!

You take a big pan, throw in a kilo of caster sugar, dampen it with a little milk (just less than a cup), pour in a tin of condensed milk and add 100g of butter.

You heat that on a medium high heat until it boils, stirring regularly and if you get caramel streaks you need to turn the heat down.  (This takes about 10 minutes)

Then you need to turn it down to a low heat and let it cook for about 20 minutes.  It will get darker but this should be a gradual, uniform colour change.

Next you need to get a bowl of cold water, get a teaspoon of the mixture and put it into the water.  The mixture should kind of form a ball and drip very slowly when you lift the spoon out of the water.  I think this is where I go wrong.  The first year I made it I think I cooked it for too long and it went gritty, since then I don’t think I have cooked it for long enough and it goes fudgy – still edible but not tablet. 

Then you need to take it off the heat and beat it vigorously until it goes thick but still pourable.

Then you pour it into a baking tray.  Every year I think to myself, ‘should I grease or line the tray?’ and this year I went for greasing and I should have lined it with greaseproof paper (unless anyone else has a better option?)

Finally, you put it in the fridge and then wave goodbye to any thoughts of healthy eating because one piece of this equates to about a stone in weight that will never shift – I don’t know how it does it but it does!  The good thing about it though, is that it is the ULTIMATE sugar rush and so ideal for eating before attempting to tidy up the post-Christmas/post-New Year mess!

Now the photos above are in no way a tutorial because my tablet didn’t work out.  It is squishy when it should be solid.  If anyone who makes tablet can give me any pointers then I will welcome them with open arms! 

I should also add that this is not something to make with the kids because while cooking it is like molten lava.  Once made cut it into tiny bits too as it is like rocket fuel and I know my kids don’t need any more encouragement for craziness!!

So anyway, that was NYE, next came New Years Day.  Traditionally, we should have had a big steak pie but NYE saw temperatures of 40c and so we decided (I decided) not to go with tradition!

We had a lazy morning and then went out to Mount Macedon.  We had last (and first!) visited there way back when we first arrived (you can read about it here) but it was quite a different day today as we were all there in shorts and t-shirts (though thankfully the temperature had halved to 20c today).

We went for a walk along one of the many tracks up there

While dogs are allowed in the park, they are not allowed off the lead in order to protect the native animals of Australia, which is kind of understandable but a bit of a shame because I know Larry would have had a BALL if he was allowed to tear about in these woods!

We saw some logs which had become home to a load of wee geckos.  Every time I tried to take a pic of one, they would move so this is the best I could do

We walked a little further and then drove to Gisborne where we had our first municipal barbeque.  I love these things.  I love the idea that anyone can rock up with their sausages and just use them.  (Michael is posing here for display purposes only – he was throughly scathing of my use of public cooking equipment and wanted nothing to do with it – pansy!)They are in most public parks and I have never seen one that is dirty or vandalised.  The kids, Michael and the dog had a run around while I cooked.  The kids LOVED having their sausages in bread.  I have to admit I was a little taken aback when we went to our first sausage sizzle and the kids were handed a sausage in just a normal slice of white bread – hadn’t they heard of hot dog rolls?!!  Well, yes, you can get hot dog rolls but bread works just as well and we are more likely to have bread in the cupboard for an impromtu barbeque (I love that we now live somewhere we can have an impromptu barbeque!)

For dessert we had some of the chocolate panetonne that Jeni had brought up with her at Christmas.  This has not been a healthy eating week for us – I think that is safe to say!

but we have been enjoying ourselves!

We drove home through the lovely Aussie countryside, happy with a lovely day spent running about outside.

Happy New Year to you all – I hope 2011 will be very good to you!

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2 Responses to Happy New Year!

  1. Nicola says:

    I think the tablet looks yummy! Happy new year! X

  2. marie says:

    Looks great Laura- so nice to hear how you are getting on, looks like you are having a fab time – cant believe how much Ruby looks like you
    Keep writing- love to hear about what you guys are up to
    Marie, John, Grace Ralph and Lily xxxx

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