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Christine’s thoughts before her interview for this episode

I collect things during the year that give me pleasure and I also want to share with my dearest friends at Christmas time…

This year I have been living in the South West of Australia and the landscape is exquisite… when I am out walking I will pick up leaves that appeal to me and leave them in a collection on the sideboard.

As I start to consider my packaging dream for Christmas ( hopefully in November but sometimes nothing happens until mid December) … I will play with the different shapes and create a textural palette combining colour and the treasures I have foraged during the year…as for the gift, I am inclined to shop during the year ( this also means I avoid disappointment due to late delivery… I will never use the Black Friday sales for Christmas giving again…much preferring mid year or grazing through the year…far less stressful)…for what I consider will be welcomed into the home of my dear friends… we all have so much, so I feel unnecessary gifts only clutter ones space and mind… the perfect gift for one of my dearest and oldest friends is always something we can taste together…enjoying the flavour burst to one’s palette…a special fizz or truffle perhaps and I always add something I make myself … perhaps a cheese biscuit rather than a piece of cheese…as it will travel across our vast country with ease. This leads one to consider the packaging to ensure everything arrives as beautifully as you created it …to take its place under the twinkling tree or present basket by the fire.
For this reason I always make sure I save good strong boxes of all shapes and sizes during the year ( much to my partner’s frustration) … the art of wrapping is using a container for your gift which will also add intrigue to the conversation and bring pleasure to both the recipient and myself.

I have friends who will call or text me to say I have received your gift can we FaceTime so we can open it together…again a very important part of gift giving…

Considering the unnecessary amount of packaging used so often… what to do?
I often will recycle a favourite printed shirt (print & cloth are at the centre of my universe) making napkins … usually 2 pcs … and my recycled box to contain the gift… wrapping the box in one of the napkins drawing on Japanese styling and adding a twig or feather kindly left in my courtyard by one of the cheeky parrots who visit everyday.

I will also always keep beautiful paper and ribbons I have received and reuse them in various styles. With one of my friends, I will add a snip of ribbon received from them the previous year as a sign of our continued friendship and she will do the same for my gift.

Another twist to tradition maybe to join a colleague for a special Christmas Cocktail at a new venue…the gift to each other … the mixologists artwork and the pleasure of each other’s company in a usually hectic time of year… time being the precious ingredient topped off with a delicious sip and cherished chatter…. a photo to remember the occasion rather than a take home gift…often this style will be welcomed by those of us who have hectic work schedules in the festive season.


Christine’s Cheese Biscuit Recipe

210g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
165 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
165g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
80g poppy seeds
1 egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper

Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.

Mix the softened butter with the Parmesan until they are well blended. You can do this either by hand, using a spatula, or in a freestanding mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until a soft dough is formed.

Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and divide it in half. Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a long, 3-4cm in diameter. Wrap each log in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Scatter the poppy seeds over a flat plate or a tray. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll them in the poppy seeds until covered. Refrigerate again for 1 hour (at this stage you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the logs into slices5-8mm thick and arrange them on a tray, spaced 3cm apart. Bake for 12 minutes. The biscuits should be dark golden and smell amazing! Leave to cool completely before serving or storing in a tightly sealed container.


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