December 2013 Archive

All presents are now bought and wrapped and Christmas well and truly under way in the Southern Hemisphere, ‘Tis time to make last minute adjustments to our Christmas menu. Taking inspiration from my homeland of New Zealand and combining it with fresh local Northern Californian produce:

The Watson’s Christmas Menu 2013:

Hot Hors Oeuvres:

Trader Joe’s Beef Franks wrapped in Puff Pastry, (for the children) Camembert and Cranberry Filo Bites.

Cold Appetizers:

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cream Cheese with Kosher Dill Pickles and capers.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip with crudites and gluten free crackers. From the book: Spilling The Beans Spilling The Beans Entree/Main:

New Zealand Roast Lamb With Rosemary and Garlic

Young Organic Chicken with Sage and Thyme Stuffing

Dressed with Cranberry Chili Sauce and Natural Gravy

Accompanied By:

Sides of steamed, Corn, Carrot and Broccoli

Roast Potato and Yam (Kumera)

Baked squash with Nutmeg and Herbed Mozzarella

Salad/ Vegetarian:

Cold Beet Salad with Vegan Feta

Mushroom Risotto


New Zealand Pavlova

Chocolate Profiteroles

After Dinner

Soft cheeses with Kiwifruit and Strawberry Spread

Trader Joes Peppermint Cremes

Will update with photos and recipies.


What is called kumera in the Southern Hemisphere is known as yam in the US. I haven’t yet found the Kiwi version of yams, those opalescent pink vegetables reminiscent of giants knuckles.

Don’t feel badly about eating a “young” organic chicken. It looks pretty big to me. Top of the food chain etc et el. Makes a darn good gravy.

Keep calm and cook on.










Discuss and share:

Become enlightened.
Get the newsletter:

“Freedom of the Press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

A. J. Liebling (1904-1963) of The New Yorker (1935-1963)

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

George Orwell. (requoted in the New York Post)

Worldwide, bloggers are being lauded as the new wave of journalism; Bloggers are recognised as Citizen Journalists. Simultaneously bloggers are decried as unremittingly polemical and irredeemably abusive. This by Governments and judiciaries wordwide. Bloggers are accorded none of the privileges of the established media with the  inherent right to keep secret he identity of their sources. If bloggers offend the wrong agency they are jailed and  killed outright.

What do the countries of Egypt,¬† China and Iran New Zealand and some U.S states have in common with regards to adherence to tenets upholding the ‘Freedom¬† of the press’?

All are hostile  environs for bloggers to file both opinion pieces and stories based on information provided by primary sources.

From the sublime:

New Zealand: Is Whale Oil a journalist?

“A blogger (Cameron Slater of whale Oil Beef Hooked) who broke the Len Brown sex scandal story has been ordered to reveal confidential sources after a judge ruled his site was not a “news medium.”

(NZ Herald)

To the ridiculous:

Alabama:‘I’m not some whack job’, says jailed Alabama blogger Roger Schuler

“An Alabama blogger who continued to write about the alleged extramarital affair of a prominent lawyer despite a court order was arrested and jailed last week. He was still being held without bond as of Tuesday, according to reports”.


And the downright  insidious:


Sattar Beheshit, Iranian blogger was beaten in prison according to prosecutor.

“TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state prosecutor has confirmed for the first time that a blogger who died in police custody last month had been beaten.”


Egyptian blogger arrested in widening crackdown:

(Reuters) – “A prominent Egyptian blogger said on Tuesday he had been arrested, the latest political activist to be detained in a widening crackdown on dissent by the army-backed government.”

US research and data backs up the theory that bloggers and freelance writers are being persecuted and killed in growing numbers:

From the World Information Access Project:

WIA Blogger Arrests around the World

“Unfortunately, one way to assess the political importance
of blogging around the world is through the growing
number of blogger arrests. Since 2003, 64 citizens
unaffiliated with news organizations have been arrested
for their blogging activities.
The topics of these blog posts vary, as do the kind of
criminal charges and punishments handed down.
Altogether 940 months of jail time has been served by
bloggers around the world. China, Egypt and Iran
account for more than half of all the arrests since 2003.
These bloggers expose bureaucratic corruption or
human rights abuses and express opinions about
political figures and public policy options. They post
reports and photos from social protests. They write
about political artwork, or share images and texts that
some feel violate cultural norms.”
And that seems to be the offensive element that attracts the ire of the Government Agencies and Judiciaries alike
Bloggers just don’t play nice or pay lip service to accepted cultural mores¬† in the way that media outlets of previous generations did:
The¬† Hanna Barbera aphorism, ‘those meddling kids’, best¬† describes the conflict between the Establishment and upstart bloggers. We can look back into the annals of history for insight:
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Karl Kraus was a preeminent writer and journalist from the turn of the 19th century; the period that marked the last glorious epoch of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Kraus was most known for editing the influential magazine ‘Die Fackel ( the torch); a magazine that exposed the crimes, lies and miss-steps of Austrian society. He targeted the press of the day, which he considered complicit and a plague on society.
Die Fackel was the equivalent of today’s blogs. Maligned, misunderstood and misrepresented, It nevertheless retained a huge and influential audience.
Much like today’s most influential blogs.
Discuss and share:

It’s day four of our Thanksgiving festivities. My five little angels have had too many hours on their I pads. Alas, late nights have no effect on how long children sleep on for in the morning.

Today I woke up early being whipped with black liquorice.
And it wasn’t my husband getting creative.¬† At the end of the piece of liquorice was my four year old daughter Kaelyn.

“Umrgh”, I say.
“Mommy been naughty”, says Kaelyn.
She was right on the mark as far as my behavior over Thanksgiving. Too many late nights and too many indulgences. Some triggered by excitement and some by the need to keep Bad Mommy at bay. More about that later.
Kaelyn whips me again on the forehead and I leap out of bed. Unfortunately my knee connects with the glass of wine left beside the bed.
“Fuck”, says Oldest Son, helpfully. “Language”,¬†I roar. Most of the contents of the wine glass dumps into one of a pair of my favorite black Cole Haan riding boots. The rest of the beverage sprays over the immediate floor beside our bed.
This was not the disaster it might have been. The carpet beside my bed is protected year round by foot deep layer of¬† old newspapers, children’s art and stale bagel chips. Unlike the carpet on the other side of the bed.
If there was a crumb on my husband’s side, it would be lonely.
More evidence of bad behavior on my part.
Kaelyn whips me again.
I turn away and pick up the sodden boot.
Scull”, says oldest son helpfully.
“Where do you learn these concepts”, as I push past him to drain the boot in the bathtub. “You said you drank out of a boot once”, says Oldest Son.

“I can’t imagine why I would have told you that”, I say as my mind flashes back to College days.
You were trying to sound cool when you were talking to an old friend”, said the blankets.
“Who put that fucking glass of wine there”? I ask my husband.

“You did”. He adds helpfully, “You muttered something about ‘one for the road’ and slopped most of it down the hallway on your way to bed”.
I smile sweetly down at the Talking Blankets. “I guess I didn’t need it then”, I say.
I inform him that we have a full day ahead, culminating in dinner out.
“Sore throat”, he mutters and turns back into Blanket Man.
Kaelyn gets two sticks of black liquorice and wiggles them on her forehead. “Eyebrows”, she says.

DSC_0024 1
“Where do you learn these concepts, sweetie”? I ask idly.
We give hubby another half hour sleep. I endeavor to dress five ragamuffins in suitable garb for a Nutcracker morning tea at our Country Club. My efforts are to no avail and I find it more frustrating than playing “Whack-a-mole”. I brush one little boy’s hair and notice someone else has it spiked back up. I give one child suitable garb and turn around to find another wearing the Minecraft t-shirt that got us in breach of Dress Code last time.
Oh the ignominy of eating on the Club patio and not by choice.

All’s well that ends well. Bad Grumpy Mommy makes an appearance later but I banish her with lemon tart that I liberate off an empty table at the Club into my handbag for such a purpose. We made it to the Nutcracker Tea in reasonable dress and later I take the older boys to the local performance of The Nutcracker at the Lesher Centre for the Arts, Walnut Creek. The Contra Costa Ballet performs the well known Christmas Story and I get that first touch of Christmas magic this season. The costumes are incredible and the dancers are very accomplished. Oldest Son now wants to do ballet.
“Practice your piano and watch your language”, I say. “Then we can talk about ballet”.


Discuss and share: