What is more enjoyable? The process of creation, planning, rehearsing, building sets or the actual performance itself with the inherent anxiety and applause that the word implies? It's moot, isn't it? I love both (proc. & perf.) and that’s sort of a mission with Theatre Lab. To take the onus off performance; being on stage, the limelight, the sparkly stuff. There’s a dark glamour about backstage and production that is enchanting if only one gets into it.
Here at the farm we've been setting up for Christmas 2010. Madan and Anna loaded up their car with provisions, wine, the kids, Feather...we loaded up with tart trays, wineglasses, fairy lights and tinsel....and onward ho!
After the Heap Debacle, I ventured into Cookie Dough Ornament territory. Fortunately this one is a no-brainer and besides the fact that I couldn’t find my Christmas cookie cutters (angel, bell, star) and so had to make do with a single, round shape, I’m pleased to report that all went well. Here’s a recipe:
The Cookie Dough Ornaments
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a knitting needle or skewer make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) until hard, about 1 hour. Decorate with poster colours and a layer varnish to preserve. Run ribbon through the holes and make a bow.
We have 40 family and friends + 4 dogs staying over Christmas. Brinda, Pat & Yann + 20 friends and 3 of their dogs + 3 of our dogs are staying over the new year.
The weather is crisp and wintry. The togri, huruli and avarekkai are doing well (although the fields look really weedy) and await a winter reaping. I made some Limoncello (with limes) and Christmas Cakes a couple weeks ago. The Limoncello is gorgeous, a light lemon colour and really fragrant, a recipe worth trying. I totally trust Nigel Slater’s recipes and so made his Christmas Cake. But I messed up on the quantity of fruit (too much) as I’m hopeless with conversions. So my cake is having a hard time holding together but tastes lovely. I offer you both recipes:
·15 lemons (I used limes)
·2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka or grain alcohol
·4 cups sugar
·5 cups water
Wash and dry the lemons.
Zest lemons, making sure not to get the pith.
Add one bottle of vodka and the zest to a 1-gallon glass jar.
Let sit 10 to 45 days.
Store the jar in a cool, dry place and don't leave near sunlight.
The longer the zest sits in the vodka, the more vibrant the color of the liquid.
Step 2 (After 10 to 45 days):
Combine sugar and water in a pan and cook until thickened to make a simple syrup. Let this mixture cool and add to the limoncello mixture.
Add the additional bottle of vodka in and leave it alone for 10 to 45 days.
Step 3 (After an additional 10 to 45 days):
When done aging, strain out the lemon zest and bottle the limoncello. It's easiest to save old glass liquor bottles and clean them thoroughly before bottling.
Keep the limoncello in the freezer and serve icy cold.
For our tree at the farm, we all trudged off looking for a dried branch. Zui had this idea that the farm tree should be minimalist, adorned with just red baubles and the cookie dough ornaments. Kuki finally spotted the perfect one near the rocks at the north end. Zui cut it for us and then the kids painted it white.
This was followed by the usual argument about the perfect spot for the tree and the manger.
And finally, as the sun set, the lights went on.
Only to discover that the star was so close to the roof that it was invisible from anywhere but the spot just beneath the tree. “The three wise men saw the star from the east and we can’t even see it from the verandah” griped Madan. So tomorrow, we change that, for the star must be visible to all.
Its Christmas time folks, why does this make us so happy? Is it the year end or is it because it frees us to simply love? No Cartesian confusion about intelligence versus emotions. And if you get far enough from the duplicity of capitalism disguised as festivity, you can rest into your family and loved ones, no stress about how much, how big, how important, how known, how seen...and have yourself a really sweet Christmas.
This is my Christmas wish for me. And for you.
In the spirit of the love we bear and the love we ought to bear, I leave you with this…
Tat Tvam Asi
Abiding in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91. From The Holy Bible: King James version)