'Twas two nights before Christmas and all through the house, people were panicking and running about. That's how it usually is for me about now.
But not this year; this year I am doing easy and fun.
I have abandoned my garden to its well-designed watering system for a week. I do this every Christmas with various results.
Some years, because of the pressures of photo shoots, it has had a minder, but this year it is on its own. I will return to either a bit of weeding or a brown brittle husk-strewn mess.
Being a gardener is sometimes a little like being addicted to Coronation Street - I don't want to miss anything, yet I'm reluctant to admit to it. As the year marches toward New Year's resolutions, I consider what I really need to feel great: time with friends, good food and enjoyable movement.
Hence, in 2013 I will throw garden parties and there will be dancing. I am starting early with a Christmas Eve barbecue. If you have opted for a fully trimmed Christmas Day, take the opportunity to kick back the night before. Keep it simple, a few paper napkins to minimise washing up and a bottle of something you favour. I have downloaded a whole bunch of Christmas carols, which should make for interesting dancing.
Casting about the garden for meal ideas, it was the Kiwi burger that sprang to mind. We have kiddies about this year - nieces and nephews from Oz, godchildren and littlies of beloved friends. They are a picky bunch.
I am still silly enough to hide vegetables in dishes and hope they will eat them. When the sliced beetroot has been plucked out by little fingers, my meat patties will still be Kiwi with grated beetroot hidden inside.
I'm always hiding vegetables in things. I have to use the food we grow, and squeezing vegetables into every nook and cranny of a dish is the best way to add flavour.
No soup or casserole can be made without first sweating onion, carrot and celery; followed by use of a good stock (that starts with onion, carrot, celery).
Flavour comes from food - good veges and a generous hand with herbs and spices. If you want to cook with only a few ingredients buy a packet or a jar. If you want to cook tasty food with stuff that's good for you, then head for the garden or produce aisle.
Beef and beetroot burgers
800g premium beef mince
½ C grated raw beetroot
1 small onion finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
1 free range egg white (use yolk in mayo)
Mineral salt and pepper
Pickled beetroot slices
Lemon and caper mayo
6 burger buns
Combine the mince, beetroot, onion, herbs, egg white, salt and pepper and shape the mixture into six patties.
Preheat an oiled barbecue or frying pan, sprinkle with a little salt then cook the patties for four to five minutes on each side.
Rest the patties for four to five minutes under foil before serving in buns with lettuce, more beetroot if wished and lemon and caper mayo.
Make the lemon and caper mayo by beating an egg yolk with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, then slowly drizzle in 200ml of grapeseed oil while whisking vigorously. Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice.
Fold through lemon zest and chopped capers.
Makes: 6 burgers.
Preparation time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes.
Rest: 4-5 minutes.
- Sunday Star Times
The lower drink-driving limits from December are:Related story: Drink-drive limits lowered