I don’t know about the rest of you, but I start to get just a little twitchy at this time of year. Now that the children are older the endless list of school Christmas functions to attend is no longer an issue and this year I have only one set of teachers to buy gifts for. The furtive scurrying about trying to buy, wrap and hide the children’s gifts seems easier too. While the kids are more likely to be around the house, they are buried deep in their caves most of the time and couldn’t give a fig about my comings and goings – unless, of course, they need a lift somewhere. Or food. Or cash. Sigh.
Still, I’m twitchy. We are going away on a big, long family trip this Christmas and there is much to organise around the farm. We are having a house-sitter come to stay and care for the dogs, chooks and garden. She seems like such a nice lady and I hope she won’t judge me on my domestic standards, but every time I think of her looking into the disaster that is my pantry I feel slightly panicky – I never let anyone in there normally. So, besides sorting out the Christmas list, organising our Christmas drinks party and making sure I’ve covered every possible angle of our holiday packing and itinerary I now have to clean out the pantry.
I won’t be getting into my normal baking binge this year, but I still love giving those I care about something they can enjoy over the holiday season and that I’ve made myself. I know I’m not the only one who is time-poor at this time of year so I thought I’d share these two versions of an ancient treat – tapenade. Tapenade has been around on Italian tables for thousands of years and it’s versatility makes it pretty popular everywhere. If you have a food processor, these two can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes and make a great Christmas gift once placed in pretty jars and tizzied up with tinsel. The sundried tomato tapenade can be used in pasta, as a base on pizza, on bruschettas or mixed with sour cream or cream cheese as a dip. The olive and fig one is sublime and my best recommendation for serving that is to just give everyone a spoon. Of course, if you want to go all proper you could also put some goats curd on a baguette and top it with the fig and olive, too.