My favourite thing about living in the Bay of Plenty is not the fact that we live near the sea, or the sheer beauty of the area or the amazing, friendly people that we have met. My most favourite thing about living here is having family close by.
Over the weekend, me and Rob and his two brothers who live here and my two sisters in law went to see a play together on Saturday night. A real, live play in a small, local theatre. But before we did that we all got together for an alfresco dinner - a very casual, (it's-only-family) bring-a-salad BBQ. I think it's our first of the season!
And I bought along Christmas treats from my friends at Bakers Delight. A Christmas cake and box of Fruit Mince pies.
I love balmy summer evenings when you're sitting outside with good food and company. There's nothing to beat it.
I took along my favourite summer salad, the Cranberry and Spinach Salad,
and we had home-grown steak, lamb that melted in your mouth, and sausages and yummy potatoes with butter.
As a little treat after a meal, the Bakers Delight Christmas Cake and Mince Tarts were perfect to take along. There was nothing left when we had finished!
To be honest, I have tried to bake Christmas fruit mince pies before - but they can be quite labour-intensive and sometimes people (cough cough) can be fussy about what goes into their fruit mince. I've tried buying it, making my own and never quite get it right, and sometimes even the generic pies that you buy in the supermarket don't quite hit the mark either.
But these Christmas mince pies rock! The pastry is light and the fruit mince has just the right amount of citrus - and that's not just me saying it either, my sisters-in-law said that (and they are true domestic goddesses), and so did my teenage son and cousin! That's a pretty good vote, if you ask me! They're just as good as homebaking, I reckon.
The Christmas cake was amazing! I was worried at first that it might be a bit dry - sometimes bought Christmas cakes can be that way, but the Bakers Delight cake is not like that at all, and it's really generous with the fruity goods too.
Here is where you can search your area to see if there's a Bakers Delight store near you.
This is such a wonderful time of the year. It's crazy-busy I know, and I really do miss the snow-crusted white Christmasses of the northern hemisphere, but there is something festive and lovely about a colourful, warm summer Christmas with family and outdoor dining and still having the tasty Christmas treats with their fruity, festive flavours that are so traditional and embedded into our celebrations.
I also learned on Saturday night, that this is the sign of a good wine. I don't know what it's called (someone might be able to remind me), but see how you can see those little ripples clinging along the glass (above the wine). Sign of a good wine.
I hope you are all enjoying the lead up to Christmas!