Just over six months ago a blonde, now pink headed, organic eating, apple cider drinking colleague bounded into my life. You know those moments where you meet someone and after only a few moments you start to realise that you are on the same planet? Like, the planet where you are not the only strange one in your office grilling haloumi on the communal sandwich grill and lusting over your ridiculous habits of buying $15 cashew butter.
The week I met this lovely lady I had a ridiculous cold. On her first day on the job I sat sneezing two metres away from her, feverish and spacey trying to somewhat induct her into the team. Most newbies in this position would skulk into the corner, don a facemask and attempt to spend most of their time in accounts pretending their credit card doesn’t work. Instead, she offered a coconut water then sent me home with a clean eating cookbook she had brought in.
It’s a beautiful thing when you meet someone who speaks your language, even more so in the kitchen. It brings me back to long Christmas afternoons in the kitchen with my sisters cooking, sharing and learning together. We cook by feel, by look and by taste – not by a recipe. Cooking and Christmas in general is all about collaboration.
Up until a few years ago my sisters and I would always make the journey home in early December to put up the Christmas tree. It was a childhood tradition we clearly weren’t ready to let go of just yet, fighting over whether we would put the ugly homemade ones up or just the pretty ones and me trying to pull my weight to get the clear lights up, not the ‘tacky coloured ones’. Despite the dramas, it always looked incredible, a result of hours of deliberating how it was all going to come together. I now understand why my mum doesn’t see the thrill in putting it up by herself – the experience of doing it together is so much more important than the actual tree itself.
That’s exactly how I felt about doing this collaborative post with Ali. There’s something so festive about two crazy heads together rather than one. We may be in some ways chalk and cheese, say, when I rock up to her little cottage in white shorts, balayaged bob and Country Road apron and are greeted by an acid jean wearing, kimono and moccasin wearing host; but when push comes to shove we see eye to eye about the correct amount of coconut oil in our gingerbread.
I had a lot of fun putting this together, drinking coffee while the dough rested and sharing the weird looks from passersby as we hung gingerbread in the trees in the streets. I may never cook alone again!
Ali has launched her new blog, Eggwash and has just quit her day job to rush off to New York to live her food/ design/ bohemian life dreams. Let’s hope the next sucker who gets to sit next to me embraces my apple cider vinegar habit as well as she did.
Gluten free punchy gingerbread
1 cup dates
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup hulled tahini
2 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
2.5 cups almond meal
¼ cup coconut flour
Pinch Himalayan salt
2 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
equal parts of goji berries and pistachios
1. Blend goji berries and pistachios together to a crumb, set aside
2. Process the wet ingredients in food processor until combined, then add in the dry ingredients, excluding the goji berries and pistachios
3. Wrap the dough in a ball in cling wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour
4. Roll out on a bench dusted with spelt flour until 5mm thick, then cut into shapes
5. Press crumb into the biscuits, then bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden