Coastal Christmas Blog Hop – Win a $150 gift card – free e-books plus

Christmas …      

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, In the lane snow is glistening … 

Much as I love singing along with Christmas carols, this scenario is never going to happen for me where we live in Coastal Bay of Plenty, New Zealand … Christmas Down Under almost coincides with the summer solstice, the air is warm, the days are long, school is out for the year, it’s the summer holidays and the beach beckons.   

My dream is to maybe one day experience a white Christmas, complete with a snow fall. I have never actually seen snow falling. We do have the very odd light dusting of snow, but never in summer.  

Christmas where I live, is sea, sand, sunshine and flowering pohutukawa trees that dot the shorelines of the North Island and bloom with great profusion at Christmas time. They are a glorious sight to behold.     

As Christmas occurs in the height of summer, for us, food choices reflect our climate and the ready availability of fresh produce. For all our years on the farm the enduring scent of Christmas and summer for me is newly cut hay … it is a scent like no other. 


On Christmas Eve we usually attend the midnight church service, and remember those members of our family who are no longer with us to celebrate family events. For many years now, Christmas has been bitter-sweet for our family after the death of our twin sons aged 29. 20 years ago we spent Christmas in the ICU where our elder twin son lay in a coma. Twelve weeks after he died, his twin went to bed and didn’t wake up … and an enormous gap opened up in our family. 

But Christmas is a time of re-birth, renewed hope, of new beginnings and an affirmation that life does go on. Despite this body blow, our family bonds have become stronger. 

Christmas for us now, is all about the three F’s … Family, Food and Fun, and not lavish presents.   

On Christmas morning, the family arrives from all over, carrying food, presents, and excited children. We are proud to add great grandchildren to the family muster now. We all usually gather for Christmas dinner at my house, although as my husband and I get older this order is slowly changing.   

Christmas Dinner is usually cold cuts, ham, turkey, and lamb with side salads, green peas and potatoes, all freshly cut or dug from the garden. 

No Christmas dinner is complete without fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherries and kiwifruit, and of course a pavlova, the most Kiwi of desserts and pure, sublime decadence…and a source of friendly controversy between Australians and New Zealanders (Kiwis) as to who first made this dessert. Being a Kiwi, of course I assert with great authority, that NZ developed the Pavlova.     

This is the Pavlova recipe I’ve used forever.  

6 egg whites (at room temperature)
2 cups Caster Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp cornflour
300ml cream, whipped
Fruit for decoration


Pre-heat oven to 110ºC bake (not fan bake).
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a large metal, ceramic or glass bowl (not plastic), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding the sugar a quarter of a cup at a time. The mixture should get glossier and thicker with each addition and this should take at least 10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour.

Spoon mixture out prepared tray into a dinner plate sized mound.

Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, until dry and crisp and it lifts easily off the baking paper.   Cool on a wire rack. 

When completely cool, place on a serving plate, swirl the top with the whipped cream and decorate with sliced or chopped fruit of your choice.

Happy holidays everyone.



To have a chance to win a free copy of  my latest book Caught By Her Spell … set on New Zealand’s fabulous Coromandel Coast … leave a comment on this blog post.

ePub or Mobi format.  

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Published on Monday, November 27th, 2017, under Latest News

39 Responses to “Coastal Christmas Blog Hop – Win a $150 gift card – free e-books plus”

  1. Susanne says:

    That is one seriously great pavlova!

    I’m with you on the three Fs at Christmas; children absolutely make the day! It’s the one time in the year where I always hope to have my family together.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Shirley, thank you. We have been looking for an excellent Pavlova recipe. Yay! Congrats on Caught By Her Spell xxFi

  3. Beautiful feature Shirley,
    God bless you this Christmas.

    • Shirley says:

      Thank you Elizabeth … memories can be haunting but years ago my husband and I made the decision that we owed it to ourselves and Justin and Nolan that we would continue to live our lives to the fullest. It has been hard, but it’s also been worthwhile.

  4. Carla Caruso says:

    Love your ‘3 Fs’ and to-die-for pavvy!

    • Shirley says:

      I debated over using that phrase and then thought … give the old F a brand new meaning and the pav is truly sublime. I usually end up making three or four as the family love them.

  5. Veronica says:

    A lovely post Shirley and the true meaning of Christmas really is the three F’s.

    • Shirley says:

      It really is the true meaning of Christmas, Family, Food and Fun … it took me quite a few years before we put up a Christmas tree again, as I’d just finished decorating it when we got the phone call about Justin, but life does go on, and the years do pass,and gradually joy comes back into your life.

  6. Stephanie Parker Lambeth says:

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Hi Shirley, that’s an awesome pav recipe. I shall give it a go. Agree with you 100% … Us Kiwis invented the pavlova. Have a lovely Christmas. God bless 💕

    • Shirley says:

      It is an awesome recipe Jo’Anne and it’s so easy. I remember the first one I ever made, and me and my kids were hooked. There have been numerous efforts to try and establish who made the first pavlova and it seems as if Kiwis really do have the honour, but that aside, it is a desert that is truly unique to our part of the world.

  8. Lori R says:

    That looks so good.

  9. kim charlton says:

    OMG!! I need to make this!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Shirley says:

      Do try it, Kim. I remember the first time I tried, I put all the ingredients in the bowl and no matter what I did it wouldn’t whip.
      The secret to a good Pav really is in the method, and to add the sugar in quarter cup lots and beat it in all the while.

      I always make mine after dinner at night, and after the requisite cooking time leave it in the oven overnight. Of course there is always the danger that some helpful Harry who doesn’t look in the oven first turns the oven on and wrecks the whole thing. That’s happened to me a time or two.

  10. Michelle Bauer says:

    Wow, that looks yummy…I’ve tried that before but I just might give it a try…


  11. We’re on the Alabama Gulf Coast – our Christmas dinner is as likely to be a fish fry as anything else!

  12. Renaye H says:

    Oh my gosh. I am so making that for Christmas dessert.

  13. Maria Malaveci says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe!

  14. Victoria says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

  15. Mary Preston says:

    I must give the recipe a try. Thank you.

  16. Kathleen O says:

    I have never made anything like this. It sounds delightful.

  17. bn100 says:

    looks tasty

  18. Eliza Olsen says:

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

  19. Lesley Walsh says:

    I agree with you that Christmas is about the three F’s though it’s always tougher to have fun when a loved one dies around that time. I’m sorry for your loss.

  20. Mallory D says:

    That looks so yummy!

  21. I am so very sorry for your loss. This is my first Christmas without my mom after she passed suddenly last January. I have experienced white Christmases, but would love to experience Christmas seaside!

  22. Suzannah Clark says:

    O Shirley, Thank you for sharing about your twin sons. My daughter dies in July and we are facing our first holiday season in mourning. Your blog was a comfort to read. This year we decided to make a new memory and we will be traveling to a beach in California, USA.
    may God bless you this Christmas

    • Shirley says:

      If my sharing memories of our boys helped you in any way then I am humbled. I won’t pretend, it was a difficult few years and in some ways our family is suffering some residual trauma, particularly one of our daughters who was in England when the twins passed and she never had the benefit of shared family grieving. This makes such a difference.

  23. sandy haber says:

    Never had a pavlova, looks interesting!

  24. Hilary says:

    I hope one day you get to experience snow falling
    it is truly beautiful!

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