Christmas this year has come near the end of one of the most challenging years the world has experienced.
Some countries have the pandemic under control, while others are experiencing second and third waves of this terrible virus.
Let's all hope and pray for a better future, a peaceful and joyous Christmas and a happy New Year.
As is this website's tradition, here is a recipe for my favourite dish at Christmas, a succulent baked ham and this year we're trying chef Manu's Christmas ham baked with stout.
Manu's stout baked ham
1 Australian Christmas ham
2×440ml dark stout cans
560g orange marmalade
250g Australian honey
90g fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp five spice powder
Preheat oven to 160degC (fan-forced).
Meanwhile make the glaze.
Place the stout, honey, orange marmalade, grated ginger and five spice powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture until reduced by half or until syrupy.
Using your fingers and the tip of a knife, carefully peel the skin from the ham, leaving as much of the fat underneath the skin intact as possible.
With a sharp knife, lightly score the fat in a diamond pattern through the fat but not to the flesh and stud the centre of each diamond with cloves.
Brush the ham with the glaze and bake ham for 20 minutes, repeat the process 3 more times.
Increase oven temperature to 200degC, remove the ham from the oven and brush the last of the glaze all over the ham.
Return the ham to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until the ham is a rich caramel colour.
Voila! Ready to slice and serve. Merry Christmas everyone!!!
For more recipes check out www.pork.com.au
If you like to have your Christmas lunch or dinner at home, but haven't got the time or energy to cook it yourself, why not try using a caterer?
Food by Nellie comes to mind, mainly because I've tried her food and it's wonderful.
I've known Nellie Tamburro for over 20 years and at one stage she was running the office cafe where I worked.
Do be quick though, because she has heaps of orders to fill already.
Nellie said, this year catering has looked very different because of Covid.
''While we are still doing all the traditional Christmas foods the biggest hit has been our food grazing boxes - for one or two to share or for groups of 10 or more.
''This means Christmas parties might happen in the park or via zoom!'' she said.
The sweet graze boxes are the biggest seller and you can order from Food by Nellie on 0423 890 715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For something sweet you can order from Reverie cafe in Prahran near the Prahran market, Westfield Doncaster or Eastland shopping centre.
I first met Reverie's owner chef Pierrick Boyer at the RACV club in Melbourne.
In 2017, Pierrick won the acclaimed Gault & Millau Pastry Chef of the Year award.
When he opened Reverie Cafe in Prahran I had to visit and enjoyed a delicious lunch, followed by his divine cakes.
I was so impressed that I had my birthday cake from him a couple of years ago.
His style fuses the delicacy of fine French patisseries with the indulgence of a modern-Melburnian brunching destination.
In addition to traditional Christmas cakes, he has a new strawberry pistachio pavlova & banoffee log. Both are nut free and the pavlova is gluten free.
And while we're enjoying our festive food and drinks with family and friends, spare a thought for the less fortunate.
There are many ways we can help, whether it be helping to serve Christmas dinner for the homeless, contributing some gifts at the local department store's wishing tree or just cooking a hot dinner for your neighbour who lives alone.
Perhaps you can't make a difference to the whole world, but you can make a world of difference to someone in need.
Have a peaceful, joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Manu's stout baked ham
Pierrick Boyer and daughter Charlotte
Strawberry pistachio pavlova and banoffee log
Grazing box from Food by Nellie.