Masterchef winner Kate Bracks loves the Christmas season, which for her centres around family, food and faith. She shares with us some great ideas about how to celebrate the season joyfully!
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that on Christmas morning Kate Bracks and her family of five start the day with a tradition of cake for breakfast. After all, the 2011 winner of the cooking TV series Masterchef is a passionate baker, renowned for her sweet treats, which include couverture chocolate fudge cake and Berrymisu. She’s also passionate about her faith, and the cake on Christmas morning is a birthday cake to remember the reason for the day. Kate, who lives in Orange, rural NSW with her husband Luke and three children, says it’s a special way to begin the day, which usually unfolds the same way each year. “If we can, we then go off to church, and then back to our house or someone else’s house for a long afternoon of being together with our extended family.”
We caught up with Kate recently as she was busy winding down her home-based baking business to focus on other things, including more time with family. Over the past four and a half years she has also been busy travelling around churches doing cooking demonstrations and as she puts it “sharing my two great loves: God and food.”.
She shared with us her five inspirations for a joyful Christmas. We hope you enjoy them as you head into this year’s festive season.
1)Get the focus right
Kate says: “We try to make Christmas an exciting time for the kids but still keep the focus on Jesus. Starting the day with birthday cake is something we’ve been doing since they were toddlers, and they often help make the cake. We’ve always tried to be very open and honest with our kids – we’ve said that while a lot of families make Christmas about the gifts and party – there are certain things we do as a family like going to church, and saying grace before lunch. We also try to make our bible reading time about Christmas in the lead up to the day.
We still do presents but keep it a bit more restrained. We get up and have breakfast and may let the kids open one present first, and then another one a bit later.
Christmas is a celebration of what God has given us in Jesus. It can be a constant battle to try and shape Christmas around celebrating that, rather than the commercialism or even the food or the fun times.”
2) Make it a celebration
Like many of us, Kate loves to celebrate with family and friends around good food at Christmas. She says: “Share the day with people you love, create a banquet of your favourite foods, and make time to relax and enjoy it. If we look in the bible there are lots of examples of feasts – they are not bad, but it’s also important to remember the reason why we are feasting.”
There are lots of special Christmas food traditions in the Bracks’ household, including a local ham, which Kate glazes at home, as well as seafood and salads perfect for a summer’s day. Kate says: “We always have long, long lunches and plenty of left overs for Boxing Day. There is always a Christmas pudding, which my Nana made and handed the recipe down to me. I make this especially for my Dad, as it was his mum that made it.”
3) Be generous to others
Kate says: “Christmas is a celebration of God’s incredible generosity to us, so it feels right to want to be generous to others at Christmas time, especially living in a middle class Western country like ours. It makes sense to want to share what we have with those who don’t have enough.”
Kate and her extended family have been exchanging TEAR Australia’s Useful Gifts (www.usefulgifts.org) cards at Christmas for the past couple of decades. TEAR’s Useful Gifts Catalogue features gifts like chickens, safe water, vegetable gardens and pre-school classes, which contribute to long-term community development programs.
Kate says: “As a family, we have everything we need. Initially we thought we’d do it for that first year, but we loved the concept so much that we did it every Christmas. Now with the adults in my family it is the main giving we do. We still give to the kids but it’s also accompanied by a smaller TEAR card.”
Fittingly, Kate loves the food-related cards, which include Good Food, Chickens, Goats and Vegetable Gardens. She says: “I also love the ones which have a bit of humour, like the toilet – it’s pretty cool to give someone a toilet!”
4) Be as organised as you can!
Kate recommends choosing food you can you can prepare ahead of time, so it’s not a huge day of work for anyone. She says: “Because I like to have a feast but I don’t want to slave away on the day, I normally do all the preparation in the days beforehand. I want the memory to be celebrations and relaxing and fun. “A great example of something you can make before the day is my Berrymisu. It looks beautiful and very Chrismassy with all the red berries!”
5) Take a Christmas afternoon nap with a full belly
Kate says: “It’s the ultimate decadence!”
Kate Bracks is a long-term support of TEAR Australia, a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice.