When I was a child, my family was a member of the Beaumaris Community Centre Tennis Club, and every Easter a group of families from the club would make the pilgrimage from bayside Melbourne to Cohuna (near the NSW border) for the annual Cohuna Easter Tennis Tournament. We stayed with a couple of other close family friends in a little country hotel outside Cohuna, in Litchfield.
I loved this annual event as it was a chance for adventure and fun. We started going when I was quite young and continued for many years. We all played in the tournament, and in between matches we would play with the other kids from our club, shoot down the local waterslide, I would spend time babysitting my godmother’s kids (I loved babies), and at night the parents would all get together for drinks and dinner at the local pub or bistro and we would all run around with our friends playing chasey, eating chips and enjoying the country air.
We stopped attending the tournament many years ago as we moved away to Queensland and other families eventually moved on as the kids got older and their lives changed. This year, however, now that we all have young children of our own, my friends and I decided to start a whole new tradition every Easter, with the intention of creating some wonderful family memories, introducing new traditions into our lives, all while enjoying great company, food and wine.
Our additional desire is for our children to build strong, supportive relationships with friendships formed outside the schoolyard that will stay with them well into their adulthood. We want them to look forward to this annual event as a time of fun, adventure and great happiness.
This year, we started small, with a Good Friday seafood lunch at my place. We decided on a Spanish theme and each family brought a couple of dishes to share. The food was magnificent and it’s fair to say I have been inspired, particularly by Michelle and Tim’s smoked fish using SHE-TEA leaves!
They used a wok and added rice, sugar and She-Tea’s Booze Hound blend to the base. The heat caused a smoking effect so after a short time they added the fish to a grill above the smoking concoction and left it there for approximately 40 minutes, which resulted in the most perfectly cooked entree dish, served with sour cream, fresh dill and mini pikelets.
They also brought some amazing mussels stuffed with spanakopita and cooked in white wine. Heavenly!
I made my first round of sour dough bread with rosemary and thankfully they turned out beautifully! We also did some garlic prawns and a tomato/chickpea and red wine concoction.
I have really become a big fan of the group themed meals where everyone brings a plate to share. Firstly, people love to share their food so even though it’s at one family’s home, everyone still feels they have contributed. It’s great for the host as well, as dinner parties can really blow the budget, so this way the cost and the preparation are shared equally, and therefore there’s virtually no stress. You get an opportunity to spend time with everyone rather than being left in the kitchen cooking, and most of all, you get to try some great food and discover new ideas and recipes – wonderful!
After a lovely first family Easter, we are planning the next one already. We’re thinking about going away as a group for a few nights down the coast, and perhaps taking turns cooking our favourite dishes and sharing our favourite recipes over a few glasses of lovely wine. The kids can play together and entertain each other and we can get out of town, towards the ocean and relax for a few days. A new tradition for a new stage in our lives.