Summer

summer lime season

Do you like our new look Website? I apologise that my recipes have been offline for a few weeks, I've been busy working to refresh & improve the layout.  Let me know what you think in Comments please? Or if something isn't working just right.  The recipe search button is on the front Home page & my Farmshop Page will be live in the next week or so.  

Checkout the Braeside Page if you're wondering what we've been up to in Tassie recently.

This one's an oldie but such a goodie - Lime Poppyseed Yoghurt Cake.  A recipe in high demand at the moment, thanks to the luscious lime season we are currently enjoying.

Picked more limes this morning - can't wait to make another batch of lime curd tomorrow.  

A nibble of Lime Slice for morning tea anyone?

lavandula in bloom

Sweet wishes for 2014 to you and your family.

I'm thrilled to be free to blog again. And what better way to celebrate than a return visit to delicious Daylesford in country Victoria. Outside Daylesford at Shepherds Flat the lavender is ripe for the picking at Lavandula Swiss Italian Lavender Farm. In fact their Annual Harvest Festival took place last weekend. You might remember my last visit there, Alla Wolf Tasker's fabulous Lakehouse lunch & the beautiful photos my sister Lise captured. 

Revisiting Lavandula, whether in person or in pictures is always good for the soul. 

Down the road from Daylesford in the town of Musk Vale lives Kate Ulman. I was thrilled to read that Kate of Daylesford Organics & Foxs Lane blogspot recently gave herself 6 months off to road trip around Australia in a vintage caravan. Her family's inspiring story and farm is featured in this January's Country Style magazine. Bushfires, floods and locust plagues just can't keep a good Aussie down. Certainly not when there's a dream to catch. We love your spirit Kate & your new book too  'Vantastic' .

For me 2014 will bring some freedom to catch dreams too. I'm finally able to enjoy online jottings and lots of zesting & bottling.  As always the citrus at Weka Weka just can't ripen quick enough for me and my jars. The trees are heavily laden with green fruits. I've used the last of my Ruby Red Marmalade and Preserved Lemons :-( but won't be long before there's more. Thank goodness for Grandma's Salad Dressing & plentiful stocks of Red Wine Chilli Jelly and Tomato Relish for that summer entertaining. Just let me know if you've run out. Happy to post some to you.

Can't wait to connect more regularly with you my MFK friends. And the new local businesses that have popped up during my absence in corporate coffeeland. Lovely stores like Paint Me White in Mudgeeraba village. That Annie Sloan Chalk paint is truly fab. No priming, just swish it on your special timber pieces and hey presto!  

My sincere hope is that you've had time to stop and smell the lavender over the holidays, bake and even perhaps restored a treasured piece of old furniture. No resolutions at this end, just a plan to invest more time in preserving the seasons, my girls, new friends and the sanctum of kitchen & garden spaces. That's where I'll be. Perhaps back at our local Farmers Markets too, selling my wares. I'll keep you posted on that one.  

Warm wishes. I look forward to talking and sharing with you regularly throughout the year. Don't forget to take the Pavlova with you this upcoming Australia Day weekend.  Whether at the beach or out in the countryside, may you enjoy our beautiful sunburnt country. Happy Australia Day.

quintessential aussie bathing sheds at Mornington, Vic. a recent holiday stop

grandma's salad dressing

The words boring and salad should never appear in the same sentence.  Creating a salad that is a superb meal in itself is really fun - perhaps a warm Thai Yum Salad inspired by Annette Fear from Spirit House Yandina or a divine Salmon Stack Salad like this one from The Deck Cafe at Currumbin Beach.

Photo courtesy of The Deck Cafe - Liz bella barista & photographer

When I want to jazz up a Green Salad, I like to fill it with fresh mint, italian parsley, sunflower sprouts and freshly picked Nasturtium from the garden. Salads can be taken from simple to sophisticated with only a little extra effort on prep and presentation.  

Grandma’s Salad Dressing

Try dressing your next Salad creation with this delightful, old fashioned, handmade mayonnaise. It’s the perfect addition to tangy peppery greens, baby spinach, iceberg, cos or mesclun. 

Ingredients - 2 eggs ❤ 4 tablespoons of water 4 tablespoons of white vinegar ❤ 4 tablespoons of white sugar ❤ 1 heaped teaspoon of mustard powder

Method + Tips - Beat eggs lightly.  Pour into a saucepan that fits inside a larger one. The larger saucepan should be filled with boiling water about 1/3 full.  You may have a double boiler especially for the job. Otherwise just improvise with a small and larger one - that’s fine. 

Add water, vinegar and sugar to the eggs in the smaller saucepan.  Dissolve mustard powder in a little extra vinegar - just enough to take the lumps out when you stir it with a teaspoon.  Add the mustard to the ingredients.  Stir frequently in the same direction - until dressing starts to thicken. Approximately 10 minutes.  It will thicken more upon standing - when dressing has completely cooled.

Tale

This is a really popular one. I would always make it  x 10 times the recipe i.e using 20 eggs.  You can be very confident to double or triple or more, if you want plenty leftover for later in the week or next.  It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks.

If it looks and tastes familar to you it's probably because your own Grandmother made it.  This homemade double boiler dressing was 'the dressing' of their time.

I was often asked for the recipe at the Farmers Markets & the Pantry. Hesitated to give it out though as the sugar content is quite high. Perhaps some might feel this defeats the purpose of eating salad.  I say don’t stress. A little of this dressing goes a long way and what a difference it makes. Enjoy.

On Friday I’ll post a terrific frittata recipe that's perfect served with a Salad - drizzled with Grandma’s Salad dressing. See you then.

Spirit House Cooking Class - If you haven't been to one or two yet, you must treat yourself.

sweet tomato relish

I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you. Unfortunately I can’t give credit where credit is due as I don’t know the lady who passed it on to me.

Seven years ago I started this baking and bottling adventure selling my wares at a roadside stall near Weka Weka. One hot Sunday, under the shade of my market umbrella (the local rainforest), a virtual stranger kindly shared her family’s best country preserve recipes. A terrific Mango Chutney and this wonderful Sweet Tomato Relish were two of them. They are still the simplest and best relish recipes I’ve come across. Bottle some soon - before the last of the peak summer tomatoes finish. This batch will delight you right through Winter.

sweet tomato relish

Ingredients - 1.5KG (3lb) Ripe Tomatoes ❤ ¼ cup salt ❤ 500gram (1lb) Onions ❤ Water ❤ 2 cups Brown Malt Vinegar ❤ 2 cups Brown Sugar ❤ 1 tablespoon Curry Powder ❤ 2 teaspoons Dry Mustard Powder ❤ ¼ cup Cornflour ❤ ¼ cup Brown Vinegar (extra)  ❤ ½ teaspoon each of ground Nutmeg, Pepper, Cinnamon & Ginger

Method + Top Tips - Score the tops of tomatoes with a sharp knife to help loosen skins. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water. Allow to cool a little and remove skins. If you prefer your relish chunky with skins on, then don’t worry about this process. 

Thick slice tomatoes into a large plastic bowl. Peel & chop onions into small slices and add to the bowl of tomatoes. Cover with water, sprinkle with salt, mix through lightly and cover bowl. Stand overnight. 

The next day, drain all the liquid from the tomatoes and onions. Place in a large saucepan with the brown malt vinegar added. Bring to the boil uncovered.   Add brown sugar & stir over low heat until sugar has fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, combine curry powder, mustard & cornflour, gradually adding extra vinegar to mix until smooth & lump free. Remove pan from heat & add cornflour/mustard mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Return pan to heat and stir until mixture comes to the boil.  Leave uncovered to cook for 35-40 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Add spices five minutes before the end of cooking & mix in well. 

Stir frequently during cooking and pour into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. Makes approximately 1½ litres (6 cups). Recipe can easily be doubled if you have a big jam pot.

Other tips: Sterilise jars in your dishwasher on its hottest setting to save time. Always use a large stainless steel, heavy based preserving pan. Never try to make relish or jam in a pot that’s too small.  Lightly butter the preserving pan before starting. Use a long handled wooden spoon for stirring.

During a hot Aussie Summer wait for a cooler than usual evening, a thunderstorm or the odd rainy day!  Preserving should be a labour of love that’s fun - don’t even think about turning on the cooktop during the peak of a Summers day.  The fun quickly expires. Have a good stainless steel jug for pouring out relish. Have your clean lids ready for immediate sealing. Use your largest, hottest gas burner for effective, speedy setting of relish and jams.

Seasonal Jotting

We grow a small quantity of tomatoes at the farm. Growing your own is so satisfying - however don’t you also love the produce of an experienced, specialist farmer. One who ignites passion for their crop - so much so that you can clearly see, hear and taste it. 

Like many of us in well populated areas on the East Coast of Australia, I’m spoilt here for choice when it comes to weekend Farmers Markets. Our closest are at Palm Beach , Mudgeeraba and Miami Organic Growers Market. Over the border in nearby Northern NSW the choice gets even bigger.

We seem more than happy to pay a bit extra for genuine farm produce - Lockyer Valley tomatoes and potatoes, Bayside berries, local herbs and greens, Stanthorpe apples and pears ...all the seasonal pickings.  Because we can tell at first sight this produce has a local farm story behind it. Not an import carton.

Just one example is Peter Sutton and his wife Carmel of Suttons Tomatoes. They make the ordinary tomato extraordinary and visit several farmers markets around SEQ. They grow heritage tomatoes in the Lockyer Valley near Gatton. Peter used to be a dairy farmer and grape grower.  Now they grow several types of old tomato on the grape trellises. Their tomatoes come in all shapes, colours, sizes and flavours - ranging from green to yellow, pink, purple and even black.

I often buy a colourful mixed punnet and reserve these special beauties for a salad, bruschetta, margherita pizza or seafood pasta dish with lashings of local garlic & freshly picked parsley.

In the height of the season, I use the bigger toms (most often the Roma variety) to make double batches of the tomato relish above. This way we’ve got enough relish to use with cold meats, sausage rolls, chicken pie, burgers, frittata and any dish calling for a pretty side of preserved relish. With plenty left to give away.