Wednesday, 31 August 2011


and the road stretches ahead

I have just had a week down in Tamworth which is situated in the NSW New England area.  It is a lovely area which can be very cold and very, very hot. 
The week I was there the weather turned on some spring with each day dawning with a flawless blue sky.  There were some clouds one day but they were of the white fluffy variety which don't detract from that beautiful blue, but float around adding ambience. 

The drive down was delightful with the highway laden on both sides with wattle.  Some were a haze of yellow waiting for the right moment to burst into bloom whilst others had exploded and the sight was glorious.

There are many rock formations and large boulders scattered around the paddocks, as if a giant had thrown his marbles, particularly south of Glen Innes which is known as Celtic country.  It boasts the Australian standing stones and every year on the first weekend in May there is a Celtic festival which attracts thousands of tourists.

balancing rock outside of Glen Innes

Although Tamworth is very dry a lot of the time, the countryside remains beautiful in that unique way of the Australian bush. Not to everyones taste of course but still haunting.  Surrounded by hills Tamworth nestles in and often misses the rain that surrounding areas get because of those very hills.
Having visited the town for almost the whole of my life thanks to relatives, I've been there when it is so cold it hurts to take a breath, so hot you feel you could melt whilst you watch the storm clouds build with the drama of the lightning in them and hear the thunder. Then the relief when the rain comes.  There have been times when we had to leave quickly before the bridge out of town went under the flooding Peel River.  Contrasts. 
Autumn is lovely, as it is in so many places in Australia
lizards visit regularly
magnificent gum trunk

beautiful iris
To balance out the spring weather whilst I was there, it managed to rain all the way home.  Sometimes it was very heavy and it certainly slowed my trip.  It was interesting to see the difference in the scenery with the rain and fog.  Despite this you could see the promise of spring. 

Weeping willows were bringing out their new spring dresses in that particular shade of green that is so soft and fresh that even shrouded in fog the message of the coming season impacted.

Cows came to the fence of a paddock to see the strange woman who stopped her car and walked in the rain.  A bright spot in their otherwise dull lives?? 

The contrast of the trees still dressed in their winter garb, the rain and fog, promises of spring in the wattle, blossoms and fresh green on the willows was quite dramatic.  The circle of life that continues on regardless of what is happening in our lives.

 These are moments that we need to take in, let settle into our beings and go on to the next having been nurtured in a way that is unobtainable from any other source.  They are some of  the moments that can help us move on to the next, even when we know it might be difficult, if we only take the time to absorb them and let them nourish us.   

avenue of trees leading up to a property

As I was not at home there was no baking whilst I was away.  However, I did take some shortbread down with me, the recipe for which I have had for over 30 years.  It was given to my mother by a friend who had married a scotsman so is the real deal, although there are possibly as many shortbread recipes as Scottish clans.  So I won't be giving you the recipe for that particular one, but here is a recipe that is just as  enjoyable.

Good old fashioned pudding for winter, warming, comforting, great with custard or icecream, or as some do, both.  From my trusty Margaret Fulton cookbook.

Lemon Currant Roly Poly

*2 cups self raising flour
*good pinch of salt
*60g butter
*60gm lard   or  you can just double the butter
*4-5 tablespoons iced water - I always seem to need more

*sift dry ingredients
*rub butter/lard through till mix resembles
  coarse breadcrumbs
*add enough cold water to bind into a soft dough

*Roll pastry onto a floured board to a rectangle about
  25x20  cm

*1 1/2 cups currants
*2 tablespoons brown sugar
*2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

*Mix these together and spread over pastry
* moisten edges of pastry and roll up from the short side
*place in a baking dish, seam side down
*slash the top 2-3 times


*1 1/2 cups water
*3 tablespoons lemon juice
*1/2 cup sugar

*Heat ingredients to boiling point and stir till sugar has dissolved

*Pour around the base of the roly poly while still boiling
 being careful to keep away from the top
*syrup should come halfway up the side of the roly poly so       choose a deepish dish.
*bake for 30 minutes at 200 deg or until the top crust is golden and the bottom has absorbed most of the syrup.



Monday, 29 August 2011

Beach Trip and Biscuits

  At the end of july I visited friends who live at the coast.  It had been ages since I had seen them and nearly six months since I had been near a beach.  There is something so soothing about being near the water.

Just watching the waves come in and go out makes me feel settled  inside and I think there are many people who feel the same.  There are those who say that because we begin life in the safety and comfort of the amniotic fluid in the womb, that we have an
affinity to water as a place of peace.  Whatever the reason, it does the job when I am stressed .
up and round again!!!!!!!!
they are everywhere scavenging what they cn

interesting tree trunks
all ready to push out
        I have been looking for a biscuit recipe for some time that keeps it shape when baking and finally found one on a site called Black Book Cooking.  It is an Australian site which makes it all the better from my point of view.  There is something special  about reading recipes that come from the same country. 

apricot and white chocolate
 I’m sure for  Australians it comes from the background of things like CWA, outback farmers wives cooking for shearers and church social morning teas where everyone brings a plate. 

 Not that these things are exclusive to us of course, every country must have their version of them.  When they are listing ingredients you know that you can go to any close supermarket and find what they mean without searching fruitlessly. 

There is the whole flour thing as well.  Other countries label their flour differently and it takes a while to make sure you have it right which is not helpful when you want to cook the recipe right there and then.

          This recipe is economical,  quickly done in the food processor and equally quickly made into biscuits with flavours of your choosing when rolled into a log and chilled for a little while before slicing off rounds to bake.
          The dough can also be rolled out to whatever thickeness you prefer and cut out into shapes and yes they do keep this well.  I enjoy rolling out dough, piecing the leftover bits and rerolling until it is all used up but I am aware that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  This is why the log  method is more user friendly.  It also means you can have several different flavoured logs in your freezer to pull out at a moments notice.  Reminiscent of the ones you buy in the supermarket but far superior I would imagine, in flavour.  You could also slice them and keep them layered with gladwrap in a container for an even quicker result.


               I always plan to do this but somehow they get cooked and eaten faster than I can keep them in the freezer.

          Not wanting to change my tradition I have altered the original recipe.  I find that a mix of plain and self raising flour just works better than all self raising and also add more liquid than stated.  These things are mostly personal choice so if you are not used to the mix, stick with the basic recipe first to see how you go.  As for flavourings, the sky is the limit. 

 I have made:

*Choc chip
*Apricot and white choc
*Coffee walnut
*Cinnamon and sugar
*Plain with icing to make a melting moment style
*Plain dipped in chocolate
*Peanut butter dipped in choc and peanuts, a real hit

          None have been sent back!!  Except perhaps for the ones that the kids nibble the chocolate off and then leave the rest to start again.  That’s the short kids not the tall ones!!

Basic Biscuits

*125gms butter
*1/2 cup butter
  3 tablespoons milk
pinch of salt
*1/2 cup sugar
*3/4 cp self raising flour
*3/4 cup plain flour

*Sift flour, salt, flours and sugar into the bowl of a food processor
*Cut butter into cubes and with the processor running add the cubes  a few at a time till the mix resembles coarse meal
*Transfer the mix to a bowl, add milk and using your hand mix to a soft dough-you may need more milk.
*Turn onto a floured surface, bring the mix together and roll till coated in the extra flour
*Roll out to the thickness you desire and cut out with whatever shape biscuit cutter you have
*Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness you have cut the dough

          Hope you have as much fun with this as I have.

Enjoy !


Monday, 15 August 2011

I can't believe that it is a month since I posted!  A combination of;
* I haven't photographed enough of the steps of a recipe and life have obviously gotten in the way.

 Blogging is quite time consuming and I probably haven't mastered the art of doing it quickly as far as putting in the photos precisely where I want them so that makes putting aside the time to get it done tricky when life gets in the way. 

 This is getting written now because it is nearly 3am and I haven't been to sleep yet.  Two cups of tea and a few crackers haven't helped, although I did enjoy them.  My cat sleeps soundly beside me despite my constant tossing, turning, putting on the light and then typing in bed next to her.

So..I have been cooking quite a lot just lately, how unusual!! 

Last week I made coffee walnut biscotti.I haven't made biscotti for ages and it suddenly popped into my mind.I found this recipe last Easter on the food buzz website. - homemade chocolate dipped pecan biscotti
 The basic recipe is actually for pecan and chocolate biscotti but of course I have changed it each time depending on just what is in my pantry.
As I had walnuts and a yen to make a coffee something that is the flavour I ended up with.
I have tried several different mixes for biscotti. Some are very moist and tricky to work with, some don't slice all that well, crumbling at the edges,some don't give you a good yield and I do like value for my money.

 This mix does well on all counts.
 When I was putting the mix together I did sort of forget that the lemon rind in the original recipe might not actually go with the addition of coffee so I thoughtlessly tossed it in as well.  I think I got carried away with the look of the all that beautiful yellow rind in its little pile. 

I always flour my board liberally as otherwise the moist mix does stick to everything like concrete. Unlike other biscotti mixes this is shaped a bit differently, more oblong than a log and I do like the shape it gives once sliced.  Obviously none of this is vital to the ultimate taste so whatever you like is fine.

 The hard part of baking these is waiting for the second baking and chocolate dipping to be finished!