Friday, June 27, 2014

Fancy that

Jam Fancies are a bit of a sensitive topic in our house.  Being married to a passionate recreational fisherman who's idea of bliss is a bagged out day on a early morning charter followed by a mug of hot tea and a Jam Fancie, we often dispute the best of biscuits.  Not to be confused of course with their British cousin the Jammie Dodger who I suspect are more their heritage before early migration.  Having grown up in the 70's pre Tim Tam era I can say a McVities Digestive coated in chocolate in my view leave a Fancie far behind but the debate shall continue.  The minority party ie., Number One Son votes anything that crumbles and falls on the floor and will happily swing his attention from biscuit to bite.  Gone are the tick tock and the vovo, all now out of fashion and a chocolate royal can barely be seen from the lowest of supermarket shelves should it somehow cause offence.  A well presented date slice or a freshly opened packet of coloured wafers would probably hold little sway to appease a child these days and the local drive through orange food organisation would be fool hardy to attempt 'would you like an Arrowroot with that?'  So in respect of tea time gone by, I will sometime this weekend attempt a recipe for the forgotten Fancie. Just hoping the end result is more fancy than dodgy.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Home invasion of the ring tail kind

I think Possum ate one of my roses.  The head was cleanly bitten off and the jaggered edge left behind was a clue.  These were teeth marks and unless the thrip are particularly aggressive this year I suspect our cute little neighbourly marsupial was the culprit.  Endangered or not if I catch him doing that he'll be a coat before the winter is out.  Last night Number One Son in a sudden frenzy of barking at the back fence lead us to our nocturnal thief swinging precariously along the trellis.  Having placed plastic spiked roadblocks along the top to encourage him to take an alternative route he now takes the daring journey of swinging only a short distance above an overly excited barking back yard warden.  With all his might he grips the fence with scrambling claws hanging on for dear life.  Number One Son, clearly ticked off at an intruder in his yard runs back and forth beneath his path.  Max stands at a safe distance eyes fixated on the home invader should he suddenly turn violent and take us all out.  Possum makes it to the end of the fence and bounds up to the top and over to the next door neighbour's fence.  My roses are good but gee, are they really worth all that? 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Can winter stay and play a little bit longer?

Winter will be over soon enough. Some people take pleasure from the shortest day done with and the warmer climate a mere few months away.  Not me. If I could put a sign up saying No Hot Days underneath the No Junk Mail one I'd be happy.  The older I get the less tolerant I become for those endless summers and cliche ridden heatwaves..."Melbourne Swelters through another Scorcher", so on and so forth.  Hot weather discriminates against aging skin like delicate filo pastry that dries and cracks if not regularly placed under a damp cloth.  Scant summer clothing works so well on the less traveled and a trip to the beach requires enough sun block protection to cater for a nuclear mishap,  'Reactor Factor Fifty, won't come off in the water, or ever'. My head doesn't cope with the searing sun and requires ridiculous hat attire to go beyond the back step.  The brims on my hats provide coverage not just for me but given their circumference, shade most of the garden too.  No stay away summer days I'll enjoy the damp sunshine as long as I can. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

So many jobs to do, so little thyme

I don't complain about the weather in winter.  It's cold, it's meant to be cold and the garden acts accordingly.  We enlist our heating mechanisms to fire up and bring warmth into our bodies and we find reasons not to go outside.  Number One Son will sit in front of the fireplace with a wagging tail until someone gets the message and flicks the switch.  Max however is another story.  He's a loyal garden watcher and regardless of dipping temperatures and clear blue sky mornings of icy proportions he'll be planted into the damp soil with his ears pressed up against the neighbour's back fence.  It's embarrassing really.  He's become obsessed with whatever activity is happening on the other side.  At every opportunity he tears out there to spy through the smallest of cracks in a weathered and loose paling to watch their every move.  He listens, eyes wide open for noise, some movement, what are they up to now?  It would be a disturbing sight from the other side seeing a bright blue eye fixed on you from a hole in your fence.  Maybe it's better than reality television, and it's usually on at the same time every day, and night.  Max is meant to be on snail watch but he's not very reliable.  He says they are too quick for him and they get away.  He wasn't much good at keeping the cabbage moth off the tomatoes either, said they were aggressive and a delayed paw swipe wasn't enough to terrorise them away.  Although I did suggest he could mind the herb box, I didn't mean he should sit on them to keep them warm.  My once vertical chives now resembles a birds nest.  He's "fertilised" the veggies, erected monuments to himself in the tanbark and used the gardenia as a scratching post.  All while we sit in the warmth of the great indoors - a rag doll's day is never done.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What the hell is a habanero?

I awoke thinking about eggplant this morning.  Moussaka recipe placed on the bench for an early reminder.  A complex recipe with more than one item requiring a separate pot or pan of attention with some to sit and simmer, and others described as the full on ADHD.

I often snatch recipes out of magazines that look appealing at the time.  The more likely the ingredients are to be in the cupboard, the higher the chance they are selected.  I'm completely over the one off rare ingredient that sits in the food cupboard for all of your Christmas's and birthdays and can only see the light of day if you could remember what recipe it was that needed hand picked Madagascan rain forest beetle nut leaf that has passed through at least two lemurs and border control.  Gourmet magazines give us on trend recipes that require a small team of chefs including kitchen hands and cleaning staff to produce the exact perfect specimen shown shiny on the page.  I recently came across a recipe with no less than 27 ingredients and required preparation to start a day ahead.  I wouldn't mind so much if the recipe wasn't for a hamburger.

So it's time to get cracking with my attempt at a fairly lengthy recipe for something that was probably once a very basic food made with left overs and things found nearby.  Except that the dried fennel seed powder won't come from the wild bulbs grown in my village and dried in the Mediterranean sun, and the feta isn't from my goat.  But I'll give it a red hot crack and hopefully some day soon fennel seed powder will become a super food and be included in everything from smoothies to soups or this little jar will be in the dark for a long couple of years.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A sense of singlet

At a recent trip to the airport I couldn't help noticing the many new and somewhat stuck on extensions to the old airport building to accommodate our increasing need to fly.  The thin grey carpet squares have been replaced by suitcase friendly and pressure washer proofed shiny hard floors.  The outdoor viewing deck now covered in as the how marvellous factor died with the too regular commuting grind of air travel required today.  I still get excited about the opportunity to travel.  I love the anticipation, the sense of occasion and I still dress accordingly.  And by that I mean the sense of privilege I get from being able to enjoy one of man's greatest inventions - next to the dishwasher, of course.  My sense of occasion and wish for grandeur of flying has long gone since the days of cocktails and dinner jackets on board and at least 8 stops to refuel just to get to Hawaii.  Now it's about dispatch, processing and security and no matter how much I put on my best frock, I'm still told to take off my shoes the same as the guy in the singlet in front whom for whatever reason saw no need to shower that morning.  We're all a seat number and a boarding pass when turning right at the entrance and the scramble for the overhead lockers resembles the Boxing Day sales.  It's still possible however to enjoy a look out the window and see the horizon from a great height.  For me anyway, that's still something.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Nothing to see (or eat) here

There is nothing more satisfying when on long country drives than to schedule in time for a quick roadside stop at local growers, producers and stall holders.  Unless of course it's Brussels Sprouts.  No matter how noble, how nutritious, how vitamin C and iron stuffed these little babies are I'd just sooner leave them in the ground.  Many a chef has sprouted (ahem!) the wonders of cooking these gems in a little duck or bacon fat but we all know that even a golf ball would come up golden and sumptuous after that treatment.  My sprouting (again??) of eating seasonal produce falls as flat as my bread baking with cauliflower, turnips and parsnips in abundance.  Having categorized the later into horse feed and pig scraps my discrimination against these winter veg is bordering unlawful.  I'm sorry, no matter how much the gods may shine on the baby green cousin of cabbage.  I'll keep on driving for now.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Watch out for the picnic gangs

We do love a picnic.  And number one son gets very excited about an upcoming pit stop to get out and sniff around. We are well experienced at the morning and afternoon tea stop regime with our just warm home baked date scones and a thermos ready for hot tea.  We've utilised many a decaying wooden picnic table complete with our James Bond style brown tweed picnic carry case complete with leather buckled straps to hold in the contraband.  In our case more cruskits than caviar and whilst the local bird life is inquisitive until today we've had no need to pack anything semi automatic in our case.  Our recent mug of tea stop included an off the highway green reserve beside a small stream filled with ancient trees and mist covered grass.  The plague placed at the front of the reserve informs visitors of the royal visit in the times of horse of carriage including a cracked and faded photograph of the tree in front of you and the visiting royal delegate of the day.  You wonder how long it would have taken them to get there in those days, with no Google Maps and roads that would have been tricky at best.  Whilst you ponder all of this the local bird gang, two magpies and a rosella work the picnic table.  One to keep a watch out, one to distract the passers by and the other to steal the scones.  It worked.  I bet it does every time.