Thursday, August 6, 2009

Food, glorious food (and the end of winter?)

Winter is winding down. It's obvious in the blooming and blossoming plants and trees. Daffodils (obviously non-native) are poking their heads up all around. Snowdrops have been blooming for a while. The native trees are producing the spiky blossoms that are typical of the local flora. We've been spending a happy week with Roberta, enjoying a variety of sightseeing trips, recipes and market visits. Today's visit to the Victoria Market (following a trip last Saturday) was to pick up a painting I'd purchased on Saturday. Intimidated by its size and the packed trains on Saturday following several footy games, I decided to leave it with the artist, and return by myself on a less busy day to bring it to Ferny Creek.

The painting is bigger than I'd remembered, and today was windy, so a few times I thought I might sail away. Of course it elicited a variety of comments on the tram and train, and quite a few people had smiles on their faces as they saw me with the 2 metre long (it's actually the width) painting. It's a scene of the foreshore along Port Philip Bay, near Brighton. We are totally in love with the beach in that area and when I saw the painting I threw caution to the wind and wanted it. How we will get it back to Canada is another story that will happen later. Today's journey was to bring it from the Vic Market to Ferny Creek. The artist was singing when we got there -- troweling paint onto another picture. His week was slow, he said. So did the other merchants in the market. It's the cool, windy weather. Then Roberta bought a triptych from him and we acquired a variety of fruits and veggies from the market stalls. A new item for me is quince (see picture above). I've been hearing about it and want to try it. The smell of the fruit is intriguing -- something between and apple and pear with a layer of citrus or strawberry. Hard to describe. It's a lot of work to prepare, requiring peeling, poaching for 2 to 6 hours, and then it's ready to eat. We'll see how it goes!

Roberta has been intrigued by the great recipes and food ideas in the supplement to the local rag -- the Herald Sun. She suggested I add the link to the supplement that appears weekly. You might want to explore a few recipes on this site. The self raising flour used here is so easy. I figure it's basically a tsp of baking powder to a cup of flour, but if I find out a different ratio, I'll correct the information.

We tried another variation of the lamb shanks recipe last week, this time with Moroccan seasonings, which include paprika, cumin and turmeric. The idea came from a lamb tajine recipe in Moira Hodgson's book It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. Ingredients for this slow cooked lamb recipe include cumin, coriander, turmeric, sweet paprika, onion, garlic, olives. We used lamb shanks instead of boneless lamb. Either would do just fine. And yesterday, wonder of all wonders, Tom suggested a quiche. Usually it's difficult to get him to eat quiche, but now the idea was his. Without questioning it, a quiche was produced for our evening meal! Now I just have to wiggle some creme brulee (burnt cream) past him!

When we were in the Barossa Valley a few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Maggie Beer's farm and kitchen for a cooking demonstration. This food writer and television presenter has some great recipes and resources on her web site as well -- it's worth a visit, even if it's in cyberspace:

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