Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Floods, Earthquakes, First Planting and First Baking

It's been a time of natural phenomenon over the past week, with Facebook nearly collapsing under the strain of every single Melbourne hipster (myself included) updating with something along the lines of "earthquake?" at exactly the same time.

Truth be told I didn't notice until Tracey asked me what was up with the roof shaking (I've had funny ears the last week after getting off a plane so things are generally off-balance at the moment) but then it made sense how tense Happy had been and the concerned look on his face for the hour before the plates beneath the earth did their thing. When we realised it was an earthquake, I thought perhaps we should go outside in case the roof caved in. We agreed that it was too cold and we couldn't be bothered, so after a while I turned off the tv so we'd notice any aftershocks and got my social media on.

What did people do before the facebooks? Talk to each other? Read newsletters hand-cranked on a printing press? Head to the town meeting and shake angry fists? All valid options and frankly ones I would have expected in our new country lifestyle.

Here's Happy afterwards, exhausted from being protective and worried.

We had reservations for Hellenic Republic last Friday, and in keeping with the baptismal theme of water taking over prior plans, floods and torrential downpour closed roads and prevented us from making it to the big smoke and the delicious Greek delicacies to be shared with friends. We turned back after an hour of detours that were going nowhere and got some local pizza instead. Not bad - and when you pay, they get you to cut a deck of cards and if you flip it to the Joker you get a free large.

We were talking about the difference we have here - nature seems so much bigger somehow. If it rains, you just can't go where you thought you would be going. QED. I like that, the way the elements demand respect in big, loud living colour.

Having said that, I'm glad the house didn't get flooded out. That would suck a whole lot.

We visited a beautiful farmers market not far from here last weekend, and were having a great time. Started off with a bacon and egg roll, wandered around sharing a coffee, chatting with the lady who makes wonderful kindling collection bags out of recycled billboards and the organic berry lady who said with great queer emphasis that she had travelled from her "partner's house in Brunswick". Then we came across the scary honey woman.

She had the most beautiful things for sale - local honey of all sorts, honeycomb dripping away lazily and sweetly, bee paraphernalia like tea-towels and pot holders. She had gorgeous hand-knitted baby jumpers and cardigans that her elderly mother makes - "it keeps her entertained". But then the ground cracked open and the fires of hell made themselves known as the backdrop of the terrible tale of the lady who had wanted to buy a pink jumper for her little boy. Well she just thought that was revolting, and what is the world coming to when a boy will look like a girl. Etc, etc, etc.

Her audience of two ladies very much in love bowed out and went elsewhere, getting some beautiful pears and apples.

Not such a big deal, sure, but it left a sour taste dripping quietly through the whole experience. Part of me was wondering when this sort of thing would rear its ugly head, but when we got home we planted a native in the garden - the first thing we've put in the earth here. It was a pink king protea planted in memory of Addam Stobbs - the wonderful flamboyant man who taught me how to broadcast, and died two years ago on that day. It seemed a fitting end to that particular outing.

We had our first overnight non-moving-day guest last week, so I made a pudding for dessert. It turned out smashingly so I thought I'd share the recipe.

There are no quantities really, I just made it up as I went along to make a small serving, so do whatever feels right.

"Adam Quayle Visits" Pudding

raw sugar
vanilla extract
SR flour
raw cacao powder
white chocolate melts (the ones that look a bit like 20c pieces)
a jar of those morello cherries in juice - the sweet ones, not the ones that taste like medicine
an egg
cream to serve it with

preheat the oven - I put it on super low because we have a scary electric oven that roasts potatoes in about ten minutes and we're still getting to know each other.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour in a mixing bowl with the sugar, mix together well and add in a splosh of vanilla and the egg. Mix again (I just used a whisk)

Sift in your flour, add a good splosh of milk (any kind will do - soy, cow, almond, oat, rice) and whisk it all up, adding a pinch or two of cinnamon. You could put in any superfood here - I chose a tsp of raw cacao because I've been putting it in my smoothies and it's gorgeous. You could also add chia seeds, sunflower seeds, goji berries, whatevs.

Once that's all mixed together have a good taste of it and see what you think. It should be just like a cake mix, not too runny but not too doughy.

Get a pudding bowl or glass pyrex dish - I had a round pyrex dish that was the perfect size for two people's dessert.

Spoon in the cherries so they cover the bottom of the dish, and one more layer of cherries, then cover them with the juice. Sit some white chocolate melts over the top of the cherries, don't mix them in. Then pour your cakey mix over the top.

In our scary oven you need a lid but not sure if you will in yours. Cook til the cake bit is cooked. The juice gets mostly absorbed into the cake mix and makes it all berrylicious. Serve it up with a dash of cream, because when visitors come you need cream with your pudding.

The day after the pudding, we took a drive over to Fork To Fork, which is at Heronswood in Dromana, and had the most delicious lunch the world has ever known. I was so full I couldn't eat any dinner that night. I have got to get some Jerusalem artichokes growing in my garden, they are delicious.

If I thought the day couldn't get any better, I was mistaken. Not ten minutes after remarking to Adam how much I wanted to plant some rhubarb in the garden so I could experiment with cooking it, there were rhubarb plants for sale on the side of the road. Massive beautiful leafy ones with big red stalks - I bought three and put my money in the honesty box and we went on our way.

I'm feeling more and more at home in this place as time goes on, I'm already at the point where I can't imagine living anywhere else. I love the drives along country roads with horses and cows and sheep dotting all the paddocks, eggs and poo for the garden and fruit and plants for sale on the side of the road, the expansiveness and childhood familiarity of it all. So little traffic! So much less rage! I feel very fortunate.

The day after this is when the flooding happened so I baked some pumpkin bread sourced from the wonderful She Cooks, She Gardens. She has so many simple and satisfying recipes, and this one was perfect. With the excess roast pumpkin puree, I made Trace and I a quick lunch of spiral pasta with burnt butter, garlic and sage stirred through with the pumpkin, and freshly grated parmesan on top. Incredible!

Here's the pumpkin bread - I encourage you to make it, it's really easy and absolutely delicious.

That's all for this week, I'll leave you with an image of Gingko harnessing her talent for irony. Thanks for reading xo

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jenny, thanks for the shout out and I'm so glad to hear you gave the pumpkin bread a go and enjoyed it. Best, Erin.xx