In a delicious conversation with ABC Radio National's Margaret Throsby, MasterChef judge and food writer, Matt Preston, mentioned that most people only cook three recipes from any one of the cookbooks they buy; and said that he prefers to see a 'dirty cookbook', meaning a book that is loved and used, rather than sitting pristine on the coffee table. This has always been my philosophy too.
Vivid displays of burnt orange lantern-shaped fruits caught my eye as I walked around our local farmer's market at the weekend. I am referring to sweet persimmons, which are in bountiful supply throughout autumn months.
As we enjoy the final days of summer, the weather 'person' has promised a series of scorching hot days, almost as if to send off the season with a rousing 'hurrah'.
Apricots are in abundance at my local farmer's market and greengrocer right now. I love eating them fresh from the hand - with that burst of soft, sweet tasting flesh. Sometimes they have been picked a little too early and that's when they're perfect for baking into a tart.
My kitchen has enjoyed a good workout over the last several months as I succumb to the delights of life in retirement and baking almost every other day. Of course with a plentiful supply of home-baked goodies we've had to step up our entertaining calendar, as well as our exercise regime. But then I'm not complaining. Life is sweet.
It's late afternoon in the summer of 1968. I am ten years old, or thereabouts. My father and I have carried his paint-splattered wooden ladder from the garage around to the back garden on the left hand side of our family home. That's where my dad's peach, apricot and nectarine trees grew.
'More?!' asked my neighbour the fireman, smiling and eyes wide at the sight of me standing on his doorstep with a large punnet of freshly-picked, home grown strawberries. 'I'm afraid so,' I replied. 'Do you think you can manage to eat them?' We won't have any problems with that,' he laughed. 'I'll get the strawberry fairy onto them.'
Oh, how I love the early morning ritual of watering the strawberry patch. After showering the plants, I check for those stealthy snails that have made their way into the garden overnight to take massive bites out of the fruit. I pull out any weedlets (my word for baby weeds), lest they invade the entire bed. Then I watch dozens of bees flit to and from strategically-planted lavender bushes to lamb's ears, and seaside daisies, and on to the freshly moistened flowers of the strawberries. It may sound silly to you, but watching this small but nonetheless glorious event makes me sigh with joy.
'I am a little prone to romantic illusions and imagine our pheasants wandering around a quince orchard, but Colin advised me that the pheasants would peck at the fruit as it ripened, so there had to be a little adjustment to my dream' writes Maggie Beer in her book, Maggie's Farm. 'They inspire me so! Their look as a fruit, the beauty of the blossom and the diversity of uses of this often ignored fruit seem to me to be the essence of the country.'
Some of my most treasured recipes were hand written many years ago by family or friends. Some are so faded and the paper so tattered that the writing is barely legible, and yet there is no way that I could bring myself to throwing them out.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes; postcards and morsels from my travels; conversations with cookery writers
and chefs; and news on food, cookbooks
- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.