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.
'Anyone who has been to Spain but has not travelled inland may be amazed to learn that Spain has over 190 million olive trees, more than anywhere else in the world!'
This year's harvest of Australian macadamias is almost finished and the season has been a cracker, so make sure you pop some Aussie macadamias into the market basket when you go shopping this weekend.
'In Sicily I came to relish the digestive Limoncello, taken at the end of a meal. It is made by steeping lemon peel in alcohol spirit for fifteen days and then blending with sugar syrup. My head rested peacefully on the pillow with the scent of lemons in my nostrils and a vision in my mind of citrus orchards glistening in the sun'.
— Kevin Donovan, Salute! Food, Wine and Travel in Southern Italy
Beautiful baskets spilling over with cumquats (a.k.a. kumquats) are on display at local market stalls during Winter through to early Spring. One time, I bought a bagful of freshly picked fruits from a little old Vietnamese lady selling them on the footpath in Sydney's Cabramatta. They were the best I'd ever tasted!
'Remember how we had to do square dancing in school?,' Peter and l laughed as we asked the same question of each other at exactly the same moment! We were watching a program featuring actress Caroline Quentin visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in the South West of Scotland. She was learning to dance the Scottish Cèilidh or Kaley and, although it looked like great fun, it reminded both of us how much we had disliked the dancing classes when we were still in school.
Stirring a pot of simmering passionfruit butter stirs up memories... I am reminded of poems, preserves, summers past and a robust flowering passionfruit vine that crept vigorously along the fence in my sister's back garden.
Regular readers of Good Things may already know of journalist and writer, Hilary Burden. Hilary is the author of A Story of Seven Summers - Life in the Nuns' House, a delicious memoir with recipes that captures Hilary's return to Australia from London and her discovery of a ramshackle old place in Tasmania that she would be delighted to call home.
Hilary shares a similar food philosophy to my own in that she relishes the produce that every new season brings and is a keen supporter of growers and farmer's markets; but she also says that for her an appreciation of food is not about being a cook, a chef or a foodie. It's more about having an appreciation for where things come from and knowing what makes something truly itself.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome Hilary as a Good Things guest blogger and I'd also like to thank my Peter for compiling this post for me as I recover from a bout of illness. I hope to be fit and well very soon. And now, over to Hilary...
'Looking back over seven summers, I know that who I am is where I am. It might not be the secret to life, but it is the secret to this life... I'll tell how you that came to be and that will be the story of the Nuns' House.'
Allow me please to introduce my friend, fellow cook and food blogger, Kyrstie Barcak a.k.a. A Fresh Legacy. Kyrstie's blog is about what she and her partner, Mr Fresh, grow in the garden, what they cook with their delicious home grown produce and the simple pleasures they enjoy and share with their friends.
Kyrstie and I share the same food philosophies in that she also loves to explore her region and support local farmers and producers, and spread the word via Twitter and our web sites. Kyrstie cooks as much as she can from scratch and buys only a small number of items from the supermarket. So, let's take a stroll around the vegetable garden with Kyrstie and learn how her garden grows.
Every season presents us with a fresh opportunity to celebrate delicious fruit. Just think stone fruits and berries in summer; apples, oranges and lemons in winter; tamarillos and blood oranges in spring; and pears and figs in autumn.
Autumn is one of the loveliest seasons in Canberra and I recently made a pact with myself that I must get away from my desk at lunchtime to savour some fresh air and sunshine. Last week, I took the opportunity to walk to Acton, an old part of Canberra just 15 minutes from the office where I work. It's the area where my family lived around the time that I was born and I was delighted to discover that the little 'buggy shed' we once called home has recently been renovated. More on that in an upcoming post.
There's a fig tree on that old property and I couldn't help but forage for ripe fruit, especially seeing nectar-hungry wrens flitting back and forth from the tree, and also knowing that our landlady in the 1960s had 'banned' my siblings and I from touching her figs. Forbidden fruit is somehow always sweeter, isn't it!
The sight of figs en masse is enough to make some folk go weak at the knees (myself included), so when my Twitter friend, Eucale Stanes, a dietitian, fellow cook, fresh produce fancier and gardener, invited me to collect some figs from the tree in her back garden, I was only too happy to barter with some of my home grown bok choy and tarragon. We had a good chat about gardening and cooking, and I know that Eucale enjoyed cooking with my tarragon as much I enjoyed preserving her beautiful little figs. We're catching up again in a day or two for another swap and I'm really looking forward to it! Eucale, this recipe is for you.
Join me as I share with you recipes for all seasons, postcards and morsels from my travels, conversations with cookery writers
and chefs, and news on food and cooking.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.