In my kitchen this month are raspberries so precious and perfect in every sense that, like a shrewd little squirrel gathering acorns, I wanted to preserve as many as I possibly could for the coming winter.
There's a calendar hanging on the wall beside my desk in the office and I noticed today that it's still displaying the February page. Meanwhile, I've only just this week torn away the February sheet to reveal March on the calendar in my kitchen at home. Perhaps it's because, much like everyone else, I'm so busy these days that the weeks, months (and years!) are literally flying by. It feels as though there's very little down time and I often find myself rushing about like a lunatic, to my dismay sometimes even on Saturdays. Hence, Sundays are hugely celebrated and appreciated at our place. That's when it's quiet time for reading, cooking, gardening, cycling and simply enjoying each other's company doing the things we love. Sunday is the day that I can get into my kitchen and just potter; or sit quietly at the kitchen table reading the newspapers, watching the wrens in the courtyard as I snack on fruit bought fresh from the farmer's market the day before.
The summer just past was deliciously hot, actually the hottest Australian summer on record according to the ABC's Weather Man, who reported this week that 'a new record was also set for the number of consecutive days the average maximum daily temperature for Australia exceeded 39°C – seven days between 2 and 8 January 2013, almost doubling the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973'! In fact,
Curiously, I really enjoyed this summer because we had had so much wind and rain the two previous years, after bitterly cold winters I felt somewhat deprived of warmth. Perhaps in an endeavour to savour all that the season of summer brings, I've been preserving more produce this year than ever before. My larder is full of Aunty Lizzy's hot sauce, mango relish, and peach and passionfruit as well as strawberry jam. I bought and froze large quantities of blueberries (and will share my friend Diana's beautiful recipe for blueberry and apple crumble in coming weeks). And when I spotted these precious and perfect raspberries last weekend, I bought four punnets to stash away for winter as well.
It’s impossible to ignore the bountiful supplies of rich red tomatoes that flood our produce markets throughout summer. With their vibrant colour, appetising aroma and tasty tang, tomatoes are the trademark ingredient for refreshing salads and light summertime meals.
And when it comes to summer tomatoes, there’s much to celebrate! Without them, summer salads and salsas would be bland in colour and flavour, pasta would be positively plain, and basil would be a total bore. I think Pablo Neruda best summed it up in his Ode to Tomatoes, brilliantly praising the fruit for bringing inexhaustible sun to our salad bowls, and for granting us a festival of ardent colour and all-embracing freshness.
My kitchen has been filled with the aroma of various fruit preserves lately due to something of a cooking frenzy! If you've been reading my recent posts, you'll know that I made some jam from bargain-priced Summer strawberries bought at the farmer's market. After a weekend in Young for the Cherry Festival, I've been busy preserving cherries for Winter pies and clafoutis. And when I saw mangoes selling at two for $2.50 at one of the independent grocers in the city, I knew what I had to do. And a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?!
'Please take some, the cows are sick of eating 'em,' the stall holder said to me with a laugh, as he offered a kilogram of strawberries for just $5.00. 'Are you sure? I'm happy to pay full price,' I insisted, knowing that the good man had travelled some distance to sell his produce. He waved me away and handed over my prize, saying 'I'm sure, because you'll taste 'em, know how good they are and come back for more next week!'. With such a bargain and his genuine smile, how could I resist?!
Near the murmuring
In the grain fields, of the waves
Of wind in the oat-stalks
The olive tree
With its silver-covered mass
Severe in its lines
In its twisted
Heart in the earth:
By the hands
And the oceanic
Ode to Olive Oil / Oda al aceite
- Pablo Neruda 1904-1973
Pepe Saya's Butter Balls
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.