Throughout autumn months, stalls at local greengrocers and farmer's markets are brimming with produce from the earth, orchard and forest. Think good things like truffles and mushrooms; squash and pumpkins; apples, quinces and pears; and walnuts and chestnuts.
The 1970s are long gone, which means that entertaining a group of friends no longer means slaving in the kitchen over a hot stove for hours (if not days) before the event. I'm mentioning this because, no doubt, there are those who are already in a flap about 'the big day' that's so quickly approaching. Yes, you know what I'm talking about. I can see you nodding!
Still on the subject of great produce from the NSW Southern Highlands, I'm sharing my recipe for this rib-sticker of a soup, created last week using a smoked pork hock from the good folks at Maugers Premium Quality Meats in Burrawang and Moss Vale.
'Is it really still summery in your neck of the woods,' I asked of a dear friend who now lives up north. 'Yep,' she replied. 'We're expecting blue skies and a balmy 28 degrees C today.'
Her response had me swooning, particularly as I had woken up to a brisk Canberra morning, heavy with thick fog and grey skies.
With the party season in full swing, please allow me to tempt you with an intriguing offering that's bound to surprise those taste buds and please palates as well. A combination of my zingy and refreshing gazpacho, with Heston Blumenthal's wonderful wholegrain mustard ice cream.
Once a delicacy reserved for royalty and rulers, asparagus was bestowed the title "King of Vegetables" by the ancient Egyptians. According to The World Encyclopedia of Vegetables, the ancient Greeks enjoyed wild asparagus, but it was not until the Roman period that it was cultivated. It's said that Julius Caesar best enjoyed his asparagus dishes with melted butter. Simple and delicious.
'What sort of soup are you making this afternoon, mum?' my grown up son asked. 'Leek and potato,' I responded. 'Oh yum, you make a really good one of those,' he exclaimed, making me smile. I could almost hear him smacking his lips together over the mouthpiece.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved wonton soup. If I close my eyes and wrinkle my nose in deep concentration, I think I can recall the first time I tasted it, sometime in the late 1960s, about the same era that I tasted my first ever 'potato scallop'. But that's another story.
Don't throw the pa-ast away
'A person who is eating has neither greed nor anger,' goes a zen saying. The partaking of food promotes a harmony within ourselves, as well as with nature and those with whom we share our meal. From the small harmony of a meal at a day's end grows the larger harmony of the family, the community, and all that surrounds. Dinner is served. The whole world is seated.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes, postcards and morsels from my adventures, 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.