It's baking day and as I open the oven door, the heady aroma of freshly baked bread brings me to reflect on the summer of '94 spent with my family at Budaörs on the outskirts of Budapest.
Oh, how I love this time of the year! Here we are zooming through January, and I know that many of you are still catching your breath after the festive season. Yet there is still cause for celebration. Australia Day falls on January 26, and this is followed by the beginning of the apple harvest in our local orchards.
'I’m probably the laziest cookbook writer going around, in that I just put the food I eat normally into my cookbooks, and cook from them as well,' says former lawyer, Adam Liaw. The popular television presenter, bestselling cookbook author, MasterChef Australia winner, Wall Street Journal columnist, and UNICEF Australia's National Ambassador for Nutrition has remained ever so humble despite his huge success. To my mind, it's that quality, as well as his inspired cooking, that makes him so very likeable!
One of the things I love best about cooking from scratch is that the most amazingly-delicious meals can be created from a few simple ingredients. I give you this silken tofu with chilli, coriander and sesame dressing as an example.
For the longest time, the printed version of Celia's recipe for chestnut fudge brownies has been at the top of the stack in my 'must cook' folder. I've simply been waiting to get my hands on some chestnut flour.
The festive feasting is officially finished at The Blue House. We've eaten our way through the Christmas ham, puddings, brandy custard and one or two boxes of panettone (!). Light and luscious foods now head up the agenda, along with daily cycling, swimming and post-dinner power walks.
'So many recipes, so little time' are words that spring to mind every time I browse the many wonderful cookery blogs and recipes pages on the web. For this long time collector of recipes, bookmarking a web site for later somehow doesn't promise that delicious sense of anticipation that comes from flagging the pages of a cookbook with coloured tabs, or indeed tearing a page from a magazine, with a firm plan to try your hand at making the dish yourself.
Looking back on my life to this point, I can say that I feel truly blessed. While there have been some hurdles along the way (and some of 'em were biggies), I am privileged to have come so far from humble beginnings, to have found my niche as a cook and food writer, and to have had some amazing culinary experiences over the years.
I think I may have given one of my neighbours and the driver of our rubbish collection service a chuckle today. Both happened to come along the back service lane just as I popped outside to the kitchen garden to pluck some fresh zucchini flowers in the cool light of the early morning. If the sight of a half-asleep woman, scissors in hand and wearing a slinky Peter Alexander robe, didn't make them smile, the happy dance I did when I found several fiori di zucca ready to pick certainly must have.
Drum roll and round of applause, if you will please for our artisan, hand made Camembert-style cheese, just one of the many seriously good things Peter and I learned to make at the fabulous cheese making workshop we were invited to attend in mid November. 'It looks real' commented a couple of friends via social media. Well, that's because it IS real. Another friend asked about the process involved and, after I'd explained it to her, she said that she now had a much greater appreciation for this kind of cheese. I'm looking forward to making some more!