Monday, 27 May 2013

crab apple paste

this year my crab apple tree (malus gorgeous) produced its largest yet crop of crabs and, because they looked so pretty on the tree, i was tempted to leave them on the tree well into the winter months..i did that last year though and many dropped to the ground and rotted so by the time i noticed there were only a few left..

in the past i've always used the fruit to make crab apple jelly but this year i didn't really want to make any more jelly..that's because i'd made a few, albeit small, quantities of different jellies in late summer with various mixes of blackberries, elderberries, apples and plums..having made quince paste a few days earlier the idea of using the crabs to make crab apple paste was just a natural progression..

crab apple paste
tea with hazel


crab apples (mine weighed 1500 gms)


~ remove the crab apple stalks and wash well
~ place in a shallow baking tray with a couple of tablespoons of water, cover with foil, and bake at 160 deg c for an hour or until soft
~ puree the fruit in a mouli
~ measure the pulp and place in a large saucepan
~ for every cup of pulp add 3/4 cup of sugar and the juice of 1/2 a small lemon
~ place the saucepan over a diffuser and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved then increase heat and cook stirring regularly until thick and the spoon leaves a trail on the bottom of the saucepan 
~ spoon the paste into a baking paper lined tin and leave to set for 24 hours
~ cut into squares and store in an airtight container or wrap pieces in baking paper strips and place in cellophane bags


~ i like quite a tangy paste but for a sweeter palate increase sugar to 1 cup per cup of pulp
~ the quantity of fruit i had made 16 generous pieces of crab apple paste which cost, excluding the cost of gas and electricity, about $0.03/piece


i wasn't sure how the crab apple paste would turn out but it has a lovely colour and, even though i've only tasted a small piece, a delightfully tangy crab apple flavour..i plan on doing a cheese board with bread as part of dinner for my children tomorrow night so it'll be interesting to see how it's received by them..

Friday, 24 May 2013

quince paste

my neighbour checked with me a while back to find out if i wanted her quince crop once they were ripe..last week they were looking yellow enough so we duly picked them..unfortunately some were rotting quite badly at the stem end and most were riddled with codling maggot tracts but to my neighbour's surprise i was undeterred..i put them in a bowl to enjoy the scent permeating my house for a few days while i decided what i'd do with the end i chose to make quince paste..i was keen to try making it again since the first and last time i made it was decades ago and i vaguely remember it not being a great success..

carefully arranged so the rotten bits are hidden from view

i made this loaf (with linseeds, chia and sesame seeds), yesterday
 especially to have with the quince paste

quince paste, la luna holy goat cheese and home made bread
straight from the oven

quince paste
tea with hazel


organic quinces 
lemon juice


~ cut and core quinces leaving skin on and removing all bruised, rotting and codling maggot infested flesh and place pieces in acidulated water
~ drain water and place quince pieces in a shallow baking tray, cover with foil, and bake at 190 deg c for 1 1/2 hours or until tender
~ put the pieces through a mouli
~ measure the resulting pulp and place in a large saucepan
~ for every cup of puree add 3/4 cup of sugar and the juice of 1/2 small lemon to the pan
~ heat the pan slowly until the sugar has melted and then increase heat to medium
~ stir regularly until the mixture is deep amber and the spoon leaves a trail at the bottom of the saucepan
~ spoon the paste into a shallow baking paper lined tray and put aside for 24 hours to set
~ cut into pieces and store in an airtight container or wrap in baking paper strips and store in cellophane bags


~ i baked my quince pieces rather than boiling them as is usually done on the premise that the added water needed for boiling would extend the paste cooking time
~ i used a diffuser under the saucepan to prevent scorching and so that i didn't have to stir the pot quite
as often
~ cooking time varies considerably but my quince paste took about 1 1/2 can take 4 hours or so
~ for a sweeter product add a cup of sugar to each cup of puree
~ the few quinces i had made 24 pieces of paste and, not including the gas and electricity, cost $0.03c/piece

next time i see my former neighbours (who planted the quince tree
about 3 years ago) i will give them some quince paste from 'their' tree


i'm so glad i had another attempt at making quince paste because it was such a satisfying experience..i loved the smell permeating my kitchen as i watched the magical process as the paste slowly changed colour from pale creamy yellow/brown to red amber..and i was so happy that it worked out well and that it tastes great..not too sweet with a bit of a it's almost hard to imagine that the paste was made from rotting and codling maggot tract ridden fruit..

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

threads that bind

when i was living in a little cottage in sussex in england with two friends i taught myself to sew paper pieced patchwork using recycled fabric..looking back i think i was inspired to start one because of all the second hand clothing we were given by members of the school community where one of my friends taught..

i ended up piecing a single bed sized quilt top which subsequently travelled with me to athens greece when i moved there where it became my bed cover..when my husband and i moved to the north of greece i used it to cover a camp stretcher that served as seating in our 'studio' and, before we left greece for australia, i gave it to a greek friend who loved it..

i tried piecing the american way many years ago but it didn't resonate with me at all so i went back to the slower english paper pieced's time consuming and certainly not for everyone but i find the processes soothing and very satisfying..nowadays i use both recycled and new fabric to make my quilts but recycled material has a special place in my heart..

in the last few years i've been really lucky to have had two friends and one of my daughters interested in learning how to make quilts using the paper pieced friend, robyn, and i spent a day a week together for about a year while she made a quilt inspired by a trip to provence and i continue to have irregular sewing days with my other friend chloe (my son's ex girlfriend) and my daughter katerina..yesterday chloe came over and we worked on our quilts until quite late in the evening..we chatted as we worked by the cosy open fire drinking cups of tea and eating toasted sandwiches and freshly baked daughter sometimes comes to my place to sew but recently i went to her new house to sew and bask in the sunshine in her dining room..the connections made during these times are special and i treasure each and every moment..

 chloe quilting

it's close to being finished

katerina piecing

kat is still in the process of piecing her large hexagon quilt using fabric
collected by her grandmother  

Monday, 20 May 2013


last spring i bought a lovage plant, popped it into my herb garden, and then ignored it apart from watering it in the really hot weather..yesterday i picked some and tentatively added it to a soup and the resulting flavour provoked me to find out about this herb and write this post..

lovage is believed to have originated from south western asia and the's an herbaceous perennial that grows hollow celery like stems to over six feet from a basal rosette of leaves..the flavour of the leaves is intriguing and i find it hard to describe but for me there are hints of celery and cardamon..

lovage (levisticum officinale) has a long history of having been used medicinally in medieval and roman times and in ancient greece, with, according to culpeper, the powdered root being used to treat gastric and intestinal problems and to promote diuresis and menses..the alternative name of 'lover's parsley' suggests that perhaps it was also purported to have aphrodisiac qualities..

the whole plant can be used for culinary purposes..the roots can be grated and eaten raw in a salad, cooked or grated and dried and used to make a tea..whole or ground seeds may be added to sweets, breads, cakes and biscuits, cordial, pickles and savoury dishes.. the finely chopped leaves can be added to a salad and the fibrous stems can also be eaten if they are first blanched or, like angelica, they can be candied ..

barley, lovage and lemon soup
tea with hazel


3/4 cup pearl barley cleaned of grit and rinsed
1 large onion cut medium
2 cloves garlic cut fine
4 medium carrots cut medium
4 small potatoes cut medium
1 celery stalk (i used several small home grown stalks) cut fine
1 cup peas
2-3 cups mixed greens (i used stinging nettle, rocket, dandelion leaves, celery and lovage leaves and a few small yellow stalked rainbow chard leaves)
1 litre stock
pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
lemon rind and juice


~ saute the onion, celery and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent
~ add the barley, chilli flakes, salt and pepper to taste and stock and water to cover well and boil for 30 minutes or until the barley is soft
~ add carrot and potato and when nearly done add the peas and the dandelion, celery, lovage and rainbow chard leaves and cook for a couple of minutes
~ just before serving add the stinging nettle and rocket leaves, stir, and turn off heat

to serve

garnish each bowl with the zest and juice of half a small lemon or to taste

sweet potato and quark bread
tea with hazel


400 gms white bread flour
100 gms wholemeal flour
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup quark (i used schulz organic quark from timboon)
unsalted potato water (from boiling potatoes)
2 teaspoons (tsp) honey (i used peppermint honey)
1 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (i used crushed murray river salt)


 ~ mix flours, sweet potato, quark, honey and yeast with enough potato water to make a shaggy dough and autolyse for 30 minutes
~ add salt, mix briefly, rest 10 minutes and then mix again
~ remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with greased cling film and leave until doubled
~ remove the dough onto a lightly floured bench and knead lightly and rest 15 minutes
~ repeat the knead/rest cycle once more
~ shape the bread and leave to prove
~ score the dough and bake with steam at 250 deg c for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 200 deg c and cook for a further 25 minutes or until cooked


~after reading a bit more about lovage i've realised that i need to move my plant so that it has more growing space..

~ i bought a 500 gm packet of barley and 500 gms split green peas yesterday on special at the supermarket for $2..not each..both! ..i hadn't made soup with barley for years but it added such a lovely gloss (see the photo above) and richness to the soup that it's going to be having a renaissance in my kitchen..and not just in soup..i want to try using it in other ways too such as in salads or as a rice substitute..the addition of lemon was a welcome complement to the richness of the barley and the aromatic flavour of the lovage in the soup..without it the balance was just not right..

~ the bread was a bit of a surprise because at the same time as being moist it was also was very light..

Friday, 10 May 2013

cardamon, currant and candied orange peel loaf

after making cupcakes with cardamon, currants and candied orange peel the other day i thought a loaf of bread might work with these flavours..and i think it did..

cardamon, currant and candied orange peel loaf
tea with hazel


200 gms bread making flour
50 gms wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon (tbs) full cream milk powder
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) yeast
2 tbs sourdough starter
1/2 cup currants mixed with 1-2 tbs water, left to soak, mixing occasionally and drained before use 
finely diced candied peel of one small organic orange (see here for recipe)
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp powdered cardamon
3/4 tbs salt (i use crushed murray river salt flakes)
cold water
1 tbs castor sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp powdered cardamon


~ mix flours, milk powder, yeast, olive oil, cardamon and starter with enough cold water to make a shaggy dough
~ autolyse for 30 minutes, add salt and mix briefly, rest for 15 minutes and mix briefly again
~ cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave until doubled
~ remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly dusted bench and gently knead in the currants and peel
~ rest for 15 minutes, knead again gently, rest for 15 minutes
~ shape dough into a square the length of the tin and roll up pressing seams together
~ place in an olive oil greased tin and leave covered until well risen
~ bake at 220 deg c (bread baking function) for 20 minutes with steam, reduce heat to 180 deg c, cover the dough with foil, and bake for a further 20 minutes or until cooked
~ once cooked remove the foil and lightly spray the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle generously with the sugar and cardamon mix
~ with the heat off place the tin back in the oven for 2-3 minutes
~ remove loaf from the tin onto a cooling rack 

while still warm

the crumb once cooled 

this post submitted to yeastspotting

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


i was at the hairdresser's last week having my hair cut as you do when you go to a hairdresser and as usual we started know the sort of thing..

h: 'how are you?'
j: 'yeah, i'm good'
h: 'i'm good you keep busy?'
j: 'i won't live long enough to do everything i want to do'
h: 'what sort of things do you like doing?'
j: 'well..i've got a blog'
h: 'what did you say?'
j: 'i've got a blog'
h: 'oh..i thought that's what you said but i wasn't sure if i'd heard wrong..most people don't know what a blog is..what do you write about?'

i told him that i mainly write about recipes that i create and that occasionally i write about other things  and i gave him the example of a food waste post i did a while back about which i elaborated a little..when i mentioned that i was on facebook too he asked if i used it to stay in touch with people..i told him that i tended to use it more to stay informed about social and political issues through the abc, radio national, national geographic and so on..i also told him that i follow a couple of graffiti and street art sites because i have a strong interest in the way it's used by some as a platform for social and political expression..

his surprise at my involvement with social media was palpable..what i didn't mention were all the other things i do such as bushwalking, mowing my lawn with a hand mower, chopping wood, growing most of my own vegetables, making all of my bread, yoghurt, jams, cold pressed soap and greeting cards, renovating a house on my own (stripping wallpaper, sanding, painting, chipping off tiles etcetera), sewing, cooking, restoring furniture and so on..and by the way i didn't mention that just a day or so earlier i'd moved 3/4 ton of split red gum firewood from my driveway and stacked it in my shed..

i've had a few days to think about the interaction i had with him and why i feel as if i've made a significant the not too distant past i would not have talked about myself like i did after being asked 'do you keep busy?' i know i would have felt uncomfortable with the question but at the time i would not have been able to identify what the discomfort was telling me..after considerable rumination i might have eventually realised but that would have only made me feel responding the way i did i've realised that i stood up for myself rather than allowing myself to be patronised with an ageist question..a question that i doubt he would have asked a younger client..


Friday, 3 May 2013

a pie and a cupcake

i didn't grow up eating egg and bacon fact i didn't even know it existed until i had it at a friend's many years ago but it was love at first bite and my affection for it hasn't waned after all these years.. i don't make it often though because pastry is so artery unfriendly and that's a bit of a problem for me because i just love making pastry..i'll use any excuse to get the rolling pin out and a friend coming for lunch was a good enough reason to make my version of this classic dish..i served it hot with a good quality tomato chutney (maggie beer) and a home grown green leaf (dandelion, rocket, oak leaf lettuce, watercress and nasturtium) salad with edible flowers (marigold, nasturtium, violet and dianthus) and a fresh pomegranate juice dressing..and i made cardamon, currant and candied orange peel cupcakes to have with our bottomless pot of tea..

egg and bacon pie
tea with hazel


150 gms diced cold unsalted butter
300 gms plain flour
iced water with a squeeze of lemon juice
1 cup of grated cheddar (i used a cloth bound english cheddar)
1 teaspoon (tsp) chilli flakes
1 tsp salt (i use murray river salt)
12 eggs
6-8 rashers bacon cut into 2-3 cm pieces lightly cooked and drained on kitchen paper
1/4 cup of chives cut fine
1/4 cup parsley cut fine
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper

method pastry

~ place flour in the bowl of a food processor, add salt and butter, and process until the butter resembles fine bread crumbs
~ add half of the cheese and slowly add water, while using the pulse function, until the dough starts to form a ball
~ remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently
~ divide the dough into a third and two third pieces and shape in flat rounds
~ wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour

assembling the pie

~ roll the larger piece of pastry to fit the bottom and sides of a 30 cm diameter pie dish trimming the pastry to the top edge of the dish and then refrigerate while rolling out the remaining pastry to fit the top of the pie
~ sprinkle the base of the pastry with the remaining cheese, add half of the bacon, add eggs and chives, parsley, salt and pepper and then remaining bacon
~ moisten the edge of the pastry with the milk and add the pastry top turning the bottom pastry over the top to form a seal
~ roll out scraps and cut out a rooster
~ brush the top of the pie with milk and place the rooster in the centre
~ carefully pierce the top with the point of a knife a few times avoiding the egg yolks
~ bake at 210 deg c for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 180 deg c and cook until the pie is well browned

cardamon, currant and candied orange peel cupcakes
tea with hazel


155 gms unsalted butter
2 tablespoons muscovado sugar together with enough castor sugar to make 2/3 cup in total 
1 1/2 cups self raising flour sifted
2 eggs
1/2 cup currants
3 teaspoons (tsp) finely diced candied orange peel (see recipe here)
2 1/2 tsp powdered cardamon 
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt
1 tsp cardamon mixed with 2 tbs castor sugar


~ cream butter, sugars and salt until pale 
~ add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions
~ gently fold in flour, peel, currants, essence and cardamon
~ divide between 10-12 cupcake cases and sift the tops with the cardamon/castor sugar mix
~ cook at 195 deg c for 15-20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer