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Weekend Coffee Share 29th May, 2017.

Welcome to Another Monday Afternoon Coffee Share in Australia.

This week, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you popped round for a visit. That’s because I’ve not only been to visit the Koi Dessert Bar of Masterchef fame, I’ve also made Pumpkin Soup. For me, there’s only one way to make Pumpkin Soup and it has nothing to do with tins. Indeed, tins are heresy.

So, would you like tea, coffee, juice or water and I’ll let you help yourself to a choice of soup or sweets.

How was your week?

Our week had more than the usual ups and downs.

On the upside, I caught the train down to Sydney for a medical appointment and had the afternoon to myself walking around Central Station, through Chippendale and into Surry Hills and Paddington. This area is characterised by 19th Century terrace houses and even though much of it has been renovated and gentrified, there’s still that element of grunge and even though the real estate there is very pricey, the terraces still only have a yard the size of a folded handkerchief. Every time, I go to Surry Hills, there’s something different and this trip, I focused on the striking Autumn leaves, which looked so poised against a deep blue sky.

I arrived back home with the excitement of a few desserts for the family to try. However, that excitement was broken by news that the son of a family friend had died suddenly, leaving behind his wife and three little kids…not to mention his parents who have been friends of my Mum’s since forever. This guy was a year younger than me and being a boy, I never played with him growing up, but he was around. His parents were around a lot. Naturally, that felt like a brick just hit me in the head and I reiterate previous questions about why bad things happen to good people, even though even I’ve reached an uneasy truce with this imponderable conundrum.

Friday afternoon, I rang my 11 year old daughter to tell her that I was stuck in a queue at the supermarket. I was meeting her only metres away and all she needed to do, was turn around to see me. However, she was sobbing when she answered the phone. She’d walked into a pole. Broken her glasses. Cut herself and was at the Medical Centre. This wasn’t the medical centre we usually go to either so she was in a very unfamiliar environment with people she didn’t know, and she can be very shy. Fortunately, the staff were exceptionally kind and another Mum had found her and taken her in. So far so good, except once I appeared, stitching up the cut needed to be addressed. Either they could do it there with only a local anesthetic or she could have it done at the local hospital where they could give her gas. That was a 30 min drive away and a hassle. Fortunately, she was brave and had it done there. Well, neither of us was feeling very brave, but we survived and I took her for an ice cream afterwards. Saturday morning, her eye was so puffed up, that it barely opened. However, she was of to dancing and is on the mend.

I had a huge nap yesterday to de-stress wrapped up in my doona with the electric blanket on.

Well, I’m runnning out of time to post this. So, I’ll head off now.

Hope you’ve had a great week.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share.

xx Rowena

 

 

Masterchef: Julie Goodwin’s, Essential Cookbook.

As I’ve mentioned often enough, Julie Goodwin, Australia’s 1st Masterchef, made a surprise visit to our home on Monday to drop off a meal and a copy of her latest cookbook, Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook.

So, I thought you might like to join me as I flick through the cookbook and choose something to cook. After all, she didn’t just give it to me  to be nice. Or, to be framed and sent “straight to the pool room”. It was to be used.

Used and even abused.

Indeed, Julie gave me carte blanche to all but destroy the book during the cooking process. Apparently, she loves to see a well-used book,which could well have sampled a few meals itself. For better or worse, my personal cooking style was inspired by the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show back in the 80s. So, this poor book could well be in for a smorgasbord of splattered delight…

Although Julie needs little introduction here in Australia, I thought I’d better introduce her to those further afield.

Julie Goodwin is many things.Every morning when I listen to Julie on the radio, I’m struck by her infectious laugh which jolts me out of the morning’s challenges. Julie has a real depth and sincerity, and I know I’ve only glimpsed the edges of that. Right from her first appearances on Masterchef, she’s worn her heart on her sleeve. Her love of her family and being their Mum, radiate from her heart. You can tell how much she loves and cares for people, and that cooking and food is all part of that. There is no divide. So many of us who cook for our families, feel the same. That there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal. It’s infused with love.

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So when Julie gave me her cookbook, she was also sharing the joy of cooking and sitting around a table laden with scrumptious offerings laughing and chatting with family and friends. Cooking and eating great meals, are joys to be shared, and not to be kept to yourself…top secret.

In her introduction, Julie explains why she put this cookbook together:

“The point I find myself at at the moment is as the parent of three boys who are new adults. They are all still at home right now but I guess the clock is ticking, and although I have taught them what cooking knowledge I could over the years I feel an almost desperate need to get all the important recipes, information and tips together so that when they go, they’re set.

That’s what this book is for. It’s a collection of everything I think is important to know in order to be able to nourish yourself and the people you love; it’s the recipes that bring back childhood memories for myself and my kids;it’s the little bits of kitchen wisdom that have been handed down through generations, or passed on from friends, or discovered by accident or through trial and error. It’s the book I want my books to have when they have families of their own.”

My Mother-in-law did the same thing for Geoff when he moved out of home and we still have a much treasured cookbook she put together for him in an exercise book. I also have detailed recipes my grandmother sent my Mum. One even included a snippet about the birth of a friend’s baby. I have cooked with my own kids both as a bonding experience and to teach them practical life skills. It actually takes quite a lot of smarts to put together a great meal.

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So, after enjoying  Julie’s Butter Chicken on Monday night (thank you Julie!!), I decided to cook something from her cookbook on Tuesday night.

Something…

With 300 pages of recipes to choose from and possibly two recipes per page, I was bamboozled by choice.

Where to start?

Of course, my sweet tooth went straight to Baking and Desserts. I’m already making plans to bake her Flourless Chocolate Cake on page 250. Actually, I just spotted a recipe for Chocolate Fondant on page 287. I’ve been wanting to try making one of those for years, along with tiramisu, but have never had the guts. Not because I can’t cook. Rather, it’s the paralyzing perfectionist in me. That stupid fear of making a mistake, which stops me from lifting my wooden spoon. Indeed, I use it to beat myself up instead.

Well, it doesn’t stop me entirely. I obviously have to feed the family and every year when Masterchef starts up, my home cooking goes up a zillion notches. The other day, for example, I made pan fried perch with lemon and raspberry, a dash of honey and sprinkled with macadamia nuts…just something I threw together.

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Hasselback Potato.

So, rather than being ambitious, I started with something simple…Hasselback Potatoes on page 192. Actually, with my fine motor challenges, these potatoes, which have horizontal slices 2 mm apart, could’ve been more challenging than the fondant. However, aside from chopping off a few pieces, all went well. I poured the mix of melted butter and oil over the potatoes and threw them in the oven. They emerged with a scrumptious crunchy crust, but soft in the middle.

Wow! Those potatoes were so good. We ate them as finger food like a row of scalloped, potato chips.

Indeed, we loved them so much, I swapped them for our usual roast potatoes. I’m doing a roast lamb tonight. Sorry, Julie, I went AWOL on the roast and did my own thing.

By the way, if you haven’t seen the footage of Julie and Rabbit’s visit to our place, you can see it here: Rabbit & Julie Goodwin Visit Rowena

If you would like to try some of Julie’s recipes or purchase her cookbook, please visit her web site: Julie Goodwin

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to MY big day tomorrow and arrival of the fairies during the night.

xx Rowena

PS I thought you all might also want to check out Rabbit’s new cookbook as well in these very entertaining clips. As much as I love Rabbit and did pass on one of my own recipes, I am concerned he’s trying a bit too hard: Rabbit Tells Julie about his cookbook on air and Rabbit & Julie:The Battle of the Cookbook Signings

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 17th April 2017 – #BloggersBash Nominations, Beyond the Flow, Meg Dowell and Kim Gosselin

Hey. I’ve been nominated for the Annual Bloggers Bash. Thanks to Sally Cronin over at Smorgasbord Blogger Daily.
xx Rowena

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Welcome to the first of the daily blog promotions and today it is a red letter day as the nominations for the #BloggerBash are open.. An opportunity to nominate your favourite blog for one of several categories. You will find out all you need at Sacha Black’s post today and please note that you need to read the instructions first so that your nomination is accepted.  I have not been able to go to the Bash before but this year I promised that I would make it. I have my ticket, booked my flight and my hotel and I am hitting the treadmill daily to make sure I am fit for the shenanigans.. Looking forward to meeting so many friends face to face.

The Bloggers Bash is now less than 2 months away, which means the ABBAs (Annual Bloggers Bash Awards) are back! Every year, we run a set of…

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The Rise & Fall of Reverend Bert – Friday Fictioneers.

“Persistence might be a virtue, Reverend,” the doctor pontificated. “But NOT when you’re riding that contraption around town saving souls with a crook appendix! The great unsaved can wait!”

“We’re getting you walking today. The nurses will assist.”

“I can walk on my own two feet, thank you,” the Reverend replied, jumping out of bed and crashing to the floor, unsupported by his jelly legs.

“Let me help you up, Father” she beamed.

It was the first time he’d seen the pretty nurse.

“Oh no! I’m not a priest,” he replied, smitten. “It’s okay.  We’re allowed to get married.”

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This PHOTO PROMPT © Jellico’s Stationhouse

 

A – Ashgrove Farm, Tasmania.

Quite frankly, you’ve got rocks in your head if you can’t find happiness at Ashgrove Farm.

Indeed, even the cows there, are said to be the “happiest cows on earth”.

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An uber-happy Cow.

Don’t ask me how they’ve worked that out. As far as I knew, cows weren’t that good at filling out market research questionnaires, but what would I know?  I’m from the Mainland. It could well be, that after eating all that supergrass, these Ashgrove cows have developed magic superpowers,  and they’re not just smiling for the cameras anymore.

I wouldn’t know. As I said, I’m from the Mainland.

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My daughter tasting the Cheese.

So, even if you don’t eat cheese, it sounds like you might enjoy the grass and you could even  add it to your salad, if you’re that way inclined.

Now, perhaps you’re a bit sceptical about these happy cows,  and your thoughts might be drifting towards a different kind of grass. However,  if you were living in Tasmania with a year-round supply of lush green grass, you’d agree that it sure beats munching of dry chaff out on the desert fringe.

As you might be aware, we spent three week getting around Tasmania in January, showing the kids “where Daddy comes from”.  The founders of Ashgrove Farm are my Father-in-Law’s cousins, but quite aside from the family connections, Ashgrove Cheese became our home away from home as we continuously restocked our cheese supplies and even loaded up the Esky for coming home. I’ve become passionately addicted to their Lavender Cheese, which is only available on the Mainland via mail order so I had to stock up. My other favourites include the Wasabi Cheese which I was adding to everything except my Weetbix when we arrived home, and a Bacon-flavoured Havarti Cheese.

If I had to differentiate Ashgrove Cheese from other cheeses, I’d say they’re deliciously creamy. When this creaminess is partnered with the Lavender or Wasabi, for example, this creaminess is cut through by these flavours for a very well-rounded and balanced flavour.

I hope my very elementary attempts at food writing there make sense. Despite being a writer and something of a foodie, I find it very difficult to write about food in any detail. I’m much, much better at eating it!.

By the way, Ashgrove Farm’s store doesn’t simply stop at cheese and there’s a wide range of gourmet treats like coconut ice, fudge, salad dressing and…(drum roll)…ice cream to die for! I particularly loved the lemon ice cream which was as white as snow  with a strong lemon flavour cutting nicely through the exceptionally creamy, smooth texture.

Humph…I’m  starting to wonder whether this virtual tour of Ashgrove Farm has been such a good idea. I’m staring longingly at their web site and banging my head against the screen. Let me in! Let me in! Or, I’ll huff and I’ll puff and …I’m now start behaving more responsibly.  Cheese addiction can become life threatening if you don’t keep yourself in check.

So, on that note, let me turn it over to you. Are you doing the April A-Z Challenge? If so, please leave a link to your A post below and I’ll try to head over. I’ve got rather caught up lately and haven’t been blogging as much.

It’s been great to catch up!

Xx Rowena

Today is the first day of the A-Z April Challenge and my theme this year is Tasmania. My husband is a -5th generation Tasmanian and in January this year we spent three weeks travelling round around Tasmania, and this is my theme for the challenge this year.