Friday, November 25, 2016

Friends and apricot mania

When I sit down and look at the photos that I have taken over the last few weeks it reminds me that life is full of fleeting moments, travelling, planning, routines, dreams, meals, expectations, mess, noise, conversations and occasionally, quiet understanding.  All of these things have intertwined to make up the colour and rhythm of our life lately. 

We have had some horse riding adventures with a like-minded horse crew.

Horse riding adventures often lead to fossicking adventures.  Abandoned woolsheds always deliver when it comes to light, texture and a good dose of nostalgia.

There is nothing better than locally grown fruit, particularly when you are saving fruit that would otherwise be wasted.  Last Sunday afternoon we met up with our little food loving community and filled our buckets and crates and cars with apricots and nectarines. 

At the end of it all we shared a cold beer, a chat and some delicious cake served on the back of a ute.  More Sundays should be spent like this.

Subsequently my kitchen and cool room are now over flowing with apricots which has led me to plenty of apricot related baking.  I started with easy apricot slice, which is more like a cake. (recipe below) 

Soft sourdough buns with chunks of apricot hiding in the middle.

Wood oven dried apricots.

Now I am thinking about homemade apricot liqueur for Christmas presents and since the theme of the day is apricots, I thought I would share a recipe. 

Apricot slice/cake
225g plain flour
¾ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
180g butter, softened
8-10 apricots, halved (depending on size)

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a 30cm x 20cm slice tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Place eggs, milk and vanilla in another bowl and mix to combine.  Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry ingredients, add the butter and beat by hand or with electric beaters until smooth.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared tin.  Push apricot halves into the mixture, arranging in rows.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons extra sugar, then return to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Are you noticing the colour and rhythms of life at the moment?

Are you baking or harvesting or snooping in old sheds? 

Happy Friday friends. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Making, growing, sharing and balancing

As life races towards the end of the year and the calendar starts to fill with school events, social events and farm commitments I have been trying hard to prioritise and make time for the small things.  This can take effort and also means politely declining to some invitations and events in order to keep some sanity in the house. 

For me, sanity comes in the form of cooking and trying new recipes like these steamed bao buns which I stuffed with slow cooked pork shanks, shredded carrot and chilli sauce.  For anyone who likes to experiment with bread, these soft buns were very simple to make. Next time I will use roast duck as a filling. 

Calmness can always be found in the garden but often I rush through it turning hoses and irrigation on and off while heading to the clothesline.  Sometimes it is nice to stop and notice the light and these spectacular alliums that are almost ready to flower.

In the garden there are also tiny zucchinis.

And an apricot tree that is absolutely loaded with the promise of summer jam making and preserving.

Spending time with the horses is always time well spent.  Like all animals they can have their challenges but in many ways they force us to slow down and pay more attention to our levels of patience and acceptance.

Last time I hit the second hand shops I scored three stools which originally came from a local high school science laboratory, for $10 each.  They are sturdy and perfect for our shed where people tend to congregate in the afternoons.

Zara and I recently caught up for a chat about renovations, babies, chooks, bees and artichokes.  Whenever we catch up we usually exchange small gifts, just because we both appreciate the same things.  I gifted Zara a well-worn copy of The Magic Pudding for a special little place on the bookshelf. 

In return Zara gave me a robust looking jar of kombucha.  Now I have some research and experimenting to do!

I have made some time recently for this podcast.  The behind the scenes world of the food industry is endlessly fascinating for me.  If you are interested in real, seasonal food and community you will love the interview with Alex Elliot-Howery from Cornersmith

Are you rushing to every school and social event on the calendar?

Are you doing some polite declining?

I hope you are finding some balance.  Enjoy your Sunday, friends.