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Category Archives: Odds and ends

Boozy Fruit or Hoarder’s Jam


Hoarder’s Jam? I love this name and I dedicate this post to those friends and family, who are Hoarders. You know who you are…

This is not a jam – and I wonder why this delightful concoction ever got called jam! It’s boozy, fruity and a great way to preserve summer fruits. It’s less of a recipe than some simple instructions on how to combine fruit, sugar, spices and alcohol. The instructions are adapted from ‘The Women’s Weekly Made from Scratch”, a very handy source of some good recipes.

Lovely summer fruit like plums, peaches and apricots can be preserved, and the bonus is the fruity preserving alcohol is a great tipple or the basis of a champagne cocktail.


Any mixture of stone fruit to make up 6 pieces:

Plums, apricots, peaches

250 g caster sugar

1 long piece of orange rind

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

330 ml alcohol: brandy, rum or gin


Cut the plums  and apricots in halves, the peaches in quarters. Place the fruit and the sugar in china or glass bowl and leave for 1 hour.


Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to 1 litre glass jar with a strong lid. Place the orange rind and vanilla bean in the jar. Pour the alcohol into the jar. The fruit should be covered; top up with a little more alcohol to make sure all the fruit is covered. If the fruit won’t stay submerged, fill a small ziplock bag with a little water, seal and place on top of the liquid to keep the fruit under the liquid.


Make sure you note the date of preserving on the jar. Keep in a dark cool pace for a minimum of 2 weeks or up to 3 months.

You can turn the jar occasionally, or VERY gently shake the jar. This is to help the sugar dissolve. After 1 week, the colour of the liquid begins to deepen, and a lot of the sugar is dissolved, with a residue still sitting on the bottom of the jar.

After 2 weeks the liquid in the jar has turned a deep ruby colour and all the sugar is dissolved.


I opened the jar after 2 weeks and used the fruit to make my deconstructed crumble, recipe below and also here in an earlier post.

Refrigerate after opening, although I’m inclined to believe the fruit is well and truly pickled and should survive quite well for a few days in the cupboard. I’ll give you an update on that one!




100 gms plain flour
75 gms  butter at room temperature
Pinch of salt
50 gms dark brown sugar
25 gms golden syrup
50 gms rolled oats
20 gms chopped macadamias and almonds or any nuts you like


Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar into a bowl, and rub the butter into the other ingredients until the mixture forms coarse breadcrumbs.
Place mixture into the bowl of a food processor, add golden syrup, oats and chopped nuts, and pulse gently to combine.
Turn out the crumble mixture onto the lined baking tray, spread the mixture evenly and bake the crumble for 15-20 minutes, stirring once during the cooking time, until the crumble is toasted.
Remove from oven, and when cool, break up any large pieces. It’s important to have a combination of small and large crumble pieces. The crumble is ready to use, or store in an airtight container, or it also freezes well.



The Saffron Kitchen Rylestone – Hidden Gem


The quiet town of Rylestone west of the Blue Mountains in rural New South Wales has a hidden gem – a fabulous cafe/store which specializes in locally grown saffron and saffron infused products.

The Saffron Kitchen Rylestone was a real find for a group of travelers initially looking for a good coffee but delighted to find a stylish cafe which sold some lovely saffron products – Caramelised Saffron White Wine Vinegar, Saffron Dukkah, Saffron Granola, Fig and Cardamom Paste with Saffron, among others. The Saffron Dessert Syrup was amazing!IMG_4766IMG_4767

The proprietor was charming, friendly and helpful. She gave us some tastings of a range of products and told the story of the development of her saffron farm.

The Saffron Kitchen visits farmers’ markets on the weekends – for Sydney-siders, Eveleigh Markets at Carriageworks is the place to catch them. You could contact them direct to find out where they are and when:

Well worth a visit! If you are in the area you can take in the wine growing area of Mudgee, too.

Oh and the coffee was really good, as well as the treat this quirky writer indulged in – a Snickers milkshake! Delish!




The Boathouse at Palm Beach


I love visiting Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. I lived there for a few years and still have a great affinity for the area.

A sub tropical environment, the gardens and environs are lush, sometimes over grown and immensely colourful.

Below are some photos I took of The Boathouse at Palm Beach, some of which I am currently featuring in rotation as the header on this blog.

The Boathouse is a cafe located on a jetty on Pittwater at Palm Beach, a simply stunning location! Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, the food is simple, flavourful and features fresh and innovative cooking.

The Boathouse is decorated with masses of fresh produce  – fruit, flowers and vegetables. Frangipanis and mangoes, strelitizias and passionfruit, create a lush and enticing environment.

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How could one not like eating food in such a corner of Paradise?

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Versatile Blogger Award


Revolutionary Pie has kindly nominated my blog for this award.

I am a big fan of this blog (subtitled Colonial Cooking in a 21st-century kitchen) as I am interested in the history of cooking both from the insights food gives us to the past and as a social commentary on family and tradition.

Revolutionary Pie has shown me that there are some fascinating parallels between the colonial cooking experience of America which the blog details and that of Australia’s colonial history.

My nominator tells me that I need to list 7 random facts about myself!

1. The documenting of the process of cooking is as rewarding as the process itself.

2. Beauty – or taste – is in the eye of the beholder – food photography creates a context for food.

3. I have been cooking for as long as I can remember – it’s the most satisfying and creative of domestic endeavours.

4. I am researching family cookery books. Handwritten books from my mother and grandmother are of equal interest as historical documents as much as for forgotten recipes.

5. I am fascinated by decay and entropy in natural and man-made environments.

6. Music: “Beyond ‘ambient’, the music of the Quiet Space incorporates 20th century composition, blissful pop and ethereal drones. It is music to reflect and relax to – a soundscape in which to lose yourself.”

7. Insomnia gives me so much more time to reflect…


My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

Ron Scubadiver’s Wildlife

Indigenous Histories

Artist and Artisan’s retreat – Idyllic Southern Highlands


I was lucky enough to spend some time this week with my old and dear friends, the Artist and the Artisan, partners in life and in so many varied creative activities.

The Artist can turn her hand to anything artistic, but ceramics feature strongly in her work. The Artisan can build anything – from a house to a kiln to a chook pen, and is a pretty mean chook handler to boot!

They inhabit what could only be described as an idyllic retreat in the Southern Highlands. Five acres of beautiful parkland, complete with its own Hansel and Gretel forest, as well as manicured lawns, lush flower and vegetable gardens, and abundant fruit trees, make you wonder whether you have entered a fairytale country from some distant northern land. The surrounding open spaces and view of Mt Alexandra and the bush remind us that we are indeed still in rural NSW.



Nestled in these gardens is the house, early 20th century, quaint and idiosyncratic, once a residential institution, and now owned and under loving restoration by the Artist and the Artisan.

Behind the old house is the gem of the property: a large and light filled studio, home to many of the Artist’s own works and those of her creative friends, as well as works of other established artists, and a wonderful place for communal entertaining.



On this occasion the Artist had invited some friends who are keen potters to spend the day glazing their works and firing them in the kiln which resides in the back garden.


I was there to enjoy the day, the beautiful repast and to photograph my latest baking creation, Blueberry and Cumquat Cake with Sugared Pecans.

I also got to glaze my own ceramic pot – my very first foray into the world of ceramics – I think I’m hooked! A fabulous day all round!


Southern Highlands, NSW – Country Winter


These photos were taken at The Briars Lodge & Historic Inn in Bowral, in the Southern Highlands, late afternoon 1July and early morning 2 July 2013.

Cold and crisp air, tranquil surrounds, and a beautiful mid winter light.






The Quirky Cat


There are a lot of cat bloggers out there! And cats who obviously cook too…So I am introducing the Quirky Cat AKA Possum, so named for her beautiful stripey grey fur, marsupial brown under carriage and thick Possum tail. Some paternal conjecture…

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Documenting the dawn

This contented insomniac – and therefore early riser – loves the dawn.

Here is my selection of photos so far:  photos 1-3 December 2012 in Sunshine Beach QLD; photos 4-10 January and February 2013 in Rozelle NSW.

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