Writer’s possess a ‘writer’s eye’. We see the world as raw material for our writing. We also involve exercising our ‘writer’s muscle’ to unravel and decipher what we see.
I had no intention of writing a blog about recipes but somehow, when I sat at this computer and started tapping away, that’s what came out. This has been a week of coughs and colds, sneezing and snuffling. Thoroughly miserable stuff, but my little pocket handkerchief garden and my journal are my life savers. When feeling low, or struggling with health issues or other problems they are my refuge. I don’t care that my vegetables will never amount to much or make it to any show. The sight of them uplifts and sustains me when I need them most. They make me get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. They even give me a good laugh and we all know how therapeutic that can be.
A self-sown pumpkin decided to make my small suburban garden its home and quickly proceeded to take over. I’m sure it grew a meter a day and I felt like Jill and the beanstalk. After it had strangled a prized rose I decided it had to go. I raised the knife ready to slash and destroy but suddenly saw, hidden under the leaves, a multitude of baby pumpkins. It continued to thrive and we’ve had baked pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones but the family favorite is pumpkin soup served with damper hot from the oven. I hope you enjoy.
PUMPKIN SOUP AND CRUSTY DAMPER
Sauté 3 rashers of chopped bacon
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic. Put to one side.
Cut up a whole pot full of pumpkin, just cover with water and boil until soft.
Add 1 tin tomatoes and sautéed bacon, onion and garlic.
Cook 10 mins.
Add a good pinch of nutmeg.
When cool, puree (in a nutri bullet, viamizer or stick beater/bamix)
Always heat gently with a lid on as it tends to ‘pop’ like a Rotorua mud pool and your stove will never be the same again.
Serve with a swirl of cream
Damper is a traditional Australian bush bread, that was once cooked over an open fire. It’s easy and has few ingredients. There are various versions available from the most basic (flour, salt, water) through to the later versions adding butter, etc. for flavour.
If you do not have a camp oven heating on an open fire you will need to preheat your oven to very hot.
In a large mixing bowl place
3 cups self-raising flour, and a pinch of salt.
Mix with milk (or water) until it is the consistency of a scone dough. (if you like a lighter consistency, add a beaten egg)
Quickly place on floured board and with just a few twists into the center of dough, knead into a round flat loaf shape. I like to score the top with the back of a knife into even wedges/segments. Place on the top rung in very hot oven for 15 mins. You know it is cooked when you tap the top and it sounds hollow
Break into pieces to serve.
The secret is to make this as quickly as possible, throw onto a floured tray and pop it into a very hot oven for a short time and serve immediately. I usually make it while the soup is slowly heating.
Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travellers. It consists of a wheat flour based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. Damper is an iconic Australian dish. It is also made in camping situations in New Zealand, and has been for many decades.
Damper was originally developed by stockmen who travelled in remote areas for weeks or months at a time, with only basic rations of flour, sugar and tea, supplemented by whatever meat was available.The basic ingredients of damper were flour, water, and sometimes milk. Baking soda could be used for leavening. The damper was normally cooked in the ashes of the camp fire. The ashes were flattened and the damper was placed in there for ten minutes to cook. Following this, the damper was covered with ashes and cooked for another 20 to 30 minutes until the damper sounded hollow when tapped. Alternatively, the damper was cooked in a greased camp oven. Damper was eaten with dried or cooked meat or golden syrup, also known as “cocky’s joy”.
Damper is also a popular dish with Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal women had traditionally made bush bread from seasonal grains and nuts, which they cooked in the ashes of fires. It also became a popular dish for recreational campers and has become available in bakeries. Many variations and recipes exist, some authentic, others using the name to sell a more palatable bread product to the urban public.
How to get the party going
Our family needed to discuss a serious issue and everyone came to our house. We were all on our best behavior. The roast dinner went down well but everyone was very formal and no one was prepared to broach the difficult subject. Later I was glad I’d decided to serve
On the morning of the day before my family arrived I marinated
2 boxes of fresh strawberries in
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup strawberry liqueur.
Later in the day I added (fresh or frozen)
Blackberries and raspberries
Covered them with sherry and refrigerated overnight
Serve with vanilla or chocolate ice cream and, if you have it, a wedge of orange cake soaked in the marinade. Make sure to give everyone an ample serve using all the liquid.
Later, after we had all enjoyed several helpings of dessert the conversation became animated and everyone had the courage to speak his or her mind. Our problem soon turned from a mountain into a molehill and everyone went home happy.