Tuesday, December 20, 2016

'Tis the season to stop!


                                                            
'Tis the season to stop!
It's been quite the year 2016, boxes are ticked with the second cookbook on the shelves and our final child finished school, but I'm ending it all just a little weary. It seems when you burn the candle at both ends for a whole year, you eventually run out of wax - I think I'm going to fall over the finish line at the end of this week and then proceed to lay horizontal for quite some time. I'm so thankful for what's been done and just as thankful to have the chance to stop. Time to rest a while, read that pile of books that have waited too long, write some words, take some pictures, swim in the ocean, catch fish and dream of new adventures.

The final leg of the book tour was delightful. Victoria was all rolling green hills, rural goodness and catching up with old and new friends. Three days together with my treasured friend Wendy, staying at a favourite cottage in Poowong East - Marge's Cottage - our base for our time there. Amidst our exploring of the region we discovered a little, one street town, named Loch and a new friend Sandra. Sandra and her husband Bob and their green kombi 'Olive' arrived in Loch two and half years ago and never left. Instead they opened a gorgeous little cafe, Olive at Loch (which is now stocking Our Delicious Adventure) and is well worth a visit if you're down that way. We also enjoyed a lazy afternoon of wine, cheese and laughter with farmer friend Tamsin Carvan at Tamsin's Table and on her recommendation later dined out at Trulli's Pizzeria in Meenyan, a delicious wood-fired pizza joint, which was another wonderful find.

Tasmania was just grand. Even as I descended into Launceston I looked out the window of the plane at the pristine coastline, green fields and majestic mountain ranges and mumbled to myself - "Tasmania I do adore you...and if your water was warmer to swim in, I'd stay much longer." 
We had two days in a quaint cottage in Deloraine, with a stunning rose garden and my dear friend Michelle Crawford for company. An afternoon baking, making, chatting, laughing, drinking Pinot Noir and eating Coal River Farm triple brie, as we prepared for the book launch event at The Black Hen the next day. We packed the car with baked goods, armfuls of freshly cut roses and gorgeous props Michelle had bought to create a sense of adventure, then we made our way to the shop. It was the perfect venue to gather, almost like sitting in the family room chatting with dear friends, as Michelle and I conversed on the favourite recipes and stories of Our Delicious Adventure. Our eager guests joined in the conversation and happily devoured the delectable morning tea provided. Mr G was more than delighted to hear that I sold lots of books and was coming home with several offers to borrow holiday shacks and fishing boats from the locals, next time we visit the apple isle. Michelle and I took an afternoon drive to the little town of Sheffield (the town of murals) to eat Chinese food at T's Chinese Restaurant - a humble location which is quickly becoming known as a paddock to plate food destination - it was worth the trip - particularly for the pot stickers, oh and that pork!

I'm hoping your year has been fulfilling and that your Christmas and New Year season will be both delicious and restful. Of all the things I've done and do, I've discovered this past year that I really enjoy writing, and particularly writing here. I am grateful for all of you that stop by to read my ramblings and share in my delicious adventures. I've never really imagined myself as a writer until now...I've always been the cook, the chef, the mother, the comedian even...so I'm stepping into the writer realm and taking courage from these words, which I also offer to those of you that share the desire to write...
"Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less." - Anne Rice -















Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Our Delicious Days - Northern NSW




Bags filled with cooking equipment, summer clothes and boxes of books, we jumped on a plane north and before we knew it we'd landed in balmy Ballina. Heading inland to the colourful village of Bangalow, we stopped in at the 'one street' town of Newrybar for a bite of lunch. Harvest Cafe was a welcome sight, we grabbed two bar stools and ordered from the bar snacks menu; sharing woodfired sourdough with wattleseed butter, pressed lamb with harissa and cauliflower, and sugar loaf cabbage with bunya cone vinegar and parmesan. A housemade ginger beer, cool and refreshing, took the edge off the thirty degree temperature we were suddenly having to come to terms with. No coastal breeze in this little Hinterland town. The Harvest ethos is local, seasonal, sustainable, self sufficient and fresh - all the things I love in food - it is not cheap food, not fast food, instead it is well thought out food, simple, fresh produce, cooked with tangible flavour and texture. We left with a loaf of seeded sourdough under our arm - we were off to a great start!
Our home for the next three days was The Gardeners Cottage in Bangalow, a delightful self-contained cottage nestled in a sprawling garden, with resident hens laying eggs for our breakfast. A towering jacaranda tree generously dropping its flowers, leaving a lilac carpet on the driveway for our arrival. It was a lovely, spacious and quiet place to stay, walking distance from the main street of Bangalow.
Early the next morning we drove twelve kilometres out to the coast to Byron Bay Farmers Market to source local and seasonal produce for the two events I'd be cooking at over the coming weekend. Lush blueberries, fragrant ginger, garlic, zucchinis, corn, beetroot, pears, bananas, salad greens, abundant bunches of dill, coriander, parsley, rocket, and sweet Cooper Shoot tomatoes bursting with flavour. My farmer friend Liz gifted me a bunch of her exquisite freshly cut garlic flowers, while Mr G bought himself a 'second breakfast' of the most delicious blueberry pie with clotted cream. These markets are held weekly on Thursdays from 8am - 11am at Butler Street Reserve.
As the heat again began to take hold, we enjoyed a late morning swim at the hidden treasure that is Wategos Beach. Greeted with azure waters, gently rolling waves, crisp white sand and the striking foliage of the Pandanus trees lining the banks of the shore. It was a glimpse of long summer holidays to look forward to, once the book promotions are all done, for now we seized the opportunity and soaked it up. A delicious burger and a glass of iced Kombucha enjoyed under the shade of a fringed brolly, at another Byron Bay favourite The Top Shop meant lunch was sorted, before we headed back to the Bangalow cottage to escape the middle of the day heat and unpack our market finds. Early evening a wood-fired pizza from The Italian Diner  Gamberi; prawns, scallops, capsicum, fi or di latte mozzarella, chilli flakes & watercress, went down well sitting in the cool of the cottage garden.
Another early start Friday morning, I headed out to the Mullum Markets, while Mr G spent his morning working in the cottage. Unfortunately he missed out on a scrumptious breakfast omelette with corn, paprika and lime from The Nomadic Kitchen stall. This just happened to be the same folk who had delivered the epic blueberry pie the day before, so I grabbed another slice for us to share together later, perhaps for afternoon tea. These north coast markets all exude an endearing community vibe and homely touches such as serving food on proper vintage plates, giving this nourishing nosh the respect it deserves. I spent my morning wandering the stalls, gathering asparagus, pineapple, bush lemons, limes, plump avocadoes, thyme in flower, olive sourdough from Gina and a soft feta cheese from my new friend Deb. As the live music played and the colourful locals collected their weekly supplies, I caught up with two talented, passionate foodie friends who live in the area, Brenda Fawdon and Kate Walsh. We talked all things cookbooks, workshops, events and local produce under the shade of the ancient fig tree.
So enough preparation and procrastination had now been done...it was time to get working. Saturday morning we travelled one hour south to the gorgeous seaside town of Yamba, where I was teaching at Kitchen To Table Cooking School. An intimate class, we utilised the baskets of local produce I'd gathered at both markets, and worked our way through four recipes, two from Naked Food and two from Our Delicious Adventure. We began with a simple seasonal asparagus dish, next thing handfuls of flour were flying as I guided the group through the ins and outs of rolling and shaping potato and sage gnocchi. Later these fluffy white pillows were deliciously paired with the sweet Cooper Shoot tomatoes and crispy pancetta. A salad with bitter greens, roasted beetroot, pear and parmesan was served with the gnocchi. To finish, still warm from the oven, double chocolate and quinoa muffins, meant everyone was smiling and well satisfied by the end of our three hours together. Mr G had easily managed to occupy himself for that time, happily fishing for bream in the nearby river. Leaving Yamba later that afternoon, we travelled north-west out to Greenridge, near Casino in the Northern Rivers region. Here we had an afternoon tea, cooking demonstration and book signing in 'The Barn' on a friend's rural property scheduled for the following day.
An early rise on Sunday morning gave me the time to bake for the afternoon tea, mixing and baking two spelt banana loaves, a chocolate and beetroot cake with buttercream icing and three dozen hazelnut and lemon curd tartlettes. As friends Kelvin and Priscilla, Renate and Mr G set up and styled the venue, I further prepared for the cooking demonstration. By midday the temperature had hit a searing thirty eight degrees Celsius, making for challenging working conditions for all involved. However to my delight, when I walked into 'The Barn' to set up my table, it looked absolutely magnificent, scattered hay bales, old ladders, gumboots and magnolias, were just a few of my favourite things. At 2pm the crowd gathered in "The Barn' and these country folk were clearly not as daunted as I was by the unrelenting heat of the day. Iced sparkling water flowed and friends chatted and found their seat on a hay bale for things to begin. I shared about the journey of both living and then writing Our Delicious Adventure and then demonstrated a favourite recipe from the book, my Sweet Corn and Zucchini Fritters with Avocado, Almond and Feta. I think they were impressed! Expressions of delight as afternoon tea was consumed, left me content my baking had been up to scratch and well received. I'm always more apprehensive baking for country people.
So with a few more boxes of books sold and a lovely time shared with dear friends, we bid farewell to the Northern Rivers and headed back home to Sydney to prepare for the next adventure. There is still more work to do and much fun to be had, further promoting Our Delicious Adventure, with events at Tamsin's Table in Victoria (tickets still available), The Black Hen in Tasmania (now sold out) and many days with my stall at The Beaches Market, before Christmas is here.
































Monday, October 3, 2016

Honey and Vanilla Pancakes


A long weekend at our place usually means a sleep in and late breakfast together on the holiday Monday, and today was no different. Pancakes are always a favourite to cook when it is a slow morning without schedule. This recipe originated on a rainy morning in Hobart, where we were holidaying for a few days. There was abundant produce available, including delicious local honey, stoneground spelt flour, a succulent selection of well-priced berries and some very tasty wood smoked bacon. The recipe is included in the breakfast chapter of my new cookbook Our Delicious Adventure - Recipes and Stories of Food and Travel. 
I hope you enjoy x j

HONEY AND VANILLA PANCAKES

On the only rainy day we had of our few days in Hobart, I cooked these sweet pancakes. Served for breakfast with a berry compote and smoked bacon, it was just the sustenance we needed to spend the rest of the day playing poker together in our pyjamas!

makes 12 pancakes
what you need
6 rashes smoked bacon
2 cups (260g) white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (250ml) milk
½ cup (125ml) natural yoghurt
1/3 cup (80ml) honey
1 tbsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp butter, melted
4 tbsp coconut oil, for cooking
to serve:
1 cup berry compote (see below)
1 cup (250ml) natural yoghurt
½ cup (125ml) pure maple syrup
what you do
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced) and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the bacon rashes onto the prepared tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add the eggs, milk, yoghurt, honey, vanilla and butter. Whisk to make a smooth batter.
3. Lightly grease a large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and heat over medium heat. Drop ¼ cupfuls of batter into the pan, spreading out to 10cm rounds. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn over and cook for further 1 minute, until golden brown. Add more coconut oil to pan as required.
4. Serve the warm pancakes with the bacon, berry compote, natural yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Note: You will probably only be able to cook 3-4 pancakes at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Either serve in shifts, or keep warm on an oven tray in a very low oven, covered loosely with foil, while you cook the rest.
V option: Omit bacon.
GF option: Many people who have wheat allergies can tolerate spelt flour, use your own discretion. Use gluten-free baking powder.

honey is a thick sweet liquid and the accomplishment of bees using the nectar from flowers. Honey is gathered from wild bee colonies or domesticated beehives. Flavours vary depending on the nectar source. Once the honeycomb is removed from the hive, the honey is then extracted and filtered to remove beeswax and other debris. Known for its medicinal properties when raw, unfiltered honey can be used orally to treat gastric complaints, and topically for ulcers, burns and wounds.

BERRY COMPOTE

This is a simple way to use up a glut of seasonal fruit. You could use one type of fruit or a mix of berries, apricots, plums, apples or pears. Served warm or cold, it is great for breakfast as an accompaniment to pancakes, yoghurt or your favourite muesli, or for dessert with ice cream.

makes 1 cup
V GF
what you need
2 cups (250g) berries,
(fresh or frozen depending on season)
¼ cup (45g) rapadura sugar
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean, split
what you do
1. Place the berries into a small saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean and ¼ cup (60ml) water. Bring to the boil, stir, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and syrup thickens.
2. Remove from heat and serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Note: Rapadura sugar is a whole sugar that undergoes minimal processing. This allows it to retain a higher nutrient content than white sugar, which when refined to create crystals loses much of its nutrients. Rapadura sugar is simply the product left behind after evaporating the water from the sugar cane juice and has a unique, caramel flavour. Substitute the same quantity of rapadura sugar for regular sugar in any recipe. It is available from health food shops, and is usually an organic product.
When cooking fruits such as apricots, plums, apples or pears increase the simmering time to 20 minutes.
Storage: Berry compote will keep in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

compote
is French for "mixture" and refers to fruit cooked or stewed in a sugar syrup. Commonly served as a dessert, whole fruits or their pieces are cooked in water with spices and sugar. The syrup may be seasoned with lemon or orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon sticks/ ground cinnamon, dried fruit or cloves. Serve either warm or cold.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Our Delicious Adventure" - All the action of the Sydney Launch Party


Last Saturday or was it the one before? Time is racing by....I saw Christmas Puddings in the shops yesterday and wondered where has this year got too!
I digress...back to the topic Jane, it was on Saturday 3rd of September, in the words of my special guest and food-writer Barbara Sweeney - "family, friends and fans gathered to celebrate with me - the arrival of my new book - Our Delicious Adventure - Recipes and Stories of Food and Travel."

It was a delightful afternoon and with the help of my family and some very precious friends it all came together beautifully. Many of you were there to share in the moment, others were unable to make it due to just as important occasions elsewhere or travel miles that simply made it geographically impossible for you to attend. However whether you joined me in person or were enthusiastically cheering me on from afar - I thank you for your love and support.

An original 1830's one room, weather board school house, with a sprawling lawn dotted with grand old trees, natives shrubs and blossom trees in flower, and sunshine instead of rain made the setting sing. Gorgeous tunes from songwriter and music maker Ruby May, Sweet Pea Organic Moscato from Spring Seed Wine Co. and Flour and Stone Panna Cotta Lamingtons were all devoured, resulting in much praise. It was such a winfall to have such willing, clever, passonate and creative friends contribute to the afternoon. For the gluten-free peeps in the crowd my Double Chocolate and Quinoa Muffins filled the void. Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls, Potato, Leek and Gruyere Frittata and mum's (now even more famous) Chicken Sandwiches with celery and almond went down a treat.

The formalities were jovial, Mr G said a few kind words and then introduced Barbara and I to converse about the journey of creating and publishing this second book of mine. Barbara has a gift for drawing out the story behind the product that people see. She easily makes her obvious intelligence so palatable for those listening, I did my best to answer the questions and seem just as articulate! A hearty toast to another book completed and a moment of thanks, to the wonderful team who helped make it happen and we were done.

A book signing followed and an opportunity to unveil my new range of linen aprons and tea towels based on the 'almost edible' illustrations by local artist Nicky Hodgson, that appear in the pages of both my books. My daughter Molly Grover designed the pattern, and the fabric was printed and apparel made in Melbourne. They are available for sale online at janegrover.net or from my stall at The Beaches Market every Friday.

There are lots more events planned over the coming months, as I travel far and wide to launch and promote Our Delicious Adventure - visits to Brisbane, Northern Rivers of NSW, Yamba and East Gippsland, Victoria are all planned and you'll find all the details here soon. In the meantime I'll be doing a book signing with The Lost and Found Department at The Final Flea sale this Saturday 17th September at 81 Dickson Road, Artarmon, NSW from 10am - 4pm and I'll be at The Beaches Market with my stall of cookbooks, linen aprons, tea towels and home-made preserves every Friday 8am - 1pm.

Gratitude to Tyler Antcliff Photography for capturing the record of the day with such beautiful images - he comes highly recommended! x j