recipes

Bronze

bronze wing

A lovely adjunct to keeping a small peep of chickens is the thriving community of bronzewing pigeons that have joined us.

At first light, they perch expectantly on the fence rail of the chicken enclosure, waiting for the caretaker (me) to raise the hatch of the coop. After five coppery hens surge from within and down the timber plank that serves as the gangway to the new day and fresh pasture, the pigeons surreptitiously make their way inside the coop by reverse process. One or two will remain behind to keep lookout on the rail and raise a signal should one of us come too close, whilst others venture in and feast on the lovely blend of poultry grain kept dry and well supplied in the stainless steel feeder. For reasons known only to those belonging to the avian family, the chickens seem oblivious to their presence in and amongst their enclosure, but should a venturing magpie, kookaburra or heaven forbid, noisy minnah come in to land, these intruders are sent packing in no uncertain terms.

img_8522
Word must have gone around as the bronzewing numbers are steadily increasing and some afternoons when I approach a little unexpectedly, the sound of beating wings with rapid take off can be likened to that of Trafalgar Square. I notice also, that the collective girth is expanding and I’m sure that can be attributed to the nutritious feed and the rapid rate at which it is depleted, a rate far quicker than you would anticipate five Isa Browns to consume at. I don’t mind the extra outlay for these birds, the gentle native creatures that they are. Perched amongst branches, casually browsing on the grass or nestled in leaf litter, they imbue a mood of peace and tranquillity throughout the garden. However, on one particularly balmy afternoon when I went out to collect eggs, I opened the door of the chicken house and surprised a snoozing bronzewing. The surprise was mutual and after a mad flapping (bronzewing) and a couple of expletives (me) we both vacated with racing hearts. Sometimes though, I hear them whooo whoooing far up in the eucalypts which is quite reassuring – it is as if we have vigilant sentries keeping watch.

As their name implies, they sport sheeny iridescent autumnal hued feathers in their wings, which when fanned out in the sunlight, are a magnificent sight. This metallic flash is often seen on take-off, or when the resting bird is angled toward the sun, and as our days move into these lovely golden afternoons, the pigeons seem to tone in so beautifully with their surrounds. There is nothing nicer on these days than taking a mug of tea outside to watch them potter about.

img_8525
With all this seasonal burnished, bronze influence my thoughts turned to a very simple biscuit recipe, that speaks of these tones in its delicious caramelised flavour. Burnt Butter Biscuits. So simple is this recipe that the ingredient list is waiting in your kitchen. The richness of flavour comes from gently caramelising the butter before it is added to the mix. A batch of these are a lovely way to celebrate this gentle season and hopefully you have some birdlife to quietly observe whilst enjoying them.

burnt butter biscuits

125g butter
110g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g SR flour
75g plain flour
pinch of salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 170°C fan-forced)
  2. Line your trays with baking paper
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat and then cook gently until it turns golden
  4. Cool and pour into a mixing bowl
  5. Add the sugar and beat well then stir in the egg and vanilla
  6. Sift the flours and salt then fold these into the mix
  7. Roll mixture into balls and place these on the trays, allowing room for spreading

Makes 22

img_8535

Credit must be given to Australian Critters for the opening image on this post.

Advertisements
craft · family · health and wellbeing

Comfort

  

And so once again, it is all about to change.

Autumn is packing away its leaves to make way for Winter to unfurl its blanket of chill. It’s now with haste that laundry is whipped in before the early afternoon crispness descends and cats position themselves in ever diminishing wedges of sunlight. It’s not going to be the same as we have become accustomed to over previous months, we must now prepare for difference.

We all vary in our response to change – either shunning and resisting or welcoming and adapting. Either way it does present as a challenge and usually it is underlying fear of the unknown that creates the difficulty. These are the times when as humans we seek out comfort, immersing ourselves in rituals and activities that bring about a feeling of good.

Comfort of course is quite intangible, as the very thing that makes one feel good may not have any appeal to another. You do need to establish what constitutes yours, as it will serve as your armory in times of uncertainty. Defining your sources of comfort is a highly individualised exercise, but the time spent consciously and deliberately identifying these sources is time exceptionally well spent.

I have put this to task recently and have amassed a reassuring stockpile. Taking my cup of tea to sunny garden space (yes I am like my cats) is a wonderful mid-afternoon treat. Retiring to a blanketed sofa on a chilly Sunday night to be immersed in an 18th century Cornish copper mine saga, watching the protagonist Ross Poldark do his best to be noble, is a wonderful place to be. Pulling a baked dozen from the oven or settling the lid on a rumbling stew, provides an inner satisfaction that can not be manufactured.

Building a fabric of inter-looped yarn by rhythmic needle clicks, a pastime that calms the mind and rewards the creator –

 and then pulling such fabric on when the day’s work is over, only amplifies this simple pleasure.

Running alongside a sun-glistened bayside horizon, passing warmly jacketed dogs and masters while inhaling chestfuls of ion-laced breeze – magic.

And drawing the blinds on a task-loaded day to return once again to sun dried sheets and fluffed pillows.

Locate that irresistible journal or notebook that you knew you someday would need and gather your comforts. Pen them for referral, as times of change will always present.

 home bootsPostscript: If you would like to add these hand-knitted home boots to your comfort armory, here is a similar pattern to those I have made (which was purchased from Lincraft so cannot be reproduced here)

recipes

Honest

autumn leaves

And so it is once again we make our seasonal transition, and as is customary, our greeting from Autumn is one of welcome and warmth. Rich jewel-hued foliage and mellow sunshine provide a glorious backdrop for days spent digging over soil for winter, industrious pegging at washing lines or simply enjoying the treat of coffee-dipped biscuits on a terrace.

The latter is my preference, soaking up sunshine as eagerly as the scotch fingers fill with steaming coffee – I’m grateful to absorb them both! I encourage you to make this practice yours as well, as there are no finer moments in your garden than those spent basking in the warmth of sunshine, coffee and golden thoughts of promising plans. The velvety swish around your legs of a feline who discovers your presence only adds to the affability of the occasion.

There is nothing complex or intricate of Autumn. A season of robust honesty – rich color, decent rain, enduring sunshine and crisp nights. It’s reduced temperatures call for hearty, earthy food. Plain and simple. Plain cake. Gather your faithful core ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour and set about this reliable, dense Madeira cake – nothing fluffy or fly-away about this one. Your kitchen will fill with the scent of baked goodness, and should ‘the sun be over the yard arm’ bring out your finest fortified (madeira if you have it), adjourn to the terrace and dip away.

madeira cake

175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
250g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
finely grated lemon zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 eggs

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees celcius and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and pale.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then stir through the lemon zest.
  4. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time,beating thoroughly between each one.
  5. Using a metal spoon, swiftly but thoroughly, fold through the flour mix.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 55-60 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out.

 

McWilliam's sherry

I couldn’t help noticing the driver of the bullock cart laden with grapes, decorating the sherry bottle. Maybe he was returning to his rustic verandah. After such a productive day, perhaps to kick off his boots, dunk a big chunk of cake into his sherry and survey the beauty of the harvest vineyard before him- who knows?

madeira display

Postscript: I must give credit to the Liquidambar for supplying such a stunning array of delicious colour to set off the madeira. This tree personifies Autumn in our garden.

homemaking

Picture

autumn village painting

To be able to take in an image on countless occasions and still to see it as though for the first time, to come away each time feeling settled and content, and for all of this to occur bearing no relationship whatsoever to cost, I’d say then, what you have before you is truly a work of art.

Secured some years ago in a local charity shop and now firmly mounted on our entrance hall wall, this amateur painting is possibly the first and last thing those that pass through our home will set eyes on. For some, it may not warrant a second glance, but for me that pathway is so inviting and I’m sure there are some welcoming kitchens and fire sides in those bright little cottages. My first task would be to pick a handful of those wildflowers for the table and then later in the afternoon as the autumn chill drifts down, take a brisk walk toward those mountains. Five minutes spent with this picture is a simple reminder of what is good.

Find your own piece of framed friendliness and park it where it is likely to intersect your line of vision, so no matter how demanding your day has been, your soul is not forgotten.

autumnal virginia creeper

Postscript: If you subtract the vista of rolling background hills, the bovine grazing and the picket fence, I guess the picture framed by our front window does similarly good things for the spirits.