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
personal style

Gallop

Whilst some claim it’s the jockeys and the horses and yet others believe it is the betting and the winnings, quite frankly, I’m here to tell you it’s all about the hats. I defy you to attend any glamour racing event – such as our imminent Melbourne Cup – and not be halted in your tracks by the spectacle of headwear on parade.

Fortunately, many ladies in our town are keen race-goers at this time of year and that leads to a high turnover of hats. Thus, there is rarely any difficulty picking up a post-race beauty in our local recycle shop for a sliver of its original price tag (see above). After a few jets from the steam iron and a bit of feather-fluffing, your pre-paraded beauty is ready for its next outing.

Hats are treated so respectfully on race days, that it’s very likely you will be able to find a second-hand one in pristine condition. Scour your local recycle boutiques (popping up far more frequently these days) and you may be delighted by what is on offer. Flowers, feathers and the like can easily be updated if they are a little tired, and to create your ensemble, begin with your hat and match an outfit to it – far simpler than the reverse.

Of course, the greater percentage of us will not actually be trackside ‘at the race that stops a nation’, but rather gathered with convivial company at a backyard barbeque or around a picnic table sharing cheese, bread and wine. Nevertheless don you hat proudly and feel special. It is a special day and you are part of it.