recipes

Market

market flowers

Should you ever need inspiration to cook, connect with community or remind yourself of the basis of life, find your local market. I make it my business to take regular trips, because I leave mine not only with a bounty of produce, but also with a prosperous soul.

To be amongst our food in its purest form, watch buyers make their selections with reverence and sellers deal in a rhythm that indicates years of involvement, creates an awareness of the essence of life unlike most other experiences. Regardless of age or background, we are people and we need good food. And to all present at the marketplace this is the shared value.

I know what I want, but I love to observe the selections of others. Sometimes I ask how they will prepare their unfamiliar purchases, and have found that people speak passionately about their methods. Observation is as rewarding as interaction at the market.

amongst the produce

As we leave the market, trolley loaded, culinary inspired and economically satisfied, we know we are part of the population and (very thankfully) our place on the globe.

market trolley

Inevitably though, with aspirations larger than realistic consumption, it is usual to be left with the ordeal of excess. Once family and neighbours have been exhausted with handouts, there is no other recourse than to cook. And as it so happened on our latest excursion, the contents of the tightly packed commercial banana box ripened quickly. An over-supply. So I turned to my good friend Delia who of course had the answer: a lovely Banana and Walnut loaf. The beauty of it lay not only in the demerara crunch topping, but the fact that the recipe calls for four bananas. In three loaves time, I was cheerfully a dozen bananas down.

This loaf is an absolute breeze to bake – and consume. Rather than me taking the credit, you can pay Delia a visit yourself here and she will pass her recipe on personally.

Banana and Walnut Loaf

And so, the box is ready to be broken down now, only to make way I guess for the next windfall to be proudly marched home and stored in its place.

banana box

Postscript: and just knowing the market, that hive of energy and abundance is always there, provides a sense of security that as humans in 2014, we often overlook.

recipes

Preserve

Of Course I Can!

Putting up, canning, preserving, bottling – four ways to describe a process from which a sense of deep inner satisfaction is a by-product. Beginning with a pile of beautiful produce and ending with a shelf groaning under the weight of gleaming jars is a very meaningful way to spend an afternoon. Although we are not subject to food shortages, we are prone to seasonal fluctuation, and to be able to capture a crop at its finest with the ability to enjoy it year round, is a wonderful thing.

Occasionally ‘windfalls’ of produce can land in your lap. A neighbour with a productive fig tree, a market bargain or a roadside opportunity, are likely examples. To be able to bottle these fortuities to savour at a later date makes sense, economically and nutritionally. Windfalls aside, if you would like to dip your toe into the process, start with a generous selection of good eating apples. Applesauce is delicious and versatile (immediately apple pie, roast pork, danishes and custardy desserts spring to mind).

spiced applesauce ingredients

After you have peeled and chopped approximately 2 1/2 kilos, put them into a large pan over a medium heat with 1/2 cup of apple juice (or cider), three whole star anise and three cloves. Put a lid on the pot and cook the apples for about 20 minutes, or until well broken down. Stir the pot regularly to make sure the apples are not sticking. Remove the cloves and stars. Now, with a hand masher, stick blender or blender, process until smooth. At this point, add sugar (up to 1 cup). I use about 1/2 cup, but some like their sauce sweeter. Stir well. You will notice the dark colour of my applesauce and this is because I also add a teaspoon of nutmeg and a tablespoon of cinnamon with the sugar. You can do this, or for traditional applesauce, leave these out. Your applesauce is now ready to preserve.

IMG_3168

I use a Ball Preserver but all you need is a large stockpot with a lid and a selection of sturdy jars with metal lids. Pop your jars in the stockpot and fill with water until jars are covered. (To keep the jars from coming in contact with the base of the pot, place an upturned dish on the bottom for them to rest on). Bring pot to the boil. This will sterilise the jars for you. Boil the jar lids in a small saucepan separately. Using tongs remove the jars and fill with the applesauce. Seal jars with lids, not overly tightly. Place jars back in stockpot and cover. Boil for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and leave jars to stand in water for about 5 minutes before removing. Stand on a chopping board covered with a teatowel. As the jars cool, you will hear the lids pop, meaning a seal has formed.

Admire your efforts.

apple, peach and custard dessert

Postscript: this quantity of apples will make approximately four 500ml jars of sauce and of course there will be a little over. This is the bit you pop in a bowl with some peaches and pouring custard to enjoy while the jars are sealing themselves.

recipes

Tangelo

Tangelos

Making their brief seasonal appearance as we speak, the impossibly orange tangelo is ready to fill your kitchen with citrusy overtones and your empty jars with delicious jam.

I’m sure it is no coincidence that citrus fruit peaks in mid-winter, its colour pop and tang bolsters us through the insipid range of coolstore/gas ripened produce alternatives. Tangelos make a huge effort – juice laden and vibrant, a bowlful in the kitchen veritably radiates goodwill.

My pantry shelves did not require further stocking, but with such enticing colour and shape, I could not resist purchasing a couple of kilos of these lads. With an interstate road trip imminent and a number of pressing household issues to deal with, they really had to jam themselves. Fortunately they cooperated, so the holiday hosts, the neighbourhood and the pantry shelves all have jars of sunshine to see them through winter.

Tangelo jam

Tangelos are still catching my eye at the local fruiterer, so it’s not too late to wash out those stored jars and boil up a pot for yourself. Not as bitter as marmalade, but far from the syrupy sweet berry preserves, tangelo jam sits brightly in between.

1.5 kg tangelos (about 8 or 9)
3 litres (12 cups) water
1 tbsp tartaric acid (cream of tartar)
2 lemons halved
1.4 kg sugar, or the same weight of liquid to sugar
1 packet of Jamsetta (optional – I always keep one on hand in case jam is not setting. Simply stir a sachet through the mix and boil)

  1. Remove the zest (picture below) from the tangelos using a zester, and wrap in muslin cloth or a clean chux cloth.
  2. Cut the tangelos into quarters and process in a food processor until finely chopped – a little roughly if you like chunky jam.
  3. Place tangelo mixture into a saucepan, with the wrapped zest, water, cream of tartar and lemons. Cook for 30 minutes or until zest is soft. Remove zest from bag and set aside.
  4. Continue to cook the mixture for a further 1 1/2 hours. Strain mixture and reserve liquid.
  5. Return liquid to the heat and add the zest and sugar. Cook the jam for 40 – 50 minutes.
  6. Test for setting by spooning a little on a chilled saucer – it should wrinkle if set.
  7. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

zesting tangelos

Postscript: do invest in a zester – it makes short work of tangelo rind (which is crucial when you have a car to pack, a house to close down and a 9 hour drive on the horizon….)