Browsing Tag

Food Memories

Right Back to Eight

June 18, 2012

Last week I was unwell, I had a bit of a virus. It was not nice. Not bad, but just not nice. I felt cloudy and drained and just plain unwell. Luckily, I was able to move my schedule around to rest for a couple of days at home.

On those luckily languid, lazy mid-week days I nourished myself with wholesome foods. Breakfast was all about big bowls of oats with banana and chia seeds. And honey and cinnamon. It was practically medicinal in it’s comforting perfection.


Almost instantly I was right back to being eight years old, Dad in the kitchen making us kids honey, banana, cinnamon toast for breakfast. The recipe was simple – grainy bread, an often generous spread of honey, thinly sliced banana and a purposeful scattering of cinnamon. This was Dad’s specialty. And, like my bowl of oats, it was all you would want from a breakfast. Nourishing, energising, homely, delicious. Comforting perfection.

I’m all better now. Let’s thank the oats, shall we?

What breakfast takes you right back to eight?


Heidi xo

Peanut Butter and Jam Balls

May 11, 2012


I’ve got a thing for nut butter and jam. It’s pretty serious. I say “nut butter” (rather than good old “peanut butter”) as I don’t discriminate – I’m all about almond butter love too. And brazil nut butter. Cashew butter is also fabulous. It’s all love, people. Nut butter love.

Originally my love was centred on two ingredients: nut butter and banana. Combined. Together. On bread. That sandwich has rocked my world for many years. Many joyful years. I’ve endured the curious, sometimes judgemental stares harshly directed my way as I’ve devoured my nut butter and banana sandwiches or ordered this heavenly combination at sandwich shops. Sticks and stones, people – nothing can change my love for nut butter and banana.

It’s a beautiful thing.


My younger brother introduced me to nut butter and honey sandwiches many years ago. I recall a stage when Jackson was around seven, and he’d have this combination for lunch. Often. And maybe for an afternoon snack. Sometime he’d have one or two after dinner. While I applauded his creativity, and was somewhat concerned about his fervent love for said sandwiches, I was never swept up by this particular nut butter combination myself. No, I seemed to remain firmly in love with my old faithful nut butter and banana.

Although recently, a new nut butter friend has come onto the scene…

Nut butter and jam may be an age-old love-story, but it’s rather new to me. And now that I’ve been properly introduced, I’m more than a little obsessed. You might recognise this combination from, well, most movies set in North America (I’m thinking early nineties movies in particular, like The Babysitters Club – high five!). The characters would gather together and eat crustless, haphazardly formed and generously spread PB&J; sandwiches. All of them. But they’d call it peanut butter and “jelly”, and that’s a little weird. I say jam. Nut Butter and Jam.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Nut butter and jam commonly graze my wholegrain slices at breakfast or lunch, or even snack o’clock. For this combination to be suitably satisfying and not sickly sweet, you need natural nut butters – ones with 100% nuts and no added sugar. Otherwise it’s just too much. Too far. I don’t enjoy.

These peanut butter and jam balls, I do enjoy. They’re a great afternoon pick-me up, giving you a hit of nutrients and nostalgia in one. A moment of pure happiness. 1995, scrunchie and denim overall-wearing, watching The Babysitters Club and wishing you were Mary Anne while planning Summer adventures with your friends kind of happiness.

It’s a beautiful thing.


Peanut Butter and Jam Balls



This recipe requires a hand blender or food processor.

Makes 7 balls. To make more, simply double the recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Peanuts (unsalted and shelled)
2 tablespoons Tahini, Unhulled (some tahini is rather thick, you want a runny tahini for this recipe)
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup
A pinch of Salt
1/2 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 1/2 teaspoons Jam (use a rich, good quality jam for best results. I used Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam – love.)

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 170 Degrees Celsius.
2. Toast your peanuts on a pan in the oven for ~4 minutes until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool but keep the oven on.
3. Once your peanuts are cool, pulse them in a hand blender or food processor until it starts to resemble a flour consistency – be careful not to overblend, some small lumps are still desirable and you don’t want it to become a paste.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut flour with the tahini, maple syrup, salt and chia seeds. Mix well to distribute the chia seeds. The mixture shouldn’t be too sticky and should come together easily. Add a little water or some more tahini if the mixture is too dry.
5. Moisten your hands and grab a portion of the mixture (remembering that you should get ~7 balls out of the mixture). Add 1/2 teaspoon of jam and mix it with your hands, squishing and shaping it into a ball as you go – you want the jam to be distributed in a haphazard way rather than spread too thin. Place the ball onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and repeat with the remaining mixture.
6. Bake your balls in the oven for 4-6 minutes until slightly golden on top and not too brown on the bottom – check them at 3 minutes if your oven is particularly efficient.
7. Once cooked, let the balls cool completely on a wire rack before consumption. Serve and enjoy. Scrunchie-wearing is optional but encouraged.


Heidi xo

A Simple Lunch

May 1, 2012

You made apple and quince pancakes with quinoa flour for breakfast. That recipe needs tweaking but it was fancy enough to satisfy your need for weekend food pizzaz.

You just did your weekly grocery shop at Oakleigh Market. You bought fish and lamb backstrap, parmesan, nutmeg and a truck-load of fresh vegetables. And dry roasted almonds, you’ll be making almond butter this week.

Your man is sleeping off that eager portion of Friday drinks he had last night.

It’s time for lunch. Something simple, you’ve got groceries to put away.

Steam some sweet potato. Leave the skin on, it’s full of nutrients. Just give them a good scrub. Cook extra, you’ll use them during the week in salads. Your small, elongated logs should take ~20minutes to steam through nicely. They’ll be just like in Thailand at Baan Dada. Nature’s candy. They’re unbelievably good, no embellishments required.

Boil some eggs. Place two lovelies in cold water, bring to the boil then turn off the heat and cover. Leave for 13 minutes then rinse under cool water, peel. Done. Perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Steam some spinach.

Pluck some fresh basil leaves.

Sit outside with your plate and a book.

A simple lunch.

 

Sometimes simple is best.


Heidi xo

Family Holidays. Memories. Crêpes.

April 28, 2012
I’m feeling a touch nostalgic today, just letting you know up front… So maybe settle in with a cup of tea and indulge me a while. There are crêpes at the end of it all, I promise.



Recently I stumbled across some coconut palm sugar, which got me thinking about family holidays…true story. And more on that coconut palm sugar later. As soon as the eldest child in your family reaches the age of independence, the chances of everyone coming together for a getaway slim down quite dramatically. It gets harder and harder to gather the troops. I find that a little sad, as when I was younger there were few things I loved more than family holidays. And now that I’m all grown up, there are few memories more special to me.

I will forever cherish the memories of our yearly camping trips at Depot Beach with family friends. Days spent boogie boarding and keenly waiting for the “lolly man” to come around with his truck (when killer pythons and nerds reigned supreme). Showers cost twenty cents. We’d spend our nights playing spotlight and singing creative camp songs, often involving rude words which none of us fully understood. Occasionally we’d have fish and chips in town at Batemans Bay. Too many packets of instant noodles were consumed. And a few books were read. But mostly we ran and swam and played. Special times.

Memories of our holidays to Noosa in September are also very dear to me. The five of us (plus a friend or two) would road trip up to Queensland and rent a holiday apartment in Noosaville, just outside of Noosa. Those 2-3 weeks were complete and utter perfection, and were my absolute favourite time of year. Hours spent in the salty sea and reading books on our towels, burying my brother’s feet in the sand and devouring $1 Betty’s Burgers for lunch, frantically asking mum and dad for coins so we could purchase a snow cone from “Hey Bill! on the beach” before his little cart drove away (blue was my favourite flavour). We’d save then spend our birthday money on new board shorts or bathers from the surf shops on Hastings St (and feel incredibly cool afterwards), and delight in an afternoon Massimo’s Ice-cream before heading back to our little apartment in the evening to barbecue and swim in the pool. We’d get sandy and sun-kissed and I’d cry when it came time to leave.

I recall one Noosa holiday with my family…we were on our yearly pilgrimage to Eumundi Market where, surrounded by earthy creations and kooky characters, we’d wander the stalls, shielded from the harsh September sun by towering trees. After spending my pennies on some wooden nicknack I’d never use again, I stumbled across one culinary concoction that has forever stuck with me: Balinese crêpes with coconut and palm sugar. My ripe fifteen-year-old mind was completely blown. And I’ve been, well, a little obsessed with palm sugar ever since…

It’s taken me 11 years to recreate this heavenly dish, but the belatedness of my delicious deed was forgiven as soon as Ben and I took our first bites. And after the second and third bites, I was a little bit in love with myself. Just quietly.


I might never be able to go back to those beloved family holidays, but I’ll always have the beautiful memories…long drives, mintie wrappers, bad pub meals and brilliant barbecues, the sea, the sand, endless days and ice-cream cones.

Happiness.

Now I also have these crêpes. And that’s pretty wonderful too.

 


Crêpes with Toasted Coconut, Grilled Banana and Coconut, Palm Sugar Syrup

This recipe requires you make the crêpe batter 2 hours ahead of time (or overnight).

Serves 2-3. I made a half batch of Clotilde‘s crêpe recipe, which yielded 7 crêpes.

Ingredients

1/3 cup Coconut Palm Sugar – From Health Food Shops. You can use regular palm sugar with a handful of shredded coconut added if you wish. Or simply omit the coconut component all together.
1/4 cup water
1/2 Vanilla Bean, seeds scraped out
1/3 cup Shredded Coconut
Spray Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 bananas, peeled and cut lengthwise down the middle then cut into thirds.

Coconut Yoghurt or Vanilla Ice-Cream to serve.



Crêpes ala Clotilde (recipe link) – halve the recipe.

Method

1. Make your crêpe batter and put in the fridge as per instructions for 2 hours or overnight.
2. To make your coconut palm sugar syrup, place the sugar, water and vanilla seeds in a small pot and heat over low-medium heat until bubbling and the sugar dissolves. Cook for a few minutes until it reduces slightly and thickens. Turn off the heat and allow to cool, before pouring into a serving jug.
3. In a non-stick pan, toast your shredded coconut over low heat for a few minutes until very lightly toasty (not too golden). Place in a little cute bowl for serving.
4. Heat a non-stick pan over low heat, add some spray oil and add your banana pieces. Allow to caramelise, cooking for ~10 minutes. Turn them over half way through so both sides turn golden brown. Start cooking your crêpes while the banana is cooking.
5. Using a good crêpe pan (non-stick with a low rim), cook your crêpes using Clotilde’s brilliant instructions (follow them closely). Keep your cooked crêpes warm on a plate covered with foil (and do the same on a smaller plate with your cooked banana).
6. To serve, place one crêpe on your plate. Add a couple of banana pieces, scatter the toasted coconut and then drizzle with coconut palm sugar syrup. Roll the crêpe and serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt (or ice-cream) and an extra cheeky drizzle of syrup if you’re keen. Repeat with remaining crêpes and goodies until you’re satisfied.

 





Heidi xo

My Weekend Pasta

April 15, 2011

I don’t quite know what it is about a plate of pasta, but it is my most loved weekend lunch. Twirling my spaghettoni strands as the sun peeks through the window is, to me, a true picture of romance.

Perhaps I am so in love with this ritual as it makes me feel incredibly Italian. My family is well aware of my desire to live in Sicily, I adore it and am utterly enamoured with their food culture. Alas, for now I will have to settle for winsome, sunny meals like this. I suppose that isn’t so bad…

My Weekend Pasta

Serves two

Ingredients

200g Spaghettoni (or another long, dreamy, twirly pasta. No offence to penne or the like. I just like to twirl. Barilla is my favourite brand)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
400g tin diced Tomatoes (I like the flavour of La Gina diced tomatoes best. Or you could use 2-3 diced vine-ripened tomatoes)
1/2 a 700g bottle of Bertolli Provvista Sugo Classica (I say this brand in particular as I am yet to find another passata that surpasses it’s beautiful flavour and plump consistency)
1 big handful fresh Basil, ~10 large leaves (I like my basil)
A pinch of Sea Salt
Freshly Cracked Pepper to taste
Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano to serve (or as good quality Parmesan you can find)

Method

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and sauté until fragrant and ever so lightly coloured – don’t burn it! Add in the diced tomatoes and Bertolli sugo, along with the fresh basil, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook until the sauce is bubbling, then turn it down to a gentle simmer. You are likely to have leftover sauce, and I like to use it during the week for another pasta meal or perhaps for breakfast atop toasted bread with poached eggs.

Cook your pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions until al dente. Overcooking your pasta is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Al dente pasta is absolutely one of the best things in the world, it totally transforms you pasta dish, so pay attention!

Divide the pasta onto two plates (or bowls) and top with the tomato, basil sauce. Finish the dish with a scattering of parmesan and more fresh basil.

…..

With a fork and spoon in your hands, close your eyes and picture you’re sitting in a sunny, golden tinged, fruit-tree filled courtyard in Ortygia, the smell of the salty sea lingering in the air. Now twirl and enjoy this weekend delight. Happiness.

Buon Appetito!

Heidi xo

A Tutti Frutti Afternoon

February 24, 2011

Gelati really is a special food to me. When Ben and I spent time in Sicily in 2009, we would end our evenings with a scoop of gelato as we strolled the town centre. Locals and tourists alike would all be participating in the same sweet ritual of the scoop and stroll. I love how all people, young and old, feel the same childhood delight when enjoying gelati. It really is a magical treat.

Last Sunday Ben and I visited Tutti Frutti, a delightful gem of a gelateria in Mornington. With the soft sunshine offering a light blanket of warmth against this cool summers day, a scoop or two of gelato seemed like the perfect afternoon treat.

Ever since Tutti Frutti opened whilst I was in high school, it has been a beloved place for something sweet. They serve delicious, homemade gelato which never disappoints – and I am a seasoned gelato eater!

Couples sharing a cup while on a date, friends congregating over cones after a day at the beach, and families sharing a scoop on a sunny Saturday – everybody loves Tutti Frutti.

Usually when I am treated to a cone or cup, I opt for either fruity or creamy. I rarely combine the two. However this time I simply had to mix. The reason?… I saw two new flavours that instantly caught my eye, and despite the mixing of genres, I had to have them both!

May I present, Green Apple and Cocao

“MmmmMmmmMmmm”


*note: there are hints of berry mixed with the cocoa, as our lovely server accidentally gave me some of Ben’s leftovers – score! 3 flavours for the price of 2, mwahahahaha

The Cocoa was rich, thick, smooth and sweet. Like the richest, most indulgent, dark cup of cocoa you have ever been lucky enough to consume… in gelato form. In other words, heaven. Perfection, in my opinion. A scoop of dark, rich chocolate gelato always sends me spinning…

One of my gorgeous friends, Vicki, adores green apple gelato, and introduced me to this delightful flavour at Cones. Whilst I did enjoy Tutti Frutti’s version, I feel that Cones serves up a better scoop. It is a fine line between smelling fantastically like a lipsmacker and starting to taste like one.

Ben opted for a fruity mix of Passionfruit and the house special, Tutti Fruiti. Tutti frutti is Italian for “mixed/all fruits” (what we would call tropical, I believe). When Ben and I were in Italy, we would always order ‘fruity di bosco’ (which means “fruits of the forest”). Not so much for the delicious flavour, which it was, but more because we liked saying “fruity di bosco”…..I still do, clearly.

The passionfruit was lovely, full-of-fruity goodness and quite rich, yet not overly sweet. And the Tutti Frutti I found to be refreshing and uplifting, though not a favourite of mine. I must admit I was too focussed on my cocoa to take much notice of Ben’s flavours, however I could tell that they were definitely delicious.

We ate our gelati with sweet grins on our faces, as we moseyed along in the afternoon sunshine. Perfection.

Heidi xo

Coming home to Tuna Casserole

February 8, 2011

Early Monday morning, Ben and I arrived home from our month-long travels around South East Asia. We had such a fabulous time, we were very sad to be coming home. Our travels included Vietnam (from South to North), Thailand (in the Kanchanaburi province), Hong Kong (visiting family) and one night in Kuala Lumpur. We especially wished we could have stayed longer at Baan Dada in Thailand. Our visits there never seem to last long enough.

During our travels we had some incredible eats – oodles of noodles, buckets of herbs, countless coconuts, banana each and every way and pork for days. There was rice and soup and buns, not to mention an endless supply of beautiful, fresh, tropical fruit. Visiting Vietnam for the first time allowed us to really got to know the cuisine on a more authentic level. I have many posts planned detailing our delicious culinary adventures throughout Asia! Yet my first post back home is not about Asian cuisine or travel. It is about comfort food.

Coming down from the travel high, one thing that I always look forward to is tucking into the food I have missed whilst abroad. Monday for me was all about oats, muesli, yoghurt, berries and vegemite. Ben had to go to work early on Monday after very little sleep, so I wanted to make him a special, comforting dinner to welcome him home before putting him to bed at a decidedly early hour. He had requested a dish that epitomises comfort food to me. Ben has only eaten this a handful of times at my parent’s house in Red Hill, yet he instantly fell in love with it and came to think of it in the same way as my family. The dish I am speaking of is Tuna Casserole. Technically I think it is more of a Mornay, and we do interchange the name amongst our family, yet I prefer the name ‘Tuna Casserole’ (‘Mornay’ just sounds irksome to me for some reason).

I grew up eating this dish, which would appear on the table after long days or when we had little time to prepare dinner. It is by no means a gourmet feat, rather it was mum’s easy dish, and is both nutritious and comforting (you get a decent serve of calcium and protein). It fills your belly with warmth and love and instantly makes you feel nourished. A serving of this dish equates to one big long hug from a loved one. I was not at all surprised when Ben requested it.

Tuna Casserole

Ingredients

1 ½ tablespoons Butter
½ cup plain flour (I would like to try this with wholemeal flour, for extra fibre)
2 ½ cups milk
1 or 2 x 125g tinned capsicum (depending on how much vinegary capsicum flavour you like. This is a secret ingredient, and completely makes the dish. Fresh capsicum just wouldn’t have the same effect. It is the only time I ever use tinned capsicum, as frankly, it is a little weird. But it totally works in this dish)
1 x 420g tin sweet corn kernels (or less if you don’t enjoy a lot of corn) ½ cup frozen peas (or more if you wish)
1 x 425g tin Sirena tuna in oil (drain the oil)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
A handful of Parsley

Method

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low then add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon briskly for ~1 minute. Be sure to not catch the flour on the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium and slowly add in the milk, ~1/4 cup at a time, briskly stirring to allow it to combine with the flour. The mixture will be a little lumpy but don’t be discouraged. Keep stirring continuously and allow the sauce to gradually thicken. This process of stirring in the milk slowly will take ~3-5 minutes. If you like a thinner sauce, add in more milk. Once at the desired level of thickness add in the capsicum, corn and peas. Stir them into the sauce then add the tuna. Once the mixture is hot again, add in the cheese and allow it to melt. Serve immediately and garnish with parsley. Serves 4.

One whole month without my beloved Sirena tuna…oh how I have missed thee…

Growing up, my family and I would always eat tuna casserole with some bread and maybe a salad. Oven chips also go well. I like to make my own potato wedges by roasting potatoes in a little spray oil, and serving them alongside the tuna casserole.It is also delicious, hot or cold, on toast for breakfast the next morning (which is exactly what I did today).

I made this earlier in the day, then re-heated it when Ben came home and served it with oven potatoes and bread. He was very pleased. And comforted. And nourished.

Heidi xo

A little more than Beef and Black Bean

December 7, 2010

I have a confession to make…until I met Ben, I thought that Chinese food was Beef and Black Bean. Sweet and Sour Pork. Honey Chicken.

Yep.

I grew up in a place where almost everyone was Anglo-Saxon. There was not a lot of cultural diversity in the schoolyard – white-bread sandwiches as far as the eye could see!

We weren’t sheltered, not at all. My parents were quite learned in other cultures, especially when it came to cuisine. Although we come from English and Irish backgrounds, I grew up eating lentils, French stews and couscous along with my English and Aussie staples. Our palates were quite diverse. Except for when it came to Chinese food.

As a child, we rarely got take-away. The nearest McDonalds was not for 20km, and so any place that possessed a pair of those golden arches was so ‘city’ to me. If we did get take-away, it would be Fish & Chips from Balnarring. I have such sweet memories of our fish and chip nights, with the Skipping Girl white vinegar always on the table – you have not lived until you have tried chips with white vinegar. Very occasionally we would get pizza, also from Balnarring. In fact on reflection, Balnarring, being a tidy 10km away, appears to have been the hub of all our take-out experiences.

Once, maybe twice, a year we would go to the Balnarring Chinese Restaurant. We would order our Beef in Black Bean sauce, our Honey Chicken, some Spring Rolls and a serve of Fried Rice. Correction, ‘Special’ Fried Rice…always special.

And thus was my experience of Chinese food. Until I met Ben.

I was fifteen when I met him in all his half-Chinese glory and he rocked my white-bread world. All of a sudden I was introduced to Char Sui, Yum Cha and Congee. When I was just sixteen, I went to Hong Kong with his family. I will forever remember going out for dinner and being scarred by the cooked chicken head, with it’s creepy pointy little beak, that would persistently look at me, every time the Lazy Susan revolved my way. It did take me a while to come around to all these very foreign flavours. But, nine years on, I now love Chinese food. The proper stuff, no Honey Chicken for me – I never liked it anyway.

Ben and I recently visited Rock Kung, in Glen Waverly. Ben has great memories of this place, as he grew up over that side of town. When we were first together we would visit Rock Kung frequently with his family, as it was always delicious and open late. I am happy to report, it still is.

When we get a craving for this type of food, it hits hard. Ben’s family is mainly in Hong Kong now, and so we can’t get his Dad to cook us fish or noodles whenever we wish. We have tried cooking it ourselves, but I am afraid to say that we have a long way to go when it comes to cooking our beloved dishes. So it is very nice to have a place where we can eat a nostalgic meal. Although Ben has been eating this way his whole life, I look back at my sixteen-year-old self and see that I too have grown up with this food. And so it feels very special to me.

Sik Fan!*

Ironically, after this nostalgic-centred post, the first thing we ate on this visit to Rock Kung was something Ben rarely eats and I have never eaten – a dim sim. When I think of dim sims, I picture those very fried ones from the fish and chip shop. These are far superior. We were both actually really delighted and I am desperate to have their dim sims again.

Mapo Tofu. I cannot recall where I first had Mapo Tofu, but I am assuming that it was in Hong Kong as I have never been able to find a good version in Melbourne since. This vexes me greatly, as I just adore Mapo Tofu when made to my liking. I do not enjoy a dish that is overpowered with artificial-tasting sweet chilli sauce. I have been sent links to Neil Perry’s version, and I have Elizabeth Chong’s cookbook from the early nineties with a recipe that looks like a winner. I know I should just bite the bullet and make it myself, but every time I see it on a menu I have to try it! I’m sorry to say that Rock Kung did not deliver it the way I like. Granted it wasn’t on the menu, so I can’t complain too much, as they did whip it up especially.

We also got some Char Sui, which was really delicious. I love their Char Sui. Not too fatty and really sticky. Yum.

Lastly we got the Barramundi – what we really came here for. I adore steamed fish with ginger, shallots, coriander and soy. So fresh, so succulent. Amazing. Ben likes to eat the cheek, the sweetest bit. I get freaked out by any reference to body parts, which highlights that this was once a living creature, so I usually let him have it.


And of course, rice. Steamed rice. Not listed as ‘Special’, but this food is truly special to me…

Heidi xo

* Sik Faan translates to “Eat Rice”. It is the Cantonese version of “Bon Appetite” or, what I guess is the Aussie version, “Dig In!”

Double-Podded Delight

November 27, 2010

Broad beans are such a treat amongst my family. We rejoice whenever a dish in which they feature comes up in conversation. Their sweet, earthy flavour and soft texture send us all into fits of rapture. More so my mum, who until her mid-twenties, had never experienced the joy that is a double-podded broad bean.

As a child mum was fed bowls of bitter, pale, un-podded broad beans whenever she stayed with one particular relative. Naturally she developed a strong dislike for these unpleasant beans, and avoided them at all cost. It wasn’t until dining at a restaurant as a newlywed that she encountered some delightfully soft, blissful bean-shaped morsels. Upon beseeching the waiter to identify these assumingly foreign, heavenly bites, and hearing the words “broad beans” spat out ever so patronisingly, mum’s culinary world changed forever. She discovered a whole new and exciting side to the humble broad bean. All those years she simply needed to peel away the hard exterior to find a soft, quietly confident, delicious bean. Tedious is the process of double-podding, yet it is oh so worth it.

For mum’s birthday last month, we had a wonderfully vibrant breakfast of smashed broad beans and peas, fetta and mint with toasted sourdough. We celebrated not only her birthday, but the beauty of the bean (with homegrown beans, no less), and the way it re-entered her life after years of banishment to reclaim it’s rightful, esteemed position.

Dad bought mum this gorgeous antique fan. Isn’t it beautiful?

Heidi xo

History and Family Traditions

November 25, 2010

I am a bona fide history buff. I just can’t get enough. Immersing myself in old tales and period movies as a child left me fascinated with the past and fuelled my curiosity for what life was like in another time. I longed to join Jo in Concord, and knew nearly all the lines from the 1994 film version of Little Women by heart (I have two 1940’s copies of the book, and I’m still searching for earlier editions). When I was younger, if anyone asked me what time I would like to be transported back to I would wholeheartedly proclaim “to Salem with the witches!”, following a long-term obsession with the movie Hocus Pocus and later on, The Crucible.

During my final year of High School, my interest grew from books and film to include History studies. I fed my love of the past as I studied the French and Russian Revolutions. But I was left hungry, famished rather, to travel to these destinations rich in historical significance. Later that year, positively buzzing, I visited Paris and walked the streets where Robespierre and Danton stood. In Place De La Concord I dramatically re-enacted where the Guillotine was set up and took photos of landmarks everywhere I went. One of my main reasons for travelling to Russia was my fascination with the Revolution and the Leningrad blockade. So tragic and awful – how could this have occurred in the same world in which we live in today?

I digress a little. I was simply wanting to introduce myself to you as someone who thrives on learning about the past. If only I could combine my two loves, food and history, and become a food historian. Could there be anything more grand? One of my favourite television series is ‘The Supersizers Go’, which takes you on a journey through past eras and the food they ate during that time. It is one hour of pure, unadulterated viewing bliss. My only qualm is that it is not on the television nearly as often as I would like.

Naturally, I adore learning about my family’s traditions. I can sit and look at my nana’s slides from the 60’s for hours. Seeing my mum and her two siblings in adorable little outfits, the trips they took and houses they lived in makes me so happy. If only there were more food photographs, as oh, do I love to hear what food my parents ate as children. Retro fabulousness.

As a side note, my nana has now begun to take photographs of interesting or delicious food she encounters, as she knows that I love to hear about these things. Just this week I received an email with a photograph of strawberry pancakes that my grandparents ate while visiting the Big Strawberry. Maybe I’m starting my own family tradition here?…

Today’s post is a rather nostalgic one, focusing on history and family tradition. It revolves around my family’s Christmas Pudding. Mum was passed this beloved recipe from Aunty Daphne, my nana’s brother’s wife. The pudding is very typically English.

Each year mum makes this pudding, just the same as the year before. Come November I always see it hanging in the corner of the kitchen, ripening, to be ready for Christmas Day. Walking past the calico cloth with it’s bulbus, plump bottom, my heart is filled with warmth and anticipation, as I know that Christmas and celebrations with loved ones are just around the corner.

One adaptation that mum has made to Aunty Daphne’s recipe is the soaking of the fruit for two days (rather than one). Mum will soak the fruit in whatever alcohol she has in the house (i.e. some sherry, brandy or whisky).

For the past five or so years, we have paired our pudding with a Boozy Sauce discovered in an issue of Delicious. I adore this sauce. I always request a doubling of the recipe, as we only make it once a year and like to savour it. We often turn the second batch into ice-cream. This year I am thinking of making a third batch, for me to take home for Ben and I – it is that good.

Another family tradition relates to what goes inside the pudding. We no longer put a coin in the middle, as is a very old and common tradition. Mum and I travelled to Italy and France over Christmas 2003 and returned with little trinkets from the inside of a King Tart, which we shared with our French friends at their house over the festive season. We now put these trinkets inside our pudding, to infuse a bit of French flair into our English pudding.

This year I documented the pudding process, and I know that I will cherish these photographs in years to come. Hopefully my children develop the same love of history and family traditions that I have, and we can all come together, discussing the past and those who lived years before us over a bowl of Aunty Daphne’s Christmas Pudding.

Now we just have to wait for Christmas Day. What a tease.

What is one of your family food traditions?

Heidi xo