When Variegated and I were dyeing (fabric that is) in the backyard last week we could hear a regular plopping sound. After some investigation we worked out it was the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos munching into my Kurrajong tree’s pods. They eat the seeds and then drop the leftovers onto the ground. Should the pods have survived to maturity I could also have eaten them, fresh or roasted, having first removed the hairs from the seeds. There seem to be a few pods hanging low in the tree that the cockies can’t reach so I may get to try these native seeds a bit later in the year.That was all well and good but this changed on Sunday when TB called me to the window to see what was happening in the back yard. At first I thought he was just pointing out the cocky hanging upside down on the power line. But no, it was the team of cockies determindly stripping all the almost ripe fruits of my nectarine tree. We quickly got the net over the tree which stopped the damage. Unfortunately there was already plenty of fruit on the ground. The birds had also broken one of the branches off along with 1kg of fruit. I was able to retrieve the situation by making a batch of Nectarine Chutney, recipe courtesy of Stephanie Alexanders’ Cooks Companion.
I picked what berries we available from the garden this morning – as you can see there were barely enough to do anything with. However I’d been catching up on Lacepetticoat’s blog and she provided the solution (http://lacepetticoat.wordpress.com, see her December 14 post). I had a mango seeking self expression and with the strawberry chopped up it provided a wonderful addition to pancakes. As TB likes neither strawberry or mango he had the raspberries and blueberries – just enough to spark up one pancake.With the rain and the generally overcast conditions we’ve been reading rather than doing things outside. I’ve been reading the biography of Janet Ross – A Castle in Tuscany, by Sarah Benjamin (Pier 9, 2006) which fortuitously arrived for me at the Library just before Christmas. Today I got up to the chapter covering her writing of Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen. I couldn’t resist pulling that book out as well. I decided to make Crescioni, a deep-fried ravioli filled with a spinach and herb mix (the filling could be just about anything you like). I also decided to make the ravioli myself – something I’ve only tackled once before. Luckily TB makes pasta frequently so we have the machine and he was able to give me some handy tips, literally. The pasta dough, completely simple, one egg added to 100gms of flour, then kneaded until it comes together. Given my standard pastry making experience I’d have made it lot wetter, but TB advised that only a minute amount of water should be added just to bring all the crumbly bits together. To do this I put a few drops of water onto one hand and then proceeded to knead the dough some more. That was all that it required – not the “few black-clad grandmothers and aunts who have the build for kneading and the time to spare”. I’m not sure who to attribute this completely superfluous, not to mention disparaging remark to, I think it could be from the pen of Mr Waterfield, Janet Ross’s great great nephew who edited the 1973 Penguin edition I own, it seems unlikely to be that of Janet Ross herself as it is followed by comments on commercial pastas. Anyway we had a very tasty lunch of it and TB added several stuffed zucchini flowers, with a cheesy (ricotta), diced sauteed mushrooms, truffle salsa (from a bottle from the Essential Ingredient, www.theessentialingredient.com.au), accented stuffing of his own devising. Later on in the day I worked on tyeing acorns into two pieces of silk, from an old kimono and lining, which I’ve placed into jars filled with Spotted Gum bark dye. I’ll leave these to solarise for several weeks. I hope to get a variation in colour from the two wood types – we’ll see.