The Boss Returns

The lounge room is in desperate need of a vacuum, but who would want (or dare) to disturb dear old Tom, so contentedly sleeping in his bean bag in the morning sun? Unthinkable.

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He’s been a bit distant of late, and very grumpy when he did come inside, only sleeping out of sight in the top of the wardrobe.

Perhaps he wasn’t happy with all the activity of the past few days, I guess we’ll never know. But one thing’s for sure, he’s back now with a vengeance, dominating the household, human and other domestic pets, as is his custom.

It’s a far cry from his former feral life, dear old man. We are so happy his temper has improved and he’s returned to being as companionable and talkative as ever.

We’re sure there’s no other cat quite like him, just adorable.

The other (half) book

Meanwhile ….. on the HarperCollins website, the cover has been revealed for the other publication – the book that ABC’s Paul McIntyre and I have written together.

This is not, of course, related in any way to my next cookbook “Ultimate Slow Cooker” of the past week’s frenetic photo shoot activity.

Paul and I are absolutely delighted with the cover image for our book. It’s a little something different, an extension beyond cooking with wonderful lifestyle pieces written by the very talented Paul.

Here is that cover image – hope you like it as much as we do. Many thanks to our publisher for coming up with such a great design for us, truly reflective of the theme of the book.

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Here are the publisher’s comments about the book:

“How to slow down, live more mindfully and savour the simple joys of life Part nostalgia, part how-to guide, The Little Book of Slow offers practical suggestions, recipes and more for making delicious food from scratch and cultivating meaningful activities and pastimes. Bestselling cookbook author Sally Wise teams up with radio personality Paul McIntyre to help you slow your life down, relax and de-stress with vintage inspiration from a more leisurely time. Discover how to make your own bread, pickles and preserves, fresh cheeses and yoghurt. Pack the perfect picnic, cook over a campfire or host a vintage-style high tea. Or be inspired to take up slow hobbies and pastimes like beachcombing, collecting vinyl, playing boardgames or cards and holding dinner parties.”

This book is due for release late January/early February 2017.

(“Ultimate Slow Cooker” release date is March 2017).

Four Days of Mayhem

So the photo shoot for “Ultimate Slow Cooker” has come to an end, all done and dusted by late yesterday. Including accompaniments, 70 items were prepared in all (I just counted), styled and photographed within the 4 days.

All credit to the great team who brought this together. Chris Crerar the photographer was amazing as usual, as was super food stylist Charlotte Bell.

Robert must indeed be commended for the mountains of washing up he attended to (I’m ashamed to say the ends of his fingers have suffered badly), and Stephanie for her assistance with prep and anything else that needed attention.

I really miss all the fun and laughter of those 4 days, though perhaps not so much the 4am getting out of bed to start the slow cooker dishes to be ready for photography by 9am.

I had no time or opportunity to take a photo of the mess I managed to create on the benches during the proceedings. Just as well I think – it was surely a sight to behold, and not of the most attractive kind.

These two photos show some of Charlotte’s props for the food styling – a truly wonderful collection that made for some stunning photos, especially when combined with Charlotte’s creativity.

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The other photo is of the kitchen, quiet and bare again, looks almost forlorn.

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It won’t stay quiet for long though – there’s a Preserves class here tomorrow morning so there will be plenty of activity once more.

Another book on the way

Let the games begin – or rather the photo shoot. Tomorrow we start a 4 day photo shoot of recipes for my new cookbook, to be released in March 2017.

No prizes for guessing the subject matter of this one, the picture tells it all – it’s another slow cooker book!

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There are more than a hundred completely new recipes that I’ve tried and tested and re-tested over the past few months.  I’ve twisted and tweaked them until I am certain all the dishes are really delicious.

As you can see, there are plenty of slow cookers standing at the ready.

Some are scraped, battered and worn, a couple even dating back decades to when our older children were babies. They were my lifesavers, enabling me to get dinner on the table with comparative ease each day.

There was one casualty from all the recent testing, so sad – it was one of my favourites. It slipped from my clumsy fingers and landed upside down on the floor. It deserved a better end, it had done a lot of work in its time.

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And so to bed. To say it’s an early start tomorrow is a bit of an understatement – the first dish needs to be ready for photography by 9am.

More than ten recipes a day for the next four days …. hmmm. Should be a lot of fun though, a little hectic perhaps…..

Spring on the Way in the Valley

Almost another busy week passed by on the ‘farm’ with a hint of spring int he air.

One eyed Jack the possum has settled in well, becoming quite accustomed to his changed circumstances. Each afternoon he saunters up to his cubby house and waits patiently for his dinner to arrive – a mixture of fruit and vegetables with a little something protein.

I think he’s learned to tell the time, he’s very punctual and waits patiently, in good company with the dozens of chooks and ducks waiting for their afternoon wheat.

A neighbour has filled in a little extra detail of Jack’s back-history. As I think I mentioned, Jack was often seen, day and night, wandering down the middle of the road.

Our neighbour one afternoon found him asleep standing up, on the verge near our gate. He got out of the car to check he was alright. He nudged him gently just to be sure. Jack opened his one eye and looked up at him blearily, then went straight back to sleep, same spot, same stance.

It’s becoming very obvious that the fortified lamb and ewe pellets that Robert has been feeding the sheep to supplement their diet have done wonders for Ramekin also. This week Doris gave birth to twins. Oh dear – but despite the intense cold, frost and rain, they are thriving. She’s a good mum, even though she’s very old now.

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Today, after a big shop for a photo shoot here next week, Robert is back at his bottling – cider this time. Don’t think anyone is going to go thirsty here in a hurry.

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The indoor pets of course spend their days at leisure, Truffles unfailingly asleep beside me on the desk where I work; old Tom in his bean bag, and Rosie and Poppy following Robert wherever he goes.

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It’s just another lovely week in the Valley……

A Little Book News

Here’s a little news coming up. Anyone who listened to ABC radio Jams and Preserves talkback a week or two ago would have heard us mention that I have a book and a half being released early next year. A little curious…..

Here is the link to the book that I’ve had the privilege to write with ABC Tasmania’s delightful and talented Paul McIntyre.

http://www/harpercollins.com.au/978073335099

The cover picture will be up on the HarperCollins website soon, so watch for that because we think it’s absolutely perfect, all credit to our publisher.

“The Little Book of Slow” will be released in early February.

(The other book of mine will be released in March, but more about that another time).

Paul and I really hope you enjoy this book we have written together, something just a little different.

 

The Bottling of the Wine

Monumental day today – the time has come for bottling off the white wine. It’s been sitting in the shed quietly doing its thing for months. Thirty five was the final bottle count, a real treasure.

So far so good, tastes amazing.

We never plan to sell any wine, just make enough for us to share with friends and family at some very special dinners.

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One-Eyed Jack

You might remember a week or two ago that I spoke about one-eyed Jack, the old possum that lives here on the property. Because he is so aged and almost blind, he forages night or day, digging for corbi grubs in the grass and smelling out anything remotely edible.

He seemed quite happy but we were sure he could do with a little help.

Last week we pulled apart the ‘cat gym’ in the lounge room to make way for more book cases.

In the centre of the gym was a lovely furry cubbyhole, just the right size for a possum. Robert decided to take it over to a sheltered spot quite near the house. I doubted Jack would like it, seeing as cats had spent a fair amount of time in there.

I was wrong. Jack took to it like the proverbial duck to water, grateful it seemed for a warm, dry spot.

Each afternoon now he gets free home delivery of a small snack of fruits and vegetables.

At first he would not come out – you could just hear an appreciative crunching of apple or carrot in the back corner of his new ‘den’. However, slowly but surely he has been losing his fear of us.

Now just this afternoon he came just a little out the front opening to welcome his afternoon tidbits, poor darling.

It may sound corny I know, but it’s really special to have such a lovely old fellow like Jack enjoying a little creature comfort towards the end of his days.

However we’re hoping that his improved diet will ensure that he has quite a while to live here yet.

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Raspberry Jam in excess

I’ve been a bit carried away making jams from the fruit in the freezer. I’d thought I was short on raspberry jam, so have made several batches over the last couple of weeks.

This morning however, I discovered a whole boxful that was made about three months ago.

So…. I have just put a dozen or so jars out on the stall at our gate.

There’s nothing at all wrong with the jam, perfect for cooking or even toast or scones. It’s just that it was not made within the last couple of weeks and is excess to what I need.

This jam, to differentiate it from the other fresher made batches, it is marked as “raspberry jam for cooking”, and is on the bottom shelf of the stall – $2.00 per jar.

Banana Fritters

We had some friends drop in this morning and, having been away for a few days, had no cakes or biscuits baked to serve with their cuppa.

An all-time quick and easy remedy for this is always pikelets. However, this morning I happened to have bananas at hand, and so made banana fritters instead. I even had the last remnants of a bottle of lemonade a friend had brought a few days ago, and so added a little of that as well.

Anyway, the fritters were so well received that I thought I’d share the recipe. I kind of made it up on the spur of the moment, but it’s similar to one I used to make for the children when they arrived home from school starving hungry each afternoon.

Topped with a drizzling of a lovely Tasmanian honey and maybe a dollop of yoghurt, they are a pretty healthy afternoon snack to tide hungry tummies over till dinner time.

If you leave off serving them with yoghurt (or use a coconut milk yoghurt), they are dairy free as well.

Banana Fritters

3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 teaspoons sugar
2 cups self raising flour
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemonade (or water or fruit juice)
3 teaspoon rice bran oil
3 teaspoons lemon juice
4 bananas
Rice bran oil, extra – for cooking the fritters

Whisk together the eggs and sugar, then all at once, whisk in the remaining ingredients, except bananas and extra rice bran oil.

Cut the bananas in half lengthways and them cut into 8mm slices. Fold into the batter. (if the mixture appears a little thick, just add a bit extra water).

Meanwhile, heat rice bran oil (to a depth of 8mm) in a frying pan over medium heat.

Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook on one side till golden brown, then turn over and cook on the other side similarly. (they will need about 3 minutes each side).

Check that they are cooked through with the tip of a sharp knife inserted in the centre. If they are still a little wet, reduce heat and cook a couple of minutes more.

Drain on paper towel briefly before serving, drizzled with honey and topped with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.

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