belinda jeffery's news and events
I was rather hoping that I would be writing this snuggled up in my office with a cool wind blowing and a real nip in the air, however, truth be told, it still feels as though it’s summer. Not that I’m complaining, as it has been wonderful to keep on swimming so late in the year, and the days have been sparkling, but I do love the seasons, and we seem to have pretty much skipped autumn - I rather suspect that we shall go from this balmy weather to freezing cold, overnight! The garden certainly needs a rest as the plants are totally confused by the warmth, and one of my gardenias, which normally flowers in November, is covered in blooms. A few are sitting in a vase on my desk and their exquisite fragrance scents the whole room. Lovely!
At least the nights are starting to cool down, so I’m finally doing some ‘real’ cooking rather than the variations on a barbecue that I feel as though I’ve been doing for months now! And at the farmers market, it’s lovely to see the first flush of fennel, avocadoes, dill and pumpkins, sitting cheek-by-jowl with plump little late season tomatoes and the last of summer’s basil. The latter two feature in this month’s recipe, which combines luscious confit tomatoes with my all-time favourite, gently cheesy, polenta. I often serve it with a fennel and avocado salad, thus straddling the two seasons in one meal!
As I mentioned last month, I’ve been away teaching in Orange, and what a terrific experience that was. I do love a bit of a road trip, and that’s exactly what we did, driving over 2000 km to get there and back. Our route took us over the Great Dividing Range and down onto the plains. It was really something to see the countryside, which we were expecting to be parched, but there had been quite heavy rain a few weeks before we departed and the landscape was transformed. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen it look so green and beautiful, and can only imagine how it must have gladdened so many farmers’ hearts to look out onto lush green pasture. There were paddocks absolutely full of the dearest, tiniest new-born lambs, and we quickly realised that the alpacas we saw in many of these paddocks were the flock’s guardians. Apparently, these gentle creatures are wonderful ‘watchdogs’ and will chase away foxes and wild dogs. It was really heart-warming to see the synergy between the two different creatures.
Orange itself was abuzz with visitors for their week-long F.O.O.D festival. It was fantastic to be part of the event, and also to sample the local cool-climate wines and produce. The fruit and vegetables were wonderful – we tried everything from vivid crimson and orange carrots no bigger than my middle finger; to leeks as long as my forearm, and fat green figs, splitting at the seams they were so plump. Surprisingly too for this late in the year, there were the sweetest, most fragrant, raspberries and strawberries – a treat we ate for breakfast every morning. And don’t start me on the wines! Suffice to say, that there was a lot more rattling of bottles in the car on the return journey than on the way down!
And that’s probably a very good note to finish up on, for the day is drawing to a close, and it’s time for me to batten down the hatches, get dinner underway (yes, polenta and confit tomatoes) and perhaps pour a glass of that lovely cool-climate wine to go with it.
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Upcoming events and classes
In October (20th and 21st) I shall be giving cooking classes at the Accoutrement Cooking School in Sydney to celebrate the publication of my new book, Belinda Jeffery’s Utterly Delicious, Simple Food. If you would like to find out more about the classes, go to Accoutrement
I shall also be holding a hands-on class featuring recipes from my new book at one of my favourite cooking schools, the Pepper Tree Kitchen in Lismore, on Wednesday 8th October. For more information contact Helen Nott on (02) 6622 0180.
To listen to my radio interview with ABC Brisbane’s Mary-Lou Stephens about my latest cookbook, Desserts click here...
My favourite charity
Just A Drop - www.justadrop.org
My lovely sister-in-law, Fiona Jeffery, started this international water aid charity in 1998 when she learnt that less than $2 can deliver clean water to a child for up to 10 years. From this knowledge, and her passion and commitment, Just a Drop was born, based on the premise that if people can be encouraged to give a little then collectively we can make a huge difference. I’m so proud of all she has achieved over the years and encourage you to visit the site and see the fantastic work they do.
Favourite websites & blogs