Monday, 28 March 2011


This week I am preparing for our impending trip to Tasmania.

We are going for a family holiday.

It started when friends invited us down to make Tomato Sauce with them on Bruny Island just off the mainland of Tasmania.  

Well as if I would/could refuse!!  Just NOT possible!!

It gave us the perfect excuse for a much needed get away AND  to do something that we  think is the funnest & bestest of things to do...........spending time with beautiful people & a bit of feasting thrown in!

We aren't making passata but good ol' 'Dead Horse' as us Aussies say....a good quality Tomato Sauce free of artificial colours & artificial flavours.  Just good honest real food.

I think often about the various European (amongst others) culture's tradition of community and in particular it's sense of community when it comes to the preparation of food for the year ahead.

Historically it occurred as a means to preserve & prepare food to last the year without refrigeration.  A means of preserving the best produce at it's best.

Over centuries these methods have been employed. It kept communities involved with one another.  The small village's population would come together & use their various skills together and then celebrate their hard work with a feast at the end of the day.  MAGNIFICENT huh!

I'm thrilled that we are looking back to these traditions again.  It makes me happy to see people reviving the sense of community.

Have we lost our sense of community?

The optimist in me says- 'I don't think so'........ & I certainly hope not but I do think alot of us have forgotten to give it the time it deserves.  And I do believe that alot of us are now craving a sense of belonging.

We have built higher & higher fences and spend less and less time outside as we justify the fortresses we have built with the work that has given us the money to build them but taken away all our spare time.

We built a new fence at our place because I was nervous about the children going onto the road but I was adamant that it be at 'elbow leaning' height so I could stop and chat with the people walking by & so I could see the passers by.

Against tradition we spend lots & lots of time in our front yard- we have an outside dining area in our front yard.   Most post-school afternoon teas are spent out there.

We regularly have fires in our front yard ...

 & toast you do.

At first you could see that people were uncomfortable with it.  We live in a generation that thinks that people who smile & say hello are 'crazy folk'! 

People would walk past trying very very hard not to look... but as the years have passed (we have been here 3 years) people not only look but stop and chat leaning their elbow on the fence!

Now.....they know my children's names,

 they know our names, 

they know our dog's name,

& they know stuff about us.   

Several have even commented on how they love to see us enjoying the front yard- an outside space that in Australia we don't tend to use. 

We don't have to be best friends! There is no presciptive to invite them in for dinner....although over the years this has happened and we have made fabulous friends like this!

I love that sense of community....LOVE IT!!!!

So when we go to Tassie this week I am loving that we will be rewinding the clock a  little and doing our little bit to help keep alive traditions that I think help bring people together in the bestest of ways.

In a similar vein .......over the last few weeks I have been given figs from local friends who don't like them & don't use them.  They offered them to me- and I LOVE FIGS so was happy to oblige!  How community minded of them- fantastic!

As the saying goes 'Someone's trash is someone else's treasure'.....

 I made a tart with the first batch.....I'm not generally a sweets cook but I was thrilled with how this turned out.  It was the first time I have made pastry from scratch...


For the Pistachio Frangipane:
  • 1/2 cup pistachio shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 large egg
 For the pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2-3tblspns caster sugar
  • 100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
6-7 ripe figs (sliced into 2cm slices)
extra caster sugar


For the pastry:
In a food processor mix flour & sugar.  Add butter and vanilla bean and mix till it resembles breadcrumbs.
Remove from food processor and knead on a floured surface quickly to amalgamate.

Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes while you make the pistachio frangipane.

 For the pistachio frangipane:
In the food prcoessor blitz pistachios till fine.  Add sugar, butter and egg yolk and mix till all ingredients are combined well.


On a floured surface roll out pastry till it is about 1 1/2 cms thick(I made my tart free-form so it didn't matter too much how it was rolled out).

Using a spatula spread the pistachio frangipane across the surface of the pastry (I had some left over).

Now lay the figs across the pastry slightly overlapping.

Dust with caster sugar. Fold in the edges of pastry and baste with egg wash.  

Bake at 180C for  30 minutes.

Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream.

Todays listening pleasure comes from the very talented Australian songwriter Paddy Mann AKA Grand Salvo.....a beguilingly beautiful track. Hope you enjoy. xx


  1. Gosh this strikes a chord with me! I moved into my home 3 years ago too and immediately struck up conversations with the neighbours, and we've gone on to become friends. It's sad to think that we can live next door to someone and not know even their name, but that's reality for many people. It does make me worry for the future of community when it's considered unusual or strange to say hi to people who walk past. I love that you're embracing it, and LOVE the elbow-height fence idea. Good thing we're not neighbours or we would've worn it down with all the chatting over the fence ;)

  2. We also use our front yard as the eating area, and friends have commented that they don't know how we are able to live with a backyard that is a tangle of tree ferns, palms and rainforest plants.
    The pull for a flat grassy block doesn't appeal to us at all.
    And as for figs - they are extra special becasue the 'eating window' is so small each year. Yum!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly! As we live on a busy road (the busiest road!) we don't have the knee high front fence, it's more like a 3 metre fortress but luckily my kids have taken to scaling the back fence and zipping through the neighbour's window to visit her grandkids when they're around. Her grandkids think it's a magic window as they peer through it hoping to catch my kids for a play! We also have new neighbours who have super high fences (busy road thing) but invite the whole street for drinks regularly and have got a real community going. Have a saucy week away in every way!! xxxx

  4. I just love your philosophy. I am so very jealous of your sauce making trip.



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