Devonshire Tea and Mum

Growing up Mum had a large cast iron cauldron that she made her jam in – strawberry, fig or marmalade, volumes of it, bottled and labeled and given away to everyone who walked in the door. And her scones were famous not the least because they were delicious with her home made jam and King Island cream but because of the conversations and company that accompanied them.

Everyone was welcome in our home no matter what age, region, or culture.

Mum passed away last week and I share her classic scone (biscuit) recipe in her honour.

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DIY Copper Lamp Base

This industrial style lamp base in constructed using copper piping and fittings from a plumbing supply company. It is inspired by the mathematical woodcuts of Escher and it challenged me in so many ways. You need a little patience so it’s great for a raining day. Construction plan and cutting details included.

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DIY Coat Hanger and Feather Wreaths

Wire coat hangers are one of those things, like odd socks, that multiply in your wardrobe surreptitiously over time. This is a great use for at least one of them!

It’s a 30 minutes exercise and delivers an instant Christmas wreath… simple and easy for kids to make too.

You can tie the greenery or flowers to the wire or just twist it round and around, depending on how soft and bendy the flowers stalks are. It’s also a wonderful way to used fresh picked herbs which are soft enough twist around and add a lovely fragrance to the room.

And at the end of the post you’ll find a Found Feather Wreath which is also just as quick and easy if you already have a feather collection.

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Cooking with Chickpea Flour

Made with healthy chickpea flour and lightly fried in good olive oil … what’s not to love about these salty nibbles?

At first glance, “Panelle” as they are called in Sicily, look a little bit like fat corn chips but these delicious puffy morsels are a revelation. They have a nourishing nutty taste and the flavour of olive oil without any greasiness.

Watching Fabrizia Lanza prepare this dish in the kitchen of Case Vecchie was a study in wonder. We watched, with our cameras and notebooks poised and, as each step unfolded, we were no closer to imaging the last.

The result served to us with a traditional Aperol Spritz in the courtyard of the old stone house, the late afternoon light receding over the hills. We could not stop eating them.

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Bringing Sicily Home

In Australia we call fava beans, in their distinctive large green spongy pods, broad beans. I always felt they were too much work until I tasted the authentic flavours of Sicily in Fabrizia Lanza’s fava bean soup … with an egg dropped in the middle and dusted with fresh parmigiana. I think you could taste the green goodness. And when I returned I waited to see them appear so I could bring some of that sicilian summer feeling into my Clareville kitchen.

Here I have used them simply … tossed into a raw zucchini salad and dropped into tomatoe and goats cheese tarts .. perfect for summer picnics.

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Afternoon Tea Classics

I have such strong memory of mum inviting the “ladies” over for afternoon tea. Beautifully dressed women with powdered faces and smooth lipstick pressed on cheeks as they said hello. The strong smell of perfume, each with their own, creating a heady mix of scent in the dining room. A medley of fine china cups and saucers patiently waiting on the linen covered dining table. These are two of mums classic afternoon tea recipes; Date Cake and Shortbread Pecan Balls. They’re very easy to make .. even easier if you use a kitchen wizz.

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A Sicilian Food Odyssey

Sicily may seem a strange destination for someone who had been slowly transitioning away from wheat, pasta and dairy but there is undoubtedly a romance in the idea of living and learning in this simple rustic way and understanding the authentic roots of Sicilian cooking and farming and the wonder of bounty of their kitchen garden … tall artichokes, rows of fava beans hanging waiting to be picked, spinach, rainbow chard, tomatoes, olives, almonds, wild greens and honey. And it more than delivered.

Join me on my pilgrimage to the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily with this recipe for a delicious Almond and Olive Oil Torte, “Torta di Mandorie e Olio d’Oliva”

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“Easy-as” Country Style Table Runner

A vintage linen runner, simply stitched, which I recently purchased from Faded Emporium inspired this design for an “easy-as” DIY version.

Just stitch together linen tea towels and voila! For instance, for a French country look you might like striped red and white linen or for a more Australian look just the raw linen perhaps with a faint little stripe.

(as they are already hemmed you don’t even need to own a sewing machine!)

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Yammy Drops – no guilt

This recipe for Yammy Drops (yummy and jammy) is really a healthier version of the old fashioned jam drop. But don’t expect the same shortbread consistency, these are chock full of nutty flavours drawn from the sunflower seeds, tahini and almond meal and sweetened with maple syrup .. (the jam in the middle is a real treat). They’re great for school lunch boxes or to satisfy that 3pm low point when you’re normally seeking out chocolate!!

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Walnuts – Cracking and Baking Tips

A walnut grower selling from a stall in a Canberra market last Saturday shared with me the “best ever” tip for opening walnuts in the shell. No more nut crackers needed when you follow these simple steps.

And to celebrate the joy of walnuts we have a recipe for Fresh Apple and Walnut Clusters … too chunky and full of apple, walnuts and raisins to be called a muffin !

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