Monday, 6 April 2009

Guavas and figs.

The end of Summer doesn't worry us, the days are still very warm, the Autumn sunsets here have to be seen to be believed and we have the added bonus of a very tasty bounty that appears now.
Figs and Red Cherry Guavas or as the locals call the cherry guava 'porpay' or porpieh (sounds more like 'poor-pear')

I have been picking and cooking everything this week, The Guavas are the darkest and the sweetest this year, even after making a large stock we ran out of Guava jelly last year when the kids turned from Aussie vegemite kids to Norfolk Guava jelly kids.
Norfolk Island red Guava Jelly
all you need is
*Ripe Guavas *Sugar *Water.
In a large saucepan, almost cover guavas with water and boil for One and a half hours or until colour has been extracted.
Measure strained liquid, allowing 1 cup of juice to 1 cup of sugar.
Boil quickly or until it sets on a cold saucer.
Bottle in sterilized jars.

I have also found 2 awesome recipes for Fig jam, and although the recipes say they don't keep for very long, only a month or two, they may be gobbled up before then anyway.
Easy FIG Jam
*1kg figs *750g Sugar *1 tablespoon of all spice *1 tablespoon of cinnamon *juice of half a lemon *handful of chopped lemon rind.
  1. Cut Figs into chunks, choose how chunky you want your jam to be. If the skins are greenish and hard, cut into smaller pieces. Ripe fig skin will soften nicely while boiling.
  2. Approx measure or weigh figs to determine the same proportion of sugar is used.
  3. Add spices, lemon juice and rind. Cover with sugar and allow to sit for 2 hours.
  4. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil over 15-20 minutes. Slowly boil for 1 hour. Cool.
  5. Slowly boil for 15 minutes the next day. Cool.
  6. Pour into airtight container that has been scorched with boiling water. Refrigerate.
  7. For variations, add freshly roasted or dry fried almonds.
FIG sesame JAM
*1 cup Sugar *One and a half cups water divided *Approx 1kg fresh figs, trimmed and cut into small pieces *2 strips of fresh lemon zest *2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice *4 tablespoons of dark rum * splash of Vanilla extract *1/4 of cup of sesame seeds.
  1. Toast sesame seeds in a heavy pan over medium heat until they are a shade darker, set aside to cool.
  2. Simmer sugar and one cup of water in a heavy based saucepan,stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Gently stir in figs, zest,rum, vanilla and lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until think and syrupy.
  4. As the jam becomes, well, jam-like, check the consistency. If it seems too thick and chunky for your liking, stir in a little of the remaining water.
  5. When it looks properly jammy, remove from heat and gently stir in the sesame seeds.
  6. The jam will keep, covered in the fridge for a month or two ~ If you can keep your hands off it for that long.
This Jam is good mixed into icecream with honey, eaten on crackers with cheese, and stirred into plain yoghurt for a sweet fruity/nutty taste.
Red & Green.
Norfolk Island's gardens have always stood out to me as being predominately green and red, just like the landscape around the island, in the red volcanic soil as well as the variety of plants grown here.
Our tree house in the fruit laden fig tree.
The unripe fig fruit with one of the fairy mushroom seats in the background.
The delicious ripened fruit, we have eaten so many straight from the tree.
If you look closely under the fig tree, you may see a rare fig fairy, but be quick, before she disappears.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A very SWEETies Easter

Around the corner and up the hill from us is a very sweet place.


This is a special place for any tourists and locals with a sweet tooth, especially for the kids as it is just a few steps away from Norfolk Island Central school and on the route home for us.

It has the charm of an old fashioned corner store or sweet shop and you can find just about everything there*

When Easter eggs started appearing, I knew that I wanted to do a sweeties blog as not only do they import delicious chocolate and sweets, but owner Andrew M has been making them by hand for many years, his wife Raewyn also adds a creative touch to the chocolate displays and daughter Siobhan also works behind the counter during the busy after school 'sweet fix' rush.

Easter is also one of my favourite times of year, there is something about the mixture of Shiny coloured foil wrappings around sweet chocolate that can transport anyone back to their childhoods with visions of of Charlie and the chocolate factory or the wonderful Easter egg hunts that the Easter bunny would do for us as children, hiding eggs around the house and giving us a map to try and find them. The hunt was just as exciting as finding the eggs and eating them and the wonderful old bunny still carries on this tradition to our children.

My kids favourite thing to do at Sweeties (apart from eating their icecream) is to fill a cup from the wonderful array of perspex boxes filled with lollies of all shapes, sizes and appealing sweet colours, they know this is reserved for very special occasions, when the grandparents visit and are usually happy with the offer of a big choc covered jelly baby to last the entire walk home from school.
My favourite thing is to have one of their iced espresso frappes & take it down the beach....yummy.

No wonder why it is one of the favourite after school activities, there is something for everyone.
I have also heard parents tell their kids...."it's Friday today, Sweeties day".

Sienna and Wilkes grabbed a shopping basket each while checking out the range of choccy eggs at Foodland or 'foodies', but they didn't put any eggs in which was a surprise.

We love this colourful chocolatey display the best.
Have a yummy, special, safe, happy Easter.

* Except lemon sherbet English style bon bons & hot chocolates made from pure chocolate, which I am very grateful for, as they are all my favourites and I don't need any other sweet temptations, there is plenty to chose from as it is!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Thursday night Coconut bath club (with strawberry champagne)

Thursday to us is friendship day.

Almost 6 years ago, I started pregnancy yoga with the amazing Sue Scott at Noosa Yoga studio, the other group of girls that attended every Thursday morning would unknown to us at that time, would become my first mothers club and a very important part of our lives, we miss them greatly but what an amazing group.

We met up once to show off our new babies and then started to meet again regularly on a Thursday and then met every Thursday for playdates and lunches at each others houses for the next 4 years (3 1/2 years for us before we moved here to Norfolk)
These were not ordinary lunches, they were more gourmet than most Noosa restaurants, most ingredients were bought fresh at the Wednesday Eumundi markets as most of us were lucky to live in this area.

Some of the Thursday Mums group still meet with their second babies as most of Teddy's age group are at school or pre school.

Now the Thursday tradition has returned for us here, as it was the only day without a plane for a while and the only afternoon that my friend Eve, also was an accommodation manager, and her children Mirabelle(5 months older than Teddy) and Wilkes(3 months younger than Sienna or as he calls her, Yenna) could get together for a play.

One day after afternoon tea, as Eve was preparing her Kids to say goodbye so they could go home and have a bath and cook dinner, I thought, why not stay and have dinner as the kids were having so much fun together.

We agreed, and then went to Doug and Eve's house the following week for another afternoon tea, bath and dinner.....and it has alternated ever since.

Somewhere along the way strawberry champagne has become the staple after afternoon tea and before dinner, then the kids have a bath together,I added Radox coconut to their baths which has now become a Thursday night tradition hence the name, The Thursday night Coconut bath club.

The kids usually then dress up and do a show for us before we all say Goodbye and get our sleepy kids to bed.

Mirabelle and Sienna look and act like sisters especially when they sing ABBA songs together like I did years ago with my sister.

All 3 kids understand and tolerate Teddy's little 'flip outs' and play well with him when he wants to join in and leave him to himself when he doesn't, its great to be understood.

Doug and Brandt sometimes disappear together on our club night(to the movies or the RSL next door), but we are glad they get on so well too.

The kids miss each other a day later and can't wait to see each other again.
They are all a bit crazy and feral at times, but we love them and wouldn't have it any other way.

We made good use of the Summer and met down the beach too.

We like Thursdays!